PHOENIX -- The Warriors are one victory closer to securing a playoff spot after overcoming an 18-point deficit to win on the road Friday night.
Golden State's largest comeback of the season, a 111-107 victory over the Phoenix Suns, sets them up to clinch a postseason berth Sunday at Oracle Arena against the Utah Jazz.
No doubt, Golden State (44-32) has come a long way since opening the season with a nail-biting victory at Phoenix on Halloween.
"That's the beauty of a season," backup guard Jarrett Jack said after scoring nine of his 13 points in the fourth quarter. "You don't know how things are going to shake out. And nobody determines it but the guys in the uniform with you.
"With the tutelage of our coach, we've done a tremendous job of putting ourselves in position to achieve our goal, which was to get into postseason play. Sunday, you couldn't ask for anything more."
The Warriors, as they like to do, made the game unnecessarily close. Clearly having left their defense back in Oakland, the Warriors were forced to outscore the Suns.
Golden State had held opponents to 39.9 percent shooting its past eight games. But Phoenix shot 61.1 percent from the field.
The Warriors trailed 41-23 early in the second quarter as the Suns ran circles around Golden State's defense.
One stretch of stellar defense in the second half made up for it, however. The Warriors shut the Suns down in the third quarter, outscoring them 32-14. They did it by forcing turnovers. Phoenix committed 10 of its 22 turnovers in the quarter.
"We knew what we had to do," said point guard Stephen Curry, who totaled 18 points and a career-high tying 15 assists. "Coach lit in us a little bit (at halftime) just to let us know the opportunity we had in front of us. We needed to play better."
Golden State led 78-87 entering the fourth quarter. But Phoenix, which has the worst record in the Western Conference, wouldn't exactly go away. The Suns rode the hot hand of Goran Dragic and Michael Beasley, who combined for 57 points on 23-of-30 shooting.
Beasley hit back-to-back jumpers, the latter cutting the Suns' deficit to 104-102 with 1:29 left and putting the Warriors on their heels.
Within the final minute, Golden State ran a play to get Curry the ball. He set up a wide-open 3-pointer for Jack, who nailed it with 31.6 seconds left, putting the Warriors up 107-102.
Two free throws by Dragic cut the lead to three with 22 seconds left. Golden State gave the ball right back to Phoenix with backcourt violation as Curry, trying to pass out of a trap, threw it away.
The Warriors intentionally fouled the Suns' Jermaine O'Neal to prevent a game-tying 3-point attempt. O'Neal split the free throws, and David Lee secured the rebound. Curry knocked down two free throws to seal it.
In the end, the Warriors recorded only their second series sweep of the Suns ever, and it's the first time Golden State has won three straight in Phoenix. The Warriors head home with a chance to lock up their first postseason berth since the "We Believe" run of 2007.
"For us to be right there and have a home game to clinch it, we understand we have a bigger goal than that," Curry said. "But it would be nice to get that 'x' by your name (in the standings), shave these beards off and keep moving.—
Utah (40-37) at Warriors (44-32), 5 p.m., CSNBA
For the latest on the Warriors, read Marcus Thompson's "Inside the Warriors" blog at WWW.IBABUZZ.COM/warrriors
Warriors magic number
Number of wins or Utah losses for the Warriors to clinch their first playoff berth since 2007.