Warriors squander Stephen Curry’s 50-point gem on embarrassing defensive performance against limping Suns

Stephen Curry has lost 50-point games before. His first 50-point outing came at Madison Square Garden in 2013. His 54 points kept him close, but Carmelo Anthony’s 35 gave the Knicks a four-point win. The Warriors again lost a 2021 game in which Curry dropped 57 as Dallas was able to pull off a two-point win thanks to Luka Doncic’s 42 points. In these instances, the Warriors were either hampered by injuries or weren’t quite the team they would one day become. Curry was magnificent but another star led a superior overall team to a very close win.

Neither was the case on Wednesday. The Warriors were essentially complete with Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins all healthy. Their opponent, the Phoenix Suns, played without Chris Paul, Cam Johnson and Jae Crowder. Their top scorer was Cameron Payne with 29 points. No Sun took 17+ shots in the game. Curry done 17 hits in the game. Yet the game never seemed particularly close in the second half. Phoenix led by as many as 18 points and eventually won 130-119.

“We lack collective grit,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said complained after the match. “And when you don’t have grit, the game is easy for the other team.” There is some truth in this statement. Gary Payton II, their ace defensive player who made his way out of the G-League, fell victim to the luxury tax this offseason and is now playing for the Portland Trail Blazers. Otto Porter Jr. is also gone.

But the core trio of Green, Thompson and Curry who won four championships together are still in place. So is coach Steve Kerr. Kevon Looney, perhaps the grittiest RPG on the roster, is still here. Andre Iguodala is on the roster, even though he doesn’t play. If there was ever grit on this list, logically there should still be.

Still, the Warriors now have the #27 defense in the NBA. They are a winless 0-8 on the road and have allowed only 130 points to a Suns team that is missing many key pieces. If the season ended today, the Warriors wouldn’t even make the play-ins.

There is plenty of time to fix this. It’s not even Thanksgiving, and the Warriors have won enough playoff games on the road to no longer worry about seeding. But a 15-game champ is significant, and for all the criticism Golden State’s younger players have received in light of this slow start, it’s worth noting that James Wiseman and Jonathan Kuminga didn’t play tonight and Moses Moody saw only the field the fourth quarter. Golden State’s veterans were on the field as Phoenix scored 70 points in the first half. They have to be better no matter who comes off their bench. If not? They will be wasting many more Curry masterpieces before this season is over.

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