PHOENIX SUNS

Suns Strokes: Loss to Warriors gives Phoenix franchise-high 13th-straight defeat

Apr 5, 2017, 10:51 PM
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry drives past Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) during th...

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry drives past Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, April 5, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — A baker’s dozen.

The Phoenix Suns lost their 13th straight, tied for their longest single-season losing streak in franchise history, which to some — OK, to many — is a good thing. Especially with the Lakers winning in San Antonio earlier Wednesday.

The Suns (22-57) own the NBA’s second-worst record after falling to the NBA’s No. 1 team, Golden State.

Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 64 points in a 120-111 win in front of a sold out Talking Stick Resort Arena on Wednesday night.

It was the Warriors (65-14) second win in as many nights and 13th straight overall. They’ve clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

The story was a familiar one for the Suns: trail big early, rally late and ultimately come up short.

Curry helped put the Suns in a 23-point first-quarter hole with 23 points in the period, hitting five 3s. He finished with 42 with eight 3s. Curry also had 11 assists.

The Suns battled to within three midway through the fourth quarter, but Curry and Thompson made 3s much to the delight of a relatively pro-Warriors crowd of 18,055.

Devin Booker led the Suns with 21, Tyler Ulis 20. Off the bench, Jared Dudley chipped in a season-high tying 19 and Alan Williams recorded a double-double (16 points and a season-high 17 rebounds).

The Suns have lost eight straight at home, tying their longest home losing streak in franchise history, and 11 in a row to the Warriors, who swept their Pacific Division opponents for the second straight season.

THE GOOD

With his 72nd start of the season — every game since Nov. 8 — Marquese Chriss tied Michael Finley for the third-most starts by a Suns rookie. The only rookies who have started more in team history are Walter Davis (81 in 1977-78) and Alvan Adams (79 in 1975-76), both of whom won NBA Rookie of the Year.

Presented the Majerle Hustle Award before the game, by Dan Majerle no less, Williams responded with a six-point, nine-rebound (seven defensive) effort in 10 second-quarter minutes. He had all of those points during an 18-4 run in which the Suns trimmed a 23-point deficit to eight, 47-39, at the 4:14 mark.

So the Suns re-discovered their defense, or the Warriors just got tired, in the second quarter. The home team outscored the visitors 34-17 in the period. The 17 points, by the way, tied a Suns opponent low for second-quarter scoring and was one off the Warriors season-low output in the second quarter.

In addition to Booker’s scoring, he continues to succeed in the role of playmaker. He earned his sixth straight game with at least five assists, extending his career-long streak with five-plus. Over his last six games, beginning with his historic 70-point performance, Booker is averaging 34.2 points, 6.8 assists and 1.8 steals.

THE BAD

Five. That’s the number of 3-pointers Curry hit in the first quarter. Four of those came in the midst of a 22-6 run that put the Warriors up 16, 29-13, at the 3:32 mark. Curry finished the period with 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field, including 5-of-8 from beyond the arc, and 2-of-4 from the foul line. He added two rebounds, two assists and a steal in 12 minutes.

So for the third straight game and sixth time in last seven games overall, the Suns trailed by double-digits at the end of the first quarter. The deficit tonight was 23, 41-18. The 41-points, by the way, tied for the third-most given up by the Suns in a first quarter this season. And it was the fourth time the Warriors reached the 40-point mark in the opening period this season.

Though he just missed a double-double, Chriss (eight points and 11 rebounds in 25 minutes) did reach double figures in one category: technical fouls. He was whistled for one, his 10th of the season, at the 8:10 mark of the third quarter. The 10 “Ts” tied him with Booker for the team lead and tied for the sixth-most (with Washington’s Markieff Morris) in all of the NBA.

At the Suns’ expense, the Warriors clinched the NBA’s best record for the third straight season, becoming the first team to own the league’s best record outright in three straight seasons since the Boston Celtics from 1983-84 to 1985-86. They are the third team to accomplish the feat, joining the Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers to earn the top overall seed in the postseason in three straight seasons.

STAT OF THE GAME

41.9: The Warriors shot the 3-ball better (13-of-31, 41.9 percent) better than the Suns shot from the field (43-of-103, 41.7 percent).

HE SAID IT

“We got to continue to play. We have to push forward. We can’t sit here, we can’t linger and dwell in what if’s,” head coach Earl Watson said. “Our guys are growing, our guys have opportunities. It’s time to mature, it’s time to grow up, and this is the greatest experience for them.”

NOTED

– Suns twice have lost 13 straight, including last season from Jan. 26-Feb. 25.

– Suns last lost eight consecutive games at home last season from Feb. 2-25.

– Suns led for only 21 seconds; it was 2-0 at the 11:35 mark of the first quarter.

– Williams ended P.J. Tucker’s four-year reign as Majerle Hustle Award winner.

– T.J. Warren ended a career-long streak of 19 straight games with 10+ points.

– Leandro Barbosa missed a sixth straight game with a right hamstring spasm.

– Eric Bledsoe sat out his 12th straight game and 13th overall on the season.

– Tyson Chandler and Brandon Knight did not play for the 22nd straight game.

– Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala had the night off. Both Warriors rested.

– Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald was among those in attendance.

UP NEXT

It’s the penultimate home game as the Suns welcome Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning 30 minutes earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

The Suns have lost two of the three meetings this season, but they won the last matchup, snapping a six-game win streak by the Thunder.

It was the night the Suns inducted Al McCoy into the Ring of Honor and six different players scored at least 14 points, with Bledsoe leading the way, in a 118-111 victory on March 3. Westbrook had a game-high 48 with 17 rebounds and nine assists, just missing a third triple-double against the Suns this season.

Overall, the series has been pretty one-sided with the Thunder owning a 19-4 record in the previous 23 meetings.

Penguin Air

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