Bench, Hustle Help Suns Pull Away from Thunder
On a night when neither team shot the ball well, the Suns made sure to turn their misses into extra chances.
The result was a hustle-fueled 88-76 win over Oklahoma City which snapped the Suns’ two-game losing streak in the preseason. Five players scored in double-figures for Phoenix, which won despite shooting just 38.3 percent from the field.
The Suns’ inaccuracies, however, were countered with offensive rebounds (18) and a defense that held the Thunder to a 38.5 percent clip from the field.
“That was a pretty ugly game, quite honestly,” Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek said.
Ugly, but admirable. After seeing a 19-point lead cut to as few as six, the Suns’ reserves helped break the game open in the fourth quarter. Archie Goodwin overcame an 0-for-5 shooting start by scoring all 11 of his points in the fourth quarter, with P.J. Tucker (11 points), Channing Frye (12 points, nine rebounds) and Miles Plumlee (six points, three rebounds, one block, one steal) providing a much-needed jolt of energy.
Thirteen Suns players snared at least one offensive board for Phoenix, led by Frye’s three.
“Can we combine [the two halves]?” Hornacek quipped. “In the beginning, we did have some good looks. We missed layups. We missed tip-ins. We missed open shots. There was one group in there with P.J. leading the charge with the defense that got us some easy buckets…those are positives that we need to build on. I guess all of us coaches are too demanding in terms of we want to see them play like that all 48 minutes and not just a sporadic two minutes here and another three minutes there. We’re working on that.”
Phoenix executed well on offense in the first half, but only Gerald Green (15 points, 6-of-9 shooting) and Eric Bledsoe (15 points, seven assists, six rebounds, two steals) could capitalize on the open looks produced.
When that execution faltered in the third quarter, so did the Suns’ hold on the lead. Oklahoma City ran off a 12-0 run in the third quarter before Frye answered with a three-pointer and Tucker scored on an assist from rookie Alex Len.
Goodwin took over in the fourth, hitting a pair of free throws to get himself going. He followed with a steal and breakaway dunk, slammed in a putback over two Thunder players, then lost his defender on a backdoor cut for the easy layup.
“You have to be able to be out there for an extended period of time just to get a rhythm,” Goodwin said. “For [the coaching staff] to allow me to do that, it just showed the trust that they have in me. They want me to continue to get better and I appreciate them for that.”
With Goran Dragic out recovering from a sprained ankle, Gerald Green received the starting nod at off-guard alongside Bledsoe, the Morris twins and center Marcin Gortat.
The seven-year veteran made his presence felt immediately, scoring the Suns’ first five points of the game on a dunk and three-pointer.
He erupted again in the closing stages of the half, dunking on a two-on-one break before sinking consecutive three-pointers, good for a personal 8-0 run.
Phoenix wraps up preseason play on Wednesday night at Denver. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:00 p.m., Arizona time.