Not long ago, a game between Phoenix and Golden State was sure to be an offensive explosion.
But Thursday night showed just how different the Warriors are this season. They didn't have enough firepower to keep up with the Suns, losing 107-101.
"They beat us at our own game," point guard Stephen Curry said.
Golden State (8-11) got 38 points and seven assists from guard Monta Ellis. Power forward David Lee had 25 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
But the Warriors, as a team, couldn't muster enough points against the worst defense in the NBA. The Suns (9-9) came in giving up a league-high 111.9 points per game. Golden State needed a meaningless basket in the final seconds just to crack triple digits.
Although he had seven assists, Curry finished with just nine points on 4-for-10 shooting. Small forward Dorell Wright was 4 for 13 from the field, including 2 of 7 from 3-point range. Center Andris Biedrins sat out most of the second half with an upset stomach, totaling four points in 24 minutes.
The Warriors have lost seven of their last eight games. They have dropped four straight at Oracle Arena and now head on a three-game road trip against Oklahoma City, Dallas and San Antonio, who are a combined 29 games over .500.
"Our margin for error is zero," coach Keith Smart said. "We've got to play perfect."
Guard Jason Richardson led Phoenix with 25 points on 10-for-15 shooting. Point guard Steve Nash had 13 points and 16 assists. Small forward Grant Hill missed just two of 11 shots for 24 points.
The Warriors wound up shooting 50 percent from the field. But Phoenix shot 54.8 percent and made more free throws (21 of 22) than the Warriors attempted (10 of 17).
"We did all we could possibly do," Smart said. "At some point, our defense breaks down because they space the floor and normal help positions are not there. When you also have a great facilitator like Nash, he's going to find your mistakes."
With Nash on the bench, the Suns opened the fourth quarter with an 18-7 run. Backup point guard Goran Dragic and forward Jared Dudley combined for 13 points during the run. A turnover by Curry and his subsequent foul led to a three-point play by Dudley, which put the Warriors down 93-79 with just under seven minutes left.
Golden State responded with a 10-0 run, which Ellis started with two free throws and ended by driving and finding Rodney Carney for a 3-pointer. Just like that, the Warriors were within four.
At the 3:40 mark, a 3-pointer by Wright had the Warriors within 95-92. Golden State had a chance to get closer, but after Ellis missed two free throws, Nash made a pair. After Lee missed an open jumper, Suns center Channing Frye drew a foul in the post and netted two free throws.
Just like that, the Warriors were down by seven again. They didn't quite have enough firepower to get back in it.
And, for good measure, Richardson, the Warriors' former franchise player, swished a fadeaway jumper at the shot-clock buzzer over Ellis.
"We gave ourselves a chance to win," said Ellis, who called his missed free throws late the turning point. "We made careless mistakes at the end, and they converted. Other than that, we have nothing to hold our head down (about)."
Warriors at Oklahoma City, 4 p.m., CSNBA
Coach Keith Smart can't find a backup point guard. Page 2