The Milwaukee Bucks were on their way to spoiling Michael Redd’s homecoming and blowing out Steve Nash’s birthday candles early.
But after the Suns blew a 21-point second-half lead, the 38-year-old birthday boy saved the day as he banked home a six-foot runner with five seconds remaining to give the Suns a 107-105 advantage.
Phoenix then double-teamed Stephen Jackson off of a screen on the Bucks’ last possession and the veteran couldn’t get a shot off, allowing the Suns to sneak out of the Bradley Center with a 107-105 victory.
Nash celebrated his birthday with 18 points and 11 assists and Redd enjoyed his return to the tune of 14 points off the bench, 12 of which came in the first half.
Six Suns players scored in double figures and Phoenix posted a season-high 67 first half points as it built off the Atlanta victory to cap its first three-game win streak of the season.
Gotrat went for 21 and nine, Jared Dudley scored 19 points on only nine shot attempts, Channing Frye and Grant Hill combined for 27 points and nine boards and even Josh Childress chipped in with 12 rebounds in only 16 minutes.
Phoenix’s offense looked like the Suns teams of old and Alvin Gentry’s rotations are finally starting to take form. But while the victory and the Suns’ offensive resurgence is encouraging, their second half lull further validates this team’s biggest weakness — inconsistency.
The Suns led 67-50 at half and seemed poised to cruise to victory lane. They shot 62.2 percent from the field in the first half, drilled 5-of-9 three-pointers and had all the ingredients for a blowout win and early birthday celebration.
But while Phoenix went into cruise control, the Bucks crept back into the game. In seemingly the blink of an eye Milwaukee turned a 73-52 deficit with 10:15 left in the third quarter into a 94-90 lead with 7:31 remaining in the game.
During that stretch the Bucks outscored the Suns 42-17, forcing the Suns into one of the offensive lapses that’s characterized this team early in the season. Phoenix relied heavily on the jump shot, resulting in 8-of-30 shooting over the course of Milwaukee’s 12-minute, 44-second run.
And offense wasn’t the Suns’ only problem. Phoenix allowed a mediocre Bucks team missing its best player in Andrew Bogut to score 42 points in 12:44 while shooting 16-of-26 from the field and drilling four triples. Add in that Brandon Jennings took only four shots in the game and the Suns’ second-half lapse is that much more worrisome.
The Suns made Drew Gooden, Mike Dunleavy and Ersan Ilyasova — who combined for 59 points — look like LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, and the Suns’ stellar offensive half was nearly outdone by their second-half disappearance.
But despite the inconsistency and second-half lapse, the Suns will take a win any way they can get it. No matter the opponent or how it happens, the fact that the Suns won on the road in their fourth game in five nights is a major feat.
In a season of ups and downs, the Suns have as much momentum as they’ve had all season and Gentry is starting to figure out what lineups are the most productive while Nash and Gortat continue to dissect teams out of the pick and roll.
The Suns have a chance to use this momentum to catapult them into the playoff picture as they make a pitstop at home to play the Rockets before taking on the Kings, Warriors and Nuggets on the road — all four very beatable opponents.
Phoenix won’t have the same success against better teams if it can’t close out games. But regardless of the struggles, the Suns are finally starting to mesh and regain their form on the offensive end, something that seemed nearly impossible throughout January.
- Redd received a solid applause from the Bradley Center and made his former fans miss his scoring ability. Redd drilled six of his first seven shots, scoring everywhere from in the mid-range to on the block. The sharpshooter has now scored in double figures in each of his last three games.
- Hakim Warrick didn’t see any action for the third straight game, while Shannon Brown rode the pine for the second consecutive contest. After sitting against the Hawks, Ronnie Price played two minutes and finished with a steal and a turnover.
- Although he missed all four of his shots, Childress was all over the place on the glass. He brought constant energy to the floor and finished with 12 boards and three assists. Childress’ 12 rebounds were a Suns game high and his first double-digit rebounding effort in purple and orange.
Tags: Steve Nash