Michael Beasley stole the show after sinking 13 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter of Wednesday night’s game against the Sacramento Kings.
After outscoring the Kings 32-19 in the fourth quarter, the Suns’ 106-96 win could not have been a better debut for Lindsey Hunter as the interim head coach for the Phoenix Suns. Not only was this the Suns first win under Hunter, but it was the first time the Suns have scored over 100 points since Dec. 29 at the Minnesota Timberwolves. Beasley finished his impact performance with 19 points and six rebounds. Luis Scola added to this second-half comeback with 21 points and seven rebounds.
According to the Phoenix Suns Twitter feed, Hunter said he was proud of the effort exhibited on the floor following this win over the Kings.
“It was real exciting,” Hunter said. “I’m more excited for the guys than anything else since they worked so hard for me the last few days.”
In order to have a chance in this game, the Suns’ game plan directly involved holding DeMarcus Cousins in check. Aside from the 3-point buzzer beater, Cousins only shot 33 percent versus Marcin Gortat in the first quarter. Yet despite the promising start, the Suns’ 30-27 first-quarter outing was short-lived by halftime.
By the end of the second quarter, the Kings seized a 57-49 lead with their transition offense, low-post presence and bench scoring. Sacramento totaled 17 fast-break points and 29 rebounds compared to the Suns 13 transition baskets and 17 rebounds. Perhaps the most disconcerting statistic leading into the third quarter was the Suns’ lack of bench production. Unlike the Kings’ 31 points off the bench, the Suns’ bench only accounted for 13 points by the end of the half.
Could it be conceivable for the Suns to repeat the 19-point rally from their previous game against the Kings on Dec. 17?
The likelihood of such a comeback became even dimmer by the end of the third quarter. The Suns mightily struggled to reach the free-throw line, making only four of their mere six foul shots. This was undoubtedly due to the Kings’ 40 rebounds, wherein Cousins and Thomas Robinson equaled the Suns’ 25 total rebounds.
However, Cousins’ dominant 15 point and 15 rebounds proved to be inconsequential. The Kings shot an abysmal 63 percent from the free-throw line coupled with 24 total turnovers. In the end, the Suns outshined the Kings with an aggressive second-half effort that included shooting 48 percent and totaling 30 assists as well as 14 steals.
Whether this victory enough to justify Hunter’s hiring or not, it will certainly be interesting to see how the Suns respond at home vs. the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday.