Two Positives, Two Negatives From Warriors' Preseason Loss to Suns

OAKLAND -- The Warriors played their final preseason game at Oracle Arena on Monday and though it was a mostly forgettable evening of basketball it was not without its virtues and demerits.

Somewhere beneath the flurry of technical fouls assessed to Kevin Durant (one), Stephen Curry (one) and Steve Kerr (two, prompting automatic ejection) were things the coaching staff can chew on before taking the floor Wednesday night in Las Vegas to face the LeBron Lakers.

Here are two positives and two negatives that we found while sifting through the third of five preseason games:


DJ showcases another skill

Not many teams have a point center. The Warriors do. Draymond Green can operate the offense in his part-time role as a 6-foot-7 center.

But the Warriors would like to wean themselves off of the tendency to play Green at center. DeMarcus Cousins is a very good passer, but he won't be ready to play until December or later.

So who among the three youngster -- Jordan Bell, Damian Jones and Kevon Looney -- sees the floor well enough to set up his smaller teammates? Bell may be the slickest passer of the trio, but Jones showed enough to prove he shouldn't be dismissed.

The 7-footer recorded five assists in 22 minutes. He found cutters with bounce passes. He zipped passes to the corners. He looked like someone who recognizes and can capitalize on the talent around him.

Jones also had 11 points and eight rebounds. In 49 preseason minutes, he has 22 points, 19 rebounds, eight assists and three blocks.

"I'm feeling pretty confident," he said. "This whole offseason I've been working hard to work up to this position. And then, after the first game to get those jitters out, I'm gaining more confidence each game."

Curry is, um, ready to fire

Curry played 24 minutes and scored 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including 3-of-8 from beyond the arc. He showed no signs of the 10-day layoff between games; he did not play last Friday in Seattle against the Kings.

Curry's performance on Monday may have gained him a new fan.

"Well, I finally believe there is a Steph Curry, a Kevin Durant," said Deandre Ayton, Phoenix's rookie center. "I haven't seen Klay (Thompson), really, but that was insane. Just seeing how Curry can really score the ball and how efficient he is, it's insane."

Ayton marveled over one play in particular, that being a 28-foot bomb on which Curry was fouled, resulting in a 4-point play with 7:09 left in the first quarter.

"I'm like, ‘What the heck?" Ayton said. "It was just like I'm watching on TV, but I'm actually in the game. So I'm like, ‘Alright, ‘Dre, lock in. Lock in.' "

Through two games, Curry has scored 44 points in 44 minutes. He is shooting 60.0 percent (15-of-25) from the field, including 47.1 percent (8-of-17) from deep. He is 6-of-6 from the line.


Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy

After two games in which they did a nice job of moving the ball and limiting turnovers, the Warriors chose this game to fall victim to some old habits.

Curry had more turnovers (five) than assists (four). Bell had four turnovers and zero assists. Durant somewhat offset his three turnovers by ringing five up assists, tying Jones for the team-high.

The Warriors finished with 18 turnovers, their highest total through three games, and it was plenty enough to take the shine off their 26 assists. All but three of those turnovers were committed by returning players with guaranteed contracts.

Phoenix scored 28 points, 24 percent of its total, off Warriors turnovers.

"We weren't ready for the task tonight," Kerr acknowledged.

Phoenix is rising

The Warriors got some unwelcome news: After winning 21 games -- the lowest total since their inaugural season in 1968-69 -- last season, Phoenix did some remodeling that should pay off.

Trying to put a better squad around precocious scorer Devin Booker, the Suns added 3-and-D wing Trevor Ariza and legitimate stretch-4 Ryan Anderson. The vets will make an impact, though Anderson will get exposed on defense.

That might not matter much, Deandre Ayton, the 7-foot-1 center selected with the first overall pick in the June draft, will be anchoring the defense with gifts that can cause problems for years to come.

"He's a highly talented player," Stephen Curry said after the 20-year-old posted 18 points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes.

"I like his game a lot," Kevin Durant said. "I really like the system that he's in. He can shoot it. His coach is going to put him in great position to be successful and he has some veterans around him that are going to teach him the ropes."

File it away. Ayton is going to be a headache, sooner rather than later.

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