The Phoenix Suns hope to continue their recent mastery of Stephen Curry when the defending Western Conference champs visit the Golden State Warriors for a rematch Friday night in San Francisco.
The Suns bottled up Curry to the tune of a 4-for-21 shooting night — one of the worst of his career — when they extended their winning streak to 17 games with a 104-96 home win on Tuesday.
“They did a great job on Steph,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr assessed. “(Mikal) Bridges was all over him. They did a lot of switching. The good looks that he did have, he just didn’t knock them down, so never found a rhythm. But I thought their defense had a lot to do with that.”
It wasn’t the first time Bridges and the Suns have been troublesome for the league’s reigning scoring champ. Curry has averaged just 18.7 points and shot just 36-for-111 (32 percent) in his last six games against Phoenix.
The site has changed for the rematch, as has one other thing: The Suns (19-3), coming off a 114-103 home win over the Detroit Pistons on Thursday, are now the Pacific Division and Western Conference leader, having moved a half-game ahead of the Warriors (18-3).
The Suns got double-figure scoring from seven players, including three reserves, in the win over the Pistons, which extended their winning streak to a franchise-record 18 straight. A 19th in a row Friday would make Phoenix one of 10 teams ever to reach that level.
Golden State is one of them, having begun the 2015-16 season with 24 straight wins, landing them No. 2 on the all-time list behind the Los Angeles Lakers’ 33-game run in 1971-72.
The Suns proved to be the superior defensive team in Tuesday’s meeting, frustrating the Warriors into a season-high-tying 23 turnovers and a season-low 41.9 percent from the field.
That combination was enough to allow Phoenix to overcome a 51-35 rebounding deficit, 15 Golden State offensive boards, and the loss of leading scorer Devin Booker to a strained left hamstring in the second quarter.
Booker sat out the Detroit game and isn’t expected to face the Warriors.
He had 10 points in 15 minutes on Tuesday.
Borrowing a tactic popularized by the Warriors during their run to the NBA Finals five straight years, the Suns used strength in numbers to overcome Booker’s absence Tuesday. Their reserves outscored the Golden State backups 39-33, with Cam Johnson going for 14 points while guards Landry Shamet (nine), Cameron Payne (six) and Elfrid Payton (two) combined for 17 more.
“You don’t try to do what Book does,” Suns coach Monty Williams said of replacing Booker. “It’s gonna come from a team holistic effort, because Book is a different type of player.”
Shamet got the start against the Pistons and contributed 14 points to the win.
The Suns aren’t the only team on a winning streak heading into the game. Golden State has the best home record in the NBA at 11-1, having won its last 10.
Phoenix’s 18-game streak features eight straight wins on the road.
–Field Level Media