PHOENIX — Athleticism vs. size.
Youth vs. experience.
Up-tempo vs. half court.
For two teams with contrasting styles and vastly different pedigrees, the Phoenix Suns and Brooklyn Nets combined to play an instant classic Friday night at U.S. Airways Center.
So much so, that they needed five minutes of overtime to decide the outcome.
In the end, the non-conference battle came down to who held possession last.
With less than 10 seconds left on the game clock in the extra session, Suns forward Channing Frye put up what would have been a game-winning three-point shot from the right side of the arc. The attempt bounced off the front rim, and while P.J. Tucker and Marcus Morris both converged on the ball in an attempt to grab the offensive board, Kevin Garnett managed to tip it out to Joe Johnson.
Goran Dragic swiped at Johnson to no avail, and the former Sun went coast-to-coast before laying in a little floater over Frye as time expired.
“On the last one, we kicked it out and Channing had a good look at it, but he didn’t make it,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. “Then we had the rebound. P.J. and Marcus both go for it, and I think P.J. said that Marcus looked like he was in front of him so he let it go and somehow it popped up.
“They take off with it and Joe makes a short from six feet out. So, you know, a bad break at the end that ended up costing us the game.”
The six-time All-Star’s buzzer beater sent the visiting Nets home with a 100-98 victory, and in the process gave former Sun Jason Kidd his first career road win as a head coach.
For Phoenix, the loss was its second in as many games. The Suns have now dropped four games by a total of 13 points.
“The first one [in Portland], yeah they were upset,” said Hornacek. “Two in a row, they’re probably going to need a few days off to get it out of their system. That’s the way the game goes. They made the play at end with Joe’s shot, and we didn’t.
While he didn’t hit the game-winning jumper, Channing Frye did reach double figures (13 points on 4-of-8 shooting) for just the second time in nine games.
Two days removed from having 13 stitches placed over his left eye, Goran Dragic played a game-high 46 minutes. He finished the night with his first double-double (19 points and 10 assists) of the season.
Despite trailing by as many as 13 in the second half, Phoenix once again found a way to make things interesting Friday night. While they missed attempts to win the contest at the end of regulation and in overtime, the Suns did take a fourth-quarter lead for the ninth consecutive time in 2013-14. In fact, only Phoenix and the Indiana Pacers have held a fourth-quarter in every game they’ve played in this season.
“I think it’s a sign that this team cares about the game and everyone else on the coach on the team and coaching staff,” Eric Bledsoe said of the Suns’ ability to stay in games. “Everyone comes to work and that is all that you can ask for. We are playing hard and that’s all you can ask for. Those games will come back in our favor. We just have to keep playing.”
After taking a 50-46 lead into halftime, the Suns opened the third quarter by going scoreless for the first six minutes and 59 seconds. During that span, the Nets turned a four-point deficit into a 10-point lead. From the 3:47 mark of the second quarter to the 5:01 mark of the third, Brooklyn went on an astounding 30-4 run.
In fact, the Suns started the second half with a lineup of Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, P.J. Tucker, Markieff Morris and Miles Plumlee. None of the five scored until Dragic connected on two free throws with a little over nine minutes to play in the contest.
Miles Plumlee is slowly but surely enduring the highs and lows that come with being a starting center in the NBA. Friday night was certainly a low.
The second-year pro out of Duke scored just six points on 3-of-10 shooting, but his biggest struggles came at the defensive end.
Taking advantage of his size advantage over Plumlee, Nets center Brook Lopez poured in a game-high 27 points, including 14 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.
“When you’re dealing with Lopez, Miles and Channing, these guys are doing their best in terms of banging with him,” said Hornacek. “But the guy is huge. He was able to get some shots. We tried to make it tough, and those are our biggest guys out there.”
STAT OF THE GAME
Nets forward Kevin Garnett has played 47,983 career minutes. That’s 9,314 more minutes than the Suns’ entire active roster.
HE SAID IT
“It’s a new team. It’s a lot of new players. We still have to find each and play as a team. That third quarter didn’t play as a team. We had only two assists. I think that was our problem. We had too many isolation plays and one-on-ones. But from these close games, you can learn a lot.” — Suns guard Goran Dragic
– Brooklyn point guard Deron Williams suffered a left ankle sprain in the first quarter and did not return to action. His replacement, Shaun Livingston, finished with 18 points and six assists.
– After committing 10 first half turnovers, the Nets combined for just two over the final 29 minutes of play.
– P.J. Tucker scored a season-high 17 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter.
– The Suns have not beaten an Eastern Conference team at home since March 1, 2013.
– The overtime win was the Nets first against the Suns in 76 all-time meetings.
The Suns (5-4) will have three days off before attempting to snap their two-game losing streak Tuesday night at Sleep Train Arena against the Sacramento Kings (2-5). Tip is at 8 p.m. and can be heard on Arizona Sports 620.