By JANIE McCAULEY – AP sportswriter
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Devin Booker’s two free throws 34.2 seconds back gave Phoenix the lead, Draymond Green traveled to turn it over before Chris Paul made a short jump and the NBA-best Phoenix Suns held the Golden State Warriors 107 -103 returned on Wednesday night in a furious finish between Western Conference rivals.
Jordan Poole scored a season-best 38 points to set his career high and also contributed nine rebounds and seven assists. He had five free throws over the 1:20 final.
Poole conceded a loose ball foul to Booker with 39.8 seconds left and converted two free throws before Booker came through in their ninth straight win for the Suns (62-14).
Paul hit a key jumper with 1:37 to play and finished the game with 15 points and eight assists, Mikal Bridges had 22 points and Deandre Ayton added 16 points and 16 rebounds for Phoenix.
Green had a three-pointer play to level it with 2:25 left, the Suns committed a three-second injury at the other end, but Golden State didn’t capitalize on that sequence and Paul scored. Green and Jae Crowder had some words in the middle of the court after last buzzer.
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Booker scored 22 points but shot 5 for 21 – 2 of 8 from long range – while Torrey Craig missed all four of his 3-point attempts.
The Warriors played better defensively while again being without reigning top scorer Stephen Curry, who picked up a foot injury that cost him seven games.
Poole shot 11 for 22 with seven 3s as Golden State returned home Monday night in Memphis from a 123-95 loss.
“The difficult thing about Jordan is that he’s learning to play like Steph,” Suns coach Monty Williams said before the game.
Klay Thompson shot just 5 of 21 and missed nine of his 10 3-point attempts in Golden State’s fourth straight loss, seventh of eight and third straight at the Chase Center.
The Warriors had won the last two matchups with the Suns going on an eight-game win streak on the road. Phoenix overcame shooting 7 for 28 on 3 pointers.
The teams split the season series into two games apiece.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr told his team during a morning meeting how well the Warriors have played on defense in previous encounters with Phoenix and that they were able to do so despite the recent struggles.
Curry has yet to resume on-court basketball activity while working back from a sprained left foot, but has been working on an aquatic treadmill and weight room. He might shoot again soon.
“The trend is in a good direction,” Kerr said.
Golden State fell to 1-6 during that stretch without him.
Suns: Phoenix won for the first time in four tries since a 121-110 win on Oct. 30, 2019 on the Warriors’ home ground. … The Suns won last season’s matchups 2-1 for their first winning series of the season since taking all four sessions in 2010-11. Phoenix is 19-3 on the road against the Western Conference. … Cam Johnson missed his 13th straight game with a bruised right quadriceps. … JaVale McGee was out due to a non-COVID illness, missing his second straight and that against his former team.
Warriors: Gary Payton II went into the dressing room with 8:43 minutes remaining but returned at 4:54 to provide a key defensive presence on the track. … The Warriors have come a long way with five games in eight days and now have three games in an eight-day streak that doesn’t require them to leave the state.
Suns: With the Grizzlies on Friday night after winning back-to-back in Memphis.
Warriors: host Jazz on Saturday night after winning their last three encounters with Utah at home before finishing a back-to-back home game in Sacramento on Sunday.
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