Phoenix Suns 109, Orlando Magic 93 -- The cure-all

PHOENIX – Jeff Hornacek thought a promising win at Toronto two games ago was the building block for the Phoenix Suns to kick up some dust in chasing down the Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks for a final playoff spot. Forty-eight minutes later against Brooklyn, allowing 58.6 percent shooting slapped that notion back in Hornacek’s face.

Back home after a three-game road trip on Wednesday, the Suns took advantage of a lowly Orlando Magic team to roll 109-93 thanks to, firstly, being in the game in the third quarter, and secondly, separating with a back-breaking run spanning the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter.

With Orlando leading 75-74, a duo of Marcus Morris three-pointers in the final 1:16 of the third quarter sparked what would become a 23-3 run over the next 5:30. But the more important part of the game was being right with the Magic in the first place.

Phoenix’s defense didn’t start off well, and an offense trying to integrate Eric Bledsoe didn’t look willing to attack without the transition game being handed to it on a platter.

The Suns’ defense did tighten the screws as the game wore on, and it eventually broke the game at U.S. Airways Center open.

Orlando is by no means an offensive juggernaut, but it finished the game shooting at 40 percent.

It also was encouraging for Hornacek’s crew that Bledsoe came out in the second half looking more engaged and more willing to probe the Magic defense to set up his teammates. The result was Goran Dragic leading a balanced attack with 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting to go with six assists by mostly playing off the ball.

Bledsoe finished with seven points on 3-of-11 shooting. He did doll out six assists and picked up three Orlando turnovers.

On to the three keys points provided by Jeff Sanders in our game preview.

Do the Suns come out with the first punch?

Phoenix found itself tied with Orlando 25-all after the first half while giving up 50 percent shooting. Once again, the Suns were sluggish on both ends of the court but it helped they were facing an offensively-deficient Magic team.

But the Suns did doll out the first punch in the second half, scoring seven straight in the first 1:32 to go ahead 59-52. The Magic closed the gap for a little but, at least until just more than a minute remained in the third quarter.

Does Bledsoe push the ball more?

Bledsoe manning the point guard role looked similarly to how it was before his Dec. 31 injury. In short, the Suns couldn’t get into a rhythm and didn’t push the ball off misses – to be fair, there weren’t a ton of opportunities with the questionable defense. The Suns began to create some separate with a second unit manned by Ish Smith. No surprises there.

Bledsoe and Dragic returned in the second quarter and finally got into a groove. Bledsoe didn’t necessarily push it in transition every time, but he did put more pressure on the defense. Looking to keep multiple defenders’ attention in general led to open opportunities for his teammates, and Miles Plumlee and Dragic benefitted the most.

How do the young guys play?

Len and Goodwin were part of the bench unit that outplayed Orlando. Len started it off with a turnaround jump shot over his right shoulder, and a few plays later, ball denial to Markieff Morris in the post led to an entry pass hitting Len atop the foul stripe. The rookie center touch-passed it to Morris, who was still being fronted in the post and drew the foul.

The rookie scored five points each in the first half before closing a game that suddenly became a blowout in the fourth quarter.

Len finished with nine points and five rebounds on 4-for-5 shooting. Goodwin scored four and added a steal, two assists and a block.

  • sunsn7

    Archie Goodwin and Alex Len:


    You doubters will see. Too bad Julius Randle wont be joining these two next season..if McD could pull something like that outta the hat, his status in Phoenix and the NBA would go through the roof. One of his attributes is creativity so you never know.

    Hey DBreezy, EBJM, anyone else?

    How do you guys see a Julius Randle fitting in with the Suns youth movement?

  • Dave:f32

    I agree. If McD could trade up in the draft and get Julius Randle that would be ideal. He would fit in well with this group and would bring a real toughness that has been lacking from this team.

    Next games on the sched im making predictions:

    Vs. Det, Suns win
    @ Min, Suns loss
    @ Atl, Suns loss
    @ Was, Suns win
    Vs. Knicks, Suns loss
    @ Lakers, Suns win

  • bill_thomas

    @Dave, they need to go at least 4-2 here and I think they can. Detroit without Drummond 100% is very winnable, so is ATL; NY and Mini more problematic due to their recent play and motivation.

    We have to have defensive toughness, Hornacek needs to manage the rotations well, Len and Goodwin need minutes and Bled, Green and Markieff need to get aggressive.

  • Dave:f32

    ATL has Milsap back from injury and he is playing decent. I dont see them beating ATL in Atlanta. Lakers stayed with the Spurs so they might be a tough W. Minnesota is playing pretty good as of late. Knicks playing in Phx should give us a W but the Knicks have been inspired to play good ball since PJ joined the organization.

    Suns have been playing .500 ball the last 10 games previous to tonights win over the Magic.

  • Dave:f32

    The Suns just need to play with the Los Suns black jerseys the rest of the seasin and they are surely guaranteed to make the playoffs!

  • vtsunrise

    Win #1 of a 7 or even 9 game winning streak…?

    Well, not impossible. The next 6 games are all winnable. I am calling for the Suns to step up and win at least 5. This is a team that does step up or has when it’s needed to. Let’s see how much fire is inside the Suns.

    DET is just above 30% on the road. Suns win.
    MIN is 19-13 on their home court; Suns 50% on the road. Could be a challenge.
    ATL is 20-11 on their home court. That could be the biggest challenge.
    WAS is 17-16 at home. That’s a winnable game.
    Knicks’ road record sucks at 12-20. Suns MUST win that one. And should. Yes, NYK is streaking. We’ll see for how long. Suns win.
    LA Hackers 11-24 on the road… oops, 11-21 on their home court. Same difference. Suns win. Suns could go 3-3 as mentioned above, but my money is on 4-2 or 5-1. 6-0 and the shit-eating grin comes out for display.

    This is the most critical stretch. If daylight builds between DAL/MEM and PHX, it’ll be extremely hard to make it up. If they hang in, close the gap, and get scrappy, that’s where the fun begins. Actually, that could be more fun than watching a first-round blowout.

    “The pursuit of happiness is never-ending. Happiness lies in the pursuit.”
    - Saul Alinsky

  • bill_thomas

    Yeah, go with those black jerseys.

    Yeah, Millsap is a beast but we just need to be physical with him and play good team ball.

    On NY, I say shut down everyone not named Melo, cold. Let him get his lousy selfish 35.

    Lakers did not really stay with SA, we can take them but we need a good athletic effort. No falling asleep on Xavier Henry or Marshall.

    Let’s stipulate to letting Phil Stup Jeanie as long as we get the win !!!!!!!!!!!!

  • bill_thomas

    Screw Melo and that La La Honey Cunt !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • bill_thomas

    Mike D’Antoni: a modern-day Bill Veeck. C’mon, bring that trickster lineup card, loser.

  • bill_thomas

    Phil will stup Jeanie every day. Let’s just watch the losers stup each other.

  • Dave:f32

    Bill_Thomas ur forgetting Amare is gonna have a field day against his old team, in his old stomping ground. Hes healthy, athletic, in shape, skilled from inside and outside, and he gets to the FT stripe, and he and Smellhole have been on a tear with that team lately. Cant judge their road record pre-Phil. Yeah, im worried about Xavier Henry and smallball with a 3 guard lineup along side Pau for some reason. I know they shouldnt give the Suns trouble but them kind of lineups have in recent games. Still a W tho

  • Dave:f32

    VT im guessing ur wishfully thinking or being facetious…. Suns most likely wont go on a run like that but yeah u never know… Anything is possible, buy most likely not probable, and even less plausible… But more power to you for keeping the faith!

  • bill_thomas

    Kobe loves to watch Phil stup Jeannie !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • bill_thomas

    @Dave: Amare can stup Jeannie too. She can handle a lot. Dr. Jerrie was her dad.

  • bill_thomas

    Phil needs to go off on Jeannie 5 times in 3 days. That should get it done. And oh yeah, there is Suns-Lakers and Lakers everyone else.

  • bill_thomas

    Stup Stup Stup Stup Stup !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • SarverHater22

    It would be ironic if it was the Suns , of all teams , that kept the T-Wolves from handing over their 2014 first rounder.

  • http://none Go Phx

    Just to let you know, since you used it twice in the article, it should be “dole” out, not “doll” out

  • sunsn7

    Dave32 & bill_thomas:


  • sunsn7

    *shoulda known the “heart” icon wouldn’t work :)

  • Dave:f32

    @sunsn7 thats cold man… You ask for peeps opinions on JRandle and i give you one. And then, just bcuz this wild and crazy guy starts in, you try to associate me with him. Thats low, brother. Just sayin. Dont get it twisted!

  • Foreveris2long

    I missed the game but glad to see the rookies got some quality time and seemed to play well.

  • sunsn7

    Lol@ Dave32 :D

  • sunsn7

    Suns go 5-1, maybe even 6-0 in the stretch of upcoming games you mentioned Dave32. With our rookies contributing, Dragic leading, and Bledsoe shaking the expected rust, I get a sense the Suns just might go on a win streak. The game with the revived Knicks will be a good one.

    The time is most definitely now for the Phoenix Suns to make their run to the playoffs..if they want any shot at a playoff run.

  • Dave:f32

    Well i think they have a better chance at doing well enough not to go one and done, like your Shun Devils did tonight. Out of the 6 games, i say the go 2-4. Didnt you hear, the Fakers got NYoung back. Gambling man?

  • sunsn7

    I share VT’s enthusiasm for these next 6 games. This is the perfect time for the Suns to heat up and make their push.

    Not a diehard Sun Devils fan admittedly but was painful to witness anyway, especially rallying the way they did. It was a helluva game.

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  • bill_thomas

    The playoff-contending Suns took a long time to buckle down bc they were distracted with Kobe, once again cheating on that lousy human tamale of a wife of his and stupping Jeanie Buss.

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