Phoenix Suns 104, Orlando Magic 96 – Road Warriors


Phoenix may have went through a few too many series of ebbs and flows, but for the most part in a 104-96 road victory against the Orlando Magic, Jeff Hornacek’s team was in control. Even when Orlando got within three points in the final four minutes, it was the Suns’ game to lose.

They didn’t in their second road win in a row.

Goran Dragic led the Suns with 23 points and 13 assists and scored on a timely drive to the cup late in the fourth quarter. Then, he hit a step-back three after Magic center Nikola Vucevic switched onto him, the shot giving the Suns a 102-92 lead with just more than a minute to play.

Riding a strong bench effort late, Hornacek and the Suns couldn’t close the game without going back to Dragic and the starting unit.

The Magic cut a 14-point lead down to 88-83 with six minutes left, but Hornacek turned back to his starters and drew up a three-point shot atop the key for Channing Frye out of a timeout to turn the tide for a final and crucial time.

The Suns shot their season average of 37.9 percent from three-point range, connecting on 11-of-29 longballs, and in general, they’ve found their competence that seemed loss during the recent losing streak.

Ryan Weisert asked three questions in his game preview, and this is how they were answered.

Can the Suns keep the battle of the boards close?

Gang rebounding kept the Suns in fine shape rebounding against center Nikola Vucevic, who grabbed 10 boards on Sunday. Gerald Green grabbed eight rebounds as the starting shooting guard, Channing Frye and Miles Plumlee added seven rebounds apiece, and P.J. Tucker had six.

The biggest issue was Vucevic’s offensive output, and it wasn’t necessarily to any fault by Miles Plumlee or otherwise. The former USC Trojans big man scored 20 points on an efficient 10-for-16 shooting, but he did so by hitting 20-footers over Plumlee or by backing Plumlee down in the post to shoot over the smaller Suns center.

In the end, Phoenix won the rebounding battle 44-41 and grabbed 10 offensive rebounds to outscore the Magic in second-chance points 13-8.

Who will step up, once again, in Eric Bledsoe’s absence?

Dragic pulled his weight, but he wasn’t the only one. Phoenix’s effort looked like it did before the four-game losing streak that ended a game ago, and that meant Hornacek’s team was getting strong performances across the board.

Gerald Green brushed off a rough shooting night two days ago to score 20 points, but he also was engaged on the defensive end. While Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo and Andrew Nicholson scored in double-figures to help Vucevic, Green shadowed No. 2 pick Victor Oladipo most of the night and held the rookie to 3-for-12 shooting – and without any momentum-swinging plays.

Additionally, Frye got going in the second half – he scored nine of his 14 in the fourth – and hit a few big shots in his final stretch to hold the Magic off. And the Morris twins each contributed their fair share off the bench.

Can Phoenix find some paint scoring?

Not necessarily in the paint, but it didn’t mean the Phoenix frontcourt players didn’t produce.

Aside from another fine game from Frye and eight points from Plumlee, the big men did some damage. Marcus Morris may have gotten himself in trouble by going into Carmelo Anthony high-post isolation mode, but he earned it early on. He finished with 16 points and seven rebounds, while brother Markieff scored 12 points to go with six boards. The twins combined for an efficient 13-for-24 from the floor.

The Suns lost the points-in-the-paint difference 50-42 but did get a lot of easy looks by score 18 fastbreak points to six for Orlando.

  • SHAZAM

    first and best kevin..great read

  • Scott

    I think a lot of Suns players are finding and solidifying their roles right now.

  • vtsunrise

    Goran: 13 dimes and zero turnovers. Nice.

  • SHAZAM

    @ Scott. They have played 2 lousy teams, Nothing can be solidified until Bledsoe is back. They are learning to play with out Eric though and thats a good thing because sooner or later Dragic and Bledsoe won’t be on the floor together much. At the beginning of the season Goran was injured and the team learned to play with out him.

  • DBreezy

    A well played road win for a young team. The Suns have lost two games to the Kings and now won two vs the Cats and Magic. All 4 of those teams were lottery mates this past summer so it’s interesting to watch them match up with each other. As we approach the 20 game and beyond portion of the season, it’s going to get interesting. Excluding Utah, there’s only 4 1/2 games league wide between the Suns and the 2nd worst team in the league, the Bucks.

    The chances of landing a Lebron in free agency are remote. Dwight Howard was the last true crybaby star as far moving, sideshows Aldridge and Love now seem very happy where they’re at. There are no Harden/Ibaka/Durant/Westbrook situations looming, just a few RFA’s like Bledsoe, Hayward, Faried and Monroe. Meanwhile during this same span, we’re getting good looks at the NCAA crop and several of these guys look like the real deal so far-ie more potential franchise impact than anybody you have a realistic chance of acquiring otherwise. On top of that, there’s a chance that one of or more of these picks ends up in your conference making life that much tougher. I know Darko didn’t pan out, but I bet GM’s in places like NY, ATL, and MIA were moaning in 2002 when Lebron, Wade, Bosh, and Darko ended up in that conference and not on their moribund squads.

    Which GM’s will try to assure themselves of a top 5 pick and when will they start? If things go as they have so far, there’s going to be such a logjam of teams who are nearly as close to the playoffs as the top of the lottery. As far as the Suns go, I’m fine either way. I don’t root for them to lose and if they miss out on a top 5 pick, I just know that it’s most likely going to be another 2-3 seasons before they’re truly good again vs 1-2 if they get a good top 5 pick.

  • Voqar

    Dragic made some nice passes on fast breaks instead of getting fouled into the ground, like the one to green for the crush. I like that a lot more than him getting crushed by the foul.

  • vtsunrise

    I was thinking about time. re: the end of DBreezy’s post and it led me to these:

    “Time is an illusion.”
    ? Albert Einstein

    “Time is a game played beautifully by children.”
    ? Heraclitus, Fragments
    -My comment: As is basketball.

    “Time is what keeps everything from happening at once.”
    ? Ray Cummings, The Girl in the Golden Atom

    “Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.”
    ? Lao Tzu
    Me – There are some days when I don’t have time for this board… and others when I do…

    “The future is uncertain but the end is always near.”
    ? Jim Morrison

    To an end of sub-amazing Suns teams. In time.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    VT…. I bet you had a good time writing that post :)

    How bad are things in Utah ?
    There leading scorer last night was Rudy Gobert….the pencil-like postman from France.
    Gordon Hayward is a nice player, but if he is anything more than the 3rd best player on your team, than you’re in trouble.

    ps….Great game by Goran last night.

  • vtsunrise

    Props to UVM for taking it to the wire vs Duke. And that was 100% all ball on the Clancy block in the final seconds. UVM Catamounts were robbed. Great stuff!

  • vtsunrise

    Indeed, Hawki…

    Gather ’round people
    Wherever you roam
    And admit that the waters
    Around you have grown

    And accept it that soon
    You’ll be drenched to the bone
    If your time to you
    Is worth savin’

    Then you better start swimmin’
    Or you’ll sink like a stone
    For the times they are a-changin’

    Come writers and critics
    Who prophesize with your pen
    Keep your eyes wide
    The chance won’t come again

    Don’t speak too soon
    For the wheel’s still in spin
    And there’s no tellin’ who
    That it’s namin’

    For the loser now
    Will be later to win
    For the times they, they are a-changin’

  • DBreezy

    Nice Vt. Hawki, the talent in Utah isn’t as bad as their record, but they’re a great example of what can happen to a young squad that stumbles out of the gate. Add in the Burke injury forcing them to start John Lucas III for most of the season, and the clear evidence that Corbin is much better coaching vets like Jefferson/Millsap than young players and it gets fugly.

  • vtsunrise

    Overall, I think the NBA is a lot closer to parity than it has been in a long while. Throw in a few key injuries and some lack of cohesion and a decent team can sink quickly.

  • Mel.

    No kidding, VT. In just the last week, we’ve seen how sure-fire contenders can go to midcard threats in the span of a single knee injury.

    I hate to ever paint such situations in a positive light–these guys should never miss weeks, months or seasons based on a bad step–but you’re absolutely right that it keeps things interesting.

  • vtsunrise

    Just read Paul Coro’s article. I had no idea:

    “Key numbers: 1, 3 The Suns’ franchise-record numbers for free throws made and attempted.”

    First time in 36 years an NBA team has won on one FT made. Only the second timer ever. Very odd.

  • EBJM

    There is the old VT that I loved reading! Nothing like mixing in a bit of Literary Art with your Suns commentary!

    Bad day Forever? It has been “2long” since I’ve seen you go off on someone, in fact I think it was me when I questioned your first hand knowledge on Alando Tucker’s height. Such a long time ago. ROLMAO!

    Seriously now kids, if you are going to throw tantrums at the educated elders PLEASE refrain from using profanity.

    Do you guys recall me asking you to watch Nikola Vucevic against the Suns? Picked #16 in 2011 he is averaging 15/11/1 this season. Like Dave:F32 pointed out it is about scouting. Vucevic is the standard I’m holding Alex Len to. He has two seasons but then he must put up 15/11/1 or better to avoid the label “bust”.

    I was attempting to coalesce “midcard” and “threats” within the context of “we’ve seen how sure-fire contenders can go to midcard threats in the span of a single knee injury”

    Couldn’t do it. VT, a little help please?

  • EBJM

    I just read where the Lakers extended Kobe for two years at $23.5 and $25 million per. What the hell? With the more restrictive CBA how does Kobe expect Kupchak to build a contender with close to half of his salary cap going to Kobe who hasn’t even shown if he can come back from his Achilles’s injury?

    That is simply just another reason why I really dislike Kobe. Duncan only earns $10 million and Tony Parker $12.5 million. That is why the Spurs are at 12-1 and the Lakers will still suck next season.

  • HunterSThompson

    EBJM – VT maybe using a bit of boxing analogy? As in contenders for the belt are the marquee fight on the “card” (listed in bold at the top), while lesser boxers/fights are listed down the “card”. Think of a fight night advertising poster listing all the bouts for the evening. Contenders at the top, pretenders underneath.

  • EBJM

    Another observation of Brooklyn’s dismal showing thus far. Jason Kidd looks lost but when he served his two game suspension they used BEHIND the bench coach Joe Prunty as the head coach. The Nets have Lawrence Frank on Kidd’s staff. Frank a former head coach with 614 games under his belt including I think five seasons as Jason Kidd’s head coach.

    I don’t know, something seems just a bit backwards up in Brooklyn. Why would you hire a totally inexperienced Kidd and expect Frank to provide on the job training? It didn’t work out too well for Vinny Del Negro in Chicago now did it?

  • EBJM

    Actually Hunter it was Mel’s post. VT is the resident vocabulist and grammarian, so I usually seek his help in these difficult communication issues.

  • Foreveris2long

    EBJM, In an effort to truly bury the hatch I am going respectfully forget what happened two days ago. Discussing it further only makes matters worse. In all honesty I am sorry the discussion ever took place.

    As for Kobe, I have always thought he was selfish. I think with him being selfish and the Lakers front office apparently letting loyalty trump their business decision, this signing coupled with few draft choices the next two years are going to strangle the franchise. This could not happen to a better team.

    DBreezy I think the closest thing to young and potentially expensive talent on one team is Golden State with Bogart recently being extended, Curry, K. Thompson, Iguodala (new contract) and Harrison Barnes. Not to mention David Lee’s contract. When all are healthy, Barnes comes off the bench. I suspect within about a year someone will be moved.

    Great road win yesterday. I never thought this young team would go two and potentially one (assuming a loss tonight) on any road trip this season. They controlled the game from beginning to end. Great game by Dragic. Frye, yeah frye showed a post game in the 4th quarter. Hard to believe but impressive.

    Dave 32, you would have enjoyed the Lakers telecast last night against the Kings as the Lakers announcers were really high on McLemore. I think he hit 3 three pointers last night.

  • EBJM

    Hey Forever, you’re preaching to the choir! Lol It is just so out of character for you to let someone get under your skin. I got a kick out of it but I’m demented in that sense.

    I see the Suns winning tonight. P.J. Tucker is going to frustrate James and Green is going 6-7 from downtown while Plumlee will contain Bosh.

    So Suns!

  • Ryan

    somewhere very far away alondo tucker’s ears are ringing. I wonder if DJ strawberry is with him…

  • http://www.yahoo.com Dave:f32

    Thanks for the love EBJM and Foreveris2Long!

    Shucks, I missed the Lakers telecast but that is okay because I’m sure they were saying all of the things that the majority of us, that knows what is going on and understands how the NBA and basketball works, have been talking about on this site.

    I love differing opinions only because I am able to learn from another persons perspective. May not mean I always agree with it, or see it as those, but be that as it may, I am always acquiring knowledge in respect of perspectives that are different from mine.

    You all play nice, behave and GO SUNS!!!! The Heat aren’t Orlando Magic but I think the Suns, if they can contain Lebron, have this one in the bag. The Eastern Conference is down down this year.

  • HushPuppy

    PJ Tucker is gonna bottle up Lebron and dominate him.

    just kidding.

  • vtsunrise

    @EBJM: LOL @ “resident vocabulist and grammarian”

    Glad to provide joy and mirth. I don’t often have the time or inclination these daze.

    Laughing also at the too-vivid memories of the exhaustive discussions and investigative reporting in Vegas (in ’08?), on Alando’s height. Or was that someone else’s?

    @HST: Boxing analogy? WTF? I’ve been called a bit of a card but I’d take the under/over on that one.

  • vtsunrise

    EBJM, I just noticed the callout to me re:
    “I was attempting to coalesce “midcard” and “threats” within the context of “we’ve seen how sure-fire contenders can go to midcard threats in the span of a single knee injury”

    Couldn’t do it. VT, a little help please?”

    Um, (scratching my head)…
    um…

    pass…

  • Mel.

    MMA, actually. Midcard threat = the next likely contender on the program; an individual such as this can be called up to replace an existing fighter should plans for a fight night change, and–in a historical context–can occasionally upset a superior fighter, despite the fact that they’re considered to be limited in terms of experience and/or the threat that they post to a champion in the immediate sense.

    Of course, I assume that the mention–in that light–was just another example of the random insults/bully-pulpit BS that’s apparently becoming the norm around here, so… carry on, as you will.

  • EBJM

    It still makes zero sense. If you stopped trying to sound smart and actually spoke English instead of in “Idiot-ease” double talk, maybe we’d stop making fun of you.

    Go cry about it some more.

  • Mel.

    … wow.

    I’ve been enjoying this site since 2009; the Michaels were single-handedly responsible for getting the Suns’ online nation through some of the toughest parts of our franchise’s decline. I would hang out in the ESPN Dime on game nights with the usual suspects, enjoying the banter and appreciating the fact that–even if the team was in decline–there was at least one virtual “water cooler” where Suns fans could get together and treat each other civilly, and support our common interests.

    Unfortunately, it appears that any and all hope I had of establishing that with the current community was a waste of time: if this is what passes for “comraderie” around here, I think I’ll take my chances at BSOTS. Enjoy crapping on your fellow fans and trying to re-create the charm and warmth of a high school locker room, fellas.