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.”