PHOENIX – The Warriors stumbled and bumbled and, once again, won.
Not until the final seconds on Sunday afternoon did the Warriors, the so-called super team, finish off the Phoenix Suns, who are not expected to make the playoffs.
It’s too early to call it a pattern, but it’s clearly scratching at the surface of the nerves of coaches and players.
“It’s frustrating,” Draymond Green said after the 106-100 victory. “It’s frustrating for everybody.
“But that’s a part of it. That’s to be expected. It’ll all come together.”
As was the case two nights earlier against the Pelicans, the Warriors (2-1) gave the locals plenty of reason for optimism. It was lazy defense that hurt them in New Orleans. This time it was sloppy offense, which gave the Suns plenty of easy buckets.
Phoenix tallied 25 points – a full quarter of its total – off 16 Warriors turnovers.
“A lot of miscommunication, some confusion,” coach Steve Kerr. “Some of that is to be expected with half the team being new and some of the terminology. We can do a better job as a coaching staff probably of simplifying some things.
“I’m not worried about it. It’s going to come. But it’s a good reminder that stuff takes time.”
Meanwhile, the Warriors are fortunate to have Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry around to bail out the fits-and-starts offense. Durant poured in 37 points and Curry added 28. They combined for 19-of-33 shooting from the field, while the rest of the team was 16-of-50.
“For the most part, we got great shots all night,” Durant said. “Offense, we’re not worried about.”
That’s the luxury of having two players with a combined five scoring titles. They’ll offset a lot of ugly offense from teammates. They’ll also negate some of the rebounding deficits the Warriors will have to overcome.
Yet it was the defense that held off the Suns. With Green leading the charge, the Warriors held Phoenix to 43 points, on 38.6-percent shooting, in the second half.
No single play was bigger than Green’s magnificent block of a Devin Booker shot at the rim with the Warriors up 97-91 and 3:52 left in the game. A make would have cut the lead to four and, moreover, given the Suns another jolt of bravado.
“That’s a play that I have to make in order to have everyone trust that they can stay home with shooters,” Green explained, “because at that point in the game, you don’t want to give up threes. And if you’re getting scored on at the rim every time, eventually you’re going to help inside. So that’s a play you’ve got to make just to continue to build the trust.”
That’s what this first week was about. Building trust. There are times when one Warrior knows or feels where another will be. There are times when it seems none has any idea.
The result is live-ball turnovers, which amount to charity for the opponent.
On a night when Klay Thompson continued to struggle with his shot (5-of-15, 0-of-6 from deep) and Warriors not named Durant or Curry combined to shoot 1-of-17 from beyond the arc, they found a way.
It is to their advantage that the past two games were against teams expected to finish well below the playoff line.
“We are sorting through combinations, positions, so it’s not shocking to me,” Kerr said. “We are not making threes right now. We’ll make them. Those will start going.
“When those start going, we’ll probably look a little better. We’ll probably feel a little better about ourselves.”