Somehow, the Brooklyn Nets fought to a win against the feisty Suns by executing on isolation offense throughout the second half and overtime. The Nets won on a Joe Johnson layup as time expired.
This game was closer than many of us expected, but then again it is the NBA. The Brooklyn Nets came into the game 0-4 on the road (the opponents are a collective 7-22 otherwise), while the Suns were 4-0 at home.
The Suns are young, while the Nets are getting long in the tooth. Blowout right?
Wrong. Well, it was a blowout early for the Suns (23-11), and then a blowout in the middle for the Nets (30-4) then the Suns came roaring back and it was a seesaw battle right into overtime.
P.J. Tucker made a big shot from the corner to give the Suns a brief two point lead with 39 seconds to go before iso-Joe tied it with a runner in the lane.
Brook Lopez was feeling it in overtime, making shot after shot to give the Nets a solid lead. On the other end, Bledsoe was really not playing well against the length of Livingston. Where's Deron Williams when you need him?
Goran Dragic made a big shot under the rim, drawing the foul on Lopez to cut the Nets' lead to 2. After a Nets miss, the Suns tied it on a pretty FB dunk by Tucker.
But then the Suns missed a late shot and Joe Johnson drove the length of the court for a winning layup as time expired.
Second game in a row, lost in the last second.
The Suns started the game on fire, just like a young, speedy team should look against an aging club on a road trip. The home team took leads of 23-11 and 26-14 on the back of scorching play by Rocky... er, Goran Dragic.
It helped that Deron Williams went down in the opening minutes to a bad ankle sprain and didn't return. More on that later.
Dragic had 13 points and 4 assists in the first quarter alone, personally blasting the Nets in transition for nearly all of his points. The Suns had 14 fast break points in the first quarter ALONE, accounting for almost half their 29 points.
All this while Channing Frye got into his own head and started running himself off the three point line. Soon, he was on the bench to think about it, even to the point that Slava Kravtsov took the court for a half-dozen forgettable minutes. He tallying one rebound to go with 2 fouls and a turnover.
Finally, Plumlee on Plumlee happened at the 9 minute mark of the second quarter. This game marked the 4th brother-brother matchup involving a Suns game in the last four seasons alone. Previously, the Morrii, the Zellers (Luke and Tyler) and the Lopii (Brook and Robin) shared the Suns court. Now, it's the Plumlees. Who wants to bet that, with 4 first round draft picks next year, the Suns take at least one of the highly touted Harrison twins currently playing at Kentucky. I'll put the over/under at 90% right now.
But then the Plumlee party ended before it even started, as Brook Lopez entered for Mason within 30 seconds of Miles' re-entry.
The game really slowed down in the second quarter with Dragic out. First it was Ish Smith and then Bledsoe, and the Suns only scored 9 points in almost 6 minutes.
The game picked up again later in the quarter when Bledsoe paired up with Dragic. The Nets responded by hacking the Suns hard on fast breaks. Dragic and Bledsoe were both whacked on drives to the rim as the Nets just looked older and older as the minutes went by.
Plumlee on Plumlee happened again at the 4 minutes mark with Mason trying but failing to score on Miles at the rim.
Shawn Livingston, filling in for Deron Williamns, made a couple of floaters to keep the Nets in striking distance.
Miles Plumlee definitely didn't have the touch in this game, leaving several shots short or off the rim. Miles was 2-for-8 in a first half he would like to forget - at least on the offensive end. Miles was still his usual defensive self.
Behind Shawn Livingston, the Nets got the Suns lead down to 4 points at halftime. Livingston had 12 points and 2 assists in 13 minutes, making 5 of 6 midrange shots.
At halftime, it was 60-56 Suns in a game that didn't feel as close it the score indicated.
Then the second half began and the Suns didn't leave the locker room, while the Nets played their best basketball of the game. Who were these guys? The Suns started their regulars, with only Frye sitting in favor of Markieff Morris. Markieff was the old Markieff tonight, going 1-for-9 from the floor. To this point, he's 3-for-20 since being named WC player of the week.
The result was a 26-4 run in Brooklyn's favor, leading to a 12-point lead with 5 minutes left in the third, that seemed like it could go on for days and days. The Nets came out using their length in a zone defense on the Suns with no one shorter than 6'7". Their energy stepped up a notch, and the Suns came out tentative.
Suddenly, the Suns looked like "the worst team in the West" and you started feeling a bit sorry for them.
The good again
Hornacek made wholesale changes, leaving only Dragic and Tucker on the floor and bringing in Channing Frye, Marcus Morris and Gerald Green to counter the Nets' size. Marcus and Gerald made some necessary shots and the Suns began to climb back out of that hole.
The Suns hit four three-pointers in the next few minutes to pull within three of the Nets, including two by Marcus Morris and Frye's first made three of the millennium (or at least it felt like that).
This Suns team has heart. And before the fourth quarter ended, the Suns had pulled within six after trailing by as many as 12. Hey, it's progress.
The Nets last two point were on a clear out by Mason Plumlee to get an open dunk - one that all of press row was wondering "how is that not an offensive foul".
And then the 4th
Mason Plumlee quickly picked up his fourth and fifth fouls while the Suns tied the game behind Frye's second three pointer. The crowd was rocking!
After that, the lead went back and forth between the Suns and Nets as they delivered a steady dose of Brook Lopez, the best offensive player on their team.
Marcus Morris played a huge role in the Suns fight back into the game with 9 points and 5 rebounds during the run (13 and 8 overall).
And P.J. Tucker happened. He scored on putbacks, got ALL the rebounds for a while, and kept the Suns in the game while Eric Bledsoe was having a really tough time amongst the trees of the Nets.
The game got really tight down to the wire, like every other Suns game this season.
There was a sequence on two late Brooklyn possessions where the Suns had a great chance at a steal each time, but either they didn't react fast enough or the ball bounced right back to the Nets off the Suns backsides.
But then P.J. Tucker hit the BIG THREE from the corner! The shot he couldn't make last year. The shot holding him back from being a difference maker in the NBA.
And BOOM! He hit it. Just when the Suns needed it most. Not only is he a dirt worker, he's a clutch shooter now too! The crowd was rocking hard. Really hard. Wow.
Joe Johnson tied up the game on an iso-Joe play against the smaller Dragic, making a runner in the lane.
Tied at 92.
More from Bright Side Of The Sun:
- Phoenix Suns experience growing pains on roster and coaching staff
- NBA All-Star balloting begins: Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and Markieff Morris represent the Phoenix Suns on the ballot
- Breaking News: Phoenix Mercury hire Sandy Brondello as next head coach
- Game Preview: Phoenix Suns host Jason Kidd, Kevin Garnett and the other Lopez kid
- Phoenix Suns next up: the Brooklyn Nets circus including #FireKidd, disappointing Garnett and Pierce and a potential blowout