OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) With the grind of a long NBA season wearing on his team, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr believed it was time for his players to hear a new voice in the huddle: their own.
Kerr turned over most of the coaching duties to his players on Monday night and they responded in fine fashion, playing with more focus than they had in recent weeks in a 129-83 victory over the Phoenix Suns.
”It’s the players’ team,” Kerr said. ”It’s their team and they have to take ownership of it. As coaches, our job is to nudge them in the right direction, guide them. We don’t control them. They determine their own fate. I don’t think we’ve focused well the last month. It just seemed like the right thing to do.”
Kerr said he told the players of his plan after the previous game and they ran the show for most of the day. Andre Iguodala took over at morning shootaround, JaVale McGee ran the computer for the film session and Iguodala, Draymond Green and David West got most of the work designing plays and running the huddle during timeouts.
Kerr and his assistants handled the substitutions before allowing the players to take over from there.
”It had to do with me trying to reach my team and I have not reached them the last month,” Kerr said. ”They’re tired of my voice. I’m tired of my voice. I wasn’t reaching them so we figured this was a good night to pull something out of the hat.”
After the game, Kerr made a point of seeking out Phoenix interim coach Jay Triano to tell him the move wasn’t made out of any disrespect for the Suns, who became the first team to reach 40 losses this season.
”You have to do what you have to do to build your own team up,” Triano said. ”If he thinks that helps them, I tip my hat.”
Stephen Curry scored 22 points for the Warriors. Omri Casspi added 19 in a rare start in place of the injured Green and Kevin Durant had 17 as Golden State won its 12th straight in the series, its longest active streak against any team.
Elfrid Payton scored 29 points in his second game since being acquired at the trade deadline from Orlando, but Phoenix still lost its sixth straight and 11th in the past 12 games.
”We have to keep fighting,” Payton said. ”We can’t hang our heads. That’s the great thing about the NBA, there’s another game in two days. So learn from it, get better ready to have a better effort.”
Payton scored 16 points in the first quarter before Curry got on the scoreboard, but he got little help. Payton made his first seven shots, but his teammates started 1 for 15 and the Warriors managed to take a 25-24 lead by the end of the first after being outscored by 32 points in the first quarter of the previous three games.
Curry scored 10 points in the second quarter as Golden State built a 17-point lead at the half and coasted the rest of the way.
”We have so many smart basketball minds on our team,” Casspi said. ”The guys really used this opportunity to run things they like.”
Suns: G Devin Booker (hip pointer) missed his fourth straight game, and G Tyler Ulis (back) sat for the second straight game. … Phoenix has lost 12 straight in Oakland, last winning here on Feb. 7, 2011.
Warriors: G Patrick McCaw, who has been spending time in the G League between NBA games trying to get his confidence back, scored nine points in the second quarter after having just eight in the previous 10 games. He then left the game with a sprained right wrist.
”I was horrible actually. I thought about a play and forgot the second option and had two guys on the wrong place on the board and I actually got a delay of game coming out of halftime because I was scrambling,” Curry said about his role as a coach.
Curry’s 22 points gave him and his father, Dell, a combined 28,883 points in their careers, tying Rick and Brent Barry for the third-most ever by a father-son combination, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Joe and Kobe Bryant have the most of any duo with 38,895 (33,643 from Kobe).
Suns: Visit Utah on Wednesday.
Warriors: Visit Portland on Wednesday.
More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball