Suns News

Newsroom Notes: Third-Quarter Run Sparks Suns Over Hornets

Dudley shot 9-of-16 from the floor Sunday.
(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)
By Stefan Swiat, Suns.com
Posted: April 1, 2012

With the race to the eighth and final playoff spot officially on, the Suns were able to capture one of the first legs on Sunday.

Coming into their matchup against the Hornets, who were owners of the worst record in the Western Conference, the Suns sat 2 ½ games behind Houston for the final playoff bid in the West. After a back-and-forth affair in the first half, the Suns used a 16-6 run to start the third quarter to break the game open before rolling to a 92-75 home win.

“We always know the first five minutes of the second half are the most important,” Suns shooting guard Shannon Brown said. “We just wanted to come out and hop on them. We knew they were on the road trip and they played their fourth game in five days or something like that, so we knew they were a little bit tired and we just wanted to come out, jump on them and keep them down.”

Engineered by Steve Nash’s 14 assists (four less than the entire Hornets team), the Suns placed five players in double figures, led by Jared Dudley’s 21 points and Brown’s 16. Channing Frye (14 points and 11 rebounds), Marcin Gortat (13 points) and Robin Lopez (10 points) rounded out the rest of the Suns with double-digit scoring nights.

The difference in the box score was that the Suns outrebounded the Hornets by six and outscored them in the paint by 10. Phoenix also managed 12 more points from the free throw line over the course of the night.

The Suns moved to 6-1 on Sundays, including a 5-0 mark at home on the first day of the week. After losing consecutive games for just the second time since the All-Star break last week, the Suns can continue to make up more ground in the West when they visit the Kings on Tuesday.

Fortunately for the Suns, the Kings currently hold the second-worst record in the West. And with Houston falling on Sunday in overtime to the Pacers, the Suns moved to within a game and half of the Rockets.

“We know that we are going to have to play well and we are going to have games that we have to win and a lot of those games are going to be on the road,” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. “For us, this is our first playoff game and we get on a plane and fly to Sacramento and that will be our next playoff game. I think that’s the way we have to approach it.”

Only 14 games remain in the regular season.

Master’s Class

On Sunday at 9 p.m., Suns co-captain Grant Hill was the subject of a show on the OWN network called “Oprah’s Master Class.” Hill is one of just a few well-known public figures that Oprah is examining in this new mini-series.

For those who know nothing of Hill’s career, the Suns small forward overcame a bevy of injuries, including a severe staph infection (that almost killed him) before returning as a starter in the NBA. To learn more of how Hill overcame those adversities, check out the show and this link.

Some of the other celebrities being featured in the series are actor Morgan Freeman, musician Jon Bon Jovi, media magnate Ted Turner and surfer Laird Hamilton.

Bounce With the Suns

For those of you who tried getting to Suns.com and were distracted by the 50-odd dribblers on the homepage, don’t worry, they’re supposed to be there. More than 75 contestants are competing for a chance to win a road trip with the Suns by seeing who will be the last person dribbling in the fourth-annual "Bounce WIth the Suns" webathon.

Last year, the winner went 44 hours. But if you didn’t participate in the webathon, you still have a chance to win a road trip with the team.

Anyone who purchases a St. Joseph’s Health & Wealth Raffle ticket between the official start and end of the dribbling contest will also be entered to win a road trip with the team – compliments of the Suns.

To purchase a ticket, click here.

Not at Kansas Anymore

Rookie Markieff Morris, who the Suns drafted out of Kansas this past offseason, will be rooting for his fellow Jayhawks tomorrow when Kansas faces Kentucky in the NCAA Championship. Despite his passion for the program, which is demonstrated by his frequent appearances at Lawrence for games, Morris says that he’s not doing anything special or superstitious for the occasion.

He’s not even going to wear a Kansas jersey as he watches the game with his Suns teammates.

“I haven’t worn one yet so I’m not going to do anything different,” Morris said. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

No Joke

The Suns are now 11-3 all-time on April Fools’ Day and have won eight of their last nine on April 1.

Any questions or comments for Stefan Swiat? Click here to send him your comments by e-mail.