After the Phoenix Suns’ 106-97 win over Minnesota Wednesday night, shooting guard Marcus Thornton commented on the game’s lighter feel — especially after two lowly losses in the 80-point range.
“When everybody touches the ball, that makes the game fun,” he said.
Yeah, 25 team assists will get everyone the ball.
For a team that averages 20.5 assists per game (one of the lowest averages in the league), that sure made a difference.
Six Suns player scored in double-digits in the win, helping Phoenix get back to its 100+ scoring average notoriety after hitting just 79 points and 80 points in its last two.
Thornton and fellow shooting guard Marcus Morris had to step up in the absence of newcomer Brandon Knight, who is out with a sprained ankle.
Morris combined with his brother, Markieff, for 14 of Phoenix’s first 25 points in the opening quarter, and finished with eight, while Thornton had himself a game — he hit seven immediate points off the bench in the second half and shot 50 percent from the field for 14 total points in 22 minutes, and had two steals.
Markieff Morris and Eric Bledsoe had 24 and 18 points, respectively as the Suns took an early lead and hardly let off the gas.
Phoenix opened with an 11-2 run, making four of its first six. T.J. Warren came off the bench and scored 10 points in six minutes to help push the lead at the half, 50-44.
The Suns got a bit of a scare as the second half opened, turning the ball over four times in seven possessions. After head coach Jeff Hornacek called a timeout, however, Phoenix re-calibrated a bit to hold a 12-point lead with nine minutes to play.
The win puts the team just 2.5 games behind New Orleans for the eight-seed and only 2.0 games behind Oklahoma City.
What did it look like, by the numbers?
Bledsoe’s nine assists are a tie for his fourth-most this season and led the Suns Wednesday night.
Between the first and third periods, Phoenix had a 3-pointer drought of 11 missed triples.
P.J. Tucker righted that ship with his only make of the night from behind the arc.
The Suns’ 27 second chance points may have been the game’s biggest deciding factor.
Phoenix couldn’t have won the second-chance battle without also dominating the glass. They out-rebounded the Wolves 45-34.
Without Knight, both Marcus Morris and P.J. Tucker started and essentially combined to run the two-spot.
They collectively scored 19 points with 15 rebounds and eight assists.
All things considered, T.J. Warren may have been the most productive Suns player per minute. He had a career-high 17 points in 19 minutes with five rebounds, a steal and a punctuating dunk with 3:20 to play.
Phoenix broke a two-game losing streak with the win and will stay at home to face the conference-leading Atlanta Hawks Friday at 7 p.m.