Len Tip-In Sends Suns Past Celtics
When Alex Len was pressed into emergency crunch time duty, he just wanted to do well.
He probably wasn't planning on being the hero.
Yet that was the outcome after Miles Plumlee was forced to sit after taking a hard hit to the eye from Boston's Kelly Olynyk. Len responded by supplying six points, three rebounds and a block in nine minutes of play.
His last points came on a tip-in basket off an Eric Bledsoe miss, plus the foul, with 54 seconds left to give the Suns a three-point lead.
Three Celtics misses and a turnover later, the Suns had come away with a hard-fought 87-80 win on the road to snap a three-game losing streak.
Goran Dragic led the team in scoring with 20 points. Bledsoe added 17 points, 10 rebounds and four assists in his second game back from knee surgery. P.J. Tucker made a triumphant return after a one-game, league-mandated suspension with 11 points, 10 rebounds and five steals.
Yet it was Len who earned the most attention of the night, including an unbridled jump of joy from Head Coach Jeff Hornacek after completing his clutch three-point play. During the ensuing timeout, the coaching staff and players were all smiles for Len, the No. 5 overall pick from last year's draft.
On a night both teams struggled to score, Phoenix came up with enough buckets in meaningful moments, especially late in the game
Boston had pulled ahead by three with four minutes left when Bledsoe slashed to the rim and found Alex Len for the easy bucket inside. The Suns' point guard later kept hte ball for himself, converting an and-one layup to tie the game
Markieff Morris put the Suns ahead briefly with a contested elbow jumper with 2:30 remaining. After Boston tied the game again, Len stepped up with his clutch basket.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Eric Bledsoe helped blunt some of the Celtics' damage on the boards, coming up with 10 big rebounds despite being one of the smallest players on the floor. He was also much more efficient from the field in his second game back with the team, shooting 6-for-12 two nights after going 5-for-16.
Most important of all, he was clutch when the Suns needed him most.
PHOTO OF THE NIGHT
STAT(S) OF THE NIGHT
30.9: the shooting percentage to which Boston was held throughout the game a day after Hornacek said the Suns' needed to correct their recent "defensive issue."