OAKLAND — The Warriors coached themselves to a 129-83 blowout victory against the Phoenix Suns Monday night.
The first four words of the previous sentence are no exaggeration or figure of speech. The Warriors literally coached themselves. Head coach Steve Kerr stood and watched as his players ran the huddle during timeouts, drew up plays and made in-game adjustments.
Most of the time, Kerr didn’t watch at all. He stood off to the side with his back turned while players took turns coaching.
“It’s the players’ team,” Kerr said after the game, “and they have to take ownership of it. As coaches, our job is job is to nudge them in the right direction, guide them. But, we don’t control them. They determine their own fate.”
Andre Iguodala was the head coach first. Then, David West was the head coach during the next timeout. Then, Draymond Green took a turn.
How embarrassing for the Suns.
“It had nothing to do with being disrespectful,” Kerr said. “It had to do with me trying to reach my team. I have not reached them for the last month. They’re tired of my voice. I’m tired of my voice.
“It has been a long haul these last few years. We figured it was a good night to pull a trick out of the hat and do something different.”
With Kerr playing the role of passive observer, the Warriors had one of their best games of the season. They dished 36 assists, committed only 12 turnovers and held the Suns to a miniscule 34.7 percent shooting from the field.
Stephen Curry finished with 22 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in just 30 minutes (he did not play in the fourth quarter). Kevin Durant had 17 points on eight-of-nine shooting. And Klay Thompson had 16 points on seven-of-12 shooting.
The Suns, whose record is 18-40, were not missing their head coach, Jay Triano. He ran his team’s huddles. The Suns were missing their shooting guard, Devin Booker, who leads Phoenix in points per game with 24.1. He has missed the Suns past four contests with a left hip pointer.
The Warriors, whose record is 44-13, were missing Green. He sat out with a sprained left index finger. Mostly, he coached.
How did Kerr assess Green’s coaching?
“I don’t know,” Kerr said, “I wasn’t listening.”
Of the Warriors’ 57 games this season, Green has missed eight, including six with a right shoulder injury he suffered December 6. The Warriors never revealed exactly how Green hurt his shoulder. They described his injury as general “wear and tear.” Before this season, Green had missed only 12 of 397 career games.
Omri Casspi started in place of Green against the Suns. Casspi played 27 minutes, scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. The Warriors outscored Phoenix by 28 points when Casspi was in the game. Their record is 6-1 this season when Casspi starts.
“I’ve hardly played him, to no fault of his own,” Kerr said. “He just hasn’t had much of a chance.”
“It’s tough,” Casspi said. “The team is running well. I had to make some adjustments. I felt like the guys found me early with some easy ones to get going.”