Warriors riding 3-game win streak in rematch with Suns
Eric Bledsoe went for a team-high 24 points, eight assists and eight rebounds in the Suns' Dec. 15 win. (USATSI)
Programming note: Suns-Warriors coverage starts at 7 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live, only on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
OAKLAND -- In every basketball season, good or bad, certain games stand out as memorable. For the Warriors this season, one such game was their Dec. 15 loss to the Suns in Phoenix.
But as much as they remember losing, they can't ever forget the in-game upbraiding delivered by assistant coach Pete Myers and the postgame scolding by head coach Mark Jackson.
Both coaches questioned the depth of desire displayed by their roster in that 106-102 loss at US Airways Center. Jackson was blunt, saying it seemed the team's coaches and executives were more passionate about winning than the players.
With those stinging comments echoing in their minds, the Warriors have since won four of five games and are on a three-game win streak.
"We were in a little bit of a lull when we on the road in Phoenix," center Andrew Bogut said. "These last three games, we’ve stepped up our efforts and played much better basketball. Hopefully, we can continue to carry over and turn this three-game win streak into a four-game win streak."
It's conceivable the Warriors (17-13) underestimated the Suns during their first meeting. Phoenix (17-10) was playing well despite the absence of star players. Such teams are dangerous insofar as they don't appear particularly threatening.
"We didn't start playing until the 35-minute mark," guard Klay Thompson said.
"That's a team that last year you mark down as an automatic win," forward Draymond Green said. "They've made some roster changes and some coaching changes. You can tell the organization is heading in the right direction."
Surely the energy and emotion with which the Suns played 12 days ago was in contrast to the Warriors. Led by combo guards Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, Phoenix constantly forced the action. And the Warriors usually allowed them to.
"They're a hard-playing team," Green said. "That's probably their best skill -- they play hard. We have to make them try to match our intensity level."
The Suns have won eight of their last 10. They're not sneaking up on anybody. If the Warriors truly learned a lesson, their will should be visible from the opening tipoff.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Thompson and Curry vs Bledsoe and Dragic. The Suns are built around the guards, with each able to play either guard position. They each handle the ball, shoot the 3 and drive into the paint. Neither is consistent on defense, though Bledsoe can be good, so Thompson and Curry will have chances to score.
David Lee vs. Channing Frye. The Warriors lost this matchup power forwards in the previous game, as Frye -- a stretch 4 who likes to linger beyond the arc -- scorched the nets with five 3-pointers, several taking the air out of Warriors' rallies. If Lee can't keep up with his former Knicks teammate, Jackson won't hesitate to summon Andre Iguodala or Green to stay in Frye's face.
SERIES HISTORY: The Warriors have won six of the last seven games against the Suns, including the last four at Oracle Arena.
INJURY UPDATE: Centers Jermaine O'Neal (right wrist surgery), Festus Ezeli (right knee surgery) and Ognjen Kuzmic (right pinkie surgery) are out indefinitely.