Scuffling Suns meet suddenly streaking Warriors

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The Golden State Warriors suddenly are winning games despite their cast of new faces.

The Warriors are in the midst of their best stretch of the season and will attempt to extend their season-long winning streak to four straight games when they face the Phoenix Suns on Friday night in San Francisco.

Golden State hadn’t won consecutive games all season before starting off a five-game homestand with three straight victories. The Warriors defeated the New Orleans Pelicans and Minnesota Timberwolves before following up with an impressive 116-104 win over the Houston Rockets on Christmas Day.

“It’s been a really trying season for us,” power forward Draymond Green said after scoring a season-best 20 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in the triumph. “To come out Christmas Day and get a win against a very good basketball team feels good.”

Green is the lone star from the Golden State glory days on the floor with the backcourt duo of Stephen Curry (hand) and Klay Thompson (knee) nursing injuries.

One of the more obscure Warriors had a huge outing against Houston as guard Damion Lee scored 22 points and grabbed a career-best 15 rebounds. Lee is on a two-way contract, which means he can only spend a maximum of 45 days in the NBA and must spend the rest of the season in the G League.

“I’m thankful that we got the win, but there’s still things that I feel I have to get better at day in and day out to fully solidify myself as an NBA player and not a two-way,” Lee told reporters.

The 27-year-old Lee has been unable to stick in the NBA in the past. He played in 15 games with the Atlanta Hawks during the 2017-18 seasons and saw action in 32 games for the Warriors last season.

But Wednesday’s outing was his fourth 20-point effort of the season. He is averaging 11.7 points and 4.8 rebounds in 18 games (five starts).

The Warriors have dropped two straight to Phoenix after winning the previous 18 meetings.

The Suns knocked off Golden State at the brand new Chase Center earlier this season when shooting guard Devin Booker scored 31 points and big man Aron Baynes recorded 24 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high seven assists in a 121-110 win on Oct. 30.

Phoenix arrives back at the Chase Center badly in search of a victory. The Suns have lost seven straight games and three of the setbacks have come by two or fewer points.

One of those came on Monday when the Denver Nuggets edged the visiting Suns 113-111. Booker tied the game at 111 with a 3-pointer with 25.5 seconds left but Denver’s Jamal Murray knocked down the decisive basket with 3.2 seconds to play.

“It’s the deep hurt that allows you to grow,” Phoenix coach Monty Williams said afterward. “It’s a life principle, and certainly in sports. We have to start closing these games out.”

The Suns had eight players score in double digits against the Nuggets with point guard Ricky Rubio leading the way with 21 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.

One solid contributor off the bench was rookie small forward Cameron Johnson, who had 11 points and seven rebounds in just 19 minutes while scoring in double figures for the 13th time this season.

“I’ve said it for a while, he’s not your normal first-year player,” Williams said of Johnson, the 11th overall pick from North Carolina. “He plays the game the right way. He doesn’t take bad shots. He had the wherewithal on the one three he banked to just get it up in the air. His ability to take charges says a lot about him. Not many young guys have the foot speed, the acumen to get back in transition and guess what guys are going to do and take the charge.

“He continues to grow as a player. He’s not just a shooter. He’s a guy who slashes and can get to the free-throw line. We really like Cam a lot.”

Suns center Deandre Ayton (ankle) has missed the past three games and his status likely will be decided Friday.

Golden State forward Eric Paschall reinjured a hip against Houston and is unlikely to play.

–Field Level Media

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