The Phoenix Suns registered their second biggest road comeback of the season Sunday night, erasing a 20-point deficit en route to a 99-90 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
And it all started at the defensive end.
Trailing by 18 after 24 minutes of play, the Suns came out of the locker room and stifled the Cavaliers in the third quarter.
In the frame, Phoenix allowed Cleveland to connect on only two of its 21 attempts from the field — setting a new franchise record for fewest field goals allowed in a quarter.
Additionally, the Suns set a franchise record for fewest points allowed in a quarter, outscoring the Cavaliers 25-6.
“We got on their case pretty much about defense,” Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek said. “In the first half, we didn’t give any effort. We said to them, ‘They averaged 96 points, and they have 61 already.’
“We just said, ‘Come out in the second half. If you play defense like you’re supposed to and be aggressive, you’ll slowly climb back into the game.’ We probably got back into the game quicker than I expected, but it was the defense that did it. We held them to six points.”
While defense was a main component of the second-half turnaround, so too was the play of third-year forward Markieff Morris.
The former first-round pick scored a game-high 27 points and also grabbed a season-high 15 rebounds.
Sunday’s output marked Morris’ 10th 20-point game of the 2013-14 campaign. Phoenix improved to 8-2 in those 10 contests.