Gerald Green, Morris twins bring the Thunder


PHOENIX — Quick transition push off a rebound? Hit Gerald Green for a three. Inbounds play? Make sure he comes off a screen somewhere, anywhere really, atop the three-point arc.

It’s an easy game to play when a shooter like Green is hot. And hot he was on Thursday night. The Suns shooting guard scored a career-high 41 points on 12-of-22 shooting and 8-of-13 accuracy from behind the three-point line.

The outburst pushed Phoenix past the class of the Western Conference, the Oklahoma City Thunder, 128-122. Jeff Hornacek’s team stuttered at times but thrilled at others, making for the loudest eruptions a snoozing U.S. Airways Center has heard all year long. It was an important win for the Suns in terms of the playoff race, but it was a perfect picture of how this season has gone.

Mostly, the season has gone so well because of player development, and that was a similar theme to how the Thunder have built a dynamic franchise in a small market.

“We’re an organization that’s trying to mimic ourselves to being the same type of team they are,” Green said afterward, as usual reluctant to speak too much about himself.

Kevin Durant scored 34, and Russell Westbrook topped his teammate with 36, nine assists and nine boards. Alongside them, the versatile project Perry Jones put together zeros after a fine night last time out against the Philadelphia 76ers (12 points, six rebounds, three assists and two blocks). Center Steven Adams wouldn’t do anything more than grab a rebound, while Suns rookie Alex Len contributed six points and three rebounds in limited minutes.

But then there was Green, all rebooted.

“He can do that,” Hornacek said afterward. “We’ve seen that several times this year. He’s a guy that is working on his consistency. He’s either really hot or really cold. I’d say these last 25, 30 games, he’s been very consistent. His bad games are, maybe a 5-for-13 or something like that, and then he doesn’t keep jacking them up.”

It went hardly mentioned that Green also got the foul stripe 11 times, nabbed three steals and had two assists.

Of course, the day was about his hot shooting. Much of his damage came in transition. Oklahoma City seemed prepared to race up and down with Phoenix, playing small ball and enticing Hornacek to run out his own small lineups. The pace picked up even as both teams hit buckets with ease.

Even though Green didn’t take a shot in the first 17 minutes, he caught fire.

Phoenix led just briefly when the score read 3-2 and quickly lost track of the Thunder in the first quarter. The Oklahoma City lead grew to 16 with 3:47 to play in the third, and that seemed to be the end of the Suns’ hopes. But a stagnant offense awoke behind backup point guard Ish Smith pumping the pace back to where Phoenix likes it. Green scored 15 points as part of a 21-2 Suns run to end the third, allowing them a 101-98 lead heading into the fourth.

The final two points came when Andre Roberson fouled Green on a three-point attempt as if acknowledging it was the only way to stop him.

“The thing that makes him unique is, some guys you can get up in to and maybe challenge the shot a little harder,” Hornacek said of Green, hours after he had gone over something similar when referring to Durant. “Gerald just jumps over the top of everybody and shoots it. These guys are playing good defense.”

But Green wasn’t the only one scoring in bunches.

The Morris twins, finally tapping into the potential that led to the Suns drafting one and trading for another, contributed 39 points, nine boards and five assists. Markieff had 24 points, all on the elbows or in the paint, and many of those points came against Ibaka. Markieff drew seven fouls on the Thunder, a tool he and his twin didn’t quite know how to use last season.

“They got great moves inside,” Hornacek said. “They got a size advantage, they can back a guy in and make a turnaround. Tonight, Markieff realized that they were coming a little bit on him (with double-teams), so he went quick. They were smart post-up moves.”

Added Green: “Markieff to me is the Sixth Man of the Year. Those two twins, man, it’s almost remarkable to have both those guys on the same team.”

Behind a confident gunner, two developed big men and a late-round draft pick — Goran Dragic scored 22 and hit key buckets late — the Suns sure were mimicking the Thunder for a night.

And 1

Hornacek on the Suns fixing themselves after 11 first-half turnovers: “Westbrook is like a Chris Paul. If you’re not a point guard, don’t try to drive by those guys because they’ll steal the ball on you. I think we just got smarter. Good, crisp passes, didn’t try to force anything.”

  • EBJM

    There is no way you bench Green for Bledsoe. Bledsoe should recognize that.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Forever…

    Jordan Adams as usual was brilliant….hitting shots from everywhere….scored 30-something.

    The coaches kid…Bryce…can really play….can shoot the ball as good as his dad….and that’s saying something.

  • john

    @EBJM

    I agree if you’re talking about right away only. Work Bledsoe in slowly, let him find his groove off the bench, get his feel back. But as a long term solution, I think Bledsoe is definitely the better option as a starter. Green is the perfect bench spark that could play 30 minutes off the bench but just won’t be there in the starting 5. Instant O, just like Barbosa used to be.

  • Scott

    It seemed like the team came together and played with the right attitude down the stretch, which was great to see.

    It also looked to me like Dragic was so tired throughout the game, and was very deferential up till the last couple of minutes when he realized that it was crunch time and he needed to step up with a critical basket or two. Which he did.

    If the team can do a better job like it did against OKC, and not need Dragic to carry them so much, he’ll have more in the tank to provide crunch time leadership.

  • lm695c

    I do agree green needs to stay in i say they work bledsoe in slowly and by the end of the year the starting line up could be
    dragic
    bledsoe
    green
    frye
    plumblee

    the bench

    smith
    tucker
    marcus moriss
    markieff moriss
    randolph
    len
    archie
    christmas
    barbosa

  • DBreezy

    EBJM,

    It seems inevitable that Horny is going to have to do a decent level of tinkering over the next 21 games along with trying to ensure that the Suns make the playoffs. He’s pretty much going about 10 deep right now, and it seems likely that he’ll shorten that in the playoffs. Gentry was somewhat of an anomaly among coaches with his willingness to play the same rotation depth in the postseason as the regular season.

    Green/Bledsoe is going to be one of the issues, but the reason it’s an issue is Green himself. If Green or Marcus Morris were able to be pluses on the defensive end or with the hustle stuff like steals/boards, then PJ Tucker would be relegated to specialist status as both of those guys are better offensive players. With the Suns overall D slipping already and potential first round opponents including individual match ups with Durant, Harden, or Manu/Leonard, it’s hard to see Horny taking PJ out of the starting unit come playoff time. So Green is going back there one way or another imo, it’s just a matter of when.

    Ish looks like he’ll eventually be out. The tough thing for Horny has to be the loss of LB, who probably was in line for the spot come postseason. Now he may have to experiment with Goodwin more in coming weeks since we won’t know LB’s status for awhile and Ish simply isn’t a scorer along with being small. Or maybe he just goes with the four of Goran, Bledsoe, Green, and PJ in the backcourt.

    It will also be interesting to see what Horny does with his bigs down the stretch. The book on the Suns this season has been to beat them up inside and that’s unlikely to change, so it seems like he’ll have to have either Randolph or Len engaged even if they’re on the periphery of the playoff rotation. For Len especially that would mean more PT during these last 21 games as he just doesn’t have the experience.

    So, Goran, Bledsoe, PJ, Frye, Plumlee, Kieff, Green, Marcus, with Goodwin, Len/Randolph on the fringe for situational stuff?

  • BUTLER

    By Darnell Mayberry Published: March 6, 2014

    http://newsok.com/okc-thunders-defense-breaks-down-in-loss-at-phoenix/article/3940795

    PHOENIX — The problem Thursday night wasn’t that the Thunder got sucker punched in some sort of trap game.

    The problem was that OKC got sucked into a track meet.
    Photo – Oklahoma City Thunder guard Derek Fisher (6) is backed down by Phoenix Suns’ Gerald Green (14) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, March 6, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
    Oklahoma City Thunder guard Derek Fisher (6) is backed down by Phoenix Suns’ Gerald Green (14) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, March 6, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

    Phoenix imposed its will on the Thunder for the final 15 minutes, turning the contest into a shootout before putting a bow on a 128-122 come-from-behind win inside US Airways Center.

    The Suns’ point total was the most the Thunder has allowed this season.

    Gerald Green, the former Oklahoma State signee, paced all players with a career-high 41 points. He ignited the Suns by splashing in 25 points in a 40-point third quarter by Phoenix. Green hit six of his eight 3-pointers in the period, the last three of which came in the quarter’s final three minutes as he helped the Suns storm back from a 16-point deficit with 3:47 left in the frame.

    “They got hot,” said Kevin Durant, who scored 34 points for the Thunder.

    Green was on fire.

    “He had an amazing game,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “He’s having an amazing year. He’s very athletic. Give him and their coaching staff a lot of credit. He has really taken his game to another level. He’s a knockdown 3-point shooter. We couldn’t control him, and we have to do a better job with that.”

    Led by Green, the Suns made 15 of 27 3-pointers. Eight of those came in a second half in which the Suns produced 67 points and sent another reminder to the Thunder that its team defense is currently nowhere close to championship level.

    The Suns shot 52.5 percent from the field and attempted 39 free throws, more evidence in a night filled with plenty that there is much work to be done.

    “We’ve been talking about it for about 10 days now,” Brooks said. “You’ve got to get back to a defensive disposition when we play these teams who are small and fast and quick. We have to do a better job communicating in transition. We got lost, and we got beat off the dribble too many times.”

    The disappointing defensive effort overshadowed an outstanding offensive night, captained once again by Russell Westbrook, who was sensational for the fourth straight game.

  • Eric

    Sorry anyone who thinks Green shoudl start over Bledsoe is crazy. Green is a perfect bench player. You do not always have to start you 5 best players and Green would get killed as a 3. So, bring him in off the bench as a spark and if he is hot you will see

  • Rengaw

    Horny, like his old coach Jerry Sloan, doesn’t like to tinker with chemistry. He has started the same lineup all season having to start Green for the injured Bledsoe being the only exception.

    Seems everyone wants to get Tucker out of the starting lineup. Not me! Most every team we face has a big scorer at the 2 or 3 position and Tucker can defend both. Let’s face it, Frye, Dragic, and Green are below average defenders with the slipping Plumlee not much better these days. Tucker is the lone quality defender in that first unit.

    We need Bledsoe back more as a defender than a scorer. Good defense starts with pressure on the opponents playmaker and we don’t get that with our starting lineup.

    The Morris twins are learning to play defense better, though they can be awful at times. Ish Smith can hound players into mistakes and Archie really hustles on defense.

    Horny knows you can not count on just out scoring the other team night after night. Some nights the shots just don’t fall. Good defense is a way more consistent way to play.

  • DZ

    Horny will sort it all out. He’s already indicated that he will probably bring Bledsoe back into the rotation slowly and from the bench. At some point Bledsoe will be back in the starting lineup and Green will be coming off the bench again and Green will still be getting a lot of playing time. Ish will loose some minutes but I’m betting that he will still play because I think Horny will want to give Dragic fewer minutes whenever possible before the playoffs so we might see Dragic and Bledsoe resting on the bench at the same time during certain games.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    A DBreezy appearance ?!?!

    Just in time for the stretch run.

    It will be hard to keep Ish Smith on the bench….he creates tempo & energy.

    Gerald Green is a conundrum….is he a bench player who occasionally gets hot….or a late-blooming Superstar ?
    Only LeBron is more athletic than Gerald.

  • DZ

    While I’m not trying to compare the two directly (their styles are very different), Green impresses me as a Jason Terry type. He’ll never be a superstar but he could have enough superstar games coming off the bench and/or occasionally filling in as a starter to at least be in the running for the 6th Man of the Year award if he accepts and embraces that 6th man role.

  • Pingback: Woman was dead six years: No one knew because bills were paid with auto-pay - 254 Locksmith

  • DBreezy

    What’s up Hawki?

    I’m sure Ish will continue to play as they work Bled back in, but by time the playoffs come and the rotations shorten, don’t you think Bledsoe will eventually fill Ish’s current role with the bench guys? I don’t think Horny will ever plan to have a situation where both Goran and Bledsoe are sitting, so the tempo and energy should remain up all the time.

    Hopefully Green isn’t too much of a conundrum for them as he should be getting a high number of minutes no matter what. The defense thing with Green and Marcus is tough, especially with PJ being a RFA this summer and their likely desire to find more minutes for Goodwin next season.

  • john

    The Tucker situation is tough. I’ve loved what he has given to Phoenix, and he has certainly earned a bigger paycheck than the one he is currently getting, but I don’t think there’s room for him on this roster moving forward. As likable as PJ is, he and Frye are a couple of obvious weak spots that need to be upgraded. He’s a good, hard-working player, but the Suns need to give those minutes to pieces that might have a brighter future.

  • DBreezy

    I agree with John on Tucker’s probable future here. It wouldn’t surprise me if they use one of their draft picks on an athletic wing defender type as an affordable alternative to paying PJ more money this summer. Boston had little interest in paying James Posey big money as a defender after their championship, replacing him with Tony Allen. Then they did the same when Allen later put himself in position to get paid.

    I have no idea what they’ll do with Frye. He’s started every game and Kieff hasn’t beaten him out yet. That could be because of chemistry reasons, or because Horny doesn’t feel he’ll be as focused if he starts. Only Horny knows that, but it doesn’t seem like they’ll be getting an upgrade at the 4 position next summer unless they miss the playoffs. Adrien Payne of Michigan State seems like the best possible get at this time where the Suns picks project to be.

  • Foreveris2long

    Hawki, thanks for the update on the UCLA game. Glad to see Len played decent for his short run as did all of the Suns. Once Bledsoe returns to form I suspect Goodwin will be the ultimate casualty as he probably will not get any minutes. I suspect Tucker will be a summer casualty and Green may be asked to play some three next season so Goodwin can get some time at the two spot.

    Green had a really good all around game last night. If he improves his defense and rebounding he will force Coach Horny to play him significant minutes next season when everyone is healthy.It should be a great time to be a Sun this summer.

  • vtsunrise

    Any discussion of Markieff More-Us starting ignores the fact that the More-Us bros have to be on the court at the same time most of the time. Their synchronicity is a thing to behold. I didn’t see the game last night except for the highlights. But there was some INSANE passing bro to bro. It’s like they spent time together even before they were born!!!

  • CART jeff

    Playoff time and down the stretch He will go with short rotation of Green and Morris twins off bench. Len and Bradley will not see playing time. Spot play by Ish. Green and Kief will finish games with Bledsoe and Dragic. The fifth starter will depend on match ups. Coach up Plumlee and watch out western conference!

  • Paul

    john & DBReezy,

    Frye is most certainly NOT a weak spot.

    http://hangtime.blogs.nba.com/2014/02/28/pick-and-roll-data-likes-the-suns/

    He is essential to the offensive improvement this year by the Suns. I’m not saying he’s a superstar, but he’s starting because of more than “chemistry.” It’s because he’s an offensive gem.

    http://grantland.com/the-triangle/how-to-train-your-dragic-the-suns-star-talks-about-his-evolution/

  • EBJM

    Frye SUCKS and who cares what two blog writers post about him?

    Green is out-scoring Durant and Paul George with the Suns winning. How in the world do you so casually bench a 6′-8″ athletically freakish SG who can give you 35 to 41 points against two of the best teams in the league?

    Suns should just play like the Heat, put your best five on the floor and simply go for it.

    Markieff at center.
    Tucker at PF
    Green at SF
    Dragic and Bledsoe.

    Marcus, Frye and Smith round out the rotation and you use Plumlee and Len sparingly when match-ups allow it.

    Historically typical Suns ball and Hornacek played on a very similar Suns team.

    It would be crazy to change what is working. With Bledsoe out, Dragic has been playing at an MVP level since the All-Star snub and Green has become a phenomenal scorer playing alongside him.

    The key is too keep Frye off the court and play Markieff more.

  • Luka

    Completely agree with you EBJM.

  • TI

    Frye is a scrub

  • TI

    Need an upgrade at Frye and PJ’s position, and if possible trade the Moe Bros for an upgrade at PF

  • DBreezy

    Paul,

    I didn’t say anything about benching Frye, I just said that I’m unsure what they’ll do with him beyond this season. He’ll be entering the last year of his contract next season when he will turn 31. He’ll probably be hoping for the last multi-year payday of his career which is understandable, but that doesn’t seem like it will be in the cards here. Markieff is younger with a similar skill set and will be entering restricted free agency in 2015 when Frye is a free agent as well. Seems unlikely that they would keep both, but it seems like a decision that will be kicked down the road until at least the 2015 trade deadline unless a sweatheart deal presents itself.

  • Lloyd I. Cadle

    There will be plenty of minutes for Bledsoe, Dragic and Green – just enough to keep all three fresh and sharp.

    I would like to see both Morris boys get more minutes, as they feed off each other.

    Keep Tucker at his current minutes. The rest of the roster, work according to match ups.

  • foreveris2long

    I really just want to ride this out and let the chips fall in the summer where one or more Suns will move on. No matter what happens the rest of the year this group of players will always be remembered for achieving that which few if any thought was possible.

    EBJM you could be on to something with the small ball stuff especially since Plumlee’s game has regressed and Len is not a primetime player yet. Somehow Green has to get significant minutes along with Dragic and Bled. Green did not do too bad a job guarding Westbrook in the 4th quarter last night except when he went under screens.

    I saw Portland come back tonight against Mavs after being 30 points down only to let Dallas come back against them in the closing minutes. The race for the 6th,7th and 8th spot out West is going to be wild.

  • vtsunrise

    Indeed. The wild wild west…

  • DBreezy

    Howgozit, Vt? I haven’t been to Vermont this winter, but I think I think I’ve been to nearly every other sub-zero arctic spot in the country this winter.

  • vtsunrise

    DBreezy, life is great. Long, hard winter. Other than the glorious very skiable stretch of 18 straight days in Feb, these babies saved my butt this winter. Land of ice and snow and more ice. Yes, it’s been an ice winter.

    http://kahtoola.com/product/microspikes/

  • http://none Go Phx

    You guys are idiots. Frye is a huge reason for our success this year. Get a freaking clue.

  • EBJM

    I love your sarcasm Go Phx! Keep it up, I’m still laughing!

  • EBJM

    “Its a great learning experience – a Hall of Famer, one of the best bigs to ever play this game and he has so much knowledge and experience,” Jones said. “It’s so much to take in.” Jones said he and Olajuwon worked specifically on post moves. “He has so many counters and ways to get to the middle of the paint, which is the best way to score for a big,” Jones said. “He is teaching me ways to get there. ”

    That is a direct quote from Rockets PF Terrence Jones who has DESTROYED Channing Frye in the first TWO minutes of each of the past two games.

    Markieff is so much better than Frye, more productive in less time. At least Markieff can MOVE around on the court.

  • Roger

    Frye provides spacing for both guards to operate freely. Opposing teams’ fear that’s all. Offensively he’s fine, he’s doing the job as Horny requires it. Problem is on the defensive side of the equation. Frye has no desire to defend, rebound, rotate or take charge. If you move him to 2nd unit, he’ll be a total disaster. Now, at least he provides some value to the 1st unit. I expect him to be traded no later than Feb 2015.

  • Ellensburgbballfan

    Yeah, i love Frye he is a great shooter, he spaces the floor, great team mate never has an attitude never complains

    His defense is terrible however, i agree with rogers post, i expect him to be traded at some point.

    He would be great on a contender

    but i think if the Suns really want to go far, we gotta upgrade our PF positions (our starting PF) and starting SF spots

    we do that and we would be really good for a long time

  • http://none Go Phx

    You are a retard, EB. You have basketball knowledge of a fifth grader.

  • vtsunrise

    Go Phx, thanks for elevating the level of discourse here.

  • CART jeff

    Talk about still laughing,”do it the HEAT way and start the best 5 players” and he starts Tucker! Ridiculous, the only reason Tucker starts now, or when Bledsoe returns, is chemistry. He is short, slow, can’t jump, and form on his jump shot is awful, however coach loves him, for the defense, attitude and chemistry. Tucker, one of the 5 best players on the roster is just brutal. Be true to your strategy and start the five best. But if you start Tucker, then there will always be an argument to start Frye.

  • Dave:f32

    GoPhx go away! Channing is far from the epitome of winning basketball. He cant defend or play inside CONSISTENTLY to save his life. Yeah, so he can hit 3s but so could Tim Thomas back in the day, and they shipped him out the season after.

  • john

    Perhaps I should have clarified my thoughts about Frye a little bit. I think he is a rather poor player who has an elite talent. In the NBA, you can be a poor player overall and still find ways to contribute to team success if you know your role. Channing knows his role. His coaches know his role. His teammates know his role. And he is excellent as pick and pop option.

    Outside of that, he is a poor NBA player. I like him. Liked him in HS, at UofA, and throughout his NBA career. He seems like a wonderful human being who has worked hard to stay in the league (and deserves to with the quality of his shot), but I don’t think he is the best option for a team that is lacking interior defense.

  • Voqar

    I’m not convinced Green is a terrible defender. He gets steals, rebounds, and tries, and should get better. It’s not like he’s ever had this much playing time before. They’ve also been sticking him on Dragic’s man when dragic can’t cover and it’s been effective at times, like vs OKC.

  • http://www.ucrebelradio.com Rebel 2

    Frye and Kieff play the same position on the floor, but they play it quite differently. At least, that is how it has been throughout the season. While Frye pulls a big outside the box to allow more penetration for Plumlee or Dragic, Kieff has been used as a rebounder and a low post threat. Yes, Kieff has shot threes and yes, Frye has posted down low, but those are not their roles. I agree that Frye should see less minutes, especially when games are close in the fourth quarter and you need a stop. You still have many three point shooters on the court even without Frye. Anyway, the rest of the season? 7 home games and 14 away. (1/3 of the rest of the season is on the road). It is gonna be tough, and the only way to win games away is with good defense, enough to quiet crowds.

  • http://www.ucrebelradio.com Rebel 2

    Err. 2/3.

  • DZ

    Say what you will about Tucker but he’s tied for 7th in the NBA with Paul George in rebounding for SFs and ranks 3rd in RP48 minutes. He’s ranked 7th in 3p% for SFs. He’s ranked 10th in steals for SFs. He’s ranked 16th in assists per game for SFs. He’s ranked 23rd in scoring for SFs.

    Yeah, he’s not going to win any scoring titles but that’s not his job and he knows that. He rebounds, he plays tough D and has become very good at hitting the corner 3.

    We don’t want to let this guy go unless some other team makes him a ridiculous contract offer. And I don’t think that he wants to leave Phoenix. I think that if the Suns just make him a fair contract offer he will stay. And the Suns need a guy like him even if he winds up coming off the bench eventually.

    As for Frye, I really like the guy personally but, as john said, he is an overall below average player with an elite talent. Next year he will be on a $6.8 mil expiring contract. I don’t expect him to be with the Suns at the end of next season. McD may find a good trade for him during the off-season or more likely something before next season’s trade deadline. I think his contract size will be easier to trade than Okafor’s was simply because the Suns won’t have to take back too much for it.

  • bill_thomas

    What is the status of the malingering Okafor ?????????

  • BCrayZ

    EBJM is a total jerk.

    Furthermore, he is chicken shit.

    Will act like a brave man behind Channing’s back. But will he answer my challenge game?

    Why on earth is he even allowed to post. This blog is supposed to be for Suns’ fans. Suns & this blog are better off without him.

  • EarlBlackJesusMonroe

    Frye is GONE just like YOU! bye-bye!