For the second time in two weeks, the Suns did at least a solid job of sticking with the contending Cleveland Cavaliers in the second half. Though they faltered a bit in the fourth quarter, tonight the Suns outscored Cleveland 62-59 in the second half on the road.
But just like last game, the team shot itself in the foot with a poor start. Cleveland led by eight after one quarter and 18 at the half, leaving the Suns no reasonable chance to make it a close game.
Bledsoe and Booker combined for 43 points, 13 rebounds and 17 assists, but the team’s stale offense of high screen-and-rolls led to those two shooting a mere 11-33 from the field (33%).
If there’s anyone to commend in this performance, it’s Tyson Chandler for his 22 points and 16 rebounds in 30 minutes. T.J. Warren also looked good with a sneaky 18 points on 8-12 shooting.
Beyond that, a couple of interesting trends to watch. First of all, Brandon Knight played just four minutes total after he committed four fouls in a short stint. That type of performance won’t land him playing time even if the Suns want to raise his trade value.
But additionally, Alex Len played just 8 minutes tonight and has been consistently receiving less playing time as of late despite providing good production off the bench. Tyson Chandler only played 30 minutes, meaning that the remaining 10 minutes at the center position (48-38=10) must have gone to a combination of Chriss and Bender. Any minutes for Bender are good minutes, and Tyson is playing really well. But where does that leave Alex?
As for Cleveland, LeBron took on more of a playmaking role by dishing out 15 assists. He still scored 21 on just 12 shot attempts. The Suns were absolutely bombarded from deep, as Cleveland shot 19-43 (44.2%) on threes. Expect a lot more of that throughout the regular season and playoffs from a roster with shooters like Korver, Frye and James Jones.
Next up for the Suns is a game against former coach Jeff Hornacek and his struggling Knicks.