The Phoenix Suns were trying to go into the NBA All-Star break with a three game win streak. It would have been their second three-game win streak of the season, and would have provided some much needed encouragement heading into the second half of the NBA season. Instead, the Suns were languid in the first quarter, and allowed the Golden State Warriors to score a season high 39. With the Suns playing from behind almost the entire game, they took a lead late in the final period, but couldn’t complete the comeback. The Suns ended up losing to the Warriors 106-104, and lost the season series two games to one.
Golden State scored the game’s first seven points, and David Lee ended the quarter with 13, as the Warriors played aggressive basketball from the tip-off. Lee started a 23-8 run by scoring on a 19-foot jumper, and Dorell Wright ended the run by draining a three-pointer to give the Warriors a 19 point lead. Wright ended the game with 23 points and seven rebounds for the Warriors. Jared Dudley scored nine of his 17 in the first quarter, but six turnovers by the Suns, and 38.1 percent shooting gave the Warriors a 39-22 first quarter lead.
Jared Dudley said, “I can’t quite put my finger on why we played bad in the first quarter. It wasn’t just one thing.” Suns coach Alvin Gentry was noticeably upset after the game and said, “The game was lost in the first 10 minutes…I am disgusted with the way we played and I’m disgusted with the fact that we got a chance to go into the break on something upbeat and positive. Instead, we walk through the first 10 minutes, and that cost us the game.”
The Suns closed the gap to nine as they started the second quarter on a 12-4 run. The Warriors immediately responded with a 16-4 run that stretched the lead to a game-high 21, as Monta Ellis scored six of his game high 26 points during the run. The Suns scored the final seven in the quarter to trail 59-45 at halftime.
The third quarter saw the Suns fighting to get back into the game, as they out-rebounded the Warriors 15-7, and outscored the Warriors 13-0 in second chance points. Channing Frye tipped in a basket to start a 13-5 Suns run to get the lead under double-digits. Frye would finish with 11 in the quarter on his way to a season-high 22 points, as the Suns mid-range jumpers started to fall. Marcin Gortat also contributed nine points and eight rebounds in the quarter, on his way to 21 points and 15 rebounds for the game.
This was the first time in Gortat’s career that he had scored 20 plus points in four straight games. The Suns scored 34 in the quarter, on 52.0 percent shooting, and by the time Sebastian Telfair drained a 26-foot three pointer with time running out in the third, the Suns only trailed 83-79 heading into the final period.
After the Warriors scored the first five points in the fourth, the Suns forced the ball inside and went on a 17-6 run to take their first lead of the game at 96-94 with 3:49 remaining. The Suns would take the lead two more times in the closing minutes, and tied the game at 104 with 11 seconds left when Grant Hill sank a driving layup. Monta Ellis waited until the clock ticked below five seconds to make his move, and then nailed a 13-foot turnaround jumper with one second left. Frye, who scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half, had one final opportunity to give the Suns the lead on his three-point attempt at the buzzer, but it rolled off the rim, giving the Warriors the victory.
This was the second win by the Warriors over the Suns this season, and their first win at U.S. Airways since March 18, 2005. Warriors guard Stephen Curry strained a tendon in his right foot and saw very limited play. Steve Nash finished with seven points and nine assists, and leads the NBA, averaging 10.9 assists per game going into the All-Star break.
The Suns have a full seven days off during the break, and will play a home game against the Minnesota Timberwolves March 1, 2012 to begin the second half of the season. The Suns will need to make some adjustments if they want to make a run for the playoffs, as they sit at 14-20 midway through the season, currently four games out of the playoff picture.