Make it 18 wins in a row for the Golden State Warriors over the Phoenix Suns.
However, the latest was no cakewalk for the reigning NBA champions.
Stephen Curry on Friday night shook off a poor shooting performance by scoring 10 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter as the Warriors finally broke open a tight game to beat the Suns 117-107.
Klay Thompson scored 25 points for the Warriors. Kevin Durant added 21 points and DeMarcus Cousins 18.
“They totally outplayed us all night,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “The only reason we won is because we have a lot more talent, obviously.”
Kelly Oubre Jr scored 25 points and Deandre Ayton 23 for Phoenix, who were without scoring leader Devin Booker due to a tight right hamstring.
Mikal Bridges and Josh Jackson added 19 apiece for the Suns, who led 85-82 entering the final quarter.
Golden State’s Draymond Green was ejected after drawing his second technical between the third and fourth quarters.
The matchup of the teams at the top and bottom of the Western Conference standings was a lot closer than anticipated — and in large part because it took Curry a while to find his stroke.
Through three quarters, Curry was two of 12 shooting, including one of eight on three-pointers. However, in the fourth quarter, he was four of five, including two of three from beyond the arc.
“We can compete,” said Ayton, the No. 1 pick in last year’s draft. “We’re maturing, even though we’re young. We can challenge any team.”
“Don’t mind our record, there’s a lot of guys with a lot of great potential and we could actually make a dynasty team,” he said.
Down 94-88, Golden State took control with a 13-0 run — capped by a Curry three-pointer that put the Warriors up 101-94 with 5 minutes, 46 seconds remaining.
Richaun Holmes’ tip-in cut the lead to 101-98 with 4 minutes, 58 seconds left, but Curry responded with another three-pointer and Golden State pulled away from there.
“I think we just started making shots,” Durant said. “They played extremely hard.”
Phoenix shot out to a 26-9 lead, but the Warriors cut it to 31-26 after one quarter.
Green’s driving layup capped a 13-3 Golden State run that put the Warriors up 60-51 before Oubre’s tip-in sliced the Warriors’ lead to 60-53 at the break.
Phoenix opened the second half with an 11-4 spurt to tie it at 64 and it stayed tight the rest of the third quarter.
Oubre made one free throw with 4.9 seconds left, missed the second and grabbed the rebound for a dunk that put the Suns up 85-82 entering the final quarter.
“Sometimes in this league, it can be ugly for 44 minutes and the last four you kind of revitalize your team, and that’s what Steph and DeMarcus did, K.D., and any win you get in this league you have to be grateful for,” Thompson said.
Suns coach Igor Kokoskov liked his team’s effort, but said that the Warriors’ ability and experience came through in the end.
“They were so precise in late switch, miscommunication, late shifts from the weak side; they made us pay,” he said. “It’s just a learning experience for young guys.”
“And it’s a poised veteran team, a team with a high IQ. They knew how to close a game,” he added.
In other games on Friday, the Washington Wizards overpowered the Cleveland Cavaliers 119-106, the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Denver Nuggets 117-110 and the Detroit Pistons crushed the New York Knicks 120-103.
Elsewhere, the Sacramento Kings beat the Miami Heat 102-96, the New Orleans Pelicans hung on to outlast the Minnesota Timberwolves 122-117, the Chicago Bulls crushed the Brooklyn Nets 125-106 and the Milwaukee Bucks outplayed the Dallas Mavericks 122-107.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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