PHOENIX — Stephen Curry did everything in his power Wednesday night to help the Warriors secure their first road win of the season. He was effective on both sides and dropped a season-high 50 points, going 7-of-11 from deep, in 36 minutes. But it wasn’t enough as Golden State fell 130-119 to the Suns.
The Warriors are now 0-8 away from Chase Center, their worst road start since the 1989-90 season.
Curry was red-hot out of the gates, scoring 17 points in the opening 12 minutes. He finished the half with 31 on 10-of-13 shooting (4-of-5 from 3.) Meanwhile, the rest of the team combined for 34 points on 13-of-30 shooting (4-of-13 from deep.)
By the third, Curry looked exhausted. He bent over with his hands on his knees after being assessed a technical foul in the third.
Curry, who finished with nine rebounds and six assists to go with his 50-point night, might be putting up numbers that rival his MVP seasons. He’s scored 40 or more points in three of the Warriors’ last five games, tying Luka Dončić and Joel Embiid for the most 40-plus point outings in the NBA this season.
But the 34-year-old needs help. And the Warriors, at least on paper and based on experience, have the ingredients to be a championship-contending team. But nothing has gone right for the reigning champs.
In fact, the Warriors don’t look anything like the team that went all the way to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy at TD Garden in June.
“It’s not about numbers, it’s not about Steph played well and nobody else did, it’s about the team, it’s about the commitment,” coach Steve Kerr said after the Warriors’ latest loss. “What makes basketball special, what makes this team special over the last decade really… [is] combination of joy and competitive desire and unity and purpose. And it’s been beautiful to watch over the years and beautiful to coach but that’s lacking right now. And that’s what our staff has to figure out, that’s what our players have to figure out and that’s what we have to figure out together, and that’s the plan.”
Golden State, who’s lockdown defense had been a staple in their championship success, is allowing the third-most points per game in the league. The visiting team surrendered 72 points in the first half to the Suns Wednesday night for the second time this season and have given up 120 or more points in six games over the last month.
Another issue facing the Warriors is that Klay Thompson, desperate to prove the naysayers wrong, has been trying to push out of an early-season slump by forcing his game, and it hasn’t been pretty. He passed up passing the ball to take ill-advised shots at times Wednesday night, which resulted in another shoddy shooting night. He shot six of the Warriors’ first 12 shots and made only two.
“Klay continues to come down and try to shoot his way out of an early-season slump every night and he’s pressing,” coach Steve Kerr said after the Warriors’ latest loss.
Thompson, who was noticeably frustrated, was sent to the bench late in the third. He didn’t re-enter the game until the 5:41 mark in the fourth before finishing with 19 points on 6-of-17 shooting (3-of-9 from 3-point land).
Jordan Poole also struggled against the Suns. He missed all five of his shot attempts. His only two points came from the charity stripe. He also dished out eight assists, tying Draymond Green to lead the team in that category.
And the Warriors’ youngsters haven’t been ready to take on the larger roles Golden State’s brass had hoped they would when the team let Gary Payton II, Otto Porter Jr., Juan Toscano-Anderson and Damion Lee walk in free agency.
Jonathan Kuminga was a late scratch for Wednesday’s game after falling ill with a non-COVID sickness before tip, and James Wiseman is down in the G League for an extended stint. Moses Moody rode the bench for the first three quarters before entering the game at the start of the fourth. Kerr said they planned to play Moody earlier but changed combinations after Andrew Wiggins got into foul trouble.
Meanwhile, two-way forward Anthony Lamb has been a surprise consistent presence in the rotation. The Warriors coaching staff has praised him for being aggressive on both ends of the floor. He led the bench unit with seven points and seven rebounds.
Perhaps one of the biggest test of Curry’s leadership is ahead of him. He’s tasked with figuring out how to shift the team’s mentality and get every guy in the locker room on the same page.
“I play the game a certain way, a certain aggressiveness to go out and obviously try to do my part and put a lot of pressure on the other team and worry about me and worry about the shots that can help create and on the defensive end try to do my job,” Curry said. “There’s parts where in the flow of the game, I miss a box-out or something like that and it just feeds into everything else that we’re struggling with, like, the details of the game. Yeah, I’m scoring great trying to be efficient, going to keep doing that but there’s a collective mindset around how I need to help everybody kind of get into the right frame of mind to help to win, and I’m ready for that challenge to try to figure that out.”
The Warriors (6-9) return home to host the New York Knicks Friday night.
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