OAKLAND, Calif. — The Golden State Warriors will attempt to complete the home portion of their pre-All-Star break schedule with a third consecutive win Monday night when they host the new-look Phoenix Suns.
The victory gave the Warriors two straight wins after their first two-game losing streak of the season. They are just 3-3 in their last six games.
“We want to finish out this last stretch before the All-Star Game strong,” said Warriors All-Star Stephen Curry, whose team will visit Portland on Wednesday before heading into the break. “Just trying to find a little bit of mojo, little bit of positive vibe.”
The Warriors have experienced nothing but positive vibes in recent years against the Suns. Golden State has won the last 11 head-to-heads, as well as the last 11 times the clubs have met in Oakland.
The teams haven’t met yet this season, so it’s possible the Warriors won’t even notice that the Suns have changed styles in the past four days.
The acquisition of Elfrid Payton from Orlando at the trade deadline resulted in a much faster pace in Saturday’s 123-113 home loss to Denver, a game in which the Suns posted season highs in field goal percentage (54.8) and points in the paint (66).
Payton’s 19 points and nine assists as the club’s starting point guard certainly contributed to both numbers.
“It was different,” coach Jay Triano said of the Suns’ new look. “The pace of play was better, getting the ball up and down the court, getting into the lane when he needed to, and making passes. He made guys on the floor with him better. I think it will only improve as well as he understands who can do different things and where to be.”
The nine assists were the most for a player making his Suns debut since Stephon Marbury had 10 in 2001.
Payton’s presence positively impacted several Suns, including young center Dragan Bender, who scored a career-best 23 points, forward T.J. Warren, who poured in 31 points, and rookie Josh Jackson, who went for 20 points.
Impressively, the big-number output occurred without leading scorer Devin Booker, who is out with a hip injury.
Despite the big numbers, the Suns lost their fifth straight game.
One game after his coach stole the spotlight by reaching a milestone, the Warriors’ Curry has a chance to move up the NBA charts in an unusual category.
Curry and his dad, Dell, currently stand fourth in total points by a father/son combination with 26,861. Stephen needs 23 to vault the Currys past Brent and Rick Barry for third place.
Curry enters the game third in the NBA in scoring average this season at 26.9 per game. He averaged 32.8 points, with a high of 42, in Golden State’s four wins over the Suns last season.