Suns Strokes: Suns’ skid hits five in loss to Orlando
PHOENIX — Honeymoon. Over.
The post-coaching change bump the Phoenix Suns received has run out.
The losing streak reached a season-high five straight games with a 128-112 defeat to the Orlando Magic in front of an announced crowd of 16,507 at Talking Stick Resort Arena on Friday.
Not only were the Suns outscored, they were outshot (52.4 percent to 46.8), outrebounded (44-40), outassisted (29-13) and overall outplayed. No more so than on the defensive end.
The Suns (4-9) let this one slip away.
A six-point second-quarter lead quickly turned into a 15-point third-quarter deficit and eventually a 25-point fourth-quarter hole as the Magic made the Suns disappear with a 63-32 run.
Much of the damage happened at the foul line with the Magic making more free throws, 29, than the Suns attempted, 25.
The Suns were very charitable. They committed 29 personal fouls resulting in 43 Magic free-throw attempts.
The Magic (8-4) placed six players in double figures, led by Aaron Gordon’s 22 points. He shot 7-of-9 from the field with seven rebounds, three assists, one steal and one blocked shot in 31 minutes.
Four Suns players reached double-digits in scoring: Alex Len (21), T.J. Warren (20), Mike James (18) and Josh Jackson (18). Len added 13 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.
This was the Suns’ third loss in a row at home.
Though it was short-lived, the Suns enjoyed their first lead in two games when Warren followed Chriss’ missed 3-pointer with a putback layup that made the score 21-20 at the 5:51 mark of the first quarter. Warren had a game-high 10 points in the period, including a run of eight straight midway through the period. He shot 4-of-6 from the field and went 2-of-3 from the free-throw line.
Easily Jackson’s best half of basketball. He followed up a four-point, two-rebound and one-steal effort in the first quarter with 12 points, three rebounds, one steal and one block in the second quarter. His 16 total points (in 15 minutes) already surpassed his previous season-high of 15. Jackson shot 8-of-14 from the field with four of his six misses coming from beyond the arc.
For a moment there in the third quarter, the Suns showed some signs of life. They went on a 9-0 run with Dragan Bender scoring on a driving layup and hitting a 25-foot 3-pointer; the latter made it 82-76 Magic at the 3:53 mark. During this stretch, the Suns forced three turnovers and kept the Magic scoreless for better than three minutes. Bender finished the period with five points and three rebounds.
For the sixth straight game, the Suns were outscored in the first quarter (36-32); and for the fourth time during this stretch, they allowed their opponent to reach the 30-point mark. The Magic made nine of their first 12 shots with many coming in the paint as the Suns offered very little resistance in the game’s first five minutes. The period ended with all five of the visitors starters with at least six points and Orlando assisting on nine of its 15 made field goals.
Leading by six, 56-50, with 3:31 to play in the second quarter, the Suns went cold, hitting just two more field goals before halftime. The Magic capitalized. They closed the half on a 14-7 run with Vucevic scoring eight points and Gordon four. Vucevic made a pair of 3-pointers and had a team-high 10 points in the quarter, giving him 16 for the game. Gordon, meanwhile, was the Magic second-leading scorer with 11, while adding five rebounds and two assists.
After James’ layup put the Suns back in front, 65-64, 17 seconds into the second half, the Magic responded with an 18-2 run, including 12 straight at one point as the Suns went 2:40 without a basket, field goal or free throw. Gordon scored eight and Evan Fourier had five. Gordon finished the third quarter with a game-high 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting with one 3-pointer and two free throws. He added two rebounds and an assist, playing all 12 minutes.
The Suns were whistled for four technical fouls: Marquese Chriss (9:14 3rd), Jay Triano (0:00 3rd), Devin Booker (0:00 3rd) and Jackson (10:33 4th). Getting T’d up just added to what was already a frustrating night for both Chriss and Booker. Chriss fouled out for the third time in five games. He had nine points and four rebounds in 21 minutes. Booker, meanwhile, missed seven of his 10 field goal attempts and finished with a season-low tying nine points.
STAT OF THE GAME
254: The Suns have allowed 254 points combined in their last two games, during which both Miami and Orlando shoot better than 52 percent from the field, including hitting at least 40 percent of their 3-point attempts
HE SAID IT
“I’m not going to get involved with the officiating,” Triano said. “I think that’s part of the growth pattern for our guys, is to be able to play through tough calls, bad calls, things that don’t go your way, whether it’s making or missing shots. I think our frustration, mine included, showed as the game went on with the way things were going and maybe some calls as well.”
Len blocked two shots and moved into 10th place on the franchise’s all-time blocked shots list, surpassing Clifford Robinson (292).
Jared Dudley, who had three points in 16 minutes, left the game with a right knee sprain early in the fourth quarter; he didn’t return.
Tyson Chandler (back spasms) missed his second straight game and Greg Monroe (left calf strain) is not ready to make his debut.
Brandon Knight (left ACL tear), Davon Reed (left meniscus repair) and Alan Williams (right meniscus tear) were each listed inactive.
The first 5,000 fans in attendance received a Connie Hawkins bobblehead as part of “Decade Night”, celebrating the 1960s & ’70s.
In the first of two back-to-back home contests this season, the Suns host Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Jimmy Butler and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday, Nov. 10.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning 30 minutes earlier on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.
The Timberwolves swept the three meetings against the Suns last season, their first sweep since 2003-04 as Wiggins hit a game-winning buzzer-beater on Jan. 24 to wrap up the season series at 3-0.
Overall, the Suns have won 18 of the last 29 matchups.
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