Are you a Frye Guy or a Mo' Bro?
Why not both?!
Channing Frye and Markieff Morris both came to play tonight, combining for 35 points on 13-21 shooting while playing engaged defense on Paul Millsap. Millsap still managed 19 points, but did it on 6-14 shooting. Frye chipped in 7 boards while Markieff managed 3 in the 102-95 Suns' victory.
Not to be out done, Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragić scored 20 and 19 of their own points in a solid Suns' victory. Aside from a cold stretch in the second quarter, Phoenix looked focused and composed throughout the game, never rattling in the face of the Atlanta Hawks' mulitple attempts to steal this game. This was the smoothest Phoenix's offense has looked since Bledsoe returned from knee surgery and is hopefully a harbinger of things to come.
This was a solid effort by Phoenix and hopefully a bit of a breather for Suns fans after their recent struggles to notch wins. Not that you'd know they'd been struggling as they've now won 4 in a row and 5 of their last 6! You know who never struggles (except on fast breaks)? P.J. Tucker. That dude just plays his game night in and night out. Tonight it was 8 points, 11 rebounds and 3 steals for the heart of the Phoenix Suns, who like Tucker, never quit in this game. His defensive intensity was contagious as the Suns held the normally hot-shooting Hawks to 41.7% shooting.
For the Hawks, DeMarre Carrol matched Millsap's 19 points, while Jeff Teague and Louis Williams had 17 each. And despite some early domination on the glass, Phoenix managed to out rebound the Hawks' aggressive front line, 39-32.
Hot shooting and good defense got the Suns off to an 15-7 advantage as Atlanta missed their first 6 shots while the Suns hit their first four 3-pointers. It did not last long as Paul Millsap and Elton Brand went to work to tie the game with 2 minutes left in the first quarter. Channing Frye and Lou Williams then exchanged 3 pointers before both teams forgot how to play basket ball for the next 90 seconds. Gerald Green was then fouled on a drive and hit a pair of free throws to extend the lead to 25-23 to end the quarter.
The second quarter started with Atlanta scoring on their first 2 possessions to take a 2-point lead. The Hawks stretched their lead to 7 behind some strong play from Louis Williams before Marcus Morris and Channing Frye hit back-to-back threes to close the gap to 1. An Eric Bledsoe free throw completed the 7-0 run to tie the ball game with 5 minutes left in the period. Atlanta bested the Suns on the boards 20-18 (5-3 on the offensive end) which lead to multiple second chances and a 3-point halftime lead despite being out-shot by Phoenix 41.2% to 40.5%.
After getting abused on the boards early, Phoenix remembered their fundamentals and fought back to take the lead a few minutes into the third quarter. Goran Dragić and Eric Bledsoe were aggressive going to the hoop, drawing fouls when they weren't getting lay-ins. The penetration of DragonBlade was so effective that Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer drew a technical after an uncontested Bledsoe lay-up. His T was for naught as the Bledsoe-Dragić lay-up line continued unabated as the Suns outscored Atlanta 35-23 in the third with 23 of those points coming from DragonBlade.
Phoenix looked to keep the momentum going in the 4th, but a cold spell allowed Atlanta to climb back within 4 early in the period. Gerald Green, who went to the bench early with foul trouble, made his presence felt to keep the Suns from succumbing to the feisty Hawks scoring 9 points in the 4th quarter. After extending the lead to 10, Phoenix started playing not to lose and working the shot clock with just over 4 minutes left in the game. The lack of aggression allowed Atlanta to make it way more of a game than it needed to be. Nevertheless, solid defensive play and steady shooting allowed Phoenix to hold on for the win.