OAKLAND – If Steve Kerr's pregame comments Saturday are any indication, the coach has honed in on what makes his Warriors hum.
Kerr talked about how in losing their previous two games the Warriors didn't have their usual scrap and pluck and, moreover, that they need a measure of ferocity to be at their best.
"We've seemed sort of content these last few games," Kerr said. "It's not that we're not playing hard. It's just that we're probably playing without that chip on our shoulder and you need that in this league."
The chip arrived in the second quarter and the Warriors used to stage a furious finish and eventually lay a 106-87 whipping on the Phoenix Suns before another sellout crowd (19,596) at Oracle Arena.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Warriors bounce back, beat Suns by 19]
After missing their first 10 shots and falling behind 8-0, the Warriors (37-8) clamped down on defense to catch up to Phoenix in the second quarter before crushing the Suns in the second half to snap a two-game mini-slump.
"It was big for a variety of reasons," said Stephen Curry, whose 25 points led all scorers. "We had a two-game losing streak, but playing at home against a division opponent, these are the game you are supposed to win and we have to win throughout the course of the season. We had a big comeback, a lot of guys played well and stepped up and we fought to get this win."
Down 40-28 with 8:15 left in the second quarter, Kerr called timeout and reinserted starters Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut and Curry. Green unleashed a fiery pep talk, the Warriors suddenly grew fangs on defense and outscored the Suns 24-11 the rest of the quarter.
"When you lose like last night, then have a rough start in the first half, you have to get it right," forward Andre Iguodala said. "Draymond has done a great job being the voice and letting guys know when it gets rough that you have to just grind it out and defensively is where it happens."
That second quarter run stretched to an astonishing 31-point margin (78-47) over the final 32 minutes of the game.
"The defense was tremendous in the second half," Kerr said afterward. "It wasn't pretty offensively, but I'm confident that the offense will follow now that we're back on track defensively."
The Warriors held the Suns (28-21) to 31-percent shooting after halftime while simultaneously forcing 13 of Phoenix's 22 turnovers. That was more than enough to offset losing the rebound battle (52-44) to the Suns.
"It's about sticking to the game plan and making multiple efforts and trying to be disruptive as much as you can," Curry said. "They have three great guards that can get to anywhere on the floor. If we make sure we funnel them to we want them to go, you make it tough on them."
In holding the Suns to their season low in points, the Warriors improved to 22-2 at home while evening the season series at one game apiece.
Yeah, bringing that edge is essential for the Warriors to be at their best. And Kerr is not the only one in the locker room to realize that.
"We can't lose that, no matter how good we're playing or how many wins we have in a row," Curry said. "We have to keep that. As we go through the season, we’re finding out no matter who we're playing, we're going to get teams' best shots."
Curry had his second consecutive strong game, driving the offense but also playing outstanding defense as the Warriors held the Phoenix guard trio of Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and Thomas to 13-of-39 shooting.
Leandro Barbosa once again brought a hot hand off the bench, finishing with 14 points (7-of-11) in 13 minutes against his former team.
One night after the Warriors starting frontline combined for 10 rebounds, Harrison Barnes, Green and Bogut combined to haul in 26. Green led with 11.
Missing your first 10 shots is always bad, even when you come back and win.
Green was his ferocious self at both ends but missed seven of his nine shots.
The Warriors, after losses to Chicago and Utah, appear to have rediscovered what they do best and how to achieve it. They can be an offensive juggernaut, but they have to be a defensive beast to stay in elite mode. At their best, the defense ignites the offense by setting a fast tempo. Phoenix, which also likes to go uptempo, cracked and folded under that defense. The Suns learned that when the Warriors defend and play fast, particularly at home, few teams are able to keep up.