The Phoenix Suns hang on to beat the Orlando Magic, for once the comedy of errors going in the Suns favor. The Magic made some crucial mistakes at the end, and the Suns didn't make as many.
The Magic missed two threes on their final possession, and the Suns won 107-104.
The second time the Suns lost the lead, when the Magic tied the game at 102-102 the Suns muddled back into the lead on effort rather than smooth play. But the Magic answered quickly on a couple free throws by Nikola Vucevic.
Then Bledsoe bullied his way to the rim, and the Magic missed a couple of point-blank shots.
P.J. Tucker couldn't pull the trigger on an open corner three, and the Magic had the ball with 27.8 left, down 2 points.
After a timeout, Elfrid Payton dribbled the ball off his leg into the back court and made the turnover - a fortunate late-game event not commonly seen in these here parts by the opposition.
Alex Len had his best game of the year, with 20 points and 14 rebounds - utterly dominating the paint. Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe combined for 42 points, 14 assists and 8 steals.
The game started sloppy, with both teams having trouble either making shots (Magic) or hanging onto the ball (Suns). After more than 6 minutes, the score was tied 12-12.
The Magic won the first quarter 24-21 with only 4 players scoring (Fournier/8, Vucevic/3, Harris/7, and Payton/6) while the Suns got their 21 points from 7 different players, no one putting in more than 4.
Suns won the second quarter 28-23 behind a 11 from Mirza Teletovic (15 overall at half) and 6 from Jon Leuer (10 at half). The Suns were outrebounding the Magic 24-16 on mostly hustle and gang rebounding, helping them pull out to the lead by half.
For the second half in a row, the Suns made a buzzer-beater put-back to take the lead. This time it was P.J. Tucker, with the offensive rebound from an awful long-range shot to beat the clock. Somewhat reminiscent of Mett-- never mind. Sorry.
The Suns started the second half with more energy than the Magic, who are on the back end of a back-to-back, as they should. Nikola Vucevic was the only "up" Magic player, moving around the paint with ease to score. Man, he's smooth. Not a good defender, and a regressed rebounder, but real nice scorer in the paint.
Alex Len was a monster on the boards and scored on put-back opportunities, looking the most comfortable he's looked in a while. By late third quarter, Len already had 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Brandon Knight turned it on again, this time scoring several baskets in a row to ignite the Suns offense. They got and maintained a double-digit lead going into the 4th.
The Suns ended their 3rd quarter in the last 4 with a buzzer-beating score, this time from an Alex Len putback. Geez guys, don't waste all the buzzer-beaters at once!
Knight had 15 points in the quarter (19 for the game) and Len finished with 16 and 11 after three.
Suns up 84-73
Welp. An 11-point lead was erased within seconds on three straight open threes and a long jumper by the Magic as the Suns for some reason let their foot off the gas.
But then Brandon Knight scored to stop the bleeding and the Magic finally missed. The Suns pulled back to a 6-point lead by mid-quarter on the activity of Alex Len in the paint and the whole team stepping up on the defensive end.
The Suns finally pulled to a 10-point lead on more Alex Len free throws, his 10th and 11th of the game. That gave him 20 points and 14 rebounds, with 4 minutes left.