The Golden State Warriors (32-13) and Phoenix Suns (35-9) have occupied the top of the 2022 NBA standings for much of the season, but a gap is starting to grow between the two teams. With six losses in their last nine games, the Warriors trail the Suns by 3.5 games for the league’s best record.

Golden State’s slump continued Thursday night with a stunning 121-117 loss at home against the Indiana Pacers (17-29). Indiana is one of the Eastern Conference's worst teams, and its four best players were out with injuries. Stephen Curry’s 39 points were not enough to overcome a poor defensive effort.

The Pacers pulled off one of the season’s biggest upsets, winning as 16.5-point underdogs. Klay Thompson scored just 12 points on 17 shots as he works his way back from a torn Achilles. 

Draymond Green’s absence has been glaring in the last nine games. Green is the NBA Defensive Player of the Year favorite. The league’s best defensive team, the Warriors have given up more than 115 points in four of their last six games.

Green leads the Warriors with 7.6 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game.

Curry remains the MVP favorite, though his lead in the race isn’t what it was a month ago. The two-time MVP is only averaging 21.6 points per game on 38.2% shooting in nine January games.

A couple of hours before the Warriors were defeated, the Suns pulled out another impressive victory. Phoenix defeated the Dallas Mavericks (26-20) on the road 109-101 without Deandre Ayton.

Devin Booker led the Suns with 28 points in addition to his five rebounds and six assists. Chris Paul scored 20 points with 11 assists and no turnovers. The Suns outscored the Mavericks by 24 points in Paul’s 37 minutes.

Ayton has 16 missed games and Booker didn’t play in seven contests. Paul has been on the floor every single night. Paul’s 10 assists per game are a league-high. 

The Warriors are still favored to reach the 2022 NBA Finals. Golden State has +225 odds to win the West at DraftKings Sportsbook. Phoenix has +270 odds to win the conference for a second straight year. 

The Memphis Grizzlies (31-16) are two games behind Golden State with the NBA’s third-best record.

Golden State star Stephen Curry rises for a layup in the Warriors' 117-113 NBA victory over the Phoenix Suns Golden State star Stephen Curry rises for a layup in the Warriors' 117-113 NBA victory over the Phoenix Suns Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA via AFP / Christian Petersen