OAKLAND -- With the Warriors having lost six straight and another tough stretch of schedule approaching, coach Mark Jackson made a risky pronouncement before his team took on lowly Phoenix on Wednesday night at Oracle Arena.
"To me, this is the biggest game of the season for us," Jackson said. "It will tell a lot about us. I'm not going to hold that to the postgame press conference. This is the biggest game of the year."
Apparently the Warriors got the message, or simply figured it out for themselves. They couldn't let this one go by. After all, the last time they won a game, it was against this same Suns team on Feb. 2.
Stepping up their intensity at both ends of the floor, the Warriors finally snapped out their disturbing funk with a 108-98 victory over the Suns.
Riding the hot hand of bobblehead night honoree Klay Thompson, who scored 21 of his game-high 28 in the first half, the Warriors jumped to an early lead and never let go of it, despite some anxious moments in both the third and fourth quarters before a Stephen Curry flurry sealed the win.
"Just a big-time win for my guys, and I'm proud of 'em," Jackson said afterward. "Now the task is to continue it. Can we turn one win into two wins? Can we continue to get back to where we once were and who we truly are?"
Maybe, if the Warriors can get the kind of collective effort they delivered on this night against an admittedly challenged Phoenix club that came into the game at 18-36. But it might be best to hold off on a firm judgment until the Warriors host Western Conference-leading San Antonio on Friday night.
For now, the victorious outcome was more relief than anything.
"That's too long to go in between wins," said Curry, who scored 20 points with 11 assists. "Hopefully, that's the last little slide we go on this year."
Then there was perhaps the best news of all: Center Andrew Bogut, who had a horrendous and abbreviated 15-minute performance in a loss at Utah on Tuesday night, delivered a terrific all-around follow-up game -- seven points, 11 rebounds, five assists, two steals and three blocks in a season-high 29 minutes.
"He played great," Curry said. "Obviously, he still has to find his rhythm offensively in the post, but on the defensive end, blocking shots, rebounding and the way he was distributing the ball ... he's a good outlet to have when he's able to make plays on the back end."
For his part, Bogut felt his game still has plenty of room for improvement.
"It was OK," he said. "I still need to improve offensively. A lot of my shots are still very short. It's still coming together. I still feel I'm off from what I feel I can do. I'll just keep plugging away. I can affect the game in a lot of different ways."
As for Thompson, he hit seven of his first eight shots and scored 21 first-half points as the Warriors took a 57-49 halftime lead. Thompson hit a career-best 14 first-quarter points, and Golden State shot a blistering 73.7 percent (14 of 19) in the opening period.
Thompson confessed he was inspired by his miniature likeness distributed to the sellout crowd of 19.596 at the game.
"It's crazy to think I have a bobblehead," he said. "It was kind of a pinch-yourself moment. I used to collect bobbleheads -- especially baseball ones -- as a kid, so it's pretty cool."
The Warriors led by as many as 11 points in the second quarter behind Thompson, and despite some third-quarter lapses took an 85-76 lead into the fourth quarter. They led 94-84 after Jarrett Jack made a 3-point basket with 6:41 remaining.
But Phoenix made one last run, cutting it to 94-90 with 4:16 left on Jermaine O'Neal's short shot inside the key.
After a timeout at that juncture, the Warriors came out with a new look -- Curry handling the ball instead of Jack and looking to make some plays. He made two -- a tough running bank shot from the left side followed by a 3-pointer that pushed the lead to nine again. The Suns were done.
Curry taking the initiative is what Jackson called for during the timeout.
"It's really a pick-and-choose situation, but ultimately I did not want Steph to be a bystander; I did not want him to wait for the action to come to him," Jackson said. "I wanted to put him in the action. I thought the situation called for the ball to be in Steph's hands, and for him to be a playmaker. It worked out well."
Jack scored 21 points off the bench, and David Lee had 19 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
Goran Dragic led Phoenix with 20 points and 10 assists.
Jackson said it's unreasonable to think the big man's conditioning or all-around game is going to be 100 percent after such a long layoff.
"You can't expect him to be there right now," Jackson said. "We know that, he knows it, and that's fine. We are building something right now."
The EOBA is located at 816 98th Ave. in Oakland.
San Antonio (43-12) at Warriors (31-23), 7:30 p.m. CSNBA