PHOENIX — Saturday night’s game matched up a pair of star point guards.
Stephen Curry has the “All-” in front of his star. Goran Dragic has the winning edge in front of his star.
With his 3-month-son attending his first game, Dragic was every bit the star player that Curry is on Saturday night. Dragic posted a career-high 34 points, including 13 in the final seven minutes, and 10 assists to lead the Suns to a 122-109 victory over Golden State at US Airways Center.
The victory put the Suns (30-20) ahead of Curry’s Golden State Warriors (30-21) for sixth place in the Western Conference. The Suns also took a 2-1 series advantage against the Warriors in a head-to-head battle that could prove important if a season-ending tiebreaker is needed between teams currently separated by a half-game. They have a final meeting March 9 in Oakland.
Dragic now has twice as many 30-point games this season (six) as he did in previous five seasons (three). Adding the game-high 10 assists also gave Dragic his third career 30-point, 10-assist game.
It continued a stretch of hot play for Dragic, whose seven consecutive 20-point scoring games is the longest such streak of his career. He came in shooting 61 percent from the field ruing that time and then made 10 of 13 shots on Saturday, when he did his damage by drawing fouls on drives and pull-ups in the first half for eight free throw points. Dragic also tied a career high for 3-pointers by make six of seven 3s, including three in the final seven minutes to rid of Golden State’s final challenge.
The Warriors had did not have a lead for the final 32 minutes of the game but continued to threaten despite missing two starters. Golden State was missing center Andrew Bogut, the frontline key to its defense, and David Lee, a frontline scoring threat in and out of the post. The Warriors had beaten Chicago without the duo, both out with shoulder injuries, on Saturday and had won nine of their previous 11 road games since they last lost in Phoenix on Dec. 15.
The Suns spent most of the night trying to outscore the Warriors for a continuation of the defensive issues they had experienced in the previous two losses to Chicago and Houston. Golden State was shooting 53 percent through three quarters but went seven for 20 (35 percent) from the field in the fourth quarter for only 19 points.
Curry did not make a shot in the fourth quarter on three tries from 3-point range, where sharpshooting Golden State was only eight for 25. The Suns made 11 of 21 3s with Dragic’s six and two from P.J. Tucker, who carried the Suns on the boards with a career-high 15 rebounds that accounted for one-third of the Suns’ total. Tucker also scored 16, two off his season high.
The Suns put six scorers in double figures, although Markieff Morris (scoreless in 17 minutes) was not one of them to end his streak of 12 consecutive double-digit scoring games off the bench.
Suns guard Gerald Green scored 25 points, also hitting two 3s but going eight of 11 from inside the arc by getting to the rim and hitting mid-range shots. Phoenix has won 10 consecutive games when Green has scored at least 20 points.
The Suns stretched the lead to double digits twice in the third quarter, starting with a 13-3 run that opened the quarter with five points from center Miles Plumlee against former Suns center Jermaine O’Neal. The Warriors countered with scores on six straight trips from six different players. The Suns posted Channing Frye against Draymond Green regularly to put the lead back into double digits until Golden State but the Warriors closed with 11 points in the last two minutes to trail 90-79 entering the third quarter.
That Phoenix lead entering the fourth quarter was a situation that the Suns had won 15 of the first 16 times at home.
Key player: Suns PG Goran Dragic set a career high with 34 points and added 10 assists.
Key moment: Dragic had 13 points and two assists in the final seven minutes to stretch a four-point lead.
Key number: 15 P.J. Tucker’s career-high rebound total.
View from press row: With David Lee out, Warriors coach Mark Jackson said he was not starting Harrison Barnes at power forward to counter Channing Frye’s shooting because of how much Frye’s post game had improved. Draymond Green would be the better answer. But when the Suns stretched the lead in the third quarter, it was by going to Frye in post against Green for three scores on four tries (the other was an offensive foul).
Paul Coro writes for The Arizona Republic, a Gannett affiliate.
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