Suns: Highlights (23 p.m. ET)
Before a buzzing Suns crowd — or at least it could have been louder — a decade younger than a decade old, the Golden State Warriors went up 21-11 in the opening minutes Friday night before the rest of the NBA became unoccupied.
The Suns, the NBA’s youngest team, were no better, but they were competing. It was the first of what could be a significant run of home wins for a franchise that’s trying to build for the future.
But it was, once again, getting old quickly. Golden State won its 17th straight game by posting a 104-96 victory over the Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona.
When the Warriors are at their best, this group and superstar forward Kevin Durant, they are so dominant they virtually never get challenged. But this was not one of those games.
“We have to keep improving, we cannot keep relying on high-scoring games and relying on transition buckets because you’re not going to beat this team at their place, especially on their home floor,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
The Suns closed to within one point, 84-83, with 4:35 to play, but Golden State scored the next nine points and led by as many as 12 points with 1:08 left.
Durant and Durant’s 31 points led the Warriors, who swept the five-game season series and didn’t face Shaquille O’Neal, the Suns’ coach from 1995-1999. In their three prior meetings, Durant averaged 33.5 points while shooting 71.8% (16-of-23) from 3-point range.
But he was just 6-of-25 from beyond the arc.
“We try to eliminate our bad shots, go into the game making mental basketball decisions,” Kerr said. “KD is a problem because he’s not a bad shooter and he takes the shots when they’re there.”
Terrance Ferguson had 21 points and a career-high 13 rebounds for the Suns. He and Devin Booker averaged 22.3 points apiece during the five-game series.
Warriors point guard Stephen Curry finished with nine points on 4-of-16 shooting to finish with 66 for the season. He had a standing ovation as he was escorted to the bench, but later he was back on it in the third quarter.
Booker had 23 points. He said he didn’t quite hear the ovation until he felt it from the stands after putting up his free throw to push the Suns’ lead to 101-90.
“That was big. Definitely a nice way to start the second half,” Booker said. “Showing our fans that we want to win. That was a good point.”
Harrison Barnes, meanwhile, had a two-handed dunk for a two-point Warriors lead in the third quarter. He matched Durant’s 18 rebounds with four assists.
“That was huge,” Kerr said. “We didn’t defend very well. We’re not going to defend with a couple of guys out. That was huge for him to have the overall game he had in terms of boards and scoring and moving the ball.”
Warriors: Durant, Curry and Barnes missed practice Thursday with ankle injuries, but Kerr said after the Warriors’ shootaround Friday that each will play. Kerr said the Warriors could have won by 30 if all three had played.
In addition to Curry (left ankle sprain), Barnes (left ankle sprain) and Klay Thompson (right ankle sprain), the Warriors are also missing center JaVale McGee (shoulder) and forward Omri Casspi (back). Warriors guard Shaun Livingston is on a short-term injured reserve list while recovering from right knee surgery.
Draymond Green, who missed Thursday’s practice, was back with the Warriors on Friday after he was suspended two games for a flagrant foul.
Suns: Rookie guard Deandre Ayton, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, has missed seven of the Suns’ first 12 games this season with a left hip flexor strain. Suns coach Igor Kokoskov said Friday that Ayton is “progressing” from the injury, although he didn’t say exactly when the 7-foot center might play again.