PHOENIX (AP)—Penny Hardaway is healthier than he’s been in years, and the Phoenix Suns are feeling the effect.
The game after his first triple-double this season, Hardaway had a season-high 24 points as the Suns moved closer to a playoff berth with a 117-101 win over the Golden State Warriors on Friday night.
“It’s just so funny that at the end of the season my body starts to feel great,” said Hardaway, who missed 24 games after having right thumb surgery Jan. 11. “I know the doctors all said it takes a couple of years to recover, and every time I had surgery it seemed like I’d fall back.
“But hopefully I’m past that phase, and the team is playing good at the right time.”
The Suns eliminated the Warriors and Seattle, a 94-86 loser at San Antonio, while moving three games ahead of ninth-place Houston with three games to go. A Phoenix win or a Houston loss will clinch a playoff spot for the Suns.
Shawn Marion also had 24 points, and Amare Stoudemire scored 14 of his 21 in the fourth quarter, when the Suns broke away from a three-point lead. Joe Johnson scored 20 points off the bench, and Stephon Marbury had 15 and 10 assists, running the Phoenix offense without a turnover.
The Suns’ only loss in the last six games was in overtime against the Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday.
Jason Richardson had 27 points and 10 rebounds for Golden State, but scored just two points in the second half. Antawn Jamison added 24 points, while Gilbert Arenas had 15 points and 13 assists, and Troy Murphy had 14 points and 15 rebounds.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” Murphy said. “We came out here and this was a must-win game for us, and we didn’t get it done.”
Stoudemire, who had 10 rebounds, dunked three times in the fourth and had a pair of three-point plays.
The first took the fight out of the Warriors, putting Phoenix ahead 105-92 after Stoudemire muscled in a layup with 3:38 to play.
With 2:11 to go, Jamison knocked the Phoenix rookie down with a flagrant foul.
Stoudemire made both free throws, and Hardaway completed the four-point swing with a 20-footer 17 seconds later for a 113-96 lead.
Phoenix began the third quarter with a five-point lead and led by as many as seven before Arenas’ 3-pointer tied it at 80 with 3:00 left.
In the final 1:59, though, Marbury made three free throws and threw an alley-oop to Marion for the dunk that moved Phoenix ahead, 85-82 after three.
Hardaway and Johnson hit long jumpers, and Jake Voskuhl had a tip-in as the Suns went ahead 91-84 in the first 1:46 of the final period.
Then Stoudemire dunked twice around a 3-pointer by Marion, and Phoenix took a 98-88 lead with 6:36 to play.
The Warriors used a 22-9 run to take a 26-19 lead with 4:43 left in the first quarter.
“The first five minutes was helter skelter out there, but we slowed them down,” Marion said.
He had two 3-pointers and assisted on a layup by Johnson layup as the Suns took ahead 62-54 with 1:49 left in the first half, holding on for a 64-59 halftime lead.
“I didn’t think we came out aggressive in the second half,” Richardsonsaid. “You’ve got to step it up, and I don’t think we did.”
The Warriors (38-41) have their most victories since 1993-94, but the loss ensured they can finish no better than .500. … Murphy is one of five players averaging a double-double. … Golden State F Chris Mills missed his 16th straight game with left Achilles’ tendinitis. … Phoenix is 21-6 when it scores 100 points and 7-18 when allowing 100. … The Suns are 15-1 against theWarriors in Phoenix over the last eight years.