Tonight, the Phoenix Suns took on the Charlotte Bobcats on the road, looking to end a four-game losing streak. The Suns fell behind early in the first quarter but were able to fight back and take a three point lead at the end of the first quarter 27-24.
In the second quarter, the Suns continued to battle with the Cats, but were eventually able to build on their lead going into the half, 55-44.
the third quarter was long and drawn out with tons of trips to the line. There were 22 free throws in all between both teams. This is also when Channing Frye and P.J. Tucker got into a bit of foul trouble, collecting 4 each. Still, the suns were able to hold serve and end the quarter maintaining an 11 point lead.
The Fourth Quarter
The fourth quarter started with a 10-0 run for the Suns before Cody Zeller stopped the bleeding at about four and a half minutes in. The Suns started to look a little sluggish about midway through the quarter again, but a four-point play by Channing Frye and an alley-oop from Dragic to Markief Morris helped to stretch the lead and put the Suns in coasting mode with about 4 minutes to go.
However, the Suns once again got sloppy for no reason after leading by as much as 21, and the Bobcats were able to cut down the lead to only 13 with around two minutes to go after an easy transition basket and two back-to-back turnovers that led to easy points for Charlotte...leading Hornacek to call a time out.
Even after P.J. Tucker hit a three to put the Suns back up by 15, the Suns once again gave up an easy transition basket and Ish smith threw a wild pass for yet another turnover, and before the Suns knew it they were up by only eight points with just over a minute to go.
The pace turned frantic and Dragic turned the ball over yet again, but fortunately for the Suns the Bobcats were unable to capitalize. However, when Dragic was intentionally fouled with just 45 seconds to go, he missed both free-throws...unbelievable. After a jump ball the Bobcats were once again able to cut the lead to just six after making a quick lay-up and this time they intentionally fouled Markieff Morris with just 26 seconds to go.
And guess what...he missed the first one...Here we go again. Fortunately he was able to make the second, Suns up seven.
On the other end of the court the Suns gave Charlotte three shot attempts by not boxing out, and the Bobcats were able to cut the lead to five before intentionally fouling Markieff Morris again. This time, he made the first and missed the second. Fortunately, P.J. Tucker was able to hustle down the missed free throw and then he was intentionally fouled...and of course missed his first free throw as well before making the second.
Still, there just wasn't enough time for the Bobcats to capitalize on all of the Suns' missed opportunities, and the Suns were able to hold on for the Win 98-91.
The only good thing I can say here is that the Suns built up enough of a lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter to sustain them through that disaster of a finish. I don't know what happens to the Suns without Eric Bledsoe on the floor, but it's apparent that they don't know how to hold a lead or close out a game, that much is for sure.
Of course, the most positive note of all is that the Suns were able to snap their four-game skid to once again put a "W" in the score column, no matter how ugly the end of the game was. The Suns have a great deal of work to do on their fourth quarter woes, as they simply cannot afford to play this way and expect to win games against quality opponents. The Suns were fortunate to escape with this win tonight.
- P.J. Tucker was perfect from the field, going 6-6, including three from deep, for 17 points in all to go along with his 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and of course his energy and hustle on the court.
- Channing Frye led the Suns with 20 points on 6-10 shooting to go with 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 1assist, and 1 block. A solid game for Channing tonight.
- Archie Goodwin once again showed how he can impact the game with his energy and hustle. He is one of the fastest players I've ever seen with an incredibly quick first step. He logged 8 points on 3-5 shooting, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block in his 22 minutes on the floor
- Apparently, Eric Bledsoe's shin bruise
- Gerald Green's 0-8 three-point shooting. Still he was able to manage 10 points from inside the arc.
- 21 Turnovers: Coming into this game the Suns were averaging 17.4 turnovers per game...tonight will only raise that number. What's worse is 6 of those came in the fourth quarter, and three of those in the last two minutes of the game...More on that below.
- Free Throws: The Suns shot an abysmal 58% from the charity stripe tonight...going 22-38 in all. That's just downright terrible, especially when many of those key misses came at a time when the Suns needed them most. Which leads me to...
- Closing out the game: The Suns are proving to be incapable of maintaining a lead, or closing out a game without Bledsoe. Is Eric Bledsoe's absence really the cause, or is it merely a correlation we are seeing with all of this sloppy play late in the game recently. Whatever it is, the Suns need to get it figured out, and fast
Next up is another road game against the Orlando Magic on Sunday. Stay tuned...