Too much Suns for Warriors
Janny Hu, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Phoenix -- Hold those comparisons to the Phoenix Suns. Before the Warriors can challenge the Suns in athleticism or excitement, they first have to match their fast-breaking, rim-rattling, high-scoring offense.
And so far, these two teams are looking nothing alike.
"Wish we did," Warriors coach Mike Montgomery said after his team's 101-86 loss on Saturday.
The teams that were expected to play similar run-and-gun styles were instead a study in contrasts. The Warriors actually have relied on defense, giving up 91 points per game. The Suns are the highest-scoring team in the league at just under 110 per game.
The Warriors were playing their fifth game in seven nights. The Suns are in the middle of a five-game, 13-day homestand.
Predictably, the Warriors came out sluggish and misfiring. They trailed by 10 points less than four minutes into the game, by 17 at the end of the first quarter, and by 20 with 8:50 to go in the second.
"Dug a hole too deep," said Baron Davis, who had a game-high 23 points, eight rebounds and three assists. "From there, it was just an uphill battle."
Golden State's reserves started the climb by scoring 24 of the Warriors' 47 first-half points. Derek Fisher led the way with nine while little-used Calbert Cheaney added six points on 3-for-3 shooting and three rebounds.
The bench took the huge deficit down to six by closing out the half on a 17-8 run. They trailed 53-47 at the break and cut the lead to five on a free throw by Mickael Pietrus 27 seconds into the third quarter, but got no closer.
The Warriors simply had no reliable offense. They shot 36 percent from the field, 24 percent from 3-point range, and were outscored 22-13 on the fast break -- the staple of their strong play last season.
Phoenix turned 17 Warriors turnovers into 21 points, while Golden State managed just four points on 10 miscues by the Suns.
Fatigue likely factored into the loss for the Warriors, who played a pair of back-to-back sets in a span of five days.
But with little relief in sight for Golden State - for the rest of the month, the team has at most one day off between games - the Warriors know they have to grind it out however possible.
Montgomery almost emptied his bench by halftime, using every active player except rookie Monta Ellis. He went small in the second half by starting Pietrus instead of Adonal Foyle, then went even smaller with about five minutes left in the quarter.
He trotted out a lineup of all guards and wing players - Davis, Jason Richardson, Fisher, Pietrus and Cheaney, the tallest of the five at 6-foot-7. When Richardson picked up his fourth foul with 3:35 remaining, Montgomery went smaller still, inserting 6-1 Ellis, who made his NBA debut.
"We had no choice," Montgomery said. "We were going to get beat by 100 if we didn't do something."
Davis kept them close with his shooting, scoring the last nine points of the third quarter to make it 81-70 heading into the fourth. He had 14 in the quarter.
The Warriors were still in the game, considering how vulnerable the Suns have been lately. They lost double-digit leads in close losses to Dallas and Detroit at home, but got six points from Steve Nash in the fourth quarter and were never seriously challenge. The Warriors never got closer than six points and, as the final seconds ticked away, the crowd of 16,562 at America West Arena gave the Suns a standing ovation for winning their first home game of the year.
Phoenix's starting forwards Shawn Marion and Raja Bell combined for 42 points and 20 rebounds. The Warriors' counterparts were a non-factor aside from Troy Murphy's 10 points and seven rebounds.
Foyle and Mike Dunleavy combined for zero points, one block and one rebound in 19 minutes. Dunleavy, a previous staple of the small-ball lineup, sat out the last 20 minutes and Foyle played only the first four.
As Fisher said, the Warriors aren't ready to lock horns with the Suns just yet.
"I wouldn't call it a rivalry until we can sweep this team, beat them three out of four, and cause them to dislike us," Fisher said.
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