The Golden State Warriors (40-24) won their fourth straight game on Sunday night with a 113-107 victory over the Phoenix Suns (36-26). It was an important game for both teams in their battle for playoff position. Heading into the night Golden State was owned the sixth seed in the Western Conference and Phoenix the eighth, just a half game up on the Memphis Grizzlies.
Phoenix led most of the first half and Golden State found themselves trailing at halftime 61-56. The red-hot Warriors pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring Phoenix 38-17. It was on offensive explosion that Phoenix, in the end, could not overcome.
The Warriors shot 53 percent from the field and connected on 10 of their 22 three-point attempts on the night. But the key to their victory was the fact that they won the turnover battle, coughing up the ball just 12 times in comparison the Phoenix’s 19, as the Warriors simply out muscled the Suns in their battle for playoff position. Turnovers have been a problem for the Warriors all season long as they turn the ball over more than almost every team in the league, so when they can limit their mistakes and take care of the ball they are deadly.
David Lee stepped up big time against a small Phoenix front line. He had 26 points, nine rebounds and three assists on the night. Lee is quietly averaging 18.6 points and 9.6 rebounds on the season. Golden State will need big games out of Lee down the final stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs.
The Warriors backcourt duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 40 points, 11 assists, six rebounds, but most importantly, just two turnovers. Their opposing backcourt of Goran Dragic and Gerald Green combined for 49 points, seven assists and seven rebounds, but Dragic turned the ball over five times himself.
With 11 of the Warriors remaining 18 games coming at home, it looks like Golden State can really put their foot down on the gas pedal and try to steal home court advantage for at least the first round of the playoffs. They are one of the hottest teams in the league and their remaining schedule favors them. Their recent acquisition of Steve Blake as really helped solidify their bench play and he has been a major boost. In his 10 games with the Warriors, Blake has tallied 32 assists and just six turnovers off of the bench.
As for the Suns, they are now tied with Memphis for the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference playoffs. They are in desperate need of a boost and they are hoping to get just that from the return of guard Drew Bledsoe on Wednesday night. Bledsoe has the ability to spark the Suns back into sole possession of a playoff spot, but it will all depend on whether or not he is fully healthy. Their battle for playoff position could depend on just that as the Memphis Grizzlies are finally back to full strength and starting to play some of their best ball of the season.
Commentary by Rich Peters