OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Jason Richardson won't allow the Golden
State Warriors to relax near the end of their 12th straight losing
That's exactly what the Phoenix Suns intend to do in the final
days before another playoff run.
Richardson scored 27 points, Derek Fisher added 19 and the
Warriors knocked off another playoff team on their way to an early
summer, beating the Suns 110-102 Friday night.
Steve Nash and Raja Bell dressed but didn't play for the Suns,
who already have won the Pacific Division and clinched the No. 2
seed in the Western Conference. The Warriors have clinched last
place in the division with yet another miserable year, but
Richardson sees no reason to let up.
"We said (earlier in the week) we're playing our last five
games, and we want to win," said Richardson, who's averaging 24.9
points per game since the All-Star break. "If we play the next
three like we played the last two, we're going to win."
The game actually turned out to be meaningful for the Suns --
just not in the standings.
Shawn Marion scored 12 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter of
an impressive effort, and Boris Diaw had his third triple-double of
the year while the Suns broke their own NBA record for 3-pointers
in a season despite fielding just a portion of their usual lineup.
Nash, last season's MVP, is nursing minor injuries to his
hamstring, hip and back. The Suns see no reason to aggravate them.
"We're definitely going to save some guys' legs as much as we
can," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Raja is definitely
day-to-day. Steve, we'll see. I definitely want to err on the side
of caution with those two guys. We've got one week to go, and we'll
have to rest up a little bit."
Phoenix kept it close despite the absences and a series of
mismatched lineups by their experimenting coach, but seldom-used
reserves Zarko Cabarkapa and Calbert Cheaney hit big baskets in the
fourth quarter of the Warriors' first win over Phoenix this season.
Troy Murphy and Mickael Pietrus sat out with minor injuries for
the Warriors, who snapped a nine-game losing streak with a win over
Dallas on Wednesday night. They haven't reached the playoffs since
1994, but the Warriors at least gave their faithful fans some
entertainment late in the year.
"At this point, technically the games are meaningless, so to go
ahead and win them all, we're going to try," said Mike Dunleavy,
who had 18 points for Golden State.
Then he joked: "But if we don't, that's OK, too, because we'll
have a higher draft pick. We're going to go in and compete.
Hopefully we win, and if we don't, then I guess there's a little
consolation that we won't slip in the standings for the draft."
Golden State finishes the season with a home-and-home series
with Portland, followed by a trip to Utah.
Diaw had 11 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high 16 assists,
while Leandro Barbosa had 20 points and four 3-pointers for the
Suns, who hit nine 3-pointers to give them 797 this season -- one
more than last season's record-setting total for D'Antoni's
Phoenix trailed by 13 in the fourth quarter, but got within
105-100 on Marion's free throws with 1:01 left. Fisher hit a
3-pointer on Golden State's ensuing possession to seal it.
After impressive back-to-back victories over Sacramento and
Dallas earlier this week, Phoenix plans to keep its stars healthy
through its final four games before a probable first-round matchup
with Kobe Bryant's Lakers, their opponents Sunday at Staples
"We still want to win and see which team we've got to play (in
the postseason)," Diaw said. "We got a little tired because we
didn't play with Steve and Raja, and they usually play a lot.
Sometimes we get to rest up because Steve is doing all the work."
Golden State took the lead midway through the third quarter with
11 consecutive points, then made another run spanning the final
quarters. But Marion scored 11 points in the final 6 minutes to
make it close.
Monta Ellis had 12 points in his first NBA start for the
Warriors. ... Murphy has a sprained right ankle, while Pietrus
strained a muscle in his groin. ... Phoenix F Nikoloz Tskitishvili
scored six points on his 23rd birthday. ... Nash and Bell had
missed just one game apiece earlier in the season with minor
injuries. Marion is the only player to start every game for the
Suns this year. ... Cheaney, who played in just one of the
Warriors' previous 14 games, scored six points in 15 minutes.
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