Postgame Central: Suns vs. Bucks - Jan. 17, 2013
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Suns' Historic Streak Snapped by Bucks
By: Stefan Swiat, Suns.comThe movie “Bull Durham” said it best. You never mess with a streak.
But apparently, Milwaukee didn’t get that memo. After suffering 24-straight losses to the Suns in Phoenix, the Bucks won their first game in Phoenix since the 1986-87 season, capturing a 98-94 victory at US Airways Center on Thursday.
The Suns had seized of the game until 3:51 in the fourth quarter, when the Bucks uncorked a 10-0 spurt to pull ahead by eight. The run was capped off by Bucks swingman Mike Dunleavy, who put the final nail in the Suns’ coffin when he drilled a timely 3 with 57.4 seconds remaining.
“You have to be able to make plays down the stretch to win games, especially close games,” Suns head coach Alvin Gentry said. “They made them and we did not.
“We got the ball right at the basket and we could not get it in. They came down and they made two or three plays and that was the difference in the game.”
Phoenix fell behind early in night, trailing by as many as 12 in the first half. At the end of the first period, the Suns had been outscored by 10 in the paint, which would prove to be one of the main differences in the game.
The Bucks outscored the Suns by eight in the paint on the night, while also grabbing a seven-rebound advantage on the glass. They also owned the paint defensively, blocking seven more shot than Phoenix on the night.
However, he Suns were the aggressors offensively, earning nine more trips to the line and outscoring the Bucks by eight from the stripe on the night. Coming into Thursday’s contest, the Suns were only averaging about 14 free throws attempts a game, but increased that number to 29 against Milwaukee.
Typically, the Suns have shown the ability to rally at home, overcoming six double-digit deficits for wins already this season. And a 25-10 run to end the half and take a three-point lead into halftime seemed to have the Suns poised for another comeback victory.
But as Gentry warned before the game, in order to stop the Bucks, the Suns were going to have to contain the explosive backcourt of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings. Despite the Suns’ best efforts, Ellis poured in 10 of his game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter, shooting 4-of-4 in the final period to lift the Bucks.
“Last game, we kept the ball out of his hands,” Suns swingman Jared Dudley said. “Tonight, he was splitting the double-teams, attacking early and his jump shot was hitting. When he hits that jump shot, it’s really hard to guard him because he’s obviously one of the quickest guys in the NBA already.”
For the Suns, shooting guard Shannon Brown triggered that second-quarter rally, scoring 13 of his team-high 20 points during that period. His most impressive stretch was when the high-flying Brown unleashed back-to-back dunks with 3:29 left in the second quarter to ignite the crowd and cut the lead to five.
Brown’s outburst was a part of a 34-point second quarter that would be followed by two consecutive 19-point periods.
“They didn’t turn the ball over as much in the second half,” Dudley added. “In the second quarter we got a lot of turnovers and deflections and we got to run out. Then in the second half, they took quality shots, executed a lot more and their shotblocking started to effect us down low.”
Luis Scola posted 16 points and eight rebounds, while Jared Dudley (13 points) and Goran Dragic (10 points) rounded out the rest of the Suns in double figures. The Suns will have several days off to regroup before visiting Sacramento next Wednesday.
The Bucks may have won that infamous coin toss over Phoenix for the first pick in the 1968 NBA Draft, but it felt like they haven’t won much since between the two clubs. The Suns came into Thursday’s contest having captured 24-straight wins at home over the Bucks, including 19 consecutive at US Airways Center.
In fact, the Bucks had never won since the building opened in 1992. The last time Milwaukee won in Phoenix before Thursday's contest was February 21, 1987.
The 24-straight home wins had been the second-longest active streak in the NBA, three short of the Spurs’ winning streak over Golden State. And despite the incredible length of the winning streak, it was still only tied for the longest in franchise history.
The Suns had won 24 straight over Sacramento from 1988-98.
Suns back-up point guard Diante Garrett, who is on assignment with the D-League’s Baskersfield Jam, got his first action this past weekend for the Suns' affiliate.
In Bakersfield’s 117-104 win over the Los Angeles D-Fenders, Garrett totaled 17 points, seven assists and four steals in 20 minutes of action. Not only did he shoot 6-of-9 from the floor, he also drilled 3-of-3 from behind the arc.
A night later, Garrett followed up that performance with 11 points, four rebounds and three assists in a 95-84 Bakersfield win over the D-Fenders.
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