BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER
The Warriors completed a sweep of the two teams with the best record in the NBA on consecutive nights with a 122-116 victory over the Phoenix Suns Tuesday night at Chase Center.
Andrew Wiggins poured in a game high 38 points on 17-24 shooting as Golden State managed to overcome a 16 point deficit just 24 hours after also defeating the Utah Jazz in spite of a rare off night by Steph Curry.
The win helped the Warriors solidify their grip on eighth place in the Western Conference with just two games remaining before the NBA’s inaugural four team play-in playoff tournament.
Golden State survived coming out cold as ice in the first quarter while the Suns were connecting on 70% of their shots. Steph Curry, the leading scorer in the NBA, had one of his worst shooting nights in memory. A night after going for 36 against Utah, Curry finished with just 21 points while going 7-22 from the field, and only 1-11 from three.
But it was Wiggins that stepped up early and often to pick up the slack, making a driving jump with just over a minute remaining not long after Jordan Poole gave the Warriors their first lead of the night at 116-113 on a 32-foot three-pointer off a pass from Curry. Draymond Green also continued his solid play with 11 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for his sixth triple-double of the season and 30th of his career.
Phoenix’s elite backcourt of Devin Booker (34 points) and Chris Paul (24 points, 10 assists) led the way for the Suns. Jae Crowder cooled off after a hot first half to finish with 20. Poole finished with 20 points in 20 minutes for Golden State while Kent Bazemore added 17.
“These last two games have been so important for us against the two teams with the best records in the league, and tonight felt like a playoff game,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Phoenix was very well prepared. They had the day off yesterday so they came out with a great game plan to take the ball out of Steph’s hands and for us to be able to withstand a great team playing with the lead, and for us to be able to stay with it and, come back and finish out the win it was just fantastic.”
Asked what the last two games says about the teams development, Wiggins added,”We’re a totally different team now than we were at the beginning of the year. I feel like we’re only getting better. We’re gelling at the perfect time. I feel like even the young guys have grown up, even someone like Jordan Poole. He’s huge for us coming off the bench and doing what he does, scoring, creating, playmaking. Having someone like that on your team will give us a great push.”
Despite recording just their second four-game winning streak of the season, the Warriors must continue their fight for playoff seeding, as they hold just a slim half game lead over Memphis. The New Orleans Pelicans will be at Chase Center Friday night, and the Grizzlies arrive Sunday in what will be the season finale for both teams.
According to Elias, last night’s win over Utah coupled with tonight’s win over Phoenix, marks the first time the Warriors have defeated the top two NBA teams (based on winning percentage) in consecutive games at least 60 games into a season.
The Warriors join the Clippers, Nets, Nuggets and Pelicans as the only teams to defeat the Jazz, Suns and 76ers this season.
Golden State has won eight of its last nine home contests.
In spite of an off night, Curry continues to lead the NBA in scoring at 31.8 points per game.