The Suns played their worst half of the season, only to show up in the second half with their best comeback performance to win a battle in the Mile High City, 103-99.
The Suns started off the first quarter looking slow and unfocused. They were uncharacteristically missing open looks and getting out-hustled for rebounds and 50/50 balls, while the Denver Nuggets were on from inside and out, hitting contested jump shots and getting to the rim as well.
Marcus Morris was the only Suns player who looked alive to start the game, hitting 3-7 including 2-4 from downtown to lead the Suns with 8 points early on. For the Nuggets, it was Wilson chandler and his hot shooting, going 5-7 from the field and 2-3 from three to lead Denver with 12.
The second quarter brought more of the same, and then some. The Suns continued to look lost and out of sync both offensively, and defensively as well. They not only shot the ball poorly, but failed to hustle back in transition and began getting beat at their own game as Denver made them pay with fast-breaks and up-tempo play.
The scoring disparity only worsened as the Nuggets continued to gain confidence as the Suns continued their slide. The Suns were down 47-27 halfway through the second quarter...their biggest point deficit in any game so far this season, and it was still only the first half.
The Suns bobbled the ball, made sloppy passes, late rotations, and turnovers...It wasn't pretty. They tried to put up a little fight toward the end of the first half, but they couldn't gain any separation due to their inability to get stops on defense...trading baskets doesn't help you gain much ground.
At the end of the first half, the Suns were down 62-48. The Nuggets shot 51% from the field, while the Suns shot only 38% in the first half. Phoenix was also out-rebounded 28-18. However, the most surprising stat was the Suns losing the fast break battle in the first half 14-1!
The third quarter started with P.J. Tucker missing from the corner 3, he was 0-4 at that point...but he finally got on the board on the next possession by posting up in the paint and getting a hook shot to finally go. The Suns started creeping back into the game little by little, with what seemed like more energy and hustle, but they still couldn't hit the vast majority of their shots.
Still, three minutes into the 3rd quarter the Suns had closed the deficit to only 10, down 65-55 at the time before the Nuggets called a time out to talk things over. The Nuggets responded with a couple of quick baskets to re-establish their commanding lead, as the Suns tried everything to get the ball in the basket on offense.
To his credit, Plumlee was playing fairly well overall and at least grabbing rebounds for the Suns to keep the Nuggets from punishing Phoenix again on the offensive glass, but the Suns still seemed out of sync, off the mark, and a step slow on offense, and couldn't seem to close the gap with Denver when they had the opportunities to do so.
Suddenly, Gerald Green came back in and hit a couple of back to back threes to bring the Suns back to a 10 point deficit, and seemed to be the only player who had anything going offensively in the third quarter. The Suns were down 82-72 at the end of the third quarter. Markieff Morris and Gerald Green both led Phoenix in scoring with 15 points each.
The Fourth Quarter
The Suns started the 4th quarter with another sloppy play that resulted in a turnover, but got the stop defensively at the other end, and were able to find Markieff in the paint for an and-1 dunk which he converted to bring the Suns within only 7 points of the Nuggets.
Phoenix also tightened up defensively and both Markieff, and then Marcus began to take over in the 4th bringing much needed energy and scoring to cut the lead to as little as five with about 10 minutes remaining. But they weren't done, The Wonder Twins remained hot and played great defensively...Marcus then hit a timely three and broke up the play at the other end defensively to help Ish Smith lay it up on a fast break at the other end to tie it up 88-88!
Could the Suns really get this win after starting so flat?
J.J. Hickson quickly answered at the other end with a thunderous dunk to retake the lead by two. The Suns were unable to score on their next two possessions and the Nuggets were able to hold onto the lead, but Markieff drew a charge on defense and Gerald Green was able to get to the line but only hit one of two on the other end. Denver still up by one with 6 minutes remaining.
Then a turnover on defense gave the Dragon a fast break layup to take a one point lead. Another defensive stop and a fast break pass to Gerald Green who hit the big-shot..a three to go up 94-90 with just under 6 minutes to go.
hickson though got a putback basket and a foul to cut the lead back to one, then Green traveled and committed another untimely turnover on offense...Here we go again.
But now it was the Nuggets who were unable to capitalize on mistakes, and the Suns were able to cling to the small lead.
However, the Nuggets still had some fight in them, and after Markieff missed a point-blank put-back on offense it was Darrell Arthur who was able to hit a jumper to re-take the lead 97-96 with just 2:50 to go in the game.
Markieff made an aggressive move to get to the line, but was only able to make one of two, but it was enough to at least tie it back up. The Dragon once again took charge and drew the foul, and was able to convert both of his free throws to put the Suns back up by two.
Conspicuously absent during this Suns' run was Eric Bledsoe, but he was subbed back in with 2 minutes to go, and quickly tied up a ball with Darrell Arthur to force a jump ball. Randy Foye missed a jumper but Dragic fumbled the rebound to give it back to the Nuggets. They were still unable to convert, and then it was time for the Dragon to once again attack! The layup put the Suns back up by four...46 seconds left.
Marcus Morris missed the jump shot on offense and then Darrell Arthur slammed it home to bring the lead down to only 2. Intentional foul on Bledsoe who could only hit one of two from the line. The Nuggets still have life...down only three with 16 seconds left.
The Nuggets missed their shot and Markieff got the rebound and was fouled immediately...He one of two, but it was enough to go up by four. Evan Fournier hit a three point shot after the buzzer but it was too late, too little.
The Suns win an unbelievable comeback victory 103-99. This was one of the worst, and one of the best games of the year all mixed into one. Say what you will about this young team, but they don't know the meaning of the word quit.
Players of the Game
The Morris Twins get the player of the game for almost double-handedly helping the Suns fight their way back in the fourth quarter, and providing instant energy when it seemed everyone else was flat.
Markieff Morris finished with 25 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Marcus Morris finished with 14 points and 2 rebounds.
Gerald Green was another key contributor who's three-point shooting helped keep the Suns afloat...He ended up with 19 points and 8 rebounds...a very solid performance from Gr33n.
Goran Dragic also came alive in the fourth quarter and ended up with 17 points and 6 assists...He took over when the team needed him the most.
Wilson Chandler was the Nuggets high scorer with 15 points and 7 rebounds on the night.
After losing the fast-break battle 14-1 in the first half, they shut down the Nuggets and won the battle 13-0 in the 2nd half.