PHOENIX (AP) — Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton have been all smiles on the postgame podium, reminiscing a couple of four-year turnaround for the Phoenix Suns that is in some methods nonetheless laborious to consider.
The Suns gained simply 19 video games throughout their rookie seasons. Now, they’ve tied a franchise report with 17 wins — in a row.
Ayton scored 24 factors, Chris Paul added 15 factors and 11 assists, and the Suns gained their seventeenth straight by beating the Golden State Warriors 104-96 on Tuesday evening in an early showdown between the NBA’s high groups.
“It’s just a lot of work, a lot of mental toughness, staying with it,” Bridges mentioned. “We knew when we first got here that we wanted to turn it around.”
The Suns gained regardless of shedding star guard Devin Booker to a left hamstring damage within the second quarter. He had 10 factors and two rebounds in quarter-hour. The 25-year-old appeared to get damage when driving to the basket for a layup, grabbing behind his left leg earlier than strolling to the locker room a couple of minutes earlier than halftime.
Suns coach Monty Williams mentioned postgame that he did not have a direct replace on Booker. The two-time All-Star got here again to the bench for the second half, cheering on his teammates.
Even with out Booker, the Suns led 56-54 at halftime and 80-78 going into the fourth quarter. The recreation stayed tight, and neither crew led by double digits till Landry Shamet knocked down a 3-pointer — on an help by Paul — with 54.4 seconds left.
“To me, this was just will and toughness,” Williams mentioned.
The win was one other milestone for the Suns, who’ve thrived with the younger core of Ayton, Bridges and Booker. The ultimate key piece got here once they added Paul — an 11-time All-Star — earlier than final season. Phoenix made the NBA Finals in July earlier than shedding to the Milwaukee Bucks, and now they’re on a profitable streak that is lasted greater than month.
The two groups play once more Friday evening at Golden State.
Tuesday’s recreation was a extremely anticipated showdown, because the Suns and Warriors have NBA’s finest data. It was additionally the primary time in league historical past that two groups from the identical division performed one another with profitable percentages of .850 or greater after at the very least 20 regular-season video games, based on Elias Sports Bureau.
The recreation principally lived as much as the hype — at the very least till the Warriors, who had their seven-game profitable streak snapped, went chilly within the fourth quarter.
Jordan Poole led Golden State with 28 factors. Stephen Curry — who got here into the sport averaging 28.6 factors per recreation — had 12 factors on 4 of 21 capturing, together with 3 of 14 from 3-point vary.
“With all of the mistakes we did have and how terrible I shot the ball, it was a close game down the stretch,” Curry mentioned. “I know Booker got hurt, but yes, it was a good learning lesson for us. Understanding the intensity and the focus we need to beat a team like that.”
The Suns restricted the Warriors to simply 42 factors within the second half. The Warriors additionally had 22 turnovers.
The Suns and Warriors at the moment are each 18-3. The solely different time Phoenix has gained 17 straight video games was throughout the 2006-07 season. They’ll go for his or her franchise report 18th win in opposition to the Pistons on Thursday.
The Suns have not misplaced since Oct. 27 when Harrison Barnes hit a game-winning 3 on the buzzer for the Sacramento Kings.
Williams bought a technical foul within the fourth quarter when he ran onto the courtroom following a 3-pointer by Jae Crowder. The triple had prolonged the Phoenix result in 99-91 with just a few minutes remaining, so it was comprehensible why the coach would have a good time throughout the timeout.
The downside was Golden State coach Steve Kerr by no means known as a trip.
Warriors: F Andre Iguadola (proper knee), G Damion Lee (private), G Klay Thompson (proper Achilles restoration) and C James Wiseman (proper knee restoration) did not play. … F Andrew Wiggins was bothered by again spasms earlier Tuesday however performed. He completed with 10 factors in 33:18 minutes. … The Warriors misplaced regardless of a 51-35 rebounding benefit and main 40-14 on factors within the paint.
Suns: F/C Frank Kaminsky (proper knee), F Abdel Nader (proper knee) and F Dario Saric (proper knee) did not play. … Booker hasn’t missed a recreation this season. He was averaging practically 24 factors per recreation earlier than Tuesday. … Cam Johnson began the second half for Booker and completed with 14 factors. … Ayton completed 11 of 19 from the sphere and likewise had 11 rebounds.
In Warriors-Suns, Golden State suffers its third loss within the season
Jae Crowder’s 3-pointer with 3:47 to go sealed the Warriors’ destiny in a 104-96 loss to the Phoenix Suns in a matchup of the NBA’s high two groups that lived as much as its billing. They meet once more Friday in Round 2 at Chase Center.
Green had simply run the size of the courtroom and again two occasions however failed to finish both of his makes an attempt on the rim that would have stemmed the Suns’ game-clinching run. Instead, all he might was watch. Crowder’s 3 was the clincher in a 24-18 fourth quarter that gave the Suns their seventeenth consecutive win and pulled them even with Golden State atop the Western Conference standings at 18-3.
Suns coach Monty Williams was known as for a technical after the play, awarding Steph Curry a single free throw, the Warriors’ solely contribution to the scoreboard between Otto Porter Jr’s bucket with 5:19 to go, pulling the Warriors inside 92-91, and a layup by Jordan Poole with 43 seconds left to make sure the loss was inside single digits.
“We were right there until the final few minutes and had our chances despite the fact that it was obviously a very poor night for us offensively,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr mentioned. “But I give them credit. They were the better team. They deserved to win. But it was fun to be back in this type of atmosphere.”
Tuesday’s recreation was extra than simply an early season matchup for supremacy within the West. It was a battle of 1 crew vying to regain its place and one other trying to replicate the previous’s dynastic reign.
Williams laid the stakes naked.
“They have everything we want,” the Suns coach mentioned this week previewing the matchup. “They have championships, they have MVPs, they have Defensive Player of the Years — they have all that. We don’t.”
Kerr made certain to notice this was the twenty first recreation of the common season, not a playoff sequence.
Jordan Poole, who completed with a team-high 26 factors, echoed that sentiment after the sport.
“What is this, game 21? So we’ve got a lot of games to look at it, find ways to execute out of it for the long run,” Poole mentioned.
Green, nonetheless, mentioned he might envision a Western Conference Finals matchup. Facing the Suns on back-to-back events, it virtually felt like Games 1 and a couple of of a playoff sequence, Curry mentioned, “minus the flight back home.”
It took on a postseason ambiance throughout a fast-paced first half with every crew’s strengths on show, and it didn’t lose any luster after halftime, regardless of Phoenix star Devin Booker exiting halfway by way of the second quarter with a hamstring damage.
The Warriors took a two-point deficit in to the locker room, and the 2 high canine of the Western Conference performed to a stalemate for nearly the whole thing of the following 24 minutes, till the Suns’ ended the sport on a 12-5 run set off by Crowder’s fourth triple of the sport.
Trailing 99-92 out of a timeout with 2 minutes and alter to go, Stephen Curry threw the ball proper into the arms of Deandre Ayton, the ultimate of 23 Golden State turnovers, tying a season excessive. Green and Juan Toscano-Anderson every gave up the rock 5 occasions, and Jordan Poole 4.
For the primary time this season, the Warriors failed to attain 100 factors.
Kerr mentioned the Warriors have been taking part in in a rush all evening, whereas Green attributed the turnovers to Phoenix taking away the Warriors’ signature drive-and-kick passes that usually result in open 3-pointers.
“We were stagnant on the offensive end and we didn’t have much ball movement or player movement,” Green mentioned. “You’ve got to give their defense credit for that. They did a great job of pressuring and speeding us up. … So I think we could have moved around a bit more, obviously turn the ball over less. In saying all that, 23 turnovers, we were right there with 3 minutes to go. We let it slip away.”
Curry drew obsessive consideration from the Suns protection and was held to 12 factors on 4-of-21 capturing from the sphere. His solely journey to the foul line got here after a technical whistled in opposition to Phoenix.
Rather than the MVP chants which have turn into customary — even in opposing arenas — choruses of “airball” rained down on Curry on multiple event.
“Those were confusing ones. You look up and it’s nowhere near the rim. It’s kind of indicative of how the whole night went,” Curry mentioned. “Obviously it didn’t affect my confidence because I still shot 14 3s. … I settled a lot. There were some tougher shots. I know I can make them. But if you don’t have it going, you’ve got to figure something out.”
The Warriors held a 48-39 lead halfway by way of the second quarter however allowed Phoenix to drag forward 56-54 by halftime and flip the deficit right into a 70-61 benefit, virtually solely with Booker off the ground.
That took the Suns the ultimate 7:25 of the primary half and the primary 6:41 of the second. And in lower than 3 minutes, their lead had all however vanished, establishing a dramatic ultimate quarter.
“I mean, we’d rather win, but they’re the Western Conference reigning champs for a reason: they’re good,” Curry mentioned. “But for all the mistakes we did have, how terrible I shot the ball, it was a close game down the stretch. … Losses definitely jolt the system a little bit. … It’ll help with hopefully our adjustments knowing we’re not preparing for any other team until Friday.”