Here is a link to my Thursday column about the Warriors-Suns game. The text runs below:
The Warriors returned to reality on Wednesday night. They weren’t pursuing a record anymore, the most regular-season wins in a row, 33. That thing. And they already had set a record for the most wins to start a season, 24. That thing.
Instead, they played a regular game. One of those. And because they are the Warriors and because they are, until further notice, the best team in the NBA, and because they were home after an absence and because they love being home, they won. Beat the Phoenix Suns 128-103.
The Suns hung around for a while and then they didn’t hang around – they fell off the Earth. In the first quarter, interim coach Luke Walton told his players, “This is a road trip hangover right now. We’re not sharp. The energy is dead in here.” Then the Warriors found a cure for the hangover and the energy came alive.
The Suns held down Stephen Curry for a while and then they didn’t hold him down. He ended up with 25. And while they were holding down Curry, Klay Thompson murdered them. Ended up with 43. Afterward, he said, “We try to make a statement every night. We do not like to lose.”
We’ve noticed. What the Warriors do is win. What the Warriors do is beat teams like the Suns. Mediocre teams like the Suns. The Warriors remind them of the pecking order in the league, with the Warriors doing the pecking. The Warriors don’t just beat the mediocre teams. They also beat the bad teams and the good teams. The Warriors beat any kind of team. It’s their routine.
Coming into Wednesday’s game, the Warriors had endured a seven-game road trip. They did not play at home in 18 days. It was the longest time the Warriors had gone between games in their arena since they moved west in 1962. And it meant lots of hotel meals and hotel beds and channel surfing on the TV and the maid scratching on the door with a key and saying “housekeeping” while some tired Warriors player was trying to grab some more ZZZs.
Of course, the Warriors won the first six games of the road trip and dropped the final game in Milwaukee, ending the thrill of the quest and the burden of going for the record.
On the long plane ride home from Milwaukee, Walton reflected on the winning streak and the loss. “I looked back and said that was absolutely incredible,” he said before the game. “Obviously, it doesn’t feel great to lose, but it was a good time to reflect on what our guys had just done and what they accomplished. As far as wishing that we could have won, no. Once it’s over, it’s over. You start watching tape on the next game.”
The Warriors had been away so long Walton lost track of his pregame media session.
“It’s been a long time, “Walton said. “I even had to text Raymond (Ridder, Warriors public relations director) this afternoon. I forgot what time we were doing this.”
“My response,” Ridder replied, “was you lost a game and they probably don’t want to talk to you.”
Much of Walton’s pregame news conference was about absent coach Steve Kerr. Meaning Walton had to answer Kerr questions. When is Kerr coming back? How involved is Kerr right now? That stuff.
It must feel strange to be 25-1 and everyone wants you to take a hike. Or at least give up the chair during timeouts and gracefully slide to the periphery. Here are some of Walton’s answers about Kerr, who was not in the interview room but whose presence was everywhere in the room. Kerr clearly is getting closer to taking over what is his, and will be back soon. The definition of “soon” to be determined.
Walton on Kerr: “This is obviously Steve’s team. The more he can do, the better. He was very active in shootaround today. We’ll continue to encourage him to do as much as he wants when he’s with us. As far as thinking about transitioning back, that’s not going to be beneficial until I know for certain that Steve’s going to be taking over again. We don’t know when that will be so we’re still preparing the same for not having him with us.”
More Walton on Kerr: “He’s a phenomenal coach. The players love playing for him. It’s nice to have him back on the court doing some coaching and putting us through some drills.”
Yet more Walton on Kerr: “And again, obviously he can do as much as he wants. During home games he’s in there at halftime with us giving us his thoughts. But there’s not much, unless he’s going to start sending notes out to the bench during the game, that he can really do. It’s great getting his input. That’s one of the reasons we like being at home so much is we have him around more.”
The Suns game didn’t mean much in the cosmic picture except the Warriors got another win. But in a way it meant everything. It meant order is restored.
The regular season is just that – regular. No more pursuing a gaudy but minor goal, an ephemeral dream, a statistical marvel. Wednesday’s game, humble as it was, reminded everyone they don’t give out the big trophies in December. The only real goal, after all the long road trips and the wins and losses, is the league championship. The Warriors currently have that one.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.