Suns-Warriors Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 02, 2013
Klay Thompson's red-hot shooting over the last two games has helped the Golden State Warriors overcome their leading scorer's absence. He could be in for another big game against a Phoenix Suns team that's struggled to slow down opponents from long distance. With Stephen Curry's status unknown, the Warriors go for a fourth consecutive win and fourth in a row over the visiting Suns on Saturday night. While many weren't sure what to expect from coach Mark Jackson's team with Curry (21.0 ppg) sidelined due to a sprained right ankle, Golden State (29-17) hasn't missed a beat thanks in large part to Thompson. The former Washington State standout, averaging 16.7 points in his second season, scored a career-high 32 in Tuesday's 108-95 win at Cleveland, then put up 27 two nights later as the Warriors got past Dallas 100-97. Thompson, who's shot 24 of 42 (57.1 percent), including 9 of 15 (60.0 percent) from beyond the arc, in those wins, ranks third in the NBA with 126 made 3-pointers - just behind Curry's 133. "I think he's been great all year long - with Curry on the floor or not," Jackson said of Thompson, who's averaging 21.9 points over his last nine games. "He's a knockdown shooter, as good as it gets. He's got great size, defends his tail off and he understands that we need him to score more without Steph on the floor. Lately, he's been spectacular." Thompson has to like his chances of keeping things going versus Phoenix (16-31), which is allowing teams to shoot 38.3 percent from 3-point range to rank 29th in the league. Besides slowing down Thompson, the Suns could have their hands full down low with David Lee and Andrew Bogut. Lee, who leads the league with 30 double-doubles, had 15 points, a season-high 20 rebounds and nine assists against the Mavericks. Playing for the second time since returning from a 38-game absence due to an ankle injury, Bogut scored just eight but recorded three blocks, including one to prevent the potential go-ahead basket with six seconds left. "Defense is where I'm most valuable to this team," said the Australian big man. "I'm looking forward to scoring more here, but that not might be my role. I don't mind that, some games I'll get more touches than other but right now I'm most interested in doing what's best for the team." Winners of six of eight, the Warriors had dropped 11 of 12 in this series before taking the last three, including a season-opening 87-85 road victory Oct. 31. Sitting at the bottom of the Pacific Division, Phoenix enters Saturday hoping to avoid a fourth loss in five games after falling 109-99 to Dallas the night before. Shannon Brown scored 20 points off the bench and Goran Dragic posted 19, nine assists and a season-high eight rebounds for the Suns, who stayed close before yielding 35 points in the fourth quarter. "We are still young in this process and you kind of expect things like that to happen," interim coach Lindsey Hunter said of his team's inability to get stops down the stretch. "I know what lies ahead of us and I know how hard it is, just trying to get everybody collectively as a group to understand that you have to do it together." Phoenix, which is 2-9 in the second of back-to-backs, has dropped 14 of 16 on the road while allowing 103.5 points per game. The Warriors are 14-2 at home when scoring at least 96.
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