Full circle: Red-hot Suns win historic 17th straight three years after losing 17 in a row

Duane Rankin
Arizona Republic

Devin Booker wasn't the only one to go through it.

As rookies, Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges endured a Suns franchise record 17-game losing skid in the 2018-19 season under first-year head coach Igor Kokoskov.

Fast forward to Tuesday night.

The Suns (18-3) tied a franchise record for consecutive wins with 17 set in the 2006-07 season, beating Golden State (18-3) in a showdown at Footprint Center between the NBA's top two teams.

"See how life go?" Ayton said with a smile.

Phoenix won just 19 games in having the second-worst season in team history three years ago.

The Suns can break the team record for consecutive wins at home Thursday against Detroit (4-17), losers of seven straight.

"It's cool, man" said Suns All-Star Chris Paul, who has now been on three different teams to win 17 games in a row,  the Rockets and Clippers the other two. "You sort of forget about it just 'cause we just hoopin'."

The Suns did lose Booker to a left hamstring injury in the first half as he is listed out of Thursday's game. Coming off winning Western Conference player of the week honors, Booker finished Tuesday's game with 10 points in 16 minutes.

"I didn't even know Devin was really out of the game," Ayton said. "I just thought he was checking up on something or had to use the bathroom for a little bit, but as the game went on, I didn't see D-Book on the bench." 

Nov 30, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) puts up a shot against Golden State Warriors forward Otto Porter Jr. (32) at Footprint Center.

The Suns still managed to push past the Warriors by holding them to 18 points in the fourth quarter. Golden State shot 1-of-8 from 3 in the fourth. 

"We're an improving defensive team for sure, but to me, this was just will and toughness," Suns coach Monty Williams said. "Not a lot of scheme, not a lot of play calls. Our guys just willed themselves to a victory."  

Leading NBA MVP candidate Stephen Curry only scored a point on two shots attempts in 11 minutes and nine seconds of the fourth.

So what did Phoenix do to stop him during winning time?

"Man, we got to play those guys in a few days," Williams said. "I'm not giving Steph any fuel at all. He's a great player. Probably had an off night. Like I said, he missed shots. He's the greatest shooter we've ever seen in the game. So you can't expect him to have a nights like that consistently, but our team defense was highly aware of where he was all night long, but I also feel like he missed some shots."

Nov 30, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) watches the Phoenix Suns bench during a time out at Footprint Center.

The Warriors play the Suns again Friday in San Francisco.

"The loss definitely jolts the system a little bit in terms of what you need to learn," Curry said. "We have to be able to bounce back." 

The Warriors don't have a game between Tuesday's game and Friday's rematch.

"I think it is good to feel that," Warriors forward Draymond Green said. "At the end of the day, in Game 21? As I've said all along, we've got a long way to go. A lot of improvement to make and when you have a game like this and you get an opportunity to see what you need to get better at, it's good. So we'll get back in the lab, make the necessary adjustments we need to make and brush up on things we need to brush up on." 

Bridges defended Curry for the majority of the game and played a huge role in the two-time MVP struggling to a 12-point effort on 4-of-21 shooting as he went 3-of-14 on 3s.

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) drives as Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York).

"They did a great job on Steph," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "Bridges was all over him. A lot of switching. They stayed home when he was off the ball and the good looks that he did have, he didn't knock them down. So he never found a rhythm, but I thought their defense obviously had a lot to do with that. They were really, really good." 

Couple that with Golden State allowing 19 points off its 23 turnovers as Paul wound up with five steals, the Suns won with defense again Tuesday night. 

"A lot of it was them," Curry said. "Credit to their length, their multiple efforts, but a lot of it was us. I think early the first half, we were rushing a lot of possessions and you can call them unforced turnovers when there's other options out there. We kind of was just throwing it around." 

Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at dmrankin@gannett.com or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.

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