PHOENIX — Perhaps it’s going to take a few games to knock off the rust. Or maybe it’s just the continuing trend of the Phoenix Suns struggling to get up for lesser opponents.
Whatever the case, the Suns are surviving poor performances and adding wins.
A night after looking rigid and sloppy against the Denver Nuggets, Jeff Hornacek’s team put together another mistake-riddled game at home against the Boston Celtics to improve to 32-21 on the year. On Wednesday, they needed a 20-1 run just to win 100-94 at U.S. Airways Center.
Phoenix turned the ball over 14 times in the first half and led 52-50 despite shooting 51.2 percent to the Celtics’ 35.3 percent from the floor. Boston scored 25 points on 18 Phoenix turnovers by the end of the game. The Suns’ bench unit, and namely the big men on it, struggled on the glass for the second night in a row. After the second stringers got beat up by J.J. Hickson and Timofey Mozgov on Tuesday night, they allowed rookie Kelly Olynyk and Kris Humphries to crash the offensive boards for Boston.
The second half began with the Suns looking a little flat, and the turnovers woes didn’t subside to start the third quarter. Hornacek’s squad soon found itself trailing 70-61 midway through the period.
A Goran Dragic three put an end to the Celtics’ run, and before the third quarter ended, Phoenix had gone on a 16-1 run to take a 76-71 lead – the burst continued on with threes and breakaways in the fourth quarter.
When it was all said and done, the Suns bench had rolled off a 20-1 run.
Dragic led Phoenix with 17 points and six assists, and the Morris twins combined to score 29 off the bench to make up somewhat for their lack of rebounding — they combined in that column for six boards in 51 minutes.
The Suns shot 43.9 percent from the floor, scored 44 points in the paint, and made up for lapses in focus.
On to the pregame questions.
Can Frye stroke it?
Frye hit a three-point shot on the Suns’ first play of the game, but from then on it did seem as if Boston was keeping solid tabs on him. He scored just two points over the next 36 minutes until a corner pocket three-ball off a pass from Tucker gave the Suns a 73-71 lead. After a stop, Marcus Morris advanced the ball to 28 feet or so and hit a three-pointer to cap the third on a massive run.
Frye added six more points in the fourth to finish with 15.
Can tired legs outrun fresh legs?
The Suns’ legs weren’t the problem. In fact, it’s plausible they’d be better off having heavy legs. Maybe it would stop them from forcing cross-court passes that are picked off by retreating defenders.
Phoenix needed to get hit in the face before the competitive juices got flowing, but in the end, the starting unit was too much for the Celtics and took it to the Green once they were faced with a bit of adversity.
Gerald Green’s encore?
It wasn’t quite the same thing as his career-high 36-point output on Tuesday, but Green teamed with Dragic as the Suns’ main offensive weapons against Boston.
He added 17 points and started 5-of-7 from the field but struggled down the stretch, hitting one of his final seven attempts.