It wasn't pretty, but after finally getting off to a good start, the Suns come out with a win. They looked sloppy at times, but they worked hard, as evidenced by 23 offensive rebounds. They ended the game with 65 freaking rebounds, and against a good rebounding team to boot. They only shot 43% from the field, but did keep Denver to 38%. An ugly win to be sure, but still a win, and a much needed one after dropping five in a row. Hopefully this win will inspire the Suns to step up against the Oklahoma City Thunder tomorrow night. Here's how it went down.
The Phoenix Suns won the tipoff, and then in their recent fashion, turned the ball over THREE times in a 60 second span. Before the Suns knew what hit him, they dug themselves into 8-0 hole.
Phoenix started to shake off the nerves after the rough start. A pair of Brandon Knight jumpers and a nice midrange shot from Alex Len got the Suns going.
Around the 5:30 mark, we saw an old friend enter the game: Gerald Green! He came in and looked like his old self, drilling a 3 on his first possession. A couple of possessions later, he found Markieff Morris on a pick and roll to get him to the free throw line, and then hit another 3. It was very refreshing to not only see Green on the floor, but see him looking like his old self.
Marcus Morris hit a very pretty half court shot at the buzzer to cap the first quarter.
The offense was looking pretty smooth for the Suns, and as a result, they shot a blistering 68% from the field. Some silly fouls and surrendered offensive rebounds kept Denver hanging around, but it was definitely the best first quarter we've seen from the Suns in a long time.
Suns 36, Nuggets 25
Rookie Joffrey Lauvergne started the second quarter with a couple of jumpers for Denver, but Green answered with a jumper of his own. By that point, he had scored 10 points in 8 minutes off the bench. All the makings of a classic Green heat check were in place.
Phoenix's turnover woes of the last few games continued. They had 9 with less than 5 minutes past in the second quarter, and thusly let the Nuggets right back in. Danilo Gallinari started to pose problems for the Suns by knocking down some threes, and J.J. Hickson got some easy buckets, as he always seems to do against Phoenix.
T.J. Warren cracked the rotation again, and played some productive minutes. He had a tip in, and then got fouled after pulling down two offensive rebounds in a row. He missed both free throws, but did some nice off-ball cuts to get a couple of easy buckets the following possessions. Suns hang on to their lead.
Eleven Suns players entered the game in the first half, and all eleven of them scored. Not exactly a tight rotation, but at least they were getting some balanced scoring.
Suns 58, Nuggets 51
Gallinari's hot shooting continued, and the Suns quickly saw their 9 point lead diminished.
P.J. Tucker, who had already been having a pretty strong game, put his hands all over this quarter. He had a monster block on Jusuf Nurkic, and came up with several steals, once of which resulted in a clear path foul. He looked like a man possessed.
Len, on the other hand, did not. He couldn't score on Nurkic, and had some trouble guarding the Bosnian center on the other end. Green did not look like his aggressive first half self, coughing up a couple of turnovers and hesitating on jump shots. Marcus Morris continued to have a solid game off the bench.
Despite shooting 38% from the field, Denver kept hanging around, due in large to the Suns turnovers and fouls. After starting the game off with a shooting percentage in the 60s, the Suns dropped all the way down to 42% by the end of the third quarter.
Suns 83, Nuggets 73
The Suns started to take control early in the fourth, behind mostly bench guys like Green, Marcus, Warren, and Brandan Wright. They ramped up on defense and executed on offense.
They took a 14 point lead with 8:41 to go in the game. Nurkic went down with a leg injury for Denver.
But then a pair of 3s from Gallinari and Ty Lawson made the game interesting again. Timeout Phoenix.
The Nugs got it all the way down to a 6 point deficit, but the Suns ripped off an 8-0 run behind back-to-back threes from Brandon Knight. Phew. 101-87 Suns with just under five minutes to go.
The Suns were pretty much in control from here. We even got to see Reggie Bullock (!) in the last thirty seconds, and he even scored!! Marcus Thornton was the only Suns player to not crack the rotation.
Final score: 110-96
Brandon Knight led the Suns with 19 points, with 18 and 15 chipped from Eric Bledsoe and Gerald Green, respectively.