PHOENIX – Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek called a win over the Golden State Warriors a goofy one because Mark Jackson’s team was without two starting big men, but the Saturday night game was even more goofy for Suns guard Goran Dragic.
Phoenix’s leader welcomed 3-month-old son Mateo to U.S. Airways Center for his first Suns game, and throughout, Dragic battled a dizzy spell.
Whatever that combination did to the Suns point guard, it worked.
“I was a little bit hyped, trying to show (Mateo) what his daddy can do,” Dragic said. “I look at the stands and I saw (wife) Maja, and she was like grabbing Mateo’s hand and waving it at me.
“You know, he’s not going to remember this game of course, now, but I can show him on YouTube probably.”
A battle for playoff positioning, a matchup of two of the league’s most dynamic point guards — at the end of it, the story was the non-All-Star in Dragic with a statement against All-Star starter Stephen Curry.
That made the likely YouTube highlights all the more special.
Dragic poured in a career-high 34 points on 10-of-13 shooting while adding 10 assists.
Perhaps most impressively, he took on the assignment against Curry with gusto, hounding the quick-hitting point guard around screens and off the three-point line. Curry finished with 28 points and nine assists but made just 3-of-10 three-pointers for the short-handed Warriors, who were suckered by going with a small lineup and switching the pick-and-roll.
The latter was often the point at which The Dragon burned them.
“If they want to try to switch, we’ll throw the big down – whoever set that screen – he’ll go down there in the post and you got it cleared,” Hornacek said of Dragic. “It’s like us trying to guard Curry with a big. That’s what he’s supposed to do. He’s got great confidence he can do anything he wants when he gets those switches.”
Really, Dragic did do anything he wanted.
At one point, Dragic’s bad pass found its way back into his hands, and as the shot-clock expired, he hit a three from the right wing. Against Andre Iguodala another time, he pulled up with his cool-but-quick fadeaway to splash it over the Warriors’ best defender.
He scored 13 fourth-quarter points to turn a close 104-100 Suns lead into a 122-109 win.
Curry’s defensive woes individually shed light on why the Suns put up 122 points and 53.8 percent shooting on Golden State as a whole. The Suns hit 11-of-21 threes to boot after Dragic got going.
Gerald Green was one beneficiary. A four-game slump ended once Golden State started Klay Thompson on Dragic, leaving the 6-foot-2 Curry to fight against Green on the block. It didn’t work. The Suns shooting guard went 10-of-15 from the field and found confidence inside the three-point arc.
“I just kind of want to start off the game strong, try to be aggressive,” Green said. “I knew that I wanted to not settle a lot as far as three-point range. I seen that Curry was on me in the very beginning, I wanted to see if I could get a couple easy baskets in the post.
“But when you get to play with somebody who draws all the attention to you…”
Yep, we know.
Dragic played 40 minutes, hit 6-of-7 three-point shots and, with his son on his mind, helped his team grind out a win of great necessity considering Phoenix had lost two in a row.
“I told him, ‘Take that dizzy pill again, then,’” Hornacek joked afterward.