The Phoenix Suns have lately been very good at making other teams' offenses look better than they are, and tonight's game was no exception. The Orlando Magic stayed close by using opportunistic hustle plays to convert broken plays into points on a regular basis. Until a game-deciding 27-5 run by the Suns, that is.
The Orlando Magic were missing starting PG Jameer Nelson and, 10 minutes into the game, saw starting center Nikola Vucevic get himself ejected for arguing a couple of early offensive foul calls.
Goran Dragic had a "quiet" 18 points and 6 assists, while Eric Bledsoe flirted with a triple double until the game was a rout before he could get a chance (7 points, 7 assists, 6 assists in his first 20 minutes of play).
Bright Side in the house!
Gotta have a good win with a group of Bright Siders attended the game! Our own Jim Coughenour, Sean Sullivan, Scott Howard and East Bay Ray met up at Majerle's before the game started and managed not to make fools of themselves as the Suns and Magic slogged their way to an ugly, if entertaining, finish.
The game was tied until the Suns made 4 of 5 threes while the Magic missed everything to give the Suns a 12-point lead, starting a run that extended out to 27-5 before it was over.
And yes, the game was over as the Suns grabbed a 21 point lead with 7 minutes left.
All that remained was whether Eric Bledsoe would stay in the game long enough to grab a triple double. He had 7 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds in 20 minutes of play before the 4th started.
But Bledsoe hardly touched the ball, letting Ish Smith run the show after being such a big part of the game-deciding run.
The game started off slow for the Suns, missing four layups in the opening minutes, but then they began to heat up before Orlando could get too comfortable in their offense. Their 29th ranked offense, that is. But hey, these are the Suns so every team loves first quarters against them.
But with their top playmaker already out (Jameer Nelson), center Nikola Vucevic got himself ejected complaining about two offensive fouls he committed (was called for) with Channing Frye defending him.
The Magic still hung strong in the first behind Victor Oladipo (7 points, 4 assists) and two late buckets by Tobias Harris after Vucevic (8 points, 3 rebounds in 10 minutes) was ejected. The Magic made 50% of their shots (who doesn't, against the Suns?) and scored the same 25 points the Suns did.
The second quarter started off with a thud (three pointer by Nicholson) but then the Suns scored several possessions in a row thanks to the rookies with 7 quick points. It looked like a good summer league game for a while there.
The Magic remained in the game thanks to Arron Afflalo's shooting and basically outhustling the Suns as any young team should when they're playing young guys (younger than the Suns by a ways). Tobias Harris did athletic things the Suns couldn't contend, dropping 12 points and 4 rebounds in long minutes after Vucevic was kicked out.
These Suns just aren't playing strong D. In case you hadn't noticed.
Eric Bledsoe had a good half, with 5 points, 5 assists, 3 steals and 3 rebounds, while Goran Dragic had 12 points, 2 assists and a steal.
Halftime: Suns 52, Magic 52.
After allowing the Magic to score 52 points despite missing two of their best players, Jameer Nelson and Nikola Vucevic (ejection in first quarter), the Suns came out in the second half trying to prove something. They started the quarter on a 7-0 run, showing much better effort at the point of attack on defense.
Still, the Magic hung around on hustle plays. They are an athletic young team. And Miles Plumlee tries too hard, and too often messes up a good play opportunity.
The Suns maintained a 7-point lead until Eric Bledsoe got his rest and the Magic immediately went on a run to tie up the game. P.J. Tucker was having a hard time defending Arron Afflalo and the Suns missed several opportunities to widen the lead, including missing a point-blank fast break layup and throwing away an outlet pass. Factor in an Afflalo 4-point play and you've got yourself a ball game.
Thanks to a couple of threes by Marcus Morris in the final minute, the Suns had a 6-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.