Phoenix- Inconsistent play dooms the Suns once again, as the Charlotte Hornets (4-5) defeat the Phoenix Suns (5-4) 103-95 on Friday night at U.S. Airways Center. Charlotte was led by 19 points from...

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Here's how it happened

First Quarter

The Suns start the game with a quick foul by Goran Dragic on Lance Stephenson, and then a foul by Marcus Morris on P.J. Hairston.  Both non-shooting but not a good think to pick up two fouls in 24 seconds.  Big Al scored inside, and then Hairston hits a three before the Suns got on the board with a jumper from Marcus Morris. Then Bledsoe hit a three to tie it up 5-5 early in the game.

Suns and Hornets went back and forth at first, but Suns were hitting there three's early and the Hornets missed more shots than they hit, and that helped then get a bit of a lead early on.  Suns are up 13-7 about midway through the first. Timeout Hornets.  Marvin Williams ends the drought for Charlotte after the time out with a three.  Miles Plumlee answers at the other end with a hook shot inside, and then a huge block on Al Jefferson at the other end that leads to a three by Markieff Morris.  Suns extending their lead.

Isaiah Thomas came in for Dragic, Alex Len subbed in for Plumlee, and P.J. Tucker entered for Marcus with about two minutes remaining.  The Suns missed on a few consecutive possessions, but lucky for Phoenix, so did Charlotte.  Isaiah got fouled on a three point shot before the end of the quarter and converted at the line, then Keef hit a buzzer beater three.  Suns are in complete control right now.

At the end of the first quarter, the Suns lead the Hornets 28-14.   Markieff is the leading scorer for Phoenix with 10 points, 3 rebounds.  For the Hornets, Marvin Williams leads with 3 points and 1 rebound.  The Suns are shooting 43.5% from the field, vs. 27.3% for Charlotte.

Second Quarter

The Suns bench "The Chuck Wagon" are all in to start the second quarter.  Brian Roberts hits a three for the Hornets and the Suns miss and then turn the ball over.  Can't start playing sloppy now...big first quarter leads are fools gold.  Suns turn the ball over again and then Gerald Green fouls Lance Stephenson on the break to send him to the line.  Suns slowly letting them back in.  The drought for the Suns continues, as the Suns miss shots and the Hornets keep getting to the line.

Finally, the Suns stopped the bleeding with an excellent defensive possession by none other than Gerald Green on Lance Stephenson that led to a dunk by Len at the other end. Dragic came back in for Green and immediately got a fast-break layup.  Suns are doing just enough to stay ahead, but the Hornets are keeping them within arms reach now.

Suns getting some good looks, but not making them with the same regularity as in the first quarter. Hydra time!  Bledsoe makes one of the best, most aggressive moves to get to the hoop I have ever seen from him, and gets the and-one.  Then hits another shot on the next possession.  Suns showing a bit more life again now, can they keep it up through the rest of the quarter? Suns miss a couple of shots and then foul Kemba Walker for the and-one. Suns only up two again.  They then give up the dunk to Cody Zeller on the other end to tie the game at the half.

At the end of the first half, the Suns are tied with the Hornets 47-47.   Markieff is the leading scorer for Phoenix with 10 points, 3 rebounds.  For the Hornets, Lance Stephenson leads with 9 points, 3 assists, and 4 rebounds.  The Suns are shooting 41.9% from the field now, vs. 36.2% for Charlotte.

Third Quarter

The Hornets get the first basket of the third quarter to briefly take the lead for the first time in the game.  Plumlee answers back with a basket for the Suns, but them Williams gets a jumper off the glass.  Both teams going back and forth again...Suns need some stops and some transition baskets.

Charlotte continues to push and they are starting to get better looks.  Suns now falling behind early in the third quarter with sloppy play leading to easy baskets off of misses and turnovers. Hairston draws a foul on a three point make, which he converts for a four-point shot...Things are starting to look glum for the Suns.  They need to increase their defensive intensity once again and get out in transition and run!

The Suns are starting to make some shots again, but things still not improving enough for Phoenix right now.  The Hornets have the confidence that they can win this game, and Phoenix can't seem to repeat their same energy that they had in the first quarter. Then Stephenson and Bledsoe get called for double-technicals...Lance is going at it with Eric here, but maybe that's what the Suns need to get them fired back up?  Just like that, Bledsoe hits a three, and then another a couple of possessions later.  Suns are indeed getting fired back up...Thanks, Lance!

Unfortunately, the Suns couldn't pull too far ahead, even though they did at least re-establish their lead, but just barely.  The refs made some bad calls, and the Hornets made some timely shots to stay right there.

At the end of the third quarter, the Suns lead the Hornets 75-74.   Eric Bledsoe is the leading scorer for Phoenix with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists.  For the Hornets, Kemba Walker leads with 15 points, 4 assists, and 4 rebounds.  The Suns are shooting 44.6% from the field now, vs. 39.4% for Charlotte.

Fourth Quarter

The Hornets get the first basket of the fourth quarter, with a three point shot by Gerald Henderson.  Charlotte is back up by two.  Len gets fouled and hits both shots to tie the game again for Phoenix, but Gary Neal drains a fall-away jumper on the other end.  Both teams going back and forth again...Suns really need some stops here.

That isn't happening though, and the Hornets keep scoring.  The Suns are down three with 9 minutes to go in the game.  They need someone else to step up and take over other than just Bledsoe.  Normally this is when Green gets hot...but he just doesn't have it tonight.  Suns still not getting much production from anyone except Bledsoe, who is flirting with a triple-double and would probably have one if the other players were making their shots.  Goran Dragic checks in mid-way through the quarter, but Suns continue falling apart with no answer.  They are now down 10.

The Dragon enters the game and starts controlling the ball more on offense.  The defense tightens up a bit and Goran scores on one of his patented one-man-fast-breaks.  The Suns have hope again, but are still down six with four minutes to go.  Markieff scores on a beautiful looping baby-hook.  Goran attempts another fast-break lay-up but Cody Zeller takes a charge, even though he wasn't set...those have been the breaks tonight.

Phoenix is still down six after Zeller scores on an offensive rebound at the rim.  It's not looking good.

This is a bad loss, no matter how you slice it.  Charlotte is a team the Suns should have beaten, especially at home, but they fell apart in the second quarter and just never re-established their play from the first quarter when they opened up a 14-point lead on the Hornets.  Phoenix now goes on a six game road trip starting tomorrow against the L.A. Clippers...they needed this one, and let it slip away.

Game Over, Suns Lose

Phoenix- The Charlotte Hornets (3-5) had four players on the injury report prior to tonight’s game against the Phoenix Suns (5-3), which had some thinking that the Suns may get a depleted...

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Shane I am looking at the Suns schedule… YIKES!!! U.S. Airways is going to be empty for awhile!! Is this team capable of staying in the race with all of these road games? There is no doubt that...

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Can the Suns take care of business tonight on the last game of their home-stretch?

What: Phoenix Suns Vs. Charlotte Hornets

Where: U.S. Airways Center - Phoenix, AZ

When: 7:00 p.m. (AZ)

Watch: FSAZ (locally) / NBA League Pass

Tonight, the Phoenix Suns are playing the final game of their five-game home stand against the Charlotte Hornets, before going on the road for a six game stretch that begins tomorrow night against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Th Suns have split their first four home games, going 2-2, in what has been anything but an easy stretch for Phoenix.  This will be an important game for the Suns for that very reason.  They would like to end their home-court stand with a winning record before going on the road for the next week and a half.

As for the Hornets, they are coming off of a two-game losing streak on the road against the Los Angeles Lakers and the Portland Trail Blazers. Charlotte will be looking to steal a win in Phoenix to try to salvage their road trip, with one game still left to play against the Golden State Warriors tomorrow night before they return home.

Probable Starting Lineups

Team Suns Hornets
PG Eric Bledsoe Kemba Walker
SG Goran Dragic Lance Stephenson
SF Marcus Morris Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF Markieff Morris Marvin Williams
C Miles Plumlee Al Jefferson

What To Watch For

Start Your Engines: The Suns are still trying to figure out how to start their games with as much intensity and energy as they finish them.  So far, the Suns have been bailed out on their slow starts through their inspired play late in the game, but they can't continue this trend without consequences.  This has definitely become a pattern, and the Suns will be looking to remedy the situation tonight against Charlotte.

Never Underestimate Your Opponent: Yes, the Hornets are 3-5.  Yes, the Suns are a better team.  Yes, the Suns can still lose.  The Hornets are probably better than their record would indicate.  On Tuesday, they lost by only two points to a very good Blazers team, in a game that went down to the wire.  They also lost by only two points to the Memphis Grizzlies to start the season.  The point is, the Suns can't afford to overlook the Hornets in tonight's get-away game before heading to La-La Land.  Charlotte is very capable of hanging a bad loss on the Suns if they don't come prepared.

Slash Brothers: The Suns are supposed to have one of the best starting back-courts in the NBA.  At times this season, they have definitely lived up to that billing, but at others...not so much.  In fact, the second unit back-court of Isaiah Thomas and Gerald Green is averaging more points both individually, and together, than the once dynamic-duo of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe.  The Suns are only eight games into the season, and this is certainly no time to panic, but I think the team and fans alike would love to see their two starting guards begin to dominate on the floor together, and build leads against their opponent without having to rely on their dynamic second-unit to consistently save the day.

Big Al: Once again, the Hornets have a player who could be kryptonite for the Super-Suns.  Al Jefferson continues to be one of the most underrated bigs in the NBA, quietly averaging over 22 points per game to start the season.  The Suns will need both Miles Plumlee and Alex Len to play strong yet disciplined defense against the Hornet's very skilled big man.  One positive in this match-up, however, is that Al isn't the best rebounder, so hopefully the Suns can take advantage of that.


UPDATE: The Hornets are pretty banged up going into this game:

The Charlotte Hornets announced earlier that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will not play against the Phoenix Suns tonight as he recovers from a right foot injury. This news comes just one day after the Hornets announced Marvin Williams' status was questionable, which now looks to be upgraded to "doubtful" as it seems Cody Zeller will start in tonight's game.

Additionally, Lance Stephenson and Gary Neal have been declared questionable for tonight's game. Stephenson is dealing with a groin strain while Neal is recovering from a bruised left foot.



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