After a testing stretch against strong Western opponents, the Suns needed and looked ready to right the ship against the struggling Cavaliers. The Suns defense, or lack thereof, cost them a crucial win, as the Cabs emerged with a 110-101 victory.
The Suns defense struggled once again, though ironically the Suns broke a seven game streak of opponents shooting 50+ percent. The Cavs shot 47 percent from the field and 50 percent from long range. The Suns shot 43 percent and an uncharacteristically ugly 10-36 (27 percent) from behind the arc,. The Suns also made 13 of 22 free throws.
The Suns once again showed extraordinary resilience and fought very hard, even cutting the lead to two points in the third quarter. But after these two games, the Suns have to realize that miraculously digging yourselves out of a hole isn’t something they can count on.
Goran Dragic led with 20 points and five assists, but on a mediocre 8-19 shooting night . Gerald Green had a cold night, putting up only eight points, which ended a long double-digit streak, and shooting 0-6 from behind the arc. One bright spot was Markieff Morris, who added 18 points and 10 boards off the bench,
Of course, the thing grabbing everyone’s attention was the return of Eric Bledsoe. Bledsoe, who played 32 minutes off the bench, put up 15 points and nine dimes on 5-16 shooting in his first action since December 30th. The shooting isn’t pretty but the assist number looks good. and he hit the ground running. It’s tough to win when you’re scoring three-man backcourt shoots 17-49 as a unit, which is a reason why the Suns lost.
The absence of p.J. Tucker, who was suspended one game for elbowing Blake Griffin, hurt. He is one of the Suns better defenders and rebounders. His presence would’ve helped stifle Luol Deng, who had 19 points, and closed the 51-36 rebounding gap.
The Suns now sit at 36-28. Unfortunately, they are two games back of the eighth seed, and time is running short. The Suns know they are better than this and know this was a winnable game. Hopefully they can get back in order when they head to Boston on Friday.