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Game 51 rewind: Warriors lose at Phoenix, but get Harrison Barnes on track

PHOENIX — The Warriors didn’t feel like they played poorly in losing to the Suns.

Goran Dragic was unguardable. Golden State was without Andrew Bogut and David Lee. The Warriors shot well and gave up too many second-chance points while struggling with their rebounding.

Another big bright spot for the Warriors? Harrison Barnes.

Barnes’ 23-point performance on 9-for-15 shooting was something that hadn’t been seen out of him since a Nov. 29 game at Oklahoma City when he had 26 points in a loss.

Given how much Barnes has scuffled in recent weeks, it was a welcome sight for Golden State to see him play confidently.

“That confidence never wavers,” Stephen Curry said.

“He gets in the paint, making plays, knocking down open shots and allowing us to get back in games.”

Barnes downplayed the idea that he tried to step forward that much more with Bogut and Lee out, saying, “I wouldn’t say it was a concerted effort on my part.”

But with a game like that, it’s possible he might have played his way into the lineup until Lee returns.

Coach Mark Jackson said at shootaround that starting Barnes was considered before deciding against it as his team treads water while short-handed.

Jermaine O’Neal started against and is playing major minutes fresh off his recovery from wrist surgery. Draymond Green is giving what he has. Festus Ezeli remains out. Ognjen Kuzmic is getting time on the court.

And opponents aren’t feeling badly about taking advantage.

“Injuries happen in the league,” the Suns’ Channing Frye said. “I will be honest. I don’t feel sorry for them.”

Still, something might come out of this rough patch for the Warriors, who can find out a lot about their bench going forward with the trade deadline approaching.

And if Barnes is on the upswing at a time when things the injury bug has bitten them, the Warriors will gladly take that.

Diamond Leung