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Suns snap franchise-record 17-game losing streak, take down Heat

Phoenix Suns forward Josh Jackson (20) shoots against Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Miami, Fla. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

If the Phoenix Suns were going to snap a franchise-record 17-game losing streak, they were going to have to play sound defense at one point.

That came in one of the last possessions of the night on Monday in Miami, and along with a little luck, that lifted them to a 124-121 win over the Heat.

With the Suns up one and under 15 seconds left, Suns center Deandre Ayton switched onto one of the greatest two-guards to ever do it in Dwyane Wade and stuck on him, forcing a tough fadeaway that wouldn’t go down.

The job was done, well, at least until they got the defensive rebound. All game and all season that has proven to be an issue, so the fortune came when Bam Adebayo’s putback didn’t go down for Miami and Kelly Oubre Jr. snagged the miss.

A tremendous offensive effort in the second half propelled the Suns to the victory. They scored 72 points in the second half and had seven players score in double figures.

A big boost of that came from 14 points via Troy Daniels, who scored 11 of those in the third quarter.

Down three entering the fourth quarter, the Suns made eight of their first nine shots to score 20 points in under five minutes. Jamal Crawford had seven of his 16 points during that span.

Phoenix was up 104-96 with just over seven minutes but the inevitable run from Miami came to see them take a two-point lead at the 5:03 mark.

Another Suns scoring flurry would come over that span, this time 18 of the team’s 40 points in the fourth over the last 4:37.

Oubre scored on three straight trips and Devin Booker assisted on two of them in a row.

At a huge point in the game with the Suns controlling momentum and up three, Booker dished out a dime on his third consecutive trip down the floor to ex-Heat guard Tyler Johnson in the corner.

With a three-point lead and under a minute to go, Ayton committed an erratic closeout on Dion Waiters, bringing on a four-point play and another Suns deficit.

The winning play offensively turned out to be Johnson’s cool and collected feed to Ayton inside on a possession the Heat doubled Booker to get the lead back to one.

From there, Kelly Olynyk hit an open jumper to put the Heat back up one but Booker was fouled on the inbounds with 17.3 seconds left, and he hit two free throws to give the Suns back a 122-121 advantage. That brought us to the Wade and Adebayo misses.

Ayton and the Suns were unable to deal with Hassan Whiteside all night. The Miami big man has 29 points and 11 rebounds, six of which came via the offensive glass. Olynyk added 28 for the Heat.

The edge for the Suns surprisingly came from the 3-point line, where they were 13-of-32 for 40.6 percent while Miami struggled at 9-for-29.

It surely wasn’t one of the best games Phoenix played all year. The team’s sloppy mistakes on both ends were ever-present, but winning ugly is something young teams always have to learn how to do and the Suns did it on Monday night in South Beach.

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