OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Jason Richardson and Mike Dunleavy still
were wide-eyed in the locker room, still joking with each other and
shaking their heads in disbelief.
The Golden State Warriors have been losers ever since the two
players joined the NBA, so everything about this eight-game winning
streak is new: the tempo, the accolades, the big shots that never
seem to miss -- and the cheers from fans who are just as joyfully
surprised as the players.
Mickael Pietrus hit six 3-pointers while scoring a career-high
28 points, and the Warriors extended their winning streak with a
franchise-record 18 3-pointers in a 127-119 victory over the
Phoenix Suns on Friday night.
The Warriors say their remarkable improvement since Baron Davis'
arrival is an extended preview of next season -- but the present is
pretty intoxicating for the Warriors, who beat the team with the
NBA's best record for the second time in three weeks at the Suns'
own up-tempo, crowd-pleasing game.
"That's probably the craziest it's ever been in here," said
Richardson, who scored 28 points. "It felt like a playoff game,
like we got a playoff berth with a win. We wanted to show these
guys that we're capable of being a playoff team next year."
Mike Dunleavy had 28 points, including five 3s, as the Warriors
extended their longest winning streak since 1994 with a high-octane
victory over the NBA leaders, whose six-game streak ended despite
Amare Stoudemire's 44 points and 16 rebounds.
Cheered on by their third sellout crowd of the season, the
Warriors pulled away in the final minutes of their 11th victory in
12 games with outside shooting. The Suns shoot plenty of 3s and
allow plenty of 3s -- and the Warriors hit them with a confidence
that grows with each win.
"It's been a pretty dramatic turnaround," Dunleavy said.
"We're playing with confidence, we're believing in each other and
we're going out and just having a good time, since we're not going
to the playoffs. Our season is ending in a couple of weeks, and we
just want to go out with a bang."
Though Stoudemire dominated the paint and made 14 of his 15 free
throws, the Warriors held him without a field goal in the final 11
minutes while beating the Suns at their own 3-point game.
Davis fell one rebound shy of his fifth career triple-double
with 15 points, 15 assists and nine rebounds.
And for the second time in less than five weeks, set the
franchise record for 3s, falling three shy of the NBA record set by
Toronto against Philadelphia on March 13. A day before the Raptors'
record-setting performance, Golden State hit 18 3-pointers in a
victory over Atlanta.
Joe Johnson scored 24 points and Steve Nash had 11 points and 12
assists for the Suns, whose lead over San Antonio in the Western
Conference standings shrunk to two games. But the Suns aren't
worried despite two recent losses to a last-place team 26½ games
behind them in the Pacific Division.
"A lot of times it's a really simple game," coach Mike
D'Antoni said. "They hit, and we missed. We had a few lapses on
defense that cost us the game. (Golden State) already had good
players. Everybody got healthy, and adding (Davis) to the mix
opened the floor up. Now, they have a swagger about them."
Golden State scored 37 points in the fourth, hitting six
3-pointers. Pietrus had 13 points and Dunleavy added 10 -- including
two 3s in the final four minutes -- as the Warriors rallied from a
112-106 deficit with 4:55 to play.
"I'm at home and I feel good, and they just kept pushing us,"
said Pietrus, who has blossomed as a high-energy reserve in recent
weeks. "I wanted to make something happen. I think we showed how
good we can be."
Stoudemire was his usual relentless self around the rim,
throwing down several basket-shaking dunks and earning a technical
foul in the second quarter for hanging on the rim.
"They hit a lot of key shots down the stretch that put them
over the hump," Stoudemire said. "It was like one of those Mike
Tyson blow-for-blow kind of things, and they did a great job
shooting the ball."
Stoudemire also dunked twice on Adonal Foyle's head -- knocking
down the Golden State shot-blocking specialist, then popping his
jersey after the second incredible slam in the third quarter.
"I gave up my body to science -- at least to the Amare
Stoudemire Foundation," said Foyle, who grabbed 17 rebounds,
blocked five shots and had a career-high five assists. "It was a
physical battle, and the only thing that would make tonight better
was getting a win. You can (have) the dunks and everything else,
beat me up, but we were able to get the win."
The Suns' 68 points at halftime were the most by a Golden
State opponent this season. ... The crowd was the 10th-largest in