What we learned as Durant, Suns spoil CP3's Warriors debut

What we learned as Durant, Suns spoil CP3's Warriors debut originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO – Opening night at Chase Center turned out to be a roller-coaster of runs that ended in a 108-104 Warriors loss to the Phoenix Suns.

The Warriors shot a lowly 35.6 percent from the field and only made 23.3 percent of their 43 3-point attempts. They also were outrebounded 60-49 and only had 18 assists. The first game of the 2023-24 season was an exciting one, but not pretty as the Warriors only scored 18 points to the Suns’ 28 in the fourth quarter.

Klay Thompson struggled to start off his contract year, scoring 15 points on 6-of-18 shooting and went 3 of 11 beyond the arc.

Steph Curry battled foul trouble and led the Warriors with 27 points on an uncanny 8-of-20 shooting and was 4 of 14 on 3-pointers. Chris Paul started with Draymond Green sidelined and stuffed the box score with 14 points, nine assists and six rebounds. Like the rest of his teammates, he also was far from himself shooting the ball.

Suns star shooting guard Devin Booker topped all scorers with 32 points, and Kevin Durant dropped 18 points in his first game in front of fans back in San Francisco.

Here are three takeaways from the Warriors’ season-opening loss.

CP Starter

Paul’s regular-season debut as a Warrior and his first time playing his former team began with him taking Golden State’s first shot of the night, a misfired fade-away jump shot in the paint. He later in the first quarter showed his veteran savvy taking a charge while being backed down by Durant.

That same savvy showed up early in the second quarter when Paul forced a foul from Drew Eubanks, but the point guard struggled to find his shot. Paul missed all six of his shot attempts in the first half, but he wasn’t alone. The Warriors shot 31 percent (18 of 58) in the first half, and 26.1 percent (6 of 23) from 3-point range.

The pass-first point guard finally found his first made shot with 6:49 remaining in the third quarter to make it a one-point game. His second make was a three-point play to give the Warriors their first lead since there were six minutes left in the first half.

How Paul performed in the second half, like the rest of the Warriors, was night and day from the first half and was a major reason why the game came down to the wire. The starting five played 10 1/2 minutes together and were a plus-5, outscoring the Suns 27-22.

Moody’s Instant Impact 

Down by seven points at 4:20 mark of the first quarter, Warriors coach Steve Kerr turned to his second unit, and Moses Moody made the most of his opportunity from the jump. Moody immediately grabbed a defensive rebound and then blocked Eric Gordon less than a minute later. Within the next 40 seconds, Moody stole an errant pass from Booker and turned it into two points on a fastbreak layup.

Moody by the end of the first quarter had seven points, two rebounds, one steal and one block. His contributions had the Warriors and Suns all tied up at 28 points apiece, and Kerr kept Moody on the floor to open the second quarter and he was the Warriors’ leading scorer at halftime with 11 points.

Though Moody wasn’t needed as much in the second half, his 11 points and career-high three steals were ever important.

Third-Quarter Warriors Return

A major missing ingredient to the Warriors last season was their lack of dominant third quarters coming out of the half. In Game 1, the Warriors showed no mercy in those crucial 12 minutes.

The Warriors outscored the Suns 40-19 in the third quarter, and how they did so was even more impressive. Curry scored seven of the Warriors’ first 15 points in the third quarter but then had to go to the bench after picking up his fourth foul. In came Chris Paul and Gary Payton II. The Warriors held a 25-5 advantage over the Suns in the first seven minutes of the frame.

And during that, they also went on a 12-2 run with Curry on the bench. Paul played nine minutes in the third quarter and scored 10 points, along with grabbing four rebounds and dishing two assists. The Warriors as a team shot 52.2 percent overall in the third quarter and scored 14 points at the free throw line.

Faltering in the fourth quarter was the difference, but the Warriors wouldn’t even have had a chance if it weren’t for their third-quarter flurry.

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