The Golden State Warriors were down by 12 before the final quarter began against the Phoenix Suns but at the final buzzer, they were victorious by nine points (105-96). They outscored the Suns by 21 (39-18) points in the fourth quarter to stretch their conference-best win streak to four.
After having not won consecutive games till a week back (Dec. 21), the Warriors have now won four straight - all at their new home arena, the Chase Center.
Here are the biggest takeaways from this exciting encounter:
Russell leading Dubs on offense
Through these past four games, the Warriors have found a groove as a unit on the offensive end of the floor but quite clearly, Russell has been the leading man.
Over the course of these four wins, he is averaging 26.5 points and 5.2 assists in 33.5 minutes.
In this one, he scored 12 of his team-high 31 in the final period and scored or assisted on 22 of the team's 39 points in the final period. He also recorded six assists, five rebounds and finished with a team-high +19 in his 35 minutes.
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In the 4-point win against the New Orleans Pelicans, that started this streak, he was +18 in his 32 minutes.
Since his return from injury, Russell averaged 18.6 points on 37.0% shooting from the field in his first six games but in the past five, he's averaged 26.4 points on 41.9% shooting from the field.
Warriors finding their roles
While Russell leads the way, different Warriors have been stepping up in each of these last four games to support him.
Damion Lee had two big games in this streak - 22 points and 15 rebounds vs. the Houston Rockets on Christmas Day, and a 20-point outing against the Pelicans. During the streak, he has averaged 18.0 points on 20-of-46 (43.5%) shooting from the field, whereas, in the previous 15 games, he was averaging 10.3 on 39.7% shooting. In this game against the Suns, he had 16 points and eight rebounds.
22 Points- Golden State Warriors (@warriors) December 26, 2019
15 Rebounds (career high)
3 Steals (season high)@Dami0nLee || #NBAXmas pic.twitter.com/Wf2Sq52DWl
Other than an off-night against the Rockets on Christmas Day, Alec Burks has been a key component for the Warriors. In the other three games of this streak, he's averaging 18.7 points on 20-of-40 (50.0%) shooting from the field. In his previous 26 games, he was averaging 15.4 points on 42.2% shooting. In this game against the Suns, he contributed nine points (4-4 FG's) in the fourth quarter after scoring just four on 1-of-10 shooting in the first three quarters.
Draymond Green has played the role of a veteran to perfection, especially during the win streak. He has played to his role and despite not been known as a shooter, he has knocked down key jumpers in two of these four wins. He is averaging 12.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists in 32.5 minutes per game in the win streak.
BANG https://t.co/hkuAKRm6NC pic.twitter.com/N1AshiPeaT- Golden State Warriors (@warriors) December 26, 2019
DRAYMOND- Golden State Warriors (@warriors) December 28, 2019
As a team, the Warriors have found their groove on defense.
During this streak, they have the league's second-best defensive rating at 97.6 while their offense ranks 21st - 106.0.
Suns' slump continues
This loss is now the eighth straight for the Phoenix Suns and 16th in their last 20 games.
It's been a rough time for the team since mid-November when the team began on a positive note with a 7-4 record. Only the Atlanta Hawks (2-19) have a worse record than the Suns since Nov. 14th.
Over the past 20 games, their defense ranks 26th in the league with a rating of 113.8 while their offense ranks 17th with a rating of 108.8