The Phoenix Suns have won three games in a row, with their 92-87 victory Friday over the Atlanta Hawks. These wins came against good teams. This is the opposite of tanking for a great draft pick in the 2013 off-season.
The game started out sloppy with the Suns up 21-19 at the end of one. Through the course of the next period, Phoenix stretched their two-point lead to five by halftime.
Things got chippy as the emotions rose in the second half. Atlanta’s Devin Harris and Phoenix’s Markieff Morris and Jermaine O’Neal all were assessed technicals . . . and there was a flagrant foul.
With 4:43 to go in the third quarter, Goran Dragic stole the ball and was headed for an easy layup before Devin Harris tried to get in the way, but not foul. However, he ended up tripping Dragic and picked up a flagrant-one. Dragic hit his tailbone on the floor, and after a couple possessions of pain, took a foul to get out of the game and got checked out in the locker-room.
Dragic didn’t return to the game, due to his lower right back bruise, but he shouldn’t miss any games, especially since Phoenix doesn’t play again until Wednesday, when they take on the Toronto Raptors. In his 29 minutes before the injury, the Slovenian had 19 points, six assists, three steals and a block.
“We get four days without a game. I’ll try to get treatment,” said Dragic after the game, according the Suns’ official Twitter feed.
After the technical free throw by Dragic for the flagrant-one, the Suns were up by seven points. Then the youngsters (and Jermaine O’Neal) finished the game off.
Marcus Morris bested his twin, Markieff Morris, 16-11 in terms of scoring in two less minutes and added two steals. Wesley Johnson has burst onto the scene for Phoenix recently, and his 15 points in a team-high 30 minutes this game was no different. He is averaging over 12 points in 30 minutes during the three-game winning streak. O’Neal added 12 points.
Rookie Kendall Marshall only scored four points in relief for Dragic, but apart from three turnovers in his 19 minutes, he controlled the game well.
“He did a good job. You could see the natural floor leader ability. He’s still learning,” said Suns head coach Lindsey Hunter about Marshall.
For the Hawks, Josh Smith was nowhere to be seen. Smith, who was surrounded with trade speculation just a couple weeks ago, only had five points, even though he added 10 rebounds and five assists as well. Al Horford was himself as he scored 20 points, including a three-pointer when nobody was guarding anybody in the final seconds, while adding seven boards, three steals and two blocks. Devin Harris and Anthony Tolliver scored 12 and 11 respectively, off the bench in the loss.
The Suns apparently didn’t read the scouting report on Kyle Korver, because he had 17 points, including going 3-6 behind the three-point line. He is ONLY a three-point shooter. Know your opponent.
Phoenix did a good job of relegating Atlanta’s bigs from making a huge impact on the game. The Suns still had too many turnovers (18) than they should have had, but still had less than the Hawks (21). Phoenix kept the offensive rebounding battle close at 8-7, which gave them the opportunity to win.
Atlanta’s reserves did pretty well, combining for 34 points, but were totally outmatched against Phoenix’s bench, who were playing well, combining for 58 points. The Suns bench played so much because the starters were generally unproductive. Also, with Dragic out, they probably wanted the second unit to play together instead of adding Marshall to the starters, because he would be more comfortable running an offense with players he was familiar with in practice. The Hawks didn’t really stop Dragic, and the game was only as close as it was because he had to leave due to injury.
Now, Phoenix rests while they await the arrival of the Toronto Raptors, who they will play on Wednesday. Atlanta only has one day to re-group before they continue their road-trip, with the next stop being Hollywood on Sunday, where they will play the Los Angeles Lakers.