Smith, Green Power Suns to Win Over Bucks

Barry Gossage/NBAE

Four years ago, Goran Dragic made a habit of playing so well late in games, he would often allow the starters to rest the remainder of the contest.

What went around came around on Saturday night, as Ish Smith’s speed and efficiency off the bench gave Dragic the fourth quarter off.

Smith led the Suns’ reserves in fending off the his former team’s fourth-quarter rally, helping Phoenix to a 116-100 win before they embark on a five-game road trip. The six-foot backup slashed, passed and no-looked his way to a eight points, eight assists and one turnover in just 19 minutes.

His assists mark tied Milwaukee’s Brandon Knight for game-high honors despite Smith playing 16 fewer minutes than his Bucks counterpart.

“We knew that he could push the ball, knew he could pass it,” Head Coach Jeff Hornacek said. “He’s a very good ball-handler, obviously. We expected that if we needed him to go in our style, it would work well.”

“We just wanted him to run the team and he did a great job of that tonight,” Hornacek added.

With Eric Bledsoe unable to play (sprained knee), Gerald Green (24 points) picked up where he left off as a fill-in starter. The seventh-year swingman wowed the crowd, alternating between three-pointers (4-of-7) and windmill dunks.

Green’s highlights served to finish his defense, which produced a career-high five steals. He has logged 11 steals over the last three games.

“When he was off the ball and they were running off screens, he did a great job of shooting the gap, getting steals and putting a few highlights up there,” Hornacek said.

The Suns came out aggressive from the opening tip, but had trouble finishing quarters and allowed Milwaukee to cut into their lead as a result.

After letting the Bucks pull within two at the end of the first quarter, Phoenix ripped off a 22-6 run to open the second. All five Suns on the floor scored during that stretch, which included a trio of three-pointers.

Frye (22 points) led the Suns from distance, going 6-of-9 from beyond the arc, joining Green, Dragic (15) and Markieff Morris (14) in double figures.

“We need everybody to play well for us to win. We don’t’ have that guy we can go to and just say ‘carry us’ tonight. We’re always a team effort.”