Published November 20, 2014
Goran Dragic did a fairly good Steve Nash impression, but it still wasn't enough for the Phoenix Suns to begin a new era without their longtime point guard on a positive note.
Carl Landry scored 12 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter and scored the go-ahead basket with 1:22 left as the Golden State Warriors edged the Suns by an 87-85 count in the season opener for both teams at US Airways Center.
Landry made good on 7-of-9 field goal attempts overall for the Warriors, who have now won two straight in Phoenix since ending a 13-game road losing streak in this series last February. Klay Thompson added 16 points in the triumph, while Brandon Rush contributed 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting off the bench.
The Warriors prevailed despite their two top scorers from last season, David Lee and Stephen Curry, combining to hit just 4-of-30 shots.
"We made some mistakes, we missed shots, but if you would have told me coming in that David Lee and Steph Curry would go 4-30, I'd say we'd be in trouble," Golden State head coach Mark Jackson remarked.
Andrew Bogut compiled eight points and six rebounds over 18-plus minutes in his long-awaited Golden State debut. The former No. 1 overall draft pick was traded to the Warriors from Milwaukee on March 13 of last season, but was sidelined the entire rest of the year with a serious ankle injury.
Dragic, signed as a free agent to fill Nash's spot after the two-time NBA MVP joined the Los Angeles Lakers in the offseason, totaled a team-best 17 points and dished out eight assists.
Luis Scola, another newcomer to a revamped Phoenix squad, posted a double- double with 15 points and 11 rebounds in his first outing with his new club.
The Suns methodically turned a 17-point second-quarter deficit into a 74-66 lead after Shannon Brown hit a technical foul shot with 8:41 left to play, but the Warriors would regroup.
Curry's first field goal of the night sparked a near four-minute stretch in which Golden State outscored Phoenix by a 13-4 count, with Thompson burying a three-pointer at the end of the run to put the visitors up 79-78 with 4:42 to go.
Phoenix reclaimed the upper hand when Scola drained a turnaound for an 84-83 edge with 1:43 left, but Landry dunked home a feed from Lee at the other end before knocking down a 17-footer with 54 seconds remaining to put the Warriors up by three.
"My teammates did a good job of finding me in positions to make buckets, so guys are going to have nights like that where shots don't fall," said Landry. "But that's where you have a good team like we do, a deep team. We've got guys that can make plays."
The Suns had a couple of chances to draw even in the closing moments. Jared Dudley couldn't connect on a open look on a three-pointer just after Landry's last make, and Curry -- a career 90 percent free-throw shooter -- missed twice from the charity stripe with a two-point lead and 4.4 seconds left to keep Phoenix's chances alive.
However, the Suns couldn't get a shot off prior to the buzzer sounding.
"Those are shots that we'll make throughout the season, but obviously it hurts now losing that game, because it's just one or two possessions," Dudley remarked. "If you hit those shots throughout the course of the game, it opens up the lane to get [center Marcin] Gortat layups and we just didn't do that tonight."
Phoenix trailed 46-29 near the midway mark of the second quarter before closing out the first half on a 13-2 tear to close the gap.
Scola ignited the run with seven straight points and later scored on a putback to cut Phoenix's deficit to eight heading into the final minute, and a Dragic jumper with five seconds to go pulled the Suns within 48-42 at the break.
Phoenix's surge carried into the third quarter, where a 12-3 spurt gave the Suns their first lead since the opening period. Gortat fed Markieff Morris for a dunk to trim the Warriors' edge to 62-61, then putback a Michael Beasley three-point miss shortly afterward to send his team in front with 3:13 remaining in the session.
The Suns would take a 67-65 advantage into the fourth quarter, then put up seven of the next eight points to move in front by eight before Golden State answered.
Golden State was ahead 29-23 early in the second quarter before ripping off nine consecutive points to open up a comfortable lead. After a three-pointer by Jarrett Jack pushed the Warriors' cushion to double-digits, Lee sunk two free throws before capping the run with a layup off a Richard Jefferson steal with 9:09 remaining in the first half.
The margin would grew to as many as 17 points on three occasions during the period, the last coming on Rush's floater with 6:37 left before halftime made the score 46-29.
The victory was Golden State's first on the road in a season opener since a 123-118 decision at San Antonio on Nov. 4, 1994 ... The Warriors have now come out on top in each of their last three meetings with Phoenix, their longest streak over the Suns since a three-game stretch from March 29, 2007 to Feb. 13, 2008 ... Golden State played in a league-high 17 games decided by three or less points last season, but went just 5-12 in those contests ... Curry, who finished with just five points and shot 2-of-14 from the field, signed a four- year, $44 million extension earlier on Wednesday ... Phoenix's P.J. Tucker netted 10 points in a career-high 23 minutes.