Warriors start slow, close strong over Suns

ORACLE ARENA — The Warriors won their fourth-consecutive game Sunday 113-107 over Phoenix, closing out the game with an intensity rarely seen since the playoffs.

The first half wasn’t pretty for Golden State.  Multiple lane violations and turnovers, Klay Thompson only scored five points, Stephen Curry air-balled multiple three’s and David Lee racked up three early fouls.

Lee owned up to the ugly first half and told SFBay the team had a discussion at halftime about the way they wanted to close out the game:

“I thought we had a sloppy first half and thought they played harder than we did …We talked about it at halftime and we wanted to play our style of play win or lose.”

The three starters found a second level, combining for 37 points in the second half and 66 on the night (Thompson 22, Lee 26, Curry 18).  Curry fought through pain and showed a new side of himself on the court and even waved off an attempt to take him out midway through the third frame.

Just before Sunday’s contest, Warriors coach Mark Jackson said Curry would start but may see limited minutes due to a strained quadricep.

In Friday’s game against Atlanta, Klay Thompson left the game in the first quarter with a lower back strain that had him doubled over in pain, but Jackson said Thompson was ready to play.

With the Warriors lead diminishing in the final minutes, Curry became visibly ignited, calling to his team to settle down and close out the game. With just a four-point lead and seconds left, Golden State’s defense locked down to solidify the victory.

Though coach Jackson and the rest of the team said Curry is always a vocal leader on the floor and just as fired up, there was something different about Curry in this game.

When asked about the noticeable energy shift, Curry told SFBay that in crunch time, he needs to be that guy:

“As a leader that’s what I’m trying to do.  It was a big game for us with a team that’s right behind us.  We’ve been in their shoes before…We know how important these games are especially at home, so you’ve got to be fired up and ready to play.”

Down by as many as 12 in the second quarter, the Golden State bench helped to chip away at the lead, outscoring the Phoenix bench 25-14 in the first half.

Draymond Green hit a set of free throws to get within two points but with less than a second left in the half Goran Dragic hit a trey giving Phoenix a 61-56 advantage at the half.

Coming out of halftime the Warriors battled back into the game before going on a 16-0 tear and heading into the final frame with a 94-78 lead.

The Suns took advantage of the Warriors foul trouble, scratching back into the game in the final minutes but couldn’t get a shot to fall with the Golden State defense stifling them.

Being able to close out games is going to be paramount for the Warriors heading into the homestretch of the season.

Lee said he understands the importance and told SFBay its not just closing out games but not letting anymore slip by:

“This is very important for us, to protect our home court.  Our goal is not to lose any more home games for the rest of the season.”

The Warriors, now 40-24 overall, finish their three-game home stand on Tuesday against Dallas (37-26).

Notes

The Warriors earned their 40th win of the season, giving them back-to-back 40-win campaigns for the first time since 2006-07 and 2007-08. … The Warriors bench contributed 36 points and is averaging 39.4 points per game over the last eight. In the previous 56 games, the reserves had been averaging 24.3 points. … Stephen Curry tallied 18 points and nine assists to just one turnover. The Warriors are 10-0 when Curry commits one-or-fewer turnovers. … David Lee finished with a game-high 26 points to go with nine rebounds, the sixth time he’s scored 25-plus in a game this season. … Klay Thompson recorded his 23rd 20-point game this season, scoring 13 of his 22 points in the third frame by hitting 5-of-5 from the field and 3-of-3 from long distance. … Draymond Green tallied 13 points in 23 minutes before fouling out with 3:40 to play.


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