Warriors 113, Suns 93

Dave Del Grande, Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

OAKLAND -- Stephen Curry returned from a three-game absence to pour in 29 points, including 11 during a game-changing third quarter, and the Golden State Warriors extended their winning streak to four with a 113-93 thumping of the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night.
Curry hit six of his 10 3-point attempts and 11 of 20 shots overall while also handing out eight assists.
Golden State (30-17) recorded its 30th win of the season earlier than in any season since 1976, the year after the franchise won its last NBA championship.
Harrison Barnes added 21 points and eight rebounds, Klay Thompson had 17 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, and David Lee recorded yet another double-double with 16 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in a balanced Golden State effort.
Coming off a 109-99 home loss to Dallas on Friday night, the Suns (16-32) fell to 3-4 under new coach Lindsey Hunter. Phoenix failed to complete a Pacific Division sweep after having beaten the Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings since undergoing the coaching change.
The Warriors turned the game in their favor in the third quarter, immediately following their low point of the night.
Phoenix came out from the halftime break intent upon extracting revenge for its home loss to Golden State on opening night. Jared Dudley had a 3-pointer and Goran Dragic a three-point play as the Suns scored the first six points of the half to increase a four-point lead to 58-48.
The Warriors responded immediately with a 13-point flurry of their own to take a lead they relinquished only momentarily. Barnes and Curry had three-point plays in the run, which propelled Golden State into a 61-58 lead near the midpoint of the period.
After the Suns regained a one-point advantage on two Dudley free throws, Curry buried a pair of 3-pointers among three hoops, and Carl Landry dropped in two baskets during a 17-6 burst that vaulted Golden State into a 78-68 lead.
When the Warriors opened the fourth period by scoring nine consecutive points -- Curry had another 3-pointer and two assists in the run -- it was a 16-point game and the Warriors enjoyed their easiest home win in exactly a month, dating back to a 115-92 blowout of the Clippers on Jan. 2.
Michael Beasley, taking 23 shots, led the Suns with 24 points. Dudley had 16 points.
The big news in the first half, one in which the Suns took a 52-48 lead into the break, was the appearance of Curry, who had missed the Warriors' previous three games with a sprained right ankle.
A decision to give a green light to the league's eighth-leading scorer was made just before tip-off, and he was inserted into the Golden State starting lineup.
Curry hit half his first eight shots, including a couple of 3-pointers, while totaling 10 first-half points. He did, however, also have two of nine Golden State turnovers that the Suns were able to convert into 19 difference-making points.
Phoenix backup Beasley was the leading scorer in the half with 15 points as the Suns' bench got the better of the Golden State reserves to the tune of 22-8.
NOTES: Both teams headed to the Midwest after the game. The Suns will tip off a three-game swing Tuesday in Memphis at just about the same time the Warriors are beginning a four-game trip at Houston. ... The game matched coaches with no previous head-coaching experience before getting their current gigs. Both feel the same way about prior experience: It's overrated. "As a point guard," Hunter said, "you've always had to have a connection with the coach. So that's coaching in a way." ... Asked why he was quick to give his Pacific Division rival some tips upon getting the job, Jackson responded, "When I was in that position, there are certain guys that I will forever be grateful to that reached out. They told me they would be there and made me better." ... Having recorded three consecutive winning months, the Warriors will be severely tested as they go for four in February. Golden State has only three more home games this month as opposed to eight on the road. ... The most surprising aspect of the Warriors' 13th consecutive sellout Saturday: The game was played on the eve of a Bay Area team's participation in the Super Bowl. The Warriors improved to 3-1 when playing on the night before a San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl.

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