There was no holiday hangover for the Golden State Warriors.
Stephen Curry scored 41 points, Draymond Green recorded a triple-double and the Warriors extended their NBA’s best-ever start to 17-0 with a 135-116 victory over the Phoenix Suns Friday night at the Talking Stick Resort Arena. Golden State has won 21 straight regular season games, just 12 short of the record owned by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.
The Warriors set a new franchise record with 22 3-pointers. They fell one short of tying the NBA record currently held by both the Orlando Magic and the Houston Rockets. Curry splashed a season-high nine 3-pointers. Former Sun Leandro Barbosa was a perfect 5-of-5 from beyond the arc. Nine Warriors hit at least one 3-pointer.
“The main bulk of our 3s come out of ball movement,” Curry told CSN Bay Area. “Swinging from side to side and finding the open guy. So we shoot a lot of them, but hopefully we shoot a lot of good ones that lead to high percentage.”
Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton was not aware that his team broke yet another franchise record. All he knew was that they shot a lot of 3s.
“We would like to still get the ball inside and moving side to side,” Walton said. “We don’t want to get into another team’s style. We are okay playing like that for a little bit. But we still want to get over 300 passes for a game.”
Golden State gave a sign of what’s to come by making nine 3-pointers in the opening quarter. Curry nailed five 3-pointers. Green and Klay Thompson sank two treys apiece. The Warriors scored the game’s first eight points and built a 44-27 lead after one quarter.
The Suns climbed to within 10 points with just over two minutes left in the second quarter, but Golden State scored the final eight points to take a 75-57 lead at halftime. The Warriors made six more 3-pointers to set a new NBA record for most in a half with 15.
Golden State shot 65.9 percent from the field in the first half, including 75 percent from 3-point range. The only blemish the Warriors had was missing nine free throws. Curry led all scorers with 27 points. Thompson had 15 points. Green added six points, six rebounds and six assists.
The Suns shot 56.5 percent from the field, but made 10 less 3-pointers. Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight combined for 28 points.
The Warriors opened the second half by missing their first five shots and committed four turnovers. Phoenix took advantage and crawled back to within 11 points with 7:55 left in the third quarter.
Markieff Morris had a golden opportunity to cut the deficit to single digits, but his layup off a steal by Jon Leuer was blocked by Andrew Bogut. The Warriors finally snapped their offensive funk when Bogut found a cutting Andre Iguodala for a wide-open dunk. Bogut followed with another block on the defensive end. Those three plays by Bogut ignited a 25-10 run that put the Warriors up 26 with 1:11 left in the quarter.
With the game out of reach, Curry did not play in the fourth quarter for a third consecutive game. The reigning MVP finished with 41 points on 11-of-20 shooting, including 9-of-16 from beyond the arc, in just over 30 minutes.
Green picked up his third career triple-double on a tip-in with 2:55 left in the game. He had been one rebound short when he was subbed out by Walton 79 seconds earlier. But Walton inserted Green back in the game 25 seconds later after realizing how close he was.
“He does so much for us,” Walton said. “He’s such an unselfish player and work so hard. One rebound away from a triple-double, I have no problem getting him back in there to try and get that.”
Green finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Barbosa scored a season-high 21 points. Thompson had 15 points. Curry added eight assists, six rebounds and two steals. The Warriors shot 56.8 percent overall and 57.9 percent from 3-point range.
T.J. Warren led Phoenix (9-7) with a career-high 28 points. He scored 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting in the second half. Bledsoe and Knight finished with 21 points apiece. The Suns shot 48.9 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from beyond the arc. They turned 24 Golden State turnovers into 30 points.
Despite the blowout win, the Warriors got a taste of how all this success can change very quickly. Harrison Barnes left the game with 9:03 remaining in the third quarter after suffering an ankle injury. Barnes jumped to contest a turnaround jumper by Morris when his foot landed on Morris’ foot. The “Black Falcon” was diagnosed with a sprained left ankle. X-rays taken were negative. ESPN’s Ethan Sherwood Strauss reported that no timetable has been given.
The Suns have their own injury concerns. Tyson Chandler did not return after leaving the game in the first quarter with a strained right hamstring.
On the road to 73 wins:
2015-16 Golden State Warriors 17-0
1995-95 Chicago Bulls 15-2