PHOENIX — When the Miami Heat come to town, there’s bound to be a playoff atmosphere. The Phoenix Suns rose to the occasion for three quarters, before untimely and foolish turnovers did them in. A 103-97 loss to the NBA champions isn’t something to be embarrassed about, but these Suns expect much more.
The Suns (30-21) were…pardon the pun…scorching to start the game, going on a 12-0 run. The crowd was frothing at the mouth with excitement as Goran Dragic, Channing Frye and the Suns looked like world beaters.
Dragic couldn’t keep the momentum going, as he suffered through a rare off night. He scored 15 with nine assists and four steals, but shot just 4-for-12 from the field. Gerald Green kept the Suns afloat through the tough times in the second half, scoring 21 of his 26 points.
P.J. Tucker did as well as he could defensively, but LeBron James is the NBA’s best player for a reason. Tucker scored 14 points with eight rebounds and five assists and did what he could to hound James, to no avail. As it turns out, LeBron was right — nobody can guard him one-on-one.
Although they started extremely slow, as is usually the case with the Heat, they had an answer and came back with a vengeance. Simply put, James turned it on.
James went old school for the Heat (36-14), scoring 37 points with nine rebounds, three assists and five steals. With Dwyane Wade not in uniform, James knew he had to step it up, especially after their previous loss to the Utah Jazz.
Suns by the Numbers
- 10-0 — The Suns had been 10-0 when Green scored 20 points. They’re now 10-1.
- 46-30 — Phoenix was outscored 46-30 in the paint against the smallish Heat.
- 24 — 16 Suns turnovers led to 24 Heat points.
After starting slowly (despite the team’s quick start), Gerald Green turned it on and you could see his confidence swell. He finished with 26 points, five rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block and was the emotional catalyst for this team. When he’s right, the rest of the team feed off him.
The Suns didn’t play the bulk of this game in their usual fashion. Coach Jeff Hornacek usually does a terrific job at adapting his rotations and managing his players, but he seemed much more reactionary than usual. He played Miles Plumlee and Alex Len just 20 minutes combined, in reaction to the Heat’s small lineup. They instead depended on Markieff Morris, who had a couple of crushing turnovers and shot just 5-for-14.
The Phoenix Suns head into the All-Star break, with their next game against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, February 18 from the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.