Oakland, California: Golden State Warriors delivered the first punch in building a 16-point lead in the first quarter — but didn’t knock Phoenix Suns out.
The Suns came back swinging at the two-time defending NBA champions and took them down in stunning fashion, 115-111 before a sellout crowd of 19,596 at Oracle Arena on Sunday.
“Big time,” Suns forward Kelly Oubre Jr. said. “We came in, we fought, we were down 16. We still fought. We came up with a big win against the best team in the NBA. It shows our growth. It shows that all the things that we’ve been through, we’re putting it into motion now, so I’m proud of our guys.”
Devin Booker scored a game-high 37 points to go along with 11 assists and eight rebounds as Phoenix (16-52) bounced back from a 127-120 loss Saturday night at Portland in which it trailed by as many as 29 to beat Golden State on the road in the second game of back-to-back.
“We locked in and chipped away and slowly but surely, played the right way and the score did what it was supposed to do when you play the right way,” Booker said. “Trusted each other, communicated, and fought to the end.”
Phoenix snapped an 18-game losing skid to Golden State (45-21). The Suns hadn’t defeated the Warriors since Nov. 9, 2014. They also hadn’t won at Oracle since Feb. 7, 2011.
“I can’t describe how proud I am of the guys, considering they played on their home court,” Suns coach Igor Kokoskov said. “… It was a pretty special moment and a special game for our group.”
— NBA (@NBA) March 11, 2019
Stephen Curry missed a 3 that would’ve tied the game with 23.7 seconds left. Booker got the rebound, got fouled and hit two free throws with 17.7 seconds left.
The Warriors shot a woeful 10-of-43 from 3-point range as Curry scored just 18 points on 6-of-20 shooting. He went 4-of-15 from 3, as did Klay Thompson.
“In the second half, we had a lot of great looks that didn’t go down that could’ve changed the momentum of the game,” Curry said.
Then Curry turned the ball over coming out of the final timeout. Mikal Bridges, who got the steal, added two free throws as Phoenix pulled off its biggest win of the season by far.
“When we came in after the All-Star break as a team and said we’re going to finish this season the right way,” Booker said. “We’ve improved in so many different ways.”
Kevin Durant left the game with 6:34 remaining with a right ankle contusion with the game tied at 91-91. Durant didn’t return as he finished with 25 points.
“I think he’s going to be alright,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “I talked to him briefly and he didn’t seem to think it was too bad.”
KD headed to the locker room after rolling his ankle. pic.twitter.com/Vupjpo7MRx
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) March 11, 2019
The Warriors shot poorly from 3 and lost their most talented player in the fourth quarter to injury, but Kerr credited the Suns for pulling out the win.
“Think about what they did,” he said. “They came from Portland last night, they lost an hour and started a game at 5:30. To even have a back-to-back like that, and they came in and kicked our butts.”
Tyler Johnson rattled off those same obstacles the Suns had to overcome, but the team with the second-worst record in the NBA still took down the Western Conference’s best team.
“You have every reason to come in and get blown out in this game,” he said. “So that shows a lot about the character of these guys and how it’s starting to evolve and understand that every single night we suit up, we have an opportunity to beat somebody.”
Phoenix seized control with a 16-4 run to take a 109-98 lead with 3:19 remaining. Booker scored the first 13 points in that run, capped by a dunk in transition off a feed from Deandre Ayton.
“I don’t know what type of form he unlocked, but he was locked in both ends of the floor,” Ayton said. “He led this whole team to this one.”
Booker scored 17 points in the fourth.
“Whatever I have to do to win,” Booker said. “Just catch a rhythm. That’s what I’m here for. Late in the game when we need big buckets to close it out, I trust myself.”
Down 16 in the first quarter, Phoenix shot 71.4 percent (15-of-21) in the second to take a 56-55 lead late in the first half.
Thompson hit a jumper with 11.7 seconds in the second to put Golden State up one at the break. Thompson finished with a team-high 28 points, with 19 coming in the first half.
The Suns then built an eight-point lead in the third quarter as they went on an 8-0 run to go up 73-65. Golden State answered with a 15-6 run to take a 80-79 lead going into the fourth.
The Warriors came into the game 3-0 against Phoenix this season. They beat the Suns by 20 at home in October and by 23 on New Year’s Eve in Phoenix, but needed a strong fourth quarter to win by 10 last month.
That last loss was during Phoenix’s franchise-record 17-game losing skid. The Suns won four of their next five after that, highlighted by home wins over LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers and the Milwaukee Bucks, who have the NBA’s best record.
Those wins have given Phoenix confidence it can compete with anyone, including the Warriors. Then the Suns took them down in stunning fashion.