Suns Erase 21-Point Deficit, Beat Nuggets

by Matt Petersen

Phoenix could have folded after trailing by 21.

They could have given up after losing the rebounding battle by double-digits.

They might have thought it wasn’t their night after seeing less than 40 percent of their shots fall while over half of Denver’s found bottom.

Instead the Suns continued to show odds-defying, well, defiance and came back for a 103-99 win.

Phoenix overcame its slow start thanks to its non-starters, who scored 64 of their points. Markieff Morris led the way with 25 points, six rebounds, three steals and three blocks. Gerald Green added 19 points, all but one of which came on three-pointers.

The majority of their damage began late in the first half, when Morris scored 10 consecutive points to cut a 21-point deficit to 14 by the half. In what is becoming a trademark of his big games, the majority of his shots came on the interior; he shot just three of his 14 shot attempts from beyond the arc and made 11 of his game-high 15 tries at the free throw line.

Denver threatened to pull away again in the third quarter, but Green caught fire from deep. Back-to-back three-pointers cut the Nuggets’ lead to 10 while accounting for half of his 12 third-quarter points.

Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek then inserted point guard Ish Smith, and the surprise substitution paid big dividends. Playing alongside Goran Dragic in the backcourt, Smith helped key the Suns’ running game while being involved in seemingly every sequence while on the floor. He finished with two points, three assists and three rebounds in just seven minutes of playing time.

When Smith was finally replaced by Green halfway through the fourth quarter, Phoenix had closed the gap to 90-88.

Dragic then took over, scoring eight of the Suns’ final 13 points to help the Suns take the lead for good. A pair of free throws and a slashing drive to the rim put Phoenix up by four with just under a minute remaining.

Denver’s J.J. Hickson cut the lead to two with a dunk and Eric Bledsoe missed one of two free throws, keeping the margin at one possession. Randy Foye’s three-point attempt fell well off, however, and Marcus Morris (14 points) sealed the game with another free throw.

Phoenix returns home to host Dallas on Saturday, marking the Suns’ seventh back-to-back set of games this season.