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Final Score: Phoenix Suns fight hard, but can't overcome LeBron, Cavs shooting

The Cavaliers made 16 threes on the night, every one of them a dagger three to extend their lead when the Suns threatened to close the gap.

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Missing their top player and two of their top assistants, the Phoenix Suns came out clawing and scrapping against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Suns kept it close and even had a great long three from Brandon Knight to take the lead with 46.6 seconds to go... but the shot was waved off because the refs called a moving screen on Tyson Chandler. Man. This. Season.

After that, Kyrie Irving made a killer three on a broken play as their shot clock expired. The Suns defended multiple shot attempts by the Cavs, but an awful pass resulted in a fortunate one to Irving for an open 30-foot three as time expires.

Suns dagger three waved off.

Cavs dagger three counts.


Hey, at least it was the best Suns game I've seen in weeks. So there's that.

Cavaliers win 101-97.

First quarter

The Cavaliers scored on 6 of their first 7 possessions (missing free throws on the other). And this was a Cavaliers team sporting the league's 4th worst offense for the whole month of December.

On the good side, Devin Booker came out to play. After being stripped for a fastbreak layup to open the game, Booker suddenly began playing like a Reggie Miller type by making smart plays and shooting great.

The teams combined to score 36 points on 15-20 shooting in the first 6 minutes of the game (20-16 Cavaliers lead) before the Suns called a timeout for a breather.

After the timeout, the Suns kept pushing and actually took the lead 21-20 after a Leuer three pointer, but then the Cavaliers took back the lead with 6 straight points.

The benches for each team were an adventure, but the Cavs kept jacking (and making) threes to keep the lead. The Cavaliers made 6 of 11 threes in the first quarter and finished the quarter with a 4-point lead.

Cavs up 34-30 after one.

The Suns have to be feeling good about themselves right about now.

Second quarter

The Suns kept playing strong into the second quarter, and after a pair of putbacks (by Len and Warren) the Suns had a 37-36 lead to cap a 7-0 run.

T.J. Warren was highly aggressive, gathering 10 points and 3 rebounds in just 8 minutes of play.

The Suns kept going, and even had a 48-45 lead on the Cavaliers after a Tucker steal/finish on breakaway. But they just couldn't defend the three-point line and the Cavaliers wouldn't be denied. They made 10 of their first 16 three-point attempts.

Too quickly, the Cavs lead was 9 after a three pointer by Dellavedova.

The Suns came back though, and got the game down to 6 at halftime.

Halftime leaders:

  • Brandon Knight - 6 points, 3 assists
  • Devin Booker - 8 points, 2 assists
  • Jon Leuer - 10 points, 2 rebounds
  • Tyson Chandler/ Alex Len - 9 rebounds, 7 points between them in 24 minutes

Suns down 60-54 at half.

Third quarter

The Cavs are determined to take threes, opening the third quarter swinging the ball around the perimeter to get an open shot. They made two of their first three attempts to start the second half.

The Suns were making shots too, though, and kept the game close with contributions from everyone in the lineup.

Effort like this might actually make the Suns interesting to watch.

The Cavaliers kept going on runs (we see you J.R. Smith) but not long enough runs to totally pull away. The Suns kept making enough shots to stay in the game despite their porous D.

Got to applaud the efforts of Ronnie Price tonight, the only backup PG the Suns have at the moment. He gave some good minutes when Brandon Knight needed a breather.

But then the Suns did Suns-y things, and gave up an ugly 7-0 run to the Cavaliers to end the third quarter, unable to even get off a shot on their last three possessions.

Cavs up 81-73 after three.

Fourth quarter

Scoring was at a premium to start the fourth. The Suns went small (Warren at the 4, with Chandler at C) and couldn't find the range, but neither could the Cavs.

The Suns had the game at 5-point deficit with 8:30 to go before Richard Jefferson nailed a three on the other end to stretch it back out to 8.

Then after a tough T.J. Warren runner (fouled but not called) the Cavs hit yet another three to stretch the lead to 9.

After that, the Suns just could not muster enough offense and defense to close the gap.

Leave it to Richard Jefferson and Iman Shumpert to put the game into the ol' deep freeze, huh?

But just as I write that (foretelling the future!), the Suns pull back into the game and cut the Cavaliers lead to 3 points on a pair of Tyson Chandler free throws.

94-91 Cavs. T.J. Warren now has 12 points in the 4th quarter, 22 for the game. 2:48 to go.

Then the Suns forced an Irving turnover, and Warren drew free throws to make one and cut it to 2.

On the next possession, the Suns couldn't corral LeBron's miss and a broken play ended up with a score by Kyrie Irving to put the Cavs back up 4.

The Suns pulled back to within one, and then Brandon Knight hit the shot of his season to put the Suns up by 2... but it was waved off due to a Chandler moving screen.

Then Kyrie Irving happened.


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