Suns 128, Warriors 105

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PHOENIX (AP)—James Jones’ shot returned with the leather ball, and that means yet another offensive threat for the Phoenix Suns.

Jones scored 25 points, two shy of his career high, and the Suns cruised to their sixth win in a row, 128-105 over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night.

Fellow reserve Leandro Barbosa scored 26 and Shawn Marion had 24 points and 17 rebounds in the Suns’ 22nd victory in their last 24 games. Steve Nash had 14 points and 10 assists, then didn’t play in the fourth quarter.

“I really think this is the best team I’ve ever been on,” Nash said. “We still have to prove that, but it could be.”

Monta Ellis scored 22 for Golden State but committed nine of the Warriors’ 25 turnovers and was in foul trouble much of the night. Baron Davis, playing despite two sore wrists, scored 17 and Kelenna Azubuike 16. Mickael Pietrus and Mike Dunleavy added 15 apiece for the Warriors.

Andris Biedrins matched his career high with 17 rebounds for a Golden State team playing on consecutive nights.

“Tonight we faced a team that was rolling, a playoff-caliber team, and they know what to do to a team that comes in on a back-to-back,” Davis said. “We’ve got to get better. We’ve got to figure out it takes all of us to beat a team like this.”

The Suns went 0-for-9 on 3-pointers in the first quarter, then were 12-for-23 after that.

Phoenix used an 11-0 third-quarter run to take a 79-61 lead on Nash’s spinning, 10-foot bank shot with 6:13 to play. Golden State never got closer than 12 again.

Jones, whose shooting fortunes have turned around with the return of the leather ball, started the fourth quarter with a pair of 3-pointers and the rout was on. He was 13-for-41 from 3-point range with the synthetic basketball and is 8-for-13 since the switch back to leather, including 5-for-8 against the Warriors.

“I love the old ball,” James said. “I was having problems shooting the composite or whatever it’s called. The leather ball feels better, and I think it’s actually better for guys with big hands. I’ve said that from the jump and I think a lot of other guys in the league are enjoying it now, too.”

Jones’ 25 points was his season best by 15.

“You could see he was getting a little more comfortable,” Phoenix coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I think the last couple of games he’s played well. Tonight it just seemed like the dam burst and he was ready to roll.”

Nash made a pair of 3-pointers to give him 1,001 for his career. He is the ninth player—fourth active—to top 1,000 3-pointers, 10,000 points and 5,000 assists.

Barbosa’s 3 put Phoenix up 50-43 with 6:25 left in the half. Golden State cut it to 50-47, but Marion’s tip-in and Amare Stoudemire’s dunk on a pass from Nash boosted it to 54-47 4:28 from the break.

Nash’s 3-pointer gave the Suns their biggest first-half lead, 61-51 with 5:37 left in the quarter. The Suns were up 61-53 at the half.

“I thought we played a pretty sound first half, right until the end when we started letting our guard down,” Warriors coach Don Nelson said. “The second half was a disaster.”

Davis was hurt while dunking in Golden State’s victory over Seattle on Saturday night but decided to give it a try anyway because his team is so depleted in the backcourt.

But the Warriors wore down against the Suns’ unrelenting pace.

“We’re just an ordinary team as far I can see,” Nelson said. “When you have injuries and you’re ordinary, it hurts more than if you’re really good and deep.”

Golden State committed 15 first-half turnovers, resulting in 19 points for Phoenix. Ellis committed seven of those turnovers.

Notes

The 25 turnovers were the most by a Phoenix opponent this season. … A win would have put the Warriors two games above .500, something they haven’t been this late in the season since 1993-94. … Phoenix is 3-0 against Golden State this season. … The Suns played the second of a five-game homestand.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Golden State
A. Biedrins A. Biedrins
3-7,  7 Pts
17 Rebs, 2 Assists
 Phoenix
S. Marion S. Marion
11-19,  24 Pts
17 Rebs, 3 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists

Scoreboard

Sunday, Jan 7