The Phoenix Suns got off to a real bad start. It's as if the team thought they could run all over a team from Brazil. But this is a team that won their championship and is used to playing together. While the Suns thought walking the ball up the court would be an okay thing.
The Flamengo lead got to 11-4 and then 15-8 when Hornacek finally called a timeout at the 5:43 mark of the first quarter. The Suns by that time had missed at least 5 layups and runners - just not feeling it as a group.
Hornacek replaced the starters with Isaiah Thomas, Gerald Green, P.J. Tucker and Shavlik Randolph (along with Keef) and who scores early? Shav of course. He got a putback layup and then a jumper to liven up the team.
Still it was a struggle on both ends of the court for the Suns. They just weren't in rhythm.
After the first quarter, the Suns slogged to a 26-21 deficit. Missed a ton of easy shots. And by that I mean a ton.
The second quarter didn't get any better at the start. Bledsoe missed another layup, Keef missed a long two and teh Suns were flat-footed on D.
The Suns finally went on a 7-0 run with Bledsoe and Archie running the show and driving mercilessly to the rim.
On the back of Bledsoe - a tank with a porsche engine, per Randy Hill of Fox Sports Arizona - and Archie Goodwin and Markieff Morris, the Suns took their first lead (34-33) at the 6:27 mark of the second quarter.
The highlight/lowlight of the first half was Archie Goodwin grabbing a loose ball on his knees and feeding Bledsoe on the break before getting called for the traveling.
The Suns went on a 19-4 run largely with Markieff Morris at the five - otherwise known as going small - because they decided it's okay to outhustle and outwork the Brazilian squad.
Bledsoe was really good on both ends of the court in the first half, getting 13 points, 4 rebounds and 1 assist. The Morris brothers scored 19 points and had 9 rebounds, FIVE steals and 2 assists between them.
Maybe in the second half?
The Suns began the second half with the starters and tried to play a lot better than the first time around. It didn't work.
Miles Plumlee still looks lost on the low block. He's just not a guy you count on for creating the play from a post-up position. He had a very forgettable 13 minutes so far, with 4 turnovers against just one rebound and four points.
The starters allowed Flamengo to go on a 16-7 run to start the second half to pull within 2 points though before Hornacek had to call another timeout.
Even putting in three subs - Thomas, Green and Goodwin - didn't help quell the Flamengo fire. The Suns just didn't have it. At all. Losing rebounds and passes from just not trying hard enough.
It got to be tough to watch.
The Suns finally pulled back ahead by 5 on a hesitation dribble by Isaiah Thomas to get the and-one layup. Thomas has otherwise been quiet tonight, but still somehow has 8 points and 3 assists. Leads the team in assists, by the way.
End of three - Suns 71, Flamengo 66.
The fourth quarter began with a bit of Archie and Shav, though Shav missed an open three so his shot at being Channing is over. Sorry Shav.
The Suns went on a 17-0 run, getting up 80-66 before Flamengo scored again. And that was only on a goaltend call where Green almost blocked a layup.
Still, no rookies.
When Hornacek subbed back in, it was Goran Dragic. Not his brother Zoran. Or T.J. Warren. Or Tyler Ennis. Or any of the non-roster guys trying to make a team.
Still, the main players couldn't blow out a team that had never faced an NBA team before.
Did I say this was an ugly game?
Thomas and Green carried the Suns in the fourth quarter, with Isaiah being their best shooter on the night. Thomas finished the game with 18 points and 4 assists while Gerald Green pumped in 13 of his own.
Finally, the Suns put in their two first round picks, and Tyler Ennis responded with two quick turnovers on consecutive possessions. Oh well. He just turned 20.
Goran finished the game with Ennis, T.J. Warren, Miles Plumlee and P.J. Tucker. The Suns defense suffered with the rookies and an unfamiliar rotation.
Finally, Ennis scored on a floater and Warren pumped in a three-pointer to break their cherries.
Zoran Dragic was the human victory cigar... and hit a three pointer on his first shot attempt!
Suns won 100-88.
Here's the thread.
It's on TV - FoxSports Arizona.
Hornacek, on what he's looking for tonight:
Offensively: "Make sure we're pushing the ball, you know, make sure we can get that tempo up."
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