OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors got back to their pass-happy ways and coach Steve Kerr could smile again about all those assists, fewer fouls and a better night taking care of the ball.
“We understand what the keys to our success are and when we don’t do them we make the game extremely tough and give the other team life in terms of more possessions,” Curry said.
Curry scored 15 of his 29 points in the third quarter and also had eight assists, leading the Warriors past the Phoenix Suns 123-103 on Monday night.
Kevin Durant scored 22 points and Draymond Green dished out eight of 35 assists for the two-time defending NBA champions. Kerr had been disappointed in his team’s passing, rushed shots and ball movement so far.
He is pleased with the progress: The Warriors shot 51.1 percent in the second of a back-to-back following a two-point loss at Denver on Sunday, which came after a one-point win Friday at Utah.
“That looked like our team, just the purpose of each possession, driving and kicking and trying to get guys better shots,” he said.
The Warriors won a 16th straight against Phoenix, their longest unbeaten run against a team in franchise history. Golden State’s 14 straight home victories versus the Suns is a franchise mark, as well.
Klay Thompson scored 16 points but missed his initial four 3-point tries and finished 1 of 6 from deep, making him 3 for 22 through four games. He sustained what is considered a mild ankle sprain, telling Kerr he could have returned.
New Golden State starting center Damian Jones dunked three times in the initial 4:03 — a pair of them on alley-oops — and Durant had one in transition, too. Phoenix called timeout down 12-7 at the 7:34 mark after KD’s slam.
Jones also added an early three-point play on a putback and finished with 13 points. He had nine and four rebounds in the opening eight minutes.
Devin Booker scored 28 points, TJ Warren had 27 off the bench and Deandre Ayton added 20 points and 14 rebounds for Phoenix.
“Our transition defense was atrocious,” Suns coach Igor Kokoskov said. “It wasn’t any secret and we were talking about it before the game. We know that’s a strength, that’s who they are.”
Curry shot 11 for 18 with six 3-pointers. He had scored 30 or more points in each of his initial three games this season but didn’t play the entire fourth quarter Monday.
Suns: Phoenix was outrebounded 17-6 in the opening quarter. ... While G Troy Daniels had been cleared from the concussion protocol as of Monday morning, he did not play. ... Phoenix won at Oracle Arena during the preseason.
Warriors: Reserve G Shaun Livingston sat out with a bruised left knee. ... The Warriors are averaging 119.8 points during the winning streak against the Suns. ... Golden State’s first three games were decided by 11 total points. ... The Warriors completed the first set of 13 back-to-backs — which will be their fewest total since the NBA began an 82-game schedule in 1967-68.
Center DeMarcus Cousins will begin doing more “controlled aspects” of team drills during practice, increasing from the extensive individual work he has largely been limited to so far during his recovery from surgery for a torn left Achilles tendon. Cousins still won’t be rushed into full scrimmaging but perhaps some light work when the young players scrimmage, Kerr said.
“He’s doing fine, he’s doing well,” Kerr said.
Cousins has been a big support for Jones, hopping off the bench to encourage the third-year pro and offering insight during timeouts.
Rong Niu, the Red Panda halftime performer, received a new custom-made unicycle courtesy of the Warriors and it was presented by team President and COO Rick Welts. Niu’s previous unicycle was stolen in January from the luggage area at San Francisco International Airport.
Niu let out a “Yeah!” and pumped her fist after successfully flipping the bowls onto her head. Afterward, an emotional Red Panda took a bow, brought the house down, and said, “Thank you so much!”
“She’s been amazing. She’s one of the great halftime acts in sports,” Kerr said. “So I think that’s great she’ll be here tonight. I will ask for a report from you guys afterward because I’ll be busy at halftime. I’m happy that she got her bike back.”
Suns: Host LeBron James and the Lakers on Wednesday.
Warriors: Host Washington on Wednesday.