The Suns were able to improve to 7-6 on the season, and 2-0 on their road trip after beating the Orlando Magic tonight 104-96, before heading to Miami tomorrow night to face the reigning champs.
The Suns started the first quarter with Goran Dragic attacking the rim and Gerald Green letting it fly from beyond the arc. Green shot three of five from deep and led the Suns in scoring with 13 points to start the game. For the Magic it was a combination of Vucevic and Afflalo leading the charge, with 6 and 4 points, respectively. The Suns were able to break out to an early lead, 31-21 at the end of the first quarter, shooting 50% from the field and 40% from deep, while holding the Magic to just 41% shooting and 17% from beyond the arc.
The second quarter started with the mostly second unit of Smith, the Morrii, Goodwin, and Plumlee. Marcus Morris and Ish Smith got off to a quick start on offense, and Ish showed impressive hustle to chase down a transition basket to get the block from behind as well. The Magic began to make some plays of their own though, going on a 9-2 run to cut the lead to just 6, before Hornacek called a timeout to stop their momentum, and quickly replaced Ish and Goodwin with Dragic and Green.
The Suns and Magic traded baskets for a while, and Orlando was able to keep it close initially, until the Suns were able to capitalize on some bad shots and sloppy play from the Magic to push the lead back up to 10 with about three minutes to go in the first half. Orlando continued to fight back though and never let the Suns pull away, and kept Phoenix within reach with a lead of 53-44 going into the half.
Gerald Green led the Suns with 15 points on 6-10 shooting to go along with 6 rebounds and 2 steals. For the Magic, it was Andrew Nicholson leading the way with 10 points and 5 rebounds. The Suns shot 46% from the field and 35% from three, while the Magic shot 42% and 30% from deep. The Suns out-rebounded the Magic 25-23, and won the turnover battle 4-7 in the first half as well.
The second half started with the first unit once again of Dragic, Green, Tucker, Frye, and Plumlee. The Suns started out a little flat and sloppy offensively, and the Magic were able to once again make a mini-run to narrow the gap to within 5 early, before the Suns came storming back once again to push the lead back up to 10 about halfway through the third.
However, Nikola Vucevic was able to hit some nice 15-foot jumpers, and Aaron Afflalo was fouled behind the arc and suddenly the Magic were down by only three. Gerald Green and Markieff Morris were able to provide just enough offense to keep Orlando at bay, and a fast break basket from Dragic to Tucker helped the Suns re-gain momentum and keep the Magic at bay to maintain an 80-72 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Magic once again took advantage of the Suns' second unit to start the final quarter, as Phoenix was unable to get much going initially with the line-up of Smith, Goodwin, the Morrii, and Frye. But Hornacek was patient, and the second unit was finally able to clamp down defensively and also start making some impressive plays on offense as well.
Still, the Magic were able to begin clawing their way back and Dragic and Green came in to replace Smith and Goodwin. However, the Magic kept pressing on and once again closed the lead to just three points with around four minutes to go in the game.
Just when it looked like the Suns were destined to blow another game by falling apart in the fourth quarter, Channing Frye made some nice plays inside to score when the Suns needed it most, and the Dragon was unleashed...taking over at the end of the fourth quarter with a huge three and another jump shot to seal the deal; as the Suns were able to beat the Magic 104-96.