The only things that prevented the Phoenix Suns from pulling off a second consecutive remarkable comeback were the clock and some guy named LeBron.
The Suns trimmed the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 32-point third-quarter advantage down to 10 with less than three minutes to play, but LeBron James’ 3-pointer with 2:03 remaining helped the Cavs hold on for an 89-79 win Saturday in Cleveland.
The Suns (33-31) were coming off back-to-back road wins, including a 108-100 overtime victory at the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night in which they overcame a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit.
The Cavs led by as many as 73-41 after a LeBron layup with 4:43 to play in the third quarter. But the Suns opened the fourth quarter on a 24-4 run thanks to some great play on both sides of the ball by Brandan Wright and T.J. Warren.
A Brandon Knight layup pulled the Suns within 10 with 2:58 to play, but a pair of free throws by Tristan Thompson, followed by LeBron’s triple, sealed Phoenix’s fate.
Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson each scored 11 points for Cleveland in the first half, as the Cavs took a 53-37 lead into halftime despite just three points on 1-of-5 shooting from LeBron.
The King picked it up in the second half, scoring 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting in the final two quarters. He added eight assists and six rebounds in 36 minutes of playing time.
Markieff Morris led the Suns with 16 points on 6-of-15 shooting from the floor. Gerald Green added 11 points off the bench, including this thunderous dunk in the third quarter to shift some momentum in the Suns’ favor.
Here’s how the Suns’ brief winning streak ended Saturday in Cleveland, by the numbers:
The Suns didn’t record a single fast-break point Saturday. The Cavs had 11.
Making his first start of the season in place of Alex Len, who missed Saturday’s game after suffering an ankle sprain on Friday, Earl Barron was mostly ineffective, contributing just one point and two rebounds in 13 minutes. Barron didn’t see playing time in the Suns’ previous two games.
Wright was much more effective at the 5 spot than Barron. The sixth-year pro scored five points as part of the Suns’ fourth-quarter rally. He had seven points, seven rebounds, three blocks and two steals in 30 minutes of action.
Warren scored all eight of his points in the fourth quarter and played some outstanding defense against LeBron to aid the Suns’ rally. The rookie went 4-of-5 from the field for the game.
The Suns missed 13 consecutive field goals in the second quarter. They went over seven minutes without scoring to help Cleveland build a big first-half lead that expanded in the third quarter.
The Cavs outscored the Suns by 16 points (40-24) in the paint, including 28-8 in the first half.
The Suns have allowed just 21 points in their last two fourth quarters. They outscored the Cavs 27-9 in the fourth quarter Saturday after outscoring the Nets 23-12 in the fourth on Friday.
The Suns made each of their first four field-goal attempts but soon went ice cold, going 8-for-33 (24.2 percent) from the floor for the rest of the first half. They shot 35.7 percent from the field for the game.
The Suns’ starting guard duo of Knight and Eric Bledsoe combined to shoot just 7-of-24 (29.1 percent) from the floor Saturday. They combined for just 17 points, though Bledsoe had a game-high nine assists.