Plumlee Big Again as Suns Down Sixers

Barry Gossage/NBAE
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101

Through the first three quarters of the last Suns home game of 2013, the usually accurate Suns couldn’t buy a bucket from beyond the arc.

The Sixers, who had been one of the worst long-distance shooting teams heading into Saturday night, couldn’t miss.

The fortunes quickly reversed in the final frame, as the Suns hit four of their nine three-pointers while forcing Philadelphia into 10 consecutive misses from deep. Combined with another career night from Miles Plumlee (22 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks), the Suns were too much to handle in a 115-101 win.

“Our defensive assignments were to go behind,” Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek said. “Even when we go behind, you’re stills upposed to get up [on the shooter]. It’s not just ‘give htem the shots.’ That’s what we were doing. Consequently, they got off to a good start. Later on in the game we put a little more pressure on them and they missed them.”

Phoenix forced a lot of misses in general, holding the 76ers to 38.9 percent shooting. The guards matchup highlighted the disparity: Michael Carter-Williams and Tony Wroten combined for 49 points on 19-of-45 shooting.

Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic answered with efficiency, going for 41 points on 14-of-27 from the field.

Yet it was Plumlee who again fueled the Suns’ energy, throwing in harsh one-handed dunks and soft hook shots with equal ease and efficiency. The second-year big man went 10-of-14 from the field. Neither defenders nor seven stitches, needed after a hard fall to the floor gashed his chin, could contain him.

“He’s on a pretty good stretch of games where he’s playing hard,” Hornacek said. “He’s playing hard. He’s making quick moves. When we get the ball inside to him, he’s very confident with the moves.”

Phoenix turnovers (19) kept Philadelphia within striking distance throughout the game, but the Suns’ remained in control throughout thanks to 58 points in the paint and a 57-49 advantage on the boards.

Thaddeus Young helped bring the Sixers within six with 6:41 remaining. after a pair of trips to the free throw line. Marcus Morris responded with back-to-back three-pointers.

The second of Morris’ treys put the game away, and it came courtesy of the Suns’ hustle. Tucker missed a three-pointer, but Gerald Green came down with the offensive rebound. Tucker again got the ball in the corner and drove to the basket. Philadelphia poked the ball loose, but Frye dug it out of a crowd and whipped it out to Morris at the top of the key.

Dragic (21 points) followed with the Suns’ third three-pointer in a row to put Phoenix up by 15 with 4:22 left.

Afterwards the Slovenian playmaker held his team to a tough standard, echoing Hornacek’s post-game comments that, even after a 14-point win, the Suns could have played better.

“In the end, I think we didn’t play so well,” Dragic said. “We should be up by at least 15 points at the half. They had too many easy baskets, especially their guards. In the end, it was a tough game, but I’m happy with that win.”