The Golden State Warriors (11-11) have a golden opportunity to climb back above .500 when they host the 9-12 Chicago Bulls on Thursday.

Both teams entered the season with lofty expectations, but have sputtered out of the gates, struggling in areas they are meant to excel in.

With four championships since 2015, the Warriors have been widely regarded as the greatest shooting team the game has ever seen, but the underlying factor of their greatest years has always been their defense.

Boasting the league's best defensive efficiency in their 2014-15 championship season, second-best for their 2016-17 title, and 11th for their 2017-18 crown – the Warriors rediscovered their dominance on that end of the floor this past season to finish as the second-best defense en route to another ring.

That has cratered this campaign, with Golden State currently allowing 113.4 points per 100 possessions for the 21st-ranked defense.

What that means is that some of the Warriors' point totals from their eighth-ranked offense are going to waste, having scored over 110 points in seven of their 11 losses so far.

Meanwhile, the Bulls have committed to offensively-minded scorers DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic and Zach Lavine as their core trio, but currently own the 22nd-best offense.

In a clash between two sides struggling to establish an identity, the result could simply come down to which side's X-factor shows up – or more specifically, which one shoots the lights out.

PIVOTAL PERFORMERS

Golden State Warriors - Klay Thompson

Klay Thompson is a Warriors legend, a future Hall-of-Famer and one of the greatest shooters in the history of the NBA – but he has never been less efficient than he is right now.

However, when Thompson is feeling it this season, the Warriors win. Shooting 35.5 per cent from the field and 32.5 per cent from deep in losses, Thompson's numbers skyrocket to 43.7 per cent from the field and 44.7 per cent on three-pointers in the 10 wins he has played in.

Only the Boston Celtics score a higher percentage of their points from three-pointers (41.7 per cent) than the Warriors (41.2 per cent), so it makes sense that when their secondary sharpshooter catches fire, good things happen.

Chicago Bulls - Zach Lavine

While the Warriors rely on a heavy dose of three-pointers to put up their points, the Bulls are the opposite, leading the league in their percentage of points that come from the mid-range (14.6 per cent).

This is primarily due to DeRozan's affinity for the mid-range, and in turn, it leaves them 28th in the percentage of points that come from the three-point line (27.4 per cent).

To outgun the Warriors, you need to score big, and the Bulls' best bet to get hot from deep is Zach Lavine.

Making 2.8 threes per game, he is the only Bulls player averaging more than Coby White's 1.5, and his win/loss splits are eerily similar to Thompson's.

He is hitting 3.6 threes at 43.9 per cent in wins, and 2.1 threes at 26.4 per cent in losses, indicating his outsized importance and responsibility for the interior-heavy Bulls offense.

KEY BATTLE - Can the Bulls slow down the Warriors' ball movement?

While the Bulls' offense has been disappointing, their defense has actually been a pleasant surprise, climbing from the 23rd-ranked unit last season up to the 11th-best this time around.

Golden State's porous defense and second-highest pace in the league could provide a perfect environment for the Bulls to put up a big score, so it may come down to if they can force Stephen Curry to beat them by himself.

While Curry has been spectacular, averaging 31.4 points, the Warriors lead the league in assists per game at 29.7, so if the Bulls can figure out how to force the Warriors into isolations and restrict their quick passing, they can force the reigning champions to play the game out of their comfort zone.

 

HEAD-TO-HEAD

This will be the first meeting between the Warriors and Bulls this campaign after two fixtures in the 2021-22 season – resulting in two convincing Golden State wins.

The champions-in-waiting hammered the Bulls 119-93 last November, before following it up with a 138-96 thrashing in January, making it 10 consecutive victories against Chicago dating back to 2017.

Luka Doncic's dazzling NBA feats are "getting boring", joked Dallas Mavericks coach Jason Kidd, after the point guard posted his third 40-point triple-double of the season.

The Slovenian scored 41 points alongside 12 rebounds and 12 assists to help his side snap a four-game losing run in spectacular style, as they edged a 116-113 win over the Golden State Warriors.

It takes Doncic to three for the number of 40-point triple-doubles in the NBA this season, while no other player has yet managed one.

Kidd jested that it was not enough for a player of his calibre and stressed the 23-year-old remains a generational talent.

"It's getting boring," he quipped. "I mean, let's see something different. Maybe [he can] do it with his left hand. I'm just joking.

"Look, he's one of the best in the world, and that's what he does. Some of us can take him for granted. The man is special."

Doncic, who leads the NBA scoring charts this season, was exhausted but delighted to help the Mavericks turn matters around after a tough end to November.

"I just participated, giving everything I got," he added. "I was really tired at the end, but we needed this game. I think we deserved this win, and we for sure needed this win."

The Warriors came close to forcing overtime, with Klay Thompson missing a late three-point opportunity after the ball rimmed out, to Doncic's relief.

"I was scared, I'm not going to lie," he added. "It's Klay. He's not going to miss many open shots. I was really happy when it didn't go in."

The NBA's leading scorer Luka Doncic increased his average with a stunning 42-point triple-double to defeat the Golden State Warriors 116-113 at home on Tuesday.

Averaging 33.1 points per game this season, Doncic eclipsed 40 points for the fifth time in 19 outings, hitting 14-of-27 from the field while adding 12 rebounds, 12 assists and four steals.

He finished with a plus/minus of plus 22 in 39 minutes, meaning his team was outscored by 19 in the nine minutes he was on the bench.

Doncic received strong support from Tim Hardaway Jr, hitting five-of-11 from long range for his 22 points, while their 2020 first-round draft pick Josh Green showed signs of life with three three-pointers and impressive defense off the bench.

For the Warriors, Stephen Curry continued his MVP-calibre season with another 32 points (11-of-24 shooting), five rebounds and five assists, while last year's seventh overall draft pick Jonathan Kuminga had 14 points (six-of-eight), 10 rebounds and two blocks.

The Mavericks came into the contest on a four-game losing streak, but pulled their record even at 10-10, while the Warriors are in the same boat at 11-11.

Powell shines in revenge game

Norman Powell enjoyed his most productive game of the season to deliver the Los Angeles Clippers a 118-112 comeback win on the road against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Playing on the road against his former club, Powell scored a team-high 32 points off the bench in just 26 minutes, going 10-of-16 from the field, four-of-five from deep and eight-of-10 from the free throw line.

He had 22 of his points in the fourth quarter to overcome a 95-82 deficit at three-quarter time, with the Clippers winning the final period 36-17.

Anfernee Simons was at his sharpshooting best for the Blazers, finishing 13-of-24 from the field and nine-of-16 from three-point range for his 37 points, marking the fourth time in the 23-year-old's career that he has hit nine threes in a game.

Randle has a birthday to remember

Julius Randle turned 28 on Tuesday, and he celebrated with a season-high 36 points in a one-sided 140-110 New York Knicks blowout of the Detroit Pistons.

Randle shot 14-of-24 from the field and six-of-13 from deep, raising his true shooting percentage – which accounts for and weights three-pointers and free throws – to 58.4 per cent.

That figure is more efficient than his 2020-21 season (56.7 per cent true shooting), where he became an All-Star and second-team All-NBA selection, after struggling mightily this past campaign (50.9 per cent).

The Knicks are now one game below .500 at 10-11, and boast the league's 10th-best offense.

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was unfazed by his side's narrow 113-116 road loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, instead choosing to focus on what he called Jonathan Kuminga's best game as a professional.

There were warning signs early that this was not going to be the Warriors' night as they quickly fell down 23-6 after eight minutes of action, and despite fighting back well, they were unable to overcome the brilliance of Luka Doncic.

The 23-year-old MVP favourite scored 41 points on 14-of-27 shooting with 12 rebounds, 12 assists and four steals – posting a game-high plus/minus of plus 22 in his 39 minutes.

That means in the nine minutes he was on the bench, the Mavericks were outscored by 19 points, and Kerr acknowledged after the game that there was nothing they could do about the Slovenian when he is playing like that.

"Luka is Luka, he is just a tremendous shot-creator and shot-maker, and we just couldn't get the ball to go down tonight," he said.

"I love the effort, and I told the guys we're in a really good spot. We have kind of rounded into form, our bench has an identity, and we very easily could've won that game – but the ball has to go in the hoop, and sometimes it doesn't.

"Just an off night, you could see right away we fell down 23-6. We had plenty of good looks, it's just part of the season. This happens, no big deal."

A big part of the Warriors' fightback was Kuminga's play when both teams had their second-units on the floor, with the former lottery pick hitting six-of-eight from the field for 14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks in his 26 minutes.

"It was the best game I've ever seen 'JK' play," he said. "Everything he did contributed towards making an impact on winning.

"His defense on Luka was fantastic, he was disciplined, he stayed down, he challenged shots, and I think he had a couple blocks. 

"He stayed patient offensively, he took the shots that were there, he knocked down a big three. JK has been fantastic, he's really coming into his own and that's exciting.

"It's exciting, because it's not easy. It's not easy for him to be thrown into a high-pressure environment, and to have to be counted on to win.

"A lot of guys, a lot of his colleagues, guys who were drafted near him are being given 30 minutes every night and there's not nearly as much pressure to win, because they're not on championship teams.

"He's handled everything really well, I think the way he is playing is a direct reflection of his attitude and approach these last few weeks."

Kuminga's sophomore season has got off to a rocky start, with the 20-year-old's minutes, points, rebounds, assists, field goal percentage and three-point percentage all lower than his marks as a rookie.

The seventh overall pick from the 2021 NBA Draft is beginning to figure it out, now posting back-to-back games with at least 20 minutes played while shooting over 60 per cent from the floor, and his status as the Warriors' most athletic wing gives him the upside to be a factor as they attempt to defend their title.

Draymond Green expressed his frustration at being hit with a "crazy" and "ridiculous" technical foul during the Golden State Warriors' win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Green scored a season-high 19 points and provided 11 assists - his first double-double of the season - in a commanding 134-114 victory for the defending NBA champions on Sunday.

The four-time All-Star was not impressed when he was slapped with a seventh technical foul of the season late in the fourth quarter, though.

Green was punished for moving slightly onto the court at Target Center when he rose from the bench to celebrate a late layup from Jordan Poole.

He said: "It's crazy. I probably got four techs this year that are questionable. They told me I was at the lane line, but I thought I was standing in the corner. So I don't know. It sucks, though."

Stephen Curry was also given a technical foul for coming on the court and waving his towel after Donte DiVincenzo hit a three-pointer following the incident involving Green.

Green added': "It's the NBA, man. Your team-mates make a good move, I didn't affect the play. There was no one near me. So it sucks. And the fact that that's going to count against my tech count? Come on, that's ridiculous."

The Warriors scored 47 points in the first quarter to lay the foundations for a third consecutive win, moving to 11-10 for the season.

Golden State's tally of 137 points was their biggest of the campaign, Curry scoring 25 of those and Poole weighing in with 24.

The Timberwolves have slipped to 10-10 following back-to-back losses, sitting just below the Warriors in 10th place in the Western Conference.

Ivica Zubac was a man possessed in the Los Angeles Clippers' 114-100 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, recording a stat-line only ever emulated by the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

With star Clippers duo Kawhi Leonard (ankle) and Paul George (hamstring) both absent, Zubac carried his team on both ends, scoring a season-high 31 points on 14-of-17 shooting, while grabbing a career-high 29 rebounds and blocking three shots.

Abdul-Jabbar is the only other player to offically tally those numbers, although it is widely believed both Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain should also be on that list, having played before the NBA began recording blocks and steals in the 1973-74 season.

Zubac became the first Clipper ever with 25 points and 25 rebounds, and since the 1983-84 season, there have only been 24 instances of a player grabbing at least 29 rebounds in a game, joining Andre Drummond, Nikola Vucevic and Kevin Love as the only active players to accomplish the feat.

He grabbed 12 offensive rebounds with his 17 defensive rebounds, raising his average to 10.8 for the season – the ninth-best figure in the league. He is also top-10 in blocked shots, averaging a career-high 1.8 per game.

For the Pacers, Tyrese Haliburton had 19 points and 11 assists to continue maintaining his career-high and league-leading average of 11.1 assists. He is two assists per game clear of second-placed Trae Young (9.1).

The win improves the Clippers' record to 12-9, leaving them fifth in the Western Conference standings.

Nets machine begins to click into gear

The Brooklyn Nets showed the signs of a potential contender as they pulled away in the fourth quarter to defeat the Portland Trail Blazers 111-97.

With offensive focal points Kevin Durant (31 points) and Kyrie Irving (22 points) combining to shoot 20-of-37 from the field (54 per cent), their perimeter-oriented style was thriving. 

Ben Simmons only attempted three shots and finished with two points, but he played exactly the role envisioned for him, posting team-highs in rebounds (12), assists (eight) and steals (three) to keep the ball moving and the offense functioning.

Seth Curry was spectacular off the bench, hitting 11-of-15 shots for a season-high 27 points, showing off his supreme chemistry with former Philadelphia 76ers teammate Simmons.

Golden State's big-three deliver

Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green turned back the clock as they had full control over the Golden State Warriors' 137-114 road win against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Curry continued his MVP-calibre season with 25 points (seven-of-17 shooting), 11 rebounds and eight assists, while his Splash Brother Klay Thompson contributed an efficient 21 points on eight-of-13 shooting, hitting five-of-eight from deep.

They were both set up by Green, who hit six of his seven shots for 19 points, while leading the game with 11 assists and two blocks.

The Warriors have now won five of their past six games to claw above .500 at 11-10.

Kawhi Leonard does not have a timetable for his return to action after a right ankle sprain, says Los Angeles Clippers head coach Ty Lue.

The two-time NBA champion sat out Wednesday's 124-107 defeat to the Golden State Warriors after suffering an injury during Monday's showdown with the Utah Jazz.

Leonard rolled his ankle late in the fourth quarter while attempting to make a block, though the player subsequently had seemed hopeful there would be no lay-off.

The small forward's absence at Chase Center alongside fellow key man Paul George, however, is a blow for the Clippers, with no time frame set for his return.

"[He] woke up with some soreness in his ankle," Lue stated when asked on a prognosis for Leonard's recovery.

"It was a little more than we thought. But he's okay, [he's] feeling better, getting better. We don't know a timetable."

Despite defeat, the Clippers still sit just inside the top six of the Western Conference, having posted eight wins and four losses in November so far.

They next face the Denver Nuggets and the Indiana Pacers in back-to-back home contests on November 25 and November 27, before they travel to face the Portland Trail Blazers on November 29.

Jayson Tatum shook off injury to get the better of Luka Doncic as the Boston Celtics blew out the Dallas Mavericks in a 125-112 victory, having led by as many as 27 points on Wednesday.

Tatum, who had been listed as questionable with a sprained ankle, scored 37 points with 13 rebounds and five assists, while Jaylen Brown contributed 31 points on 13-of-18 field shooting.

Doncic scored a game-high 42 points with eight rebounds and nine assists but gave up five turnovers, and was blocked by Tatum in the fourth quarter.

Tatum and Doncic went head to head in the final quarter after the Mavs closed to 117-107. The Celtics forward first dunked, then made two free-throws after being fouled by the Slovenian, before blocking Doncic's driving lay-up.

Brown drained a three-point attempt after Marcus Smart's assist and suddenly it was 124-107 and game over.

Smart had 13 points with nine assists, while center Al Horford hit four-of-four from three-point range in his 14 points.

The Celtics moved to an NBA-best 14-4 record with the victory, while the Mavs suffered their fifth loss in six road games to fall to 9-8.

Wiggins stars as Warriors get back to winning ways

All-Star Andrew Wiggins enjoyed a season-high game with 31 points including six three-pointers as the Golden State Warriors won 124-107 over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Stephen Curry scored 22 points, making four-of-10 from beyond the arc, with six rebounds and nine assists as the Warriors improved to 9-10.

The result ended the three-game winning run of the Clippers, who were without All-Stars Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. Marcus Morris Sr top scored for the Clippers with 19 points.

Bulls topple Bucks to claim another big scalp

The Chicago Bulls claimed another big scalp only a few days after ending the Celtics' nine-game winning run, with a 118-113 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.

DeMar DeRozan starred for the Bulls with 36 points and eight assists, while Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo had 36 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.

Chicago trailed 109-106 with 1:15 remaining before Coby White sunk two three-pointers to sink the Bucks, who gave up 19 turnovers for the game.

Kawhi Leonard's return to the Los Angeles Clippers lasted three games before another injury, with a rolled ankle ruling him out of Wednesday's fixture against the Golden State Warriors.

Leonard missed all of last season after tearing his ACL in the 2021 playoffs, and after returning for two games in October, he proceeded to miss another three weeks with his troublesome knee.

The 31-year-old two-time NBA Finals MVP and two-time Defensive Player of the Year has started each of the Clippers' past three games, averaging 8.3 points in 23.3 minutes as he works his way back into form.

In Monday's win against the Utah Jazz, where the Clippers were already missing Paul George due to a strained hamstring, Leonard landed awkwardly after attempting to block a shot in the fourth quarter, and was subsequently ruled out of the rest of the contest.

After that game, he said: "I just rolled my ankle… but I should be fine".

The Clippers sorely miss Leonard at his offensive best, as they currently boast the second-best defense in the league, but the third-worst offense.

His next opportunity to get back on the floor will be Friday at home against the Denver Nuggets, or if that is too soon, Sunday at home against the Indiana Pacers.

The Splash Brothers were at the peak of their powers in the Golden State Warriors' 127-120 road win against the Houston Rockets on Sunday.

Fresh off his first NBA Finals MVP, Stephen Curry continued his remarkable season with 33 points (11-of-20 shooting, seven-of-14 from three-point range) and a season-high 15 assists. It was one assist shy of his career high, set back in 2013 and matched in 2014.

But the story was his backcourt partner Klay Thompson, who is shooting a career-worst percentage from both the field (36.3 per cent) and from long-range (33.6 per cent) this season.

He began to right the ship with a stunning 43-point performance, hitting 10 of his 13 three-point attempts on his way to 14-of-23 shooting. It is the sixth game of his career with at least 10 three-pointers in a game, and he also owns the all-time record with 14.

For the Rockets, the third overall selection from this year's NBA Draft, Jabari Smith Jr, showed exactly why he was so highly coveted. The long-armed, six-foot-11 power forward scored a season-high 22 points on eight-of-14 shooting, hitting three long-balls.

The win is the Warriors' first on the road this season from nine attempts, giving them an 8-9 record, while the Rockets fell to 3-14.

Durant makes history in Irving's return

Kevin Durant became the fourth player in NBA history to score at least 25 points in the first 17 games of a season in Sunday's 127-115 victory against the Memphis Grizzlies.

In the return of Kyrie Irving from his team-imposed suspension, Durant led the Nets with 26 points on nine-of-16 shooting, adding seven rebounds, seven assists, a steal and a block. The last player to score at least 25 in their first 17 games of a season was Rick Barry back in the 1966-67 campaign.

The Nets also benefited from Ben Simmons' best game since arriving with the team, scoring a season-high 22 points on 11-of-13 shooting with eight rebounds and five assists, boasting a game-high plus/minus of plus 19.

Irving was quiet in his return, hitting five-of-12 shots for 14 points and zero assists with four turnovers.

Fox leads the Kings to sixth win in a row

The Sacramento Kings have now won six games in a row after a 137-129 shootout against the Detroit Pistons.

Sacramento have scored at least 120 points in each of their wins on this streak, highlighted by a 153-point outing against the Nets, which is the most points scored by any team this season.

De'Aaron Fox top-scored with 33 points on 11-of-18 shooting, adding seven assists. After never previously shooting better than 48 per cent in a season, Fox is 55.4 per cent from the field this campaign, and a career-best 37.5 per cent from three.

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr says the defending champions are playing "scattered" basketball after slumping to their eighth straight road loss to open the 2022-23 season.

The Warriors were brushed aside by the Phoenix Suns 130-119 on Wednesday, leaving Golden State with a 6-9 record, and their first 0-8 road record to start since the 1989-90 season.

Golden State's road start is the worst ever by a defending champion in NBA history. The eight-game losing run is also a tie for third for longest road streak by a defending champion in their title-defense season.

"What we have to do is stay with it and find it," Kerr told reporters. "In order to find it, we've got to get everybody on board, on the same page in terms of just worrying about winning and that's it.

"Right now, we're just scattered. It's a pick-up game. It's a pick-up game out there. There's no execution at either end. There's no commitment to the group to get three stops in a row to execute on offense.

"It obviously starts with me. I'm the coach of the team. I have to figure out a way to get that production, that sort of commitment to the team and each other and to winning.

"There's no collective grit. We lack grit right now. When you don't have grit, the game is really easy for the other team... It’s a Drew League game. We’re playing a Drew League game right now.”

The Warriors continue to struggle defensively, having allowed 124.3 points per game on the road this season, which is the worst in the NBA.

Phoenix were the sixth Golden State opponent to score 120 or more points in their 15 games this season.

"I think we're feeling sorry for ourselves and no one is going to feel sorry for us," Kerr added. "Everyone can't wait to play us and kick our a***. We've had a lot of success and a lot of fun and joy beating people over the years and teams don’t forget that."

Stephen Curry was a lone hand on offense, scoring 50 points including making seven-of-11 from beyond the arc, but the Warriors' bench only added 17 points collectively.

"It's not about stats. Steph could probably go and score 75 if he wanted," Kerr said. "I think it's not about numbers. Steph played well, and nobody else did. It's about the team, it's about the commitment. That's what makes basketball special and this team special over the years."

Stephen Curry scored 50 points but could not prevent the Golden State Warriors' winless road run from extending to eight games after a 130-119 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.

The defeat means the Warriors are 0-8 on the road this season, and slump to 6-9 in the 2022-23 campaign, which is a tie for fourth worst 15-game start to a season by an NBA champion.

Golden State's 0-8 road start is the worst ever by a defending champion in NBA history. The eight-defeat run is also a tie for third for longest road losing streak by a defending champion in their title-defense season.

The Warriors' defense was an issue once again, having allowed 124.3 points per game on the road this season which is the worst in the NBA. The Warriors' opponents have scored 120 or more points six times in 15 games this season.

The Suns improved to 9-5, with point guard Cameron Payne top scoring with 29 points including six three-pointers alongside Devin Booker with 27 points. Mikal Bridges added 23 points with five triples along with eight rebounds and nine assists.

Phoenix, who were without Cameron Johnson (knee), Chris Paul (heel) and Jae Crowder, knocked down a season-high 21 three-pointers, which is the most allowed by the Warriors this season, shooting at 52.5 per cent from beyond the arc.

Curry posted 50 points on 17-of-28 field shooting with seven-of-11 from three-point range with nine rebounds and six assists. Klay Thompson added 19 points but the Warriors' bench combined for only 17 points.

Celtics extend winning run to eight games

The short-handed Boston Celtics secured their eighth straight win with a 126-101 victory over the Atlanta Hawks where seven players scored double digits for the winners.

Jayson Tatum had a career-high six assists in the first quarter and finished the game with 19 points, with seven rebounds and eight assists, while Jaylen Brown top scored for Boston with 22 points. Derrick White dished off 10 assists and Al Horford hauled down 11 rebounds.

During the Celtics' eight-game win streak, they have the NBA's best offensive efficiency (123.2), three-point field goals made (16.4) and assists-turnovers ratio (2.3).

SGA comes up clutch again for OKC

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored an equal career-high 42 points, including draining a last-gasp three-pointer to lift the Oklahoma City Thunder past the Washington Wizards 121-120.

Bradley Beal had hit a two-pointer to put the Wizards up 120-118 with 6.1 seconds left, but Gilgeous-Alexander, who scored 19 points in the third quarter, had time to hit a step-back triple with 1.1 seconds remaining.

Over the last two seasons, Gilgeous-Alexander has scored four go-ahead or game-tying field goals in the final five seconds, which is more than any other player in the NBA. Nine players have two.

The Golden State Warriors have a chance to reaffirm themselves as the heavyweights in the Western Conference on Wednesday when the defending NBA champions visit the Phoenix Suns.

Steve Kerr's team have endured a difficult start to their bid to win back-to-back titles, going 6-8 across their opening 14 games.

But they produced one of their best performances of the season on Monday, crushing the San Antonio Spurs 132-95.

A meeting with the Suns, seen as one of the primary challengers to Golden State in the West going into the season, my provide a more accurate indication of whether the Warriors have turned things around.

Phoenix lost a thriller with the Miami Heat on Monday, losing 113-112 on the road to drop to 8-5 but had little issue knocking off the Warriors in their first meeting this season on October 25, prevailing 134-105.

Veteran point guard Chris Paul has missed the last three games with a heel problem, and it remains to be seen if he will be healthy to play against the Warriors.

However, even without Paul the Suns possess one of the most talented rosters in the league, and with Devin Booker continuing his outstanding form from last season, they are well-equipped to trouble a Warriors team that has yet to win on the road this campaign.
 

PIVOTAL PERFORMERS

Phoenix Suns - Devin Booker

Through 13 games, Booker has the highest offensive rating of his career (117.2) while his effective field goal percentage of 53.5 is his best since the 2019-20 season (54.4).

His 26.5 points per game rank 11th in the NBA, and his ability to maintain that efficiency will be key against a Warriors team whose problems have predominantly been on defense.

Golden State Warriors - Jordan Poole

Poole scored 36 points after being inserted into the starting lineup as Klay Thompson was rested against San Antonio, making a compelling argument for becoming a permanent fixture in the Warriors' starting five.

Kerr is not ready to make the that move, but, after the spark he gave Golden State last time out, Poole could play a more prominent role in a game that may yet be a preview of the Western Conference Finals if the Warriors can get back on track.
 

KEY BATTLE - Can Warriors find a winning bench combination?

The main issue with the Warriors does not concern their starting five, but their youthful bench.

Indeed, the Warriors' bench has an average plus-minus of minus 4.9, the worst in the NBA, their issues in that regard exemplified by Golden State sending former second overall pick James Wiseman to the G-League.

By contrast, the Suns' bench ranks sixth in the league with an average plus-minus of plus-1.5. If the Warriors cannot find a way to narrow that gap, it could be another difficult night for the champions.


HEAD TO HEAD

The Warriors and Suns split the season series in 2021-22, each winning once at home and once on the road. Recent history favours the Suns, though, with the Warriors having lost five of their last seven against Phoenix on the road, including the blowout defeat in Arizona last month.

Steve Kerr hailed the "pretty amazing" performance of Jordan Poole as the Golden State Warriors routed the San Antonio Spurs but is not planning changes to his starting line-up at this point.

Poole had endured an indifferent start to the season but was influential in Monday's 132-95 win, which saw Klay Thompson rested.

Finishing with a season-best 36 points on the back of 13-for-20 shooting and five three-pointers, Poole was sat down with a little over eight minutes remaining and earned an ovation from the home crowd at Chase Center.

"Jordan was pretty amazing offensively," Warriors head coach Kerr said. "He got it rolling right away."

This was the Warriors' best performance of the season and one that sees the defending champions improve to 6-8 in a campaign that has yet to truly catch fire.

However, Kerr said any thoughts of bumping Poole permanently into the starting five at the expense of Thompson are a little premature.

"No, it's not something I'm thinking about," Kerr said. 

"Our starting five with Klay has been really good this year. The bigger thing is finding the right combinations off the bench."

Poole's performance came on an even more special night, given it coincided with the launch of his "Poole Party" bobblehead.

"I love it, it's absolutely amazing. It's my first one. It's really a special accomplishment. It’s an honour. I'm glad it came out the way it did," he said.

It was also confirmed on Monday that James Wiseman will spend some time with Golden State's G League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors.

The number two overall pick in the 2020 draft had not played in any of the three games prior to the Spurs win, where he had two points, two rebounds and three assists in eight minutes.

Wiseman's career in the NBA has been somewhat stop-start with this just his 50th game in three years. Having appeared in 27 during his rookie year, he missed the entirety of last season due to complications from a meniscus injury - bar three outings in the G League.

Asked about the decision, Kerr said: "He needs reps. He needs to play. It's not easy when you don't get minutes."

Wiseman said he is not viewing the call as a step back.

"I don't look at this as a demotion. I'm just ready to go out there and hoop," he said.

It was a move that proved beneficial for Poole earlier in this career. He played 11 games in the 2020-21 season with Santa Cruz, averaging 22.4 points, and had some words of encouragement for his team-mate.

"I'm telling [Wiseman] this is not a demotion. This is not a punishment," Poole said. 

"I'm telling him to go down there and take 50 shots, be aggressive, get techs, hang on the rim, do it all. Just so he can understand what he wants to be at the highest level. This is just a step in that direction."

Joel Embiid flexed his muscles with arguably the best game of his career, with a season-best 59-point haul in the Philadelphia 76ers' 105-98 victory over the Utah Jazz on Sunday.

Embiid was dominant in every facet, with his 59 points coming on 19-of-28 shooting, making 20-of-24 from the stripe, while having 11 rebounds, eight assists and seven blocks.

The Sixers center is the first player since blocks became official in 1973-74, to record 50-plus points, 10-plus rebounds, five-plus assists and five-plus blocks in a game.

Embiid is also the first player since Damian Lillard in 2019 to have more than half of his team's points in a game.

The Cameroonian erupted in the fourth quarter with 26 points, taking him into fifth spot for the best scoring performances in franchise history. It was a career-best points haul for 28-year-old Embiid.

Tyrese Maxey was Philadelphia's next best with 18 points and four steals, with James Harden still out with a foot injury.

The Jazz had no answers to Embiid, who had scored 42 points on Saturday against the Atlanta Hawks, with Malik Beasley scoring 18 off the bench while Lauri Markkanen had 15 points with 10 rebounds.

Garland briefly holds season-high points haul

Darius Garland piled on 27 fourth-quarter points for a career-high 51 points, but he could not lift the Cleveland Cavaliers past the Minnesota Timberwolves, losing 129-124.

Garland's 51 points, which included 10 triples, was briefly a league season-high, before Embiid's monster game for the Sixers.

The Timberwolves led by 24 points late in the third before the Cavs rallied, led by Garland, who became the fourth Cleveland player to reach 50 points.

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 29 points with 13 rebounds, while D'Angelo Russell added 30 points with 12 assists.

AD lifts Lakers without LeBron to snap skid

Anthony Davis stepped up in LeBron James' absence, scoring 37 points with 18 rebounds as the Los Angeles Lakers snapped their five-game losing run with a 116-103 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

Davis shot 15-of-25 from the field, while bringing down 10 offensive rebounds among his 18 for the game, with Lonnie Walker adding 25 points, making four-of-five from beyond the arc.

Kevin Durant was a lone hand on offense for the Nets with Seth Curry, Ben Simmons and Kyrie Irving all absent. Durant scored 31 points with nine rebounds and seven assists.

Meanwhile, Stephen Curry hit 27 points as the Golden State Warriors' winless road run (0-7) extended to 0-7 after being downed 122-115 by the Sacramento Kings.

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