The Christmas Day battle between the NBA’s top two teams did not disappoint on Saturday afternoon.
Thanks to a late and historic explosion from Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors will head back to the Bay Area with a huge win in their ninth consecutive holiday game.
The Warriors, behind 33 points from Curry, beat the Phoenix Suns 116-107 at the Footprint Center. That performance marked a career-high for the Warriors star on Christmas Day, as he’s never scored more than 20 points in his eight previous Christmas games.
“Steph was amazing,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, via SBNation’s Joe Viray. “Facing that defense with so much attention on him, missing three of our best shooters. He’s a plus 24. Even when he wasn’t making shots, he was still impacting the game by pulling the defense toward him.”
Phoenix, after trailing for most of the first half, surged ahead late in the second quarter on a huge 14-3 run that pushed the Suns to a four point lead at the break. Chris Paul, who finished with 21 points and eight assists, went on a personal five point run to end the second quarter, too.
The two teams entered the fourth quarter locked up, though Curry took off almost instantly. He put up 10 quick points in the opening minutes of the final period, including a pair of ridiculous 3-pointers to a seven-point lead — their largest since the first quarter.
Though Phoenix made a late push and cut the game back to just a single possession, it wasn’t quite enough. The Warriors fended off the Suns’ late run with a quick 7-0 burst from Otto Porter Jr. in the final minutes to claim the win — their sixth in their last seven games.
“It’s a big shot, big moment and he looked so confident … he stepped up and his composure — he can shoot with the best of them, and he showed that tonight,” Curry said of Porter on ESPN.
Paul shot 7-of-14 from the field to lead the Suns with his 21 points. Deandre Ayton dropped 18 points with seven rebounds, and Mikal Bridges finished with 17 points. The game was the Suns’ first on Christmas since 2009.
Curry finished with 33 points and six assists while shooting 5-of-16 from behind the arc. Curry, who set the league’s all-time record earlier this month, is now just one 3-pointer shy of 3,000 for his career. Porter dropped 19 points and had six rebounds while shooting 8-of-13 from the field, and Gary Payton finished with 14 points and nine rebounds.
The game was just the third Christmas game in league history to be played between teams with at least a .800 winning percentage. Though the win gave the Warriors the edge to claim the top record in the league, the game was what many expect to be a preview of the Western Conference Finals come playoff time.