The Charlotte Bobcats aren’t nearly as futile this season as they were during the previous two campaigns, but you wouldn’t know that from watching Saturday’s game at US Airways Center.
Charlotte came in hoping to top its win total from all of last season, but the Phoenix Suns sent the Bobcats home with their tails between their legs.
The Bobcats were competitive in the first quarter, but Phoenix pulled away and built a 27-point lead by the end of the third. Charlotte had a strong final period as the bench players got some run, but Phoenix emerged with a 105-95 victory.
The Michael Jordan-owned team dropped to 21-28 with the loss but still retained its spots as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race, while the Suns moved to a season-best 11 games over .500.
Here’s a look at the Suns-Bobcats outcome by the numbers:
The Suns rolled to victory with only one starter scoring in double-figures, that player being point guard Goran Dragic, who notched 25 points in 27 minutes on a stellar 10-of-14 night from the field. Dragic also added four assists and five rebounds. For the most part, the starters got some rest as the team built up a lead as high as 27.
Archie Goodwin sighting: The rookie guard received his first minutes since returning from a Development League assignment, and he got 15 of them. In that time, the Kentucky product scored four points and had two rebounds and one assist.
The 29-18 Suns have now won five games in a row, matching their season-long streak. As of Saturday night, they are two games behind Houston for the fifth-best record in the Western Conference.
Power forward Channing Frye hit a 3-pointer for the eighth game in a row — his season-long streak is nine games. Frye shot 3-for-7 from downtown against the Bobcats and finished with nine points in 24 minutes.
Reserve forward Markieff Morris struggled from the floor, shooting 4-for-13 for 13 points in 28 minutes, but he was active on the defensive glass. Morris pulled down eight rebounds in the first half, and had one more thereafter. He also added two assists and a block.
He didn’t take a lot of shots, finishing 3-for-5 from the floor for six points, but center Miles Plumlee snatched 11 rebounds in 22 minutes — the 19th time he’s reached double-figures in boards this season. The Suns, as a whole, thoroughly dominated on the glass, grabbing 51 boards, compared to Charlotte’s 34.
Backup forward Marcus Morris was hot in the first half. He reached double-figures in scoring for the third straight game, finishing with 15, all before the midway break. In fact, he has reached double-figures before halftime in all three of those games. Morris didn’t play much in the second half as the Suns emptied their bench, but he had two 3-pointers and three rebounds to go with his 15 points.
The Suns gave up 32 points and only scored 15 in the fourth quarter to make the game look closer than it really was. Phoenix went deep into its bench as it built a big lead. Goodwin, Ish Smith, Alex Len and Dionte Christmas all received substantial minutes.
On top of winning the rebounds war, the Suns also dominated in the paint, outscoring Charlotte 48-26. It was especially impressive considering the presence of Bobcats center Al Jefferson, who scored just 10 points on 4-of-15 shooting.
Phoenix nearly reached 60 points in the first half, while Charlotte only scored 41. It would have been the Suns’ sixth half in seven tries of scoring 60 or more points, dating back to Monday’s game in Philadelphia. But, the Suns fell short of that mark, and they missed it again in the second half Saturday, when they added 54.
Although the Bobcats got six more tries, the Suns converted 20 of their 23 free throw attempts, good for 87 percent.