SAN FRANCISCO — Heading into Tuesday night’s game, the Golden State Warriors were confidant Stephen Curry’s return would be just what they needed to build on the momentum they had established during their homestand without him.
Instead, the Warriors looked like a similar version of the team they were when Curry went down with a left shoulder subluxation, as they fell to the Phoenix Suns 125-113.
Just like before he was injured on Dec. 14, resulting in 11 games missed, Curry did everything in his power to keep his team in it. He scored 16 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter. He shot 8-of-22 from the floor, including 5-of-15 from 3, in 31 minutes overall.
With just over four minutes left in the game, Curry hit three consecutive 3-pointers to breathe life back into the team. Three minutes later, a Jordan Poole layup, a stop, a Poole 3 and another stop had pulled the Warriors within six after they had trailed by as much as 27.
Out of the timeout, Curry got called for a foul, sending Damion Lee to the line and giving the Suns a three-possession lead. Those free throws wound up being the dagger.
It was the first time the Warriors had played with their true starting lineup since Dec. 3, and it was clear the rust was being worked off.
Andrew Wiggins, who was playing in his second game back from an adductor strain and subsequent injury, finished with 10 points for Golden State but did so on 5-of-16 shooting and lacked the aggression and rhythm he had before his absence.
Warriors guard Klay Thompson started the night scoring 14 of his 29 points in the first quarter then cooled off.
In his first game coming off the bench since Dec. 3, Poole scored 27 points.
Meanwhile, the Suns were without Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Cameron Johnson and Cameron Payne. But they didn’t miss a beat, shooting 45% from the floor and from 3. With every punch the Warriors tried to throw, the Suns responded.
Tuesday’s contest closed out the Warriors’ eight-game homestand, during which they went 5-3. They now will take off for five games on the road, where they are just 3-16.