Notebook: Suns 111, Hornets 108



Posted Nov 24, 2012 1:12 AM

By Norm Frauenheim, for NBA.com

THE FACTS: Markief Morris capped a career-high 23 points Friday night in only his second start of the season with a 3-pointer in overtime for a 111-108 victory over the Hornets in a wild, back-and-forth game at US Airways Center in downtown Phoenix.

The Suns (6-7) stormed back from a 19-point third-quarter deficit, only to see the Hornets (3-8) tie it in regulation at 103 apiece with eight successive points during a 58.2-second blitz that included Ryan Anderson's eighth 3-point goal on a night when he had 34 points, also a career-high.

The Hornets were within three with 3.6 seconds left in the extra period after Greivis Vasquez hit jumper initially scored as a 3-pointer. After a review, officials ruled Vasquez had stepped inside the 3-point line.

With 4.9 seconds left and the Suns holding onto a three-point edge, P.J. Tucker muscle his way to an offensive rebound of a miss by Jermaine O'Neal, who came off the bench for 11, 2 blocks and 13 points. Tucker was fouled. He sank both the subsequent free throws, saving a victory for the Suns on a night when they staged a 31-7 run that started with 4:23 left in the third quarter and ended with them leading by 11 with 6:37 left in regulation.

QUOTABLE: "I've never seen anybody shoot like that, to be honest with you. That was Larry Bird-like, if you ask me.'' -- Suns coach Alvin Gentry, on Anderson, who was 13-for-23 from the floor, including 8-for-13 from the 3-point distance.

THE STAT: The Hornets committed 19 turnovers, 11 after the first half.

TURNING POINT: On a night when there could have been several, there were two: First, Morris' 3-pointer from the top of the arc with 49.9 seconds left and then Tucker's offensive rebound with 4.9 seconds left.

QUOTABLE II: "I can't say enough about P.J. Tucker. He epitomizes what we want our team to be.'' -- Gentry.

HOT: Vazquez nearly stole one on the road for the Hornets with 14 assists and 25 points on 10-for-13 shooting.

NOT: Suns forward Michael Beasley continues to struggle. He had one rebounds and only two points on 1-for-6 shooting. His night was finished when he was pulled from the lineup for O'Neal with 7:50 left in the third quarter.

GOOD MOVE: Gentry's decision to go with O'Neal instead of Beasley down the stretch.

BAD MOVE: The Suns inability to deny Anderson the ball with 1:16 left in regulation.

IN THE ARENA: A sparse crowd, announced at 14,060, wanted to boo Hornets center Robin Lopez, who was back in US Airways Center for the first time since he left the Suns. The boos were as sparse as the crowd. Lopez was never much of a factor with eight points and seven rebounds.

ROOKIE WATCH: Gentry didn't play Suns guard Kendall Marshall, a lottery pick from North Carolina, for the third straight game

FANTASY SPOTLIGHT: Suns point guard Goran Dragic strung together numbers that added up to efficiency -- 20 points, 7-for-14 shooting, eight assists and three steals. He had three turnovers, half of Vasquez' total of six.

NOTABLE: Tucker hit two 3-pointer, or one more than he has in his career. He was 2-for-4 from the college 3-point line at Texas. ...Hornets forward Jason Smith suffered a corneal abrasion with 3:11 in the first quarter. He did not return. ...The Suns comeback after being down 19 points was their fourth double-digit comeback this season. They won for the first time when trailing after three quarters. ...O'Neal came off the bench for his fourth successive game with double-digit scoring, his longest streak since the 2009-2010 season.

UP NEXT: For the Hornets: Sunday @ Denver, Monday @ Clippers and Wednesday vs. Jazz. For the Suns: Sunday @ Philadelphia, Tuesday @ Cleveland and Wednesday @ Detroit.