Goran Dragic of the Miami Heat had a beautiful first half against his former team, the Phoenix Suns, putting up 22 points on 13 shots, plus 6 assists and 3 rebounds by halftime. It was a sight to see, though the Suns still had a halftime lead 56-52.
The second half was a different story, as the depleted Heat (SO. MANY. INJURIES.) and Goran’s balky back came back to haunt the Heat and give the Suns lots of breathing room.
The Suns opened up a 19-point lead in the third and held on despite going cold for most of the fourth quarter.
Once, the Heat got it down to 9, but then Devin Booker made back-to-back threes to get the lead back to 15.
Tyson Chandler was a monster on the boards (20), along with Alex Len (9).
Marquese Chriss had his career high of 18 points, while Devin Booker had 27 and Eric Bledsoe had 16.
Goran Dragic of the Heat finished with 24 points, 9 assists and 3 rebounds.
Suns win, 99-90.
So... everyone on the Heat was out except Goran Dragic. He played 1 on 5 all night and merely dominated anyway.
The Heat starters: Rodney McGruder, Luke Babbit, Willie Reed, Josh Richardson and Goran. Their bench had Derrick Williams, Wayne Ellington and Udonis Haslem. That’s it. Eight guys. Maybe 2-3 NBA players.
Still, it’s the Suns.
With the Heat basically playing Goran Dragic and a bunch of no-names who might not even be in the NBA next season, the Suns came out completely flat.
Quickly, the Heat led 12-6 on 6-of-8 shooting.
Dragic was really controlling the floor offensively, while the Suns stumbled and bumbled their way to getting beat. Again.
Devin Booker was pulled just 4 minutes into the game as one of the five guys who weren’t putting in the defensive effort. Then P.J. Tucker came in a couple minutes later for T.J. Warren.
By late first, Dragic had gotten up to 6/6 shooting for 12 points, plus two assists and two rebounds in only 8 minutes of play.
Boy is Goran Dragic fun to watch. He sliced, diced, drove, shot and just played better than anyone on the court. He had 18/4/3 in his first 14 minutes out there.
It’s just that after a strong Heat start, they began to miss a lot of shots like lineup like that SHOULD miss.
But it’s the Suns. And the Suns find ways to play bad.
Only Leandro Barbosa played well most of the first half: 10 points, an assist and a steal in 9 minutes for a +6. Bender, Tucker and Len all played well too.
Unfortunately for Tyler Ulis, he got schooled by the Dragon. Remember when Dragic couldn’t break pressure as a rookie? These days he takes on Ulis’ intense pressure just to juke and jive long enough to throw him off, then take it to the hoop, split the help defenders and score with ease and the foul.
But don’t feel too bad for Ulis. Dragic was schooling everyone.
The Suns starters came back in to take the lead, playing a lot harder than the start of the game.
At halftime, Dragic led all scorers with 26 points (9-of-13 shooting), 5 assists, 3 rebounds and a steal.
For the Suns,
- Eric Bledsoe had 12 points, 3 assists, a steal and a block
- Marquese Chriss had an active first half with 11 points (one three, a pair of dunks, a pair of FTs), 3 boards, 2 assists and a steal
- Devin Booker had 9 points, 2 assists and a steal
- Leandro Barbosa had 10 points and an assist and a steal
- Best part: Chriss (13 mins), Bender (10) and Ulis (7) all had good first-half runs as the Suns take a halftime lead, 56-52
The Suns came out playing hard, and got on a 10-3 run over the depleted Heat.
On Dragic, they finally realized that trapping him on the wing could force him into cross-court passes that don’t do anything but put the rest of the Heat into positions to have to create. Unfortunately, the Suns didn’t do it often enough. But luckily, Dragic drew his fourth foul and had to sit for most of the 3rd.
Marquese Chriss had a nice sequence of a hard drive, spin, floater, swish and then a three on the wing to bring him to matching his career high 16 points early in the 3rd. But then Quese lost his focus, dribbled off his leg, committed a foul, drew a tech and got benched. Maybe the 4th quarter will be his chance to shine again.
Suns were up 17 at this point, by the way.
Suns up 83-66 at the end of three.
I hope to see a lot of Goran Dragic, Marquese Chriss, Devin Booker, Dragan Bender and Tyler Ulis.
No, unfortunately, that is NOT the Suns starting lineup. ;(
As might be expected in a 17-point game between a couple of bad team, everyone lost focus to start the 4th and the game got scrappy. Lots of silly fouls all of a sudden, mostly by the Suns early (including a flagrant on Ulis).
Soon, the Heat finally made a couple shots and the game got down to an 11-point Suns lead with 8:13 left. A lineup of Tucker, Ulis, Bender, Len and Barbosa just couldn’t find the range or get to the basket for an easy layup.
Finally, Devin Booker made a pair of threes, the Suns went back up 15 and the Heat looked ready to give up.
BTW: Goran Dragic looks like his back is tightening up again (he only just now came back from missing time), so the 22/6/3 first half has turned into 2/2/0 second half.