Warriors can't keep pace with the Suns
POOR SHOOTING PLAGUES GOLDEN STATE AGAIN
By Marcus Thompson II
PHOENIX - Once upon a time, the Warriors were a juggernaut.
Led by point guard Baron Davis, they had one of the most potent offenses in the NBA, closing the 2004-05 season with at least 100 points in their final 18 games.
But this year's offense is a shadow of what it was. Despite holding Phoenix nine points below its average and winning the rebounding battle, the Warriors didn't have the firepower to keep up with the Suns, falling 101-86 at America West Arena on Saturday.
This same team averaged 118.5 points the final two games against the Suns last season, including a 127-119 victory in Oakland on April 8. The Warriors ran stride for stride with a top-notch offense.
But Saturday, the Warriors weren't in the same league as Phoenix. They shot below 40 percent and failed to score 100 for the fifth time this season.
After seven games, they're averaging just 93.7 points and shooting 41.6 percent from the field. On average, they make less than a third of the 26 three-pointers they attempt per game.
Much of the Warriors' offensive woes are a product of grounding their running in favor of the three-point attempts. They have become primarily a half-court team, in large part because Davis is playing on a gimpy left hamstring and can't get up the court as quickly as normal.
Davis is so important to the offensive success, the Warriors have been forced to play at whatever pace he can handle.
``We're getting nothing off the break right now, which is really hurting us,'' Warriors Coach Mike Montgomery said. ``We're just not running the ball, and that's something we've got to get back to. We've got to get in some kind of offensive rhythm.
``There's not a lot we can do with Davis hurt,'' he added. ``He's the key to the running game, I think. But without that, we have to execute.''
In the half-court setting, the Warriors aren't nearly as productive.
They don't have many players who can create offensive opportunities, and generally they don't move the ball well enough to make the defense work. Add to that the lack of a low-post scoring option, and that leaves the outside shot as the first option. Even the hobbled Davis has lived mostly by the outside shot -- in large part to save his legs for the rigors of penetrating late in games.
But what better opponent to boost a dragging offense than the Suns? Their up-tempo offense and revolving-door defense -- which came in allowing 108 points per game -- would seem to be the perfect cure. But not even Phoenix could bring best out of the Warriors.
They finished the game at 36 percent shooting (31 for 86), including 6 for 25 from behind the arc. They had 17 turnovers and a season-low 12 assists.
``We've got to start running the ball up the court and sharing the ball a little bit better,'' said Davis, who led the Warriors with 23 points to go with eight rebounds and three steals in 39 minutes. ``A lot of the shots guys take, we're going to start making those. But right now, we're not doing a great job of moving the basketball and creating shots for our teammates.''
The Phoenix lead was 44-24 with 8:50 left in the second quarter when the Warriors' offense finally came alive -- thanks to a bench that got 16 points each from Derek Fisher and Mickael Pietrus. The reserves sparked a 23-9 run as the Warriors pulled to within 53-47 at the half.
The spurt was vintage. The Warriors were running the floor, sharing the ball, making shots.
Fisher connected on a lob to Richardson. Fisher and Richardson knocked down three-point shots on consecutive possessions. Phoenix even called a timeout.
It brought back some old memories. But they didn't last.
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