David Lee had 28 points and 12 rebounds, Monta Ellis scored 18 points and the Golden State Warriors earned their first three-game winning streak under rookie coach Mark Jackson with a 102-96 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Monday night.
Rookie Klay Thompson added 10 points and fellow reserve Ekpe Udoh had nine points, including a layup with 35.9 seconds remaining that extended Golden State's lead to five and capped a comeback from 12 points down in the second half.
Marcin Gortat had 25 points and 12 rebounds, and Steve Nash handed out 14 assists for Phoenix, playing the first of three games in three nights. The Suns face Denver on Tuesday before returning home against Atlanta on Wednesday.
The suddenly surging Warriors are building momentum in unfamiliar fashion.
Jackson gambled with smaller lineups — reminiscent of NBA wins leader and former Warriors coach Don Nelson — for long stretches in the second half against the Suns' longer and lankier front line. The move forced Phoenix to run big men Gortat and Channing Frye out on shooters, and Golden State shot its way back despite giving away size on defense.
Jackson also leaned on his bench in the fourth quarter, and his substitutes — nicknamed the Dubstitutes for their recent contributions late — again rewarded his risk.
Thompson hit a 3-pointer in the corner and fellow reserve Nate Robinson followed with another from beyond the arc to give Golden State a 94-84 lead with 5:43 remaining. Robinson finished with 11 points, but the Warriors went scoreless for more the next 5 minutes.
The Suns sliced the deficit to three after a 3-pointer from Markieff Morris, a layup by Gortat and a jumper by Grant Hill. Phoenix wasted several opportunities to tie or take the lead, and Golden State took advantage.
Udoh blocked a layup attempt by Morris and came up even bigger on offense. Udoh, whose minutes eclipsed struggling starter Andris Biedrins again, finished a hard-driving layup through a crowd of defenders with 35.9 seconds to play.
After a missed shot by Jared Dudley, Stephen Curry made two free throws to give Golden State a seven-point lead and finish off the franchise's first winning streak of the season.
The Suns had sprinted out to a fast start ahead of a grueling stretch of games, but couldn't keep up the pace.
Nash knifed his way through the middle and dinked and dunked passes in every direction, dishing out five assists in the first 6 minutes. Gortat benefited most with easy looks around the rim, and his short jumper gave Phoenix a 24-14 lead in the first quarter.
The Warriors never lost control in a matchup of teams that typically pile up points.
Ellis and Curry both made 3-pointers and Lee had a put-back to cap a 14-4 run by Golden State in the second quarter that evened the score at 41. The Suns led 46-43 at halftime behind Nash's nine assists.
After Phoenix extended its lead to 12 points in the third quarter, the Warriors came charging back. Lee converted a three-point play and followed with a dunk on a bounce pass by Curry as Golden State scored 10 straight to go ahead 70-69 — the first time it led since the opening minutes.
Note: The Warriors gave away a bobblehead doll of former PG Tim Hardaway to the first 10,000 fans as part of the franchise's tribute to the "Run TMC" trio of the early 1990s. The team will hand out bobbleheads of Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin at games later this season. ... Suns coach Alvin Gentry joked before the game that watching budding sensation and Knicks PG Jeremy Lin, who was cut by the Warriors in December, is "like the American Idol of the NBA." ... After Wednesday's home game against Portland, the Warriors play eight of their next nine on the road.