Suns Strokes: Bench leads Phoenix to spirited comeback win in Denver
The Phoenix Suns fell to their largest deficit of the season in the first half against the Denver Nuggets, but the team’s bench came to rescue as Phoenix fought back to earn a 103-99 victory Friday night at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
The Suns’ offense sputtered in the first quarter, as they fell behind 28-20 at the end of the period. They put up 28 points in the second quarter but allowed 34, and Denver went into the locker room at halftime with a 62-48 lead.
The Suns fell to a 17-point deficit with four minutes left in the third quarter, but three Gerald Green 3-pointers helped the team get within 10 by the end of the period.
The fourth quarter is when Phoenix finally showed it had intentions to win the game. Marcus and Markieff Morris scored the team’s first 14 points of the fourth, and an Ish Smith layup tied the game with 8:21 to go.
Green, both Morris brothers and Goran Dragic did most of the scoring from there as the Suns took the lead and held on for the win, improving their record to 15-10.
All five starters reached double figures for the Nuggets (14-11) and Darrell Arthur reached 10 off the bench, but the team’s leading scorer was Wilson Chandler with 15.
The teams came into the game tied in record, so with the win, Phoenix moved into sixth place in the Western Conference standings while simultaneously pushing Denver to eighth.
The Suns’ bench accounted for 64 points in the contest, mostly coming from Green (19), Markieff Morris (25) and Marcus Morris (14).
Markieff Morris filled up the stat sheet, recording three blocks, three steals, six rebounds, shooting 2-for-3 from behind the arc and getting to the free throw line for a whopping 15 tries — making 11 of them.
Dragic scored eight points in the fourth quarter and finished with 17 points, to go with his six assists and three rebounds.
Markieff Morris was a +25 in the box score, and his brother, Marcus, was +20.
The Suns held Denver to 4-for-17 shooting (23.5 percent) on 3-pointers.
The Suns’ shooting: 39.8 percent from the field and 67.7 percent from the charity stripe.
Until Eric Bledsoe hit a free throw with 15 seconds left in the game, Dragic was the only starter to score in double figures. The starting unit only scored 39 total points, equal to the amount the Morris brothers put forth.
Starting forwards Channing Frye and P.J. Tucker combined for a meager five points, including 2-for-14 shooting. Starting center Miles Plumlee only scored 7, but did grab 12 rebounds.
The Suns were out-rebounded 53-44. J.J. Hickson led Denver with 14 boards.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
34 – The number of 3-pointers the Suns launched Friday. The team made 12 of them, good for a 35.3 percentage from downtown. Green was the worst offender, firing 12 from long range. Coach Jeff Hornacek will probably let it slide, though, as Green made six of them.
– When Denver’s Randy Foye hit a three to put Denver up 60-39 with 1:38 left in the first half, the Suns were facing their largest deficit at any point in any game all season.
– Plumlee scored the first basket of the game, but the Suns would never lead again until Dragic’s layup to put the team up 91-90 with 6:09 left in the fourth quarter.
– The Suns improved to over .500 on the road (7-6) and have won six out of their last seven games overall.
– Denver hit an inconsequential 3-pointer at the final buzzer and the score originally was 103-102, but after review, officials waved it off and the Nuggets finished with 99 points, marking the 10th time this season the Suns have held an opponent under 100.
The Suns head back home Saturday to face the 15-11 Dallas Mavericks at 7:00 p.m. MST. Phoenix is a half-game ahead of the Mavericks in the Western Conference standings. Catch the game on Fox Sports Arizona or Arizona Sports 620 AM.