The Warriors finally had a thermonuclear first quarter

The Warriors basically could not afford to lose on Monday night. A loss would have left them tied with Minnesota for seventh in the West, with a relatively challenging five-game road trip starting Wednesday. As you might have heard, the Warriors are basically the Process Sixers on the road, going 7-26 away from the Chase Center this season. They’ve also been plagued by slow starts, home and away; according to the ESPN broadcast, the Warriors were -107 in the first quarter in their past 12 games. Some urgency, lacking all year, was necessary.

As it turned out, the Dubs rose to the occasion.

For 12 glorious minutes Monday night, the Warriors looked like the Warriors. The ball was skipping around, the defense was something like locked in, and above all, Klay Thompson was unfathomably hot. For 12 glorious minutes, the Suns were bugs on the Warriors’ windshield, as Golden State shot 72% from the field and pasted Phoenix 43-21 in the first quarter. When Thompson checked out after eight minutes, he had 18 points; the Suns had 12.

It didn’t last, and it didn’t matter. After Thompson poured in 33 points in the first half, he was completely blanked in the third quarter, and tacked on just five points in the fourth. (Weirdly, he missed three free throws, tying a years-old career high.) The second half saw some ugly turnovers from Jordan Poole and, to be fair, Steph Curry. But again, it didn’t matter. The first-quarter explosion created a hole that the Suns couldn’t dig out of for the rest of the night, and the Warriors closed out a relatively easy 123-112 win.

In other words, it was vintage Warriors, maybe their best extended stretch all year. It was such a throwback game that Andre Iguodala even rose up for a reverse dunk at one point.

The Warriors relished it, too. The Suns had gotten under Thompson’s skin the first few times the teams had played, with Klay earning three extremely out of character technicals. The first game was the one where Thompson looked so bad physically that Charles Barkley declared he was cooked, a view that seemed reasonable at the time but one that has proven to be spectacularly premature.

Thompson, as he does when he’s on, let his play do the talking. But Curry had some chirping for Chris Paul near the end of the game. Paul tried to body Curry on defense, and Curry took him to the baseline for an and-one. Curry appeared to say, “This ain’t 2014 no more,” which would be a clear reference to when Paul’s Clippers knocked the Warriors out of the first round.

After the game, Paul played it dead straight, not even breaking out a smile as he pretended to have no idea what happened that year. “S—t, I don’t know what happened in 2014, y’all tell me,” he said to a group of reporters who couldn’t hold back their laughter. “Which series?” he kept asking. Not bad.

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