The Phoenix Suns built a 21-point lead with eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter, and they held on to beat the Charlotte Bobcats 98-91 Friday night at Time Warner Cable Arena, ending a four-game losing streak.
Power forward Channing Frye led the Suns with 20 points, shooting 6-for-10 from the field, including an impressive 5-for-7 on 3-pointers. Three other Suns starters — Gerald Green, Goran Dragic and P.J. Tucker — reached double figures for Phoenix, which improved to 6-6 on the season.
Tucker, generally known for his defensive prowess, had himself an efficient night on the offensive end, making all six of his shots — including three 3-pointers — on his way to 17 points.
Marcus Morris made a big contribution in the first quarter, scoring seven points off the bench. His brother, Markieff, appeared to still be stuck in a slump that had plagued him for the last four contests, but the 6-foot-10 power forward showed signs off snapping out of it in the final period.
The older Morris twin didn’t shoot well overall (4-for-13 from the field), but he shot 3-for-6 in the fourth quarter (including 1-for-2 from downtown) and grabbed six rebounds. He finished the game with 11 points and nine boards.
The Suns’ fortunes Friday night were almost the exact opposite of their game against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday. In that matchup, the Suns fell behind by 18 halfway through the fourth period before closing the gap to seven by the final buzzer.
When the Suns built a lead in the final frame against Charlotte Friday, the Bobcats’ Kemba Walker and Josh McRoberts led a comeback attempt that got the team within five with 16 seconds left.
Gerald Henderson and Walker led the Bobcats (6-7) in scoring with 17 and 16 points, respectively. McRoberts finished with 10, and Ramon Sessions (15 points) was the only other Bobcat to hit double figures.
Rookie Archie Goodwin continued to contribute for Phoenix, as he scored eight points on 3-of-5 shooting and added six rebounds, one steal and a block in 22 minutes off the pine.
Miles Plumlee was the only Suns starter to not hit double figures in scoring, but he contributed in other ways, adding 11 rebounds and three blocks in 24 minutes.
Plumlee has struggled against some of the bigger centers in the league, but he was able to hold the Bobcats’ Al Jefferson to nine points and six rebounds on the night.
The Suns made 10 out of 23 three-pointers (43.5 percent), led by Frye going 5-for-7 and Tucker shooting 3-for-3 from downtown.
Phoenix gave up 48 points in the paint, many coming on drives to the hoop by Walker, Sessions and Henderson.
The Suns turned the ball over 21 times in the game. Luckily, the Bobcats weren’t much better (18 turnovers).
As a team, the Suns shot 57.9 percent from the charity stripe. They got to the line 38 times, but only converted 22 of those. The worst offenders on the night were Plumlee (0-for-2), the Morris twins (a combined 5-for-11) and Dragic (6-for-11).
– Phoenix was without Eric Bledsoe (shin) for the third straight game. Green started in his place, and with 14 points Friday, the sixth-year swingman has reached double figures in each game he’s started.
– Frye reached 20 points for the first time since March 2012.
– Despite shooting 4-for-13 on the night, Markieff Morris reached double-digits in scoring for the first time since he was named the Western Conference Player of the Week.
– After shooting 3-for-3 from downtown in Charlotte, Tucker is shooting 50 percent on 3-pointers on the season.
– Both teams have turned heads by being more competitive than many expected they would at this point in the season, but the Suns returned to .500 Friday while simultaneously knocking the Bobcats under .500.
The Suns continue their three-game road trip by heading to Florida to face the Orlando Magic on Sunday, Nov. 24. Orlando sits at 4-7, and has a road game Saturday against the Miami Heat. The Suns and Magic tip off at 4:00 p.m. MST. Watch the game on NBA TV or on Fox Sports Arizona, or tune in to Arizona Sports 620 AM.