Dragic Scores 40, Suns Beat Pelicans
Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek could very well simplify his game plan to the following:.
Get Goran Dragic's family in the building.
For the third time this month, the Slovenian point guard set a career-high in points. The first two times, it was his three-month-old son, Mateo. Friday night against the Pelicans, it was his parents, who are able to attend a couple of games (at most) per season.
Dragic made it worth the flight and then some, pouring in 40 points to lead Phoenix to a much-needed 116-104 win over New Orleans.
The performance was even more impressive considering Dragic was nearly a late scratch to play at all due to a sprained ankle.
He felt good after testing it during pre-game warmups, however, and proved it for 42 of the game's 48 minutes.
"There was never a time during the game when I saw him limping or anything like that," Hornacek said. "Unfortunately had to play him so many minutes to try to get the win, but he was fantastic."
The Suns had allowed New Orleans to shoot over 56 percent from the field through the first three quarters of the game, nearly negating their own above-average night on offense.
A lineup of Dragic, Ish Smith, Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris and Gerald Green, however, made enough hustle plays (including four offensive rebounds) in the fourth quarter. Phoenix outscored New Orleans 35-23 in the final period, holding the Pelicans to 47.6 percent from the field.
Instead the Timberwolves scored 10 straight and held the Suns scoreless for two-and-half minutes to pull away.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
"I never imagined they were going to cheer that for me...It's something special in my career that I'm probably going to remember my whole life." -- Goran Dragic on the crowd chanting M-V-P during the final minute of the game
TWEET OF THE NIGHT
— Nathan Desai (@NathanDesai) March 1, 2014
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Dragic needed just 21 shots to reach 40 points, eclipsing his previous career high for the third time in February. He hit 9-of-11 from the free throw line and added five assists and three rebounds, all while playing nearly 42 minutes on a gimpy ankle.
PHOTO OF THE NIGHT
STAT(S) OF THE NIGHT
12: the number of fourth-quarter minutes played by Ish Smith, who helped spark the Suns' win with 10 points, six assists and two rebounds off the bench.