Warriors win 4th straight, hold off Suns 113-107
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) When Steve Blake checked in at the scorer’s table with 5:25 remaining in the third quarter, Stephen Curry shook his head and shouted across the court, asking Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson not to take him out.
Jackson, a self-described ”feel coach,” changed his plan. He had Blake enter instead for Andre Iguodala, who looked over at Curry and laughed on the way to the bench.
Curry keyed the deciding run later in the third quarter. He finished with 18 points and nine assists on a strained right quad, helping the Warriors hold off the Phoenix Suns 113-107 on Sunday night for their fourth straight win.
”I always tell coach I’m fine,” Curry said. ”He always asks me if something’s going on, whether it was my ankle back in the day or something small like this. I’m surprised he still asked me because he already knows the answer.”
David Lee added 26 points and nine rebounds and Klay Thompson scored 22 points for the Warriors, who built an 18-point lead early in the fourth quarter before the Suns surged back.
Golden State is 9-2 since the All-Star break and a season-high 16 games over .500. The Warriors are two games ahead of Dallas for sixth place in the crowded Western Conference standings.
The Mavericks visit Golden State on Tuesday night.
”The guys had a sense of urgency,” Jackson said. ”They understood how big this game was. They realized we had an opportunity to really take control.”
Gerald Green had 25 points and six rebounds, and Goran Dragic added 24 points and six assists for the Suns, who dropped into a tie with Memphis for eighth in the West.
The Suns also missed a chance to take the four-game season series over the Warriors – and the potential head-to-head tiebreaker for playoff seeding that comes with it. Each team won both meetings on its home floor.
”That’s just the whole point about learning how to be a playoff team,” Green said. ”Certain things you can get away with on certain nights, but when you’re playing a team like this – a team that’s been in the playoffs – you have to be solid for 48 minutes.”
Neither team showed much playoff poise in the final minute.
Green’s layup cut Golden State’s lead to 111-107 with 38.1 seconds remaining. After Thompson missed a 3-pointer, Andre Iguodala came down with a rebound and the Suns were forced to foul.
Phoenix caught a break when Iguodala missed both free throws. But then Green stepped out of bounds receiving a pass from Dragic on the sideline.
Steve Blake missed two free throws to give the Suns yet another chance. Phoenix followed that up with Marcus Morris air-balling a 3-pointer, and Iguodala made two free throws to seal Golden State’s victory.
The Warriors outshot Phoenix 52.9 percent to 48 percent. The Suns outrebounded Golden State 41 to 35 but committed 20 turnovers, while the Warriors only had 12.
”I thought in that third quarter we really got outhustled,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. ”They were active. They were aggressive for the ball. They wanted it more than we did.”
With a nagging quad limiting his playing time, Curry shook off the pain and made sure Jackson kept him on the court longer than expected. Curry made a 3-pointer and handed out six assists during a 23-4 run in the third quarter, and the Warriors went ahead 96-78 early in the fourth.
Curry shot 7 for 16 from the floor in 30 minutes.
”He really took over,” Jackson said.
Before the game, Curry said that he injured his quad during Golden State’s win at Boston on Wednesday and began to feel pain again during Friday’s victory over Atlanta. Both Jackson and Curry said they will communicate with each other during games to determine when – and how much – the All-Star point guard plays.
While he looked a step slow in the first half defending Dragic, Curry came through when his team needed him most.
After the Suns went ahead by 12 in the second quarter, Curry converted a reverse layup while getting fouled by Morris to start a three-point play that brought the Warriors within one. But back-to-back 3-pointers by Dragic helped Phoenix carry a 61-56 lead into intermission.
The Warriors disrupted Phoenix’s offense in the third quarter by trapping Dragic at half court. The swarming defense led to several fast-break opportunities, and Curry controlled the offense with near perfection to put the Warriors ahead for good.
NOTES: Hornacek said G Eric Bledsoe, who has been out since Dec. 30 recovering from knee surgery, will likely return for Wednesday’s home game against Cleveland. … The Warriors recalled G Nemanja Nedovic from Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League. … Suns C Miles Plumlee had two points and four rebounds in 11 minutes after missing the two previous games because of a sprained shoulder.
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP