That 37-point first quarter by the Cleveland Cavaliers — yeah, that really put a damper on the narrative so many wanted: Phoenix Suns star guard Eric Bledsoe returns from a meniscus injury after missing 33 games, revives the team and fuels a run into the playoffs.
Kyrie Irving and Spencer Hawes weren’t going to contribute to the beginning of that storyline.
The Suns found themselves in a hole early on and they ended up trailing wire-to-wire in the 110-101 loss to the visiting Cavs, who led by double digits for most of the game.
Despite a strong performance by the aforementioned Bledsoe, along with Goran Dragic, Channing Frye and the Morris brothers — who all scored in double digits, the Suns were harmed by some inefficient shooting by some of their key shot takers and P.J. Tucker’s absence on the defensive end was felt.
Here’s a look at the loss by the numbers:
Bledsoe’s return marked his first game of 2014. The 24-year-old came off the bench and entered an NBA game for the first time since Dec. 30, when he suffered a meniscus injury. All in all, he missed 33 games.
Bledsoe, no. 2, was the only Suns player who finished the game with a positive plus-minus during his time on the floor, at +2.
The Cavaliers had six players score in double digits Wednesday. Kyrie Irving led the way with 23 points, then Spencer Hawes cashed in 19, followed by Luol Deng with 18, Tristan Thompson with 13 and Dion Waiters with 10.
Bledsoe led the team in assists, with nine, while adding 15 points on 5-of-16 shooting (1-of-6 three-point attempts), two steals and three rebounds.
The Suns sunk just 13 of their 22 free-throw attempts, good for a FT% of just 59 percent. The performance was the team’s third-worst free-throw performance of the season in games in which they attempt 15 or more free throws.
The Suns were outrebounded 51-36 over the course of the game, though grabbing just one less offensive rebound than the Cavaliers’ 13 on Wednesday.
Dragic led the Suns’ scoring surge with 20 points in 42 minutes on 8-of-19 shooting.
The Suns struggled to find their stroke for three-point land against the Cavaliers, hitting just 10 of their 36 attempts, good for only 27.8 percent. The Cavs, meanwhile, hit 12 of their 24 attempts.