OAKLAND — With just under two minutes to go in the third quarter on Sunday night, Devin Booker thought he was in the clear for a wide-open dunk.
As the Phoenix Suns’ second-year guard went up for the two-handed slam, Kevin Durant flew in from behind and swatted the ball off the glass. The rebound fell to Steph Curry, who charged down the court, pulled up from 32 feet and connected on one of his five three-pointers of the night.
The triple from Curry gave the Warriors a 94-85 lead — their biggest advantage of the game to that point — and brought the home crowd to its feet.
While a late surge gave the Warriors a comfortable 133-120 win over the Suns, that block from Durant stood out as a rare highlight on an otherwise ugly night on the defensive end.
“Defensively we were all over the place tonight not in a good way,” head coach Steve Kerr said. “We had multiple miscommunications leaving shooters open, not rotating. So, not our best effort defensively, but we did a good job finishing the game.”
The Suns were playing the second leg of a back-to-back, but the visitors simply wouldn’t go away. Phoenix lead for much of the first half, and the teams traded leads back and forth for much of the first three-and-a-half quarters.
With just under six minutes to go in the game, the Suns had a 114-109 advantage. That’s when the Warriors ripped off a 10-0 run as part of a 24-6 finish.
“We scored 133 points which is great,” said Draymond Green. “But giving up 120 — they shot 51 percent from the field — that’s something that we really have to lock in on the defensive end.”
Klay Thompson led the late rally, as he connected on four fourth-quarter three pointers on his way to a 30-point outing. Thompson is now 12-of-19 from beyond the arc in the past three games, as he’s officially shot his way out of his early-season funk.
“There wasn’t any doubt,” Thompson said when asked if his slow start had weighed on him. “I’ve gone through plenty of slumps from the time I was in college. It really did make me stronger. Myself personally, I’ve done too many great things in this league to doubt myself.”
Like Curry, Thompson had five three-balls on a night when the Big Four dismantled the Suns. The quartet of Curry, Thompson, Durant and Green accounted for 103 of the team’s 133 points.
Curry and Thompson both went for 30 points while Durant finished with 29. Durant missed a open three-pointer on the Warriors’ second-to-last possession, which would have given the team three 30-point scorers for the first time since 1991.
“I did not realize it was for that [potential 30-30-30], but I did give him a hard time for just missing a wide open bucket when everyone in the crowd was standing up,” Curry said with a big smile on his face. “I was at halfcourt with my hands up ready to celebrate, but we’ll save it for later.”
During Kerr’s postgame press conference, the head coach was clearly more preoccupied with the poor defensive showing than the robust scoring.
“It just depends on what you’re trying to accomplish,” Kerr said. “If you are trying to win a championship, you don’t do that by simply outscoring people. You have to get stops and you have to be able to defend at a high level. We know that and our guys know that.”
During the closing minutes of the fourth — when the Warriors finally pulled away from the Suns — Kerr turned to his usual death lineup with one small tweak. Instead of sending out Andre Iguodala to run with Curry, Thompson, Durant and Green, Kerr opted for Shaun Livingston.
“Shaun was terrific,” Kerr said. “The scoring leaders will get all the press today, but I thought Shaun’s fourth quarter, and overall game, was fantastic.”Draymond GreenGolden State WarriorsKevin DurantKlay ThompsonNBASteph Curry