Damion Lee’s second and final return to Chase Center this season, barring a playoff matchup, wasn’t as kind for the former Warrior on Monday night in Golden State’s 123-112 win against the Phoenix Suns.
Lee played 18 minutes, scoring seven points and grabbed five rebounds. He was 3 of 9 from the field and a minus-11 in plus/minus. The optics were worse than the box score.
The Phoenix Suns are now 7-22 on the season when at a deficit after the first quarter. Exclusive to the road, they’re 1-16 in the same scenario.
Strong starts are an entity that was once a strong suit – as they’d come out of the gate dictating with their defense and flowing into their nuanced and quick-hitting offensive actions – but have not been a dynamic that their 2022-23 rendition has seen consistently on the road.
The Warriors simply wanted it more, early yesterday. As cliche as that is to say and as empty in analysis as it is to type, that’s simply the truth.
They were able to generate reaction advantage amidst the Suns switching both on-ball and off it and exploited the slightest hiccups they saw from the defense in a fashion that they’ve made a signature to observe.
Their hot shooting – at 72.7% from the field and from deep – naturally got the home crowd involved and made the Suns efforts in scrapping back that much more tumultuous.
After racing out to an 8-0 run to open the game against the Phoenix Suns, the Warriors led 43-21 after the first quarter. Their 22-point lead in the 69th game of the season was their biggest after one period all season long. The previous high was a 20-point lead all the way back on Nov. 27, the 21st game of the season.
The Warriors led by as many as 25 points. The Suns cut the lead to only three points twice in the third quarter. They never led once as Golden State closed out a 123-112 win, improving to 36-33 on the season and jumping to the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference standings.
“Yeah, that was a great start,” coach Steve Kerr said after the win. “I think our guys were ready to roll. We’ve lost three straight games to Phoenix in the regular season. I thought tonight our guys showed the intensity right out of the gates and executed.
“That was obviously the key to the game. We were able to hold them off when they made their run, but that start was fantastic.”
A shove to Green from Lee as JaMychal came to Moody’s side to pick him up was the final straw. Green needed teammates, coaches, Suns players and referees to hold him back. Enough was enough. The 32-year-old is a protector at heart and was ready for action.
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