Suns Swat Hornets with Huge Lift from the Bench

Mar 2, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Alan Williams (15) dunks the ball against Charlotte Hornets guard Jeremy Lamb in the first half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 2, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Alan Williams (15) dunks the ball against Charlotte Hornets guard Jeremy Lamb in the first half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

‘Twas the night before Al’s enshrinement, when all through the arena, sounds of “Shazam!” and “Wham Bam Slam!” were echo’d and loud as a shout from John Cena.

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Tonight’s game vs the Charlotte Hornets was not quite a WWE Smackdown, but it was a pleasant and fun blowout, of the sort that the Phoenix Suns so rarely get to enjoy from the winning side, these days.

For a Suns team that for most of the season has been near the bottom of the league in field goal percentage, prior to the game averaging 45.2%, today shot a season high 59.7%, built up by quarter-by-quarter blistering shooting percentages of 57.1, 68.4, 61.1, and 52.6.

The scoring came off of fantastic passing as well. Phoenix dished out 30 assists, only the second time all season that they have breached the 30 assist mark, and only the ninth game this year that they have reached at least 25 in a game.

Their high assist rate also tied a recent franchise record:

Playing from behind for the majority of the first half, and on several occasions down by as many as ten points, the Suns fought their way back late in the second quarter to take a slim three-point lead into the half. By this point Phoenix was already shooting 62.5% from the field, and Head Coach Earl Watson played the reserves for an extended period stretching the bench to the limit. Devin Booker (11), Marquese Chriss (10), Eric Bledsoe (10), and Leandro Barbosa (10), each reached double-digits, while Alan Williams only fell two points short.

Fighting to a 33-all tie in the third quarter, thus retaining the three-point lead, the Suns dominated

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the final stanza out scoring the Hornets 26-12. No starters were needed in the fourth for the Suns, and only Ronnie Price’s :57 seconds broke up a perfect playing period as Jared Dudley, Derrick Jones Jr., Tyler Ulis, and Alan Williams each played the full 12 minutes, while Leandro Barbosa saw the remaining 11:03 of action.

Marquese Chriss led the Suns in scoring with 17 points; T.J. Warren dropped 16 points, grabbed 8 rebounds with 2 blocked shots; Devin Booker scored 15 while leading all players with 9 assists (a season-high) and 6 rebounds; and Eric Bledsoe finished with 14 points, 7 assists, and 4 boards.

However, it was the bench that truly impressed.

It is impossible to recap a Suns game since the All-Star break and not mention the impressive and entertaining results that Alan Williams records now with regularity. Against the Hornets he finished with 16 points on 7 of 9 shooting and 12 rebounds, for his:

This was Williams’ second double-double in three games, and fourth consecutive game reaching double figures in scoring. WIlliams is, without a doubt, setting up for a big potential payday only one year removed from possibly not even making the roster on a ten-day contract due to weight issues.

Derrick Jones Jr. had two more unbelievably spectacular dunks, one off of a half-court alley-oop pass from Tyler Ulis that can only be accurately displayed with video (see below). Jones also scored a career-high 13 points, shattering his previous record of 8 points set against Memphis two nights ago. He also recorded a team-high-tying 2 steals, and blocked a game-high-tying 2 shots.

Ulis, who played 23:04 tonight, scored 17 points and dished out 8 assists, each of those coming as career-highs, with the assists record breaking his personal best of 7 also set against Memphis.

Along with the personal bests from the young guns, veteran Leandro Barbosa had a fantastic game off the bench, although it was his mere appearance on the court that made a historical ripple:

Barbosa finished the game with 16 points and 4 rebounds on 7-11 shooting from the field.

Next up on the list of most games played is Dan Majerle at 595 – 52 games ahead of Blur.

Kemba Walker led all scorers with 26 points, while dishing out 8 assists and grabbing 4 rebounds. Marvin Williams scored 19 points wile Frank Kaminsky scored 16. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cody Zeller led the Hornets in rebounding with 8.

For video highlight’s including the two spectacular dunks by Derrick Jones Jr., and several fantastic passes by Tyler Ulis, check out this compilation from the official Suns Twitter account.

Tomorrow night against the Oklahoma City Thunder the Phoenix Suns will place Al McCoy into the Ring of Honor, the 15th member in franchise history to receive such a prestigious distinction. Al has been the Phoenix Suns radio broadcaster for 46 seasons and will also have a second bobblehead made in his honor distributed to the first 5,000 fans as well.