PHOENIX (AP) — The NBA regular season belongs to the Golden State Warriors – again.
The high-speed Bay Area dynamo needed 42 points from Stephen Curry to hold off the pesky Phoenix Suns 120-111 Thursday night, a victory that ensured Golden State will have the best record in the NBA for the third straight season.
“Yeah, it’s impressive,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We have had a great run.”
The Warriors won their season-best 13th straight game, all of them without the injured Kevin Durant.
Getting the top playoff seed was “a goal that we set going into the season,” Curry said, “to make sure the regular season mattered for us, to clinch that, and we did.”
With Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala resting and Durant one game away from returning from injury, the Warriors prevailed in front of a noisy crowd.
“I think our guys enjoy the position we are in. They know it is a special era that is not going to last forever,” Kerr said. “We have a special group of talented players at the same time, so we are trying to enjoy every moment.”
Curry scored 23 in the first quarter when the Warriors blew open a 41-18 lead, but the Suns rallied with a 34-17 second quarter and made a game of it from there.
“I think we got mesmerized as a team,” Kerr said. “We were so enamored with what Steph was doing that we kind of stopped playing to start the second quarter.”
Devin Booker scored 21, Tyler Ulis 20 and Jared Dudley matched his season high with 19 for the Suns, who tied a franchise record with their 13th straight loss.
Alan Williams scored 16 and grabbed a career-best 17 rebounds for Phoenix.
“We just wanted to keep the game close, give ourselves the chance,” Dudley said. “Obviously, they are a championship team and for us, we want to just keep putting our young guys in situations where they can just learn from it.”
Golden State became the first team have the NBA’s best record for three consecutive seasons since the Boston Celtics did it in 1983-84, ’84-’85 and ’85-’86. The Warriors, Boston – multiple times – and Philadelphia are the only franchises in NBA history to achieve that feat.
The Warriors also are the first team to win at least 65 games in three straight seasons.
Klay Thompson scored 22 for the Warriors, including a critical late 3-pointer.
With the Spurs’ loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Warriors are 65-14, 4 1/2 games ahead of San Antonio. Golden State has three games to play, San Antonio four.
The Warriors raced to that 23-point lead after one quarter, but Phoenix outscored Golden State 34-17 in the second quarter to cut it to 58-52 at the break.
Golden State led by 13 entering the fourth quarter.
But the Suns, with the worst record in the West and second-worst in the NBA, didn’t fold.
A 10-0 Phoenix run sliced Golden State’s advantage to 104-101 on Ulis’ 20-footer with 5:01 to play. Curry responded with his eighth and final 3-pointer, but the Suns twice cut it to four again – the last at 109-105 after Ulis made a pair of free throws 2:29 from the finish.
Thompson’s 3, only his second in nine tries, made it 112-107 and Phoenix never got closer than five again.
Kevin Durant is targeting a Saturday night at home against the New Orleans Pelicans for his return from a sprained MCL and bruised thigh.
Durant has missed 19 games since being injured against Washington on Feb. 28. He will return with three games left in the regular season.
Warriors: Golden State has beaten Phoenix 10 straight times. … Golden State shot 62 percent (16 of 26) in the first quarter, and 24 percent (5-for-21) in the second.
Suns: Phoenix has not won since deciding to shut down a healthy Eric Bledsoe for the season on March 15. … Rookie Marquese Chriss drew his 10th technical foul. … Williams won the team’s “Dan Majerle Hustle Award.” … With the Lakers’ win, the Suns are 1 1/2 games worse than Los Angeles for the worst record in the West and second-worst in the NBA.
Warriors: Golden State returns home to face New Orleans on Saturday night, with Durant expected to make his return.
Suns: Phoenix is home Friday night against Oklahoma City, with Russell Westbrook seeking to break the NBA record he shares with Oscar Robertson with a 42nd triple-double this season.