The Miami Heat needed what looked like the best of Dwyane Wade on offense and defense, plus excellent games from Gerald Green (21) and Goran Dragic (22 and 7) to put away the Phoenix Suns.
Let me say I much prefer this kind of game than anything I've seen in weeks.
The Suns would not go away until the very end - even taking an 87-83 lead with 5 minutes to go - but the Heat hit the dagger shots and the Suns just could not keep pace. Wade punished rookie Devin Booker all night, but Booker got some revenge in the second half after he shook off the rookie jitters. Like, 11 points on 4 shots kind of "shook off".
Brandon Knight finished with 26 points and 4 assists. He was very aggressive and under control all night. Booker added 15 points and 6 rebounds. Mirza Teletovic added 13 points off the bench.
The Suns go down to the Heat, 103-95
Former Suns guard Goran Dragic nailed his first two threes in the face of hand-up defense from Brandon Knight.
But that's okay because Knight responded with a couple of strong step-in long twos. Good on ya, Brandon.
Devin Booker got a veteran schooling from Dwyane Wade, who blocked Booker's first two jumpers and got juked a few times on the other end.
The Suns stayed with the Heat because they actually tried to play some defense. Tyson Chandler was either getting a lot of vet credit, or was actually defending okay and most of the Heat scores were on jumpers to start the game.
Archie Goodwin came in when Gerald Green did (Gerald got an ovation) and in the opening minutes it was actually Archie doing the damage. Goodwin got a block/strip, led a fast break, dished the assist and later made a driving layup.
Knight and Dragic shadowed each other the whole first quarter. Knight had 6 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist to Dragic's 8 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist.
Suns were down just 21-20 after one quarter. Suns and Heat each shot just 36%.
Markieff Morris checked in to start the second quarter and got himself a nice Keef-style shot, but it was just a bit long and bounced out.
The Suns took a small lead, but then all three former Suns convened on the court together and retook the Heat lead. Amare had a 2005-vintage dunk on Keef at the height of his two-handed dunk attempt. Then Wade stole the ball and fed to Green for the breakaway slam.
The Heat went on a 14-2 run at that point to take a commanding 10 point lead that a 40% shooting team is not going to overcome.
Dwyane Wade schooled Knight and Booker in turn to pour in 14 first half points, while Dragic had 12 and Green had 10.
Awful execution at the end of the half for the Suns (what's new?) leads to the Heat winning the last 12 seconds 4-0 and taking a 13-point lead into halftime. The Heat made 10 of their 15 shots and all 12 FTs in that second quarter to win it by 12.
Heat up 53-40 at half.
Suns opened the quarter strong with a 4-0 run, but then Hassan Whiteside got a deep seal on Chander and drew the shooting foul.
The Suns stayed strong thanks to Brandon Knight's quick scores and the rest of the team playing at faster pace on both offense and defense.
The Suns opened the second half on a 25-6 run highlighted by Booker's 11 points on only FOUR possessions! He got fouled on a fast break (and one), then on a three (and one), then made a floater and a layup. And those last two could have been called and-ones as well.
The Suns 65-59 lead quickly disappeared though as Booker reverted to being a rookie for a bit, and the Suns gave up an 11-0 run the other way.
By the end of the third, the Suns were down 4.
77-73, with the Heat scoring capped by a Gerald Green three-and-mean-mug-Suns-bench move.
The Suns began the quarter on a 10-3 run to take the lead, capped by an Archie layup off a fake-three from Mirza to hit Archie under the rim.
This is by FAR Archie's best game of the season, with 9 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds in just 14 minutes.
The Suns found a way to grab the lead as late and halfway through the 4th, but the Heat prevailed on a handful of dagger Wade and Bosh shots, plus a little Gr33n and Dragon.