McCoy: Suns’ loss to Cavs ‘probably was’ their best game this season

Jan 12, 2017, 12:12 PM | Updated: 6:14 pm
Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson (13) goes up for a shot as Phoenix Suns forward Marques...
Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson (13) goes up for a shot as Phoenix Suns forward Marquese Chriss (0) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
LISTEN: Voice of the Suns Al McCoy

Although the Phoenix Suns trailed by 13 after only the first quarter, Suns radio broadcaster Al McCoy said the 120-116 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday “probably was” start-to-finish the best game the Suns have played this season.

“They came back in the next three quarters and really played competitive basketball,” McCoy said on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Doug and Wolf. ”They really gave the Cavs all they could handle. If the Suns were to come out with a different attitude in the opening quarter, they certainly might have come away with a victory.”

The Suns, who trailed by 16 at the half, rode a 37-point third quarter to get back into the game. They shot 73 percent in the third and tied the game twice, but failed to complete the comeback. LeBron James made a layup with 44 seconds left to block the Suns from the upset.

The young Phoenix squad relied on its starting backcourt to attempt the turnaround over the defending champs. Eric Bledsoe had a team-best 31 points and Devin Booker was just behind with 28. Forward T.J. Warren also carried a large part of the scoring load, putting up 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting.

The second-half comeback and the fact that six Suns scored in double figures can be considered an example of the controversial “moral victory,” something McCoy says he does not believe in.

“You can look at games and say we’ve learned something,” McCoy said. “Our team advanced in certain phases of the game even though they lost. But I don’t think there is any player that goes in with the attitude that they’re not going to win.”

McCoy did agree the Suns, with an average age of about 25 and several young guys playing heavy minutes, can gain confidence for their younger players with the competitiveness of the game. He said the Cleveland game was that kind of confidence boost for the Suns more than any game this year.

Cleveland’s top three of James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love combined for 80 points in the game, helping the east-leading Cavs to their 28th win. McCoy characterized the Suns as “in awe” of their opponents in the first quarter.

“When they came back and started to compete, and saw that they could compete, then I do think this gives a player an opportunity to gain confidence,” McCoy said. “Probably the most important thing for any young player is to realize ‘Yes I can play against LeBron James. I can defend him. I can knock the ball away from him.’”

The loss, which puts the Suns at 12-26 near the midpoint of the season, broke Phoenix’s chance at a three-game win streak. The Suns have two games in Mexico City against the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs on Thursday and Saturday. They’ll get another against the Cavs in Ohio on Jan. 19.

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McCoy: Suns’ loss to Cavs ‘probably was’ their best game this season