The Phoenix Suns’ offense caught fire in the first half, but didn’t get the memo that they were supposed to cool off in the second.
The Suns beat the Charlotte Hornets 120-103 behind a 59% shooting performance, their best of the season. Six Suns players scored in double figures and they had 30 assists, their second time reaching that mark this season.
Devin Booker had 15 points to go along with a season-high nine assists, while Marquese Chriss added 17 points, making it only the sixth time this season he’s scored at least 15.
Phoenix had an incredible first half. They shot 63% from the field, shot 74% inside the arc and had 18 assists on 24 field goals. Even while holding Charlotte to 42 percent shooting, they were only up 3 points, a very bad sign for the second half.
Seven of those assists were from Booker, who had only six games prior to tonight when he had six assists or more.
At one point in the late third quarter, the game was coming off the rails for Phoenix as the second unit checked in. I would have bet that was the point Charlotte would pull away, but Tyler Ulis in particular played very well and kept the Suns in the lead.
Head coach Earl Watson rewarded that unit by leaving them in around the point in the fourth quarter when the starters would check back in, and not only did they keep the advantage, they extended it and finished out the game.
Every Suns fan has to be thrilled with how the Suns have been playing the likes of Ulis, Alan Williams and Derrick Jones Jr. and the added bonus of all three playing good basketball.
A live blog throughout the game is below...
- There was a clear gameplan for the Suns to attack Frank Kaminsky at center with Alex Len post touches. It didn’t work. My opinion has wavered on Len over his time in Phoenix, but he’s had a rough go of it in the past month or so from the eye test.
- Marquese Chriss stayed down and left the game, walking to the locker room. Multiple different suggestions as to what it could be for on twitter. We will find out later.
- As I wrote in my preview, the Hornets are the best team in the NBA at managing turnovers, which means you can probably assume their ball movement is on point. Their roster is filled with smart players who know how to make the right play and that combined with hitting open three-pointers led to a 20-11 lead in under six minutes. The Suns also had four turnovers. That doesn’t help.
- Somehow we ended at 32-28. Second unit played well.
- It appears the Chriss injury was just a scare. He’s back in the game.
- At a break with 3:59 left, the game is tied at 50. The Suns are shooting 59% while the Hornets are at 43%. As long as Charlotte’s defense stays in this one — which they probably will — they should be fine as the Suns cool down.
- Same stance on Kaminsky showed in the late first half. Suns went small with Chriss at center. We haven’t seen that too much.
- Welp. Suns decided they weren’t going to miss to start the half. 78-70 lead, Booker up to 8 assists and Chriss is the leading scorer with 15.
- Starting to see signs of what I mentioned earlier. Suns still hot, but Charlotte starting to make more shots and it’s a two-point game. Kemba has been great.
- At that point in the game above, Phoenix’s second unit checked in and I was sure it was the beginning of the end. Instead, the Suns decided to keep making shots and the second unit extended the lead and played out the rest of the game. Basketball is weird sometimes.