Suns Show Fight in 101-97 Loss to Cavs
After two assistant coaches were let go late Sunday night, the Suns stayed in Phoenix to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers. Both teams are coming off of ugly losses, and the Suns’ was exceptionally ugly due to it being against the Sixers. Devin Booker got the start with Eric Bledsoe out indefinitely with a torn meniscus.
The Suns started out the game with a turnover after Booker got pick-pocketed by Kyrie Irving, who proceeded to run down the floor for an easy lay up. The Suns responded shooting 3/3 from the field, but the Cavs were still able to push to a 10-6 lead. Booker was able to score six of the Suns’ first eight points, not letting the early turnover hurt his confidence. With 4:35 left in the quarter, John Leuer hit a shot from behind the arc to put the Suns up 21-20. The Suns weren’t able to score on the next three possessions however, and the Cavs were able to score six unanswered points, and the Suns couldn’t regain the lead for the rest of the quarter. With Bledsoe out, Sonny Weems was given minutes in the rotation, and was able to make the most of it with an early score and rebound. The Suns ended the quarter trailing 34-30, and Leuer led the team in scoring with seven.
The Suns continued to play inspired basketball in the second, and pushed out a 7-2 run to start the quarter, including back to back possessions where they were able to get second chance points, one tip in from Alex Len, and then a layup from T.J. Warren. Holding a short lead, they pushed the Cavs for a stretch of the second to play catch up, before the Cavs regained the lead due to a 3 point shot from J.R. Smith. The Cavs lead by as many as nine, but the Suns were able to cut the lead to six before the end of the half, thanks to another three point shot from Leuer. The Suns trailed by a score of 60-54, with Leuer and Warren tied for the lead in scoring with ten points. Booker looked passive at times on offense, but still scored eight points in the half off of 4-4 shooting.
The Suns continued to let the Cavs shoot the three point shot, which let the lead grow to 12 points early in the third. The Suns kept fighting, and were able to get within two point with a score of 71-69 before the Cavs pushed back out to a five point lead. The Suns were able to get within one point, but couldn’t convert, and the Cavs were able to push out to an eight point lead, with a score of 81-73 heading into the fourth.
The Suns wouldn’t give up in the fourth, and kept fighting. Warren was a big factor, hitting big shots and grabbing offensive rebounds. The Suns were down by as many as nine, but were as close as one point from being a tied ball game. A 3 point shot from Brandon Knight was waived off due to a moving screen called against Tyson Chandler. The Suns couldn’t defend a shot from deep by Kyrie Irving with the shot clock winding down, and that was it for the game. The Suns loss by four points, with a final score of 101-97.
The Suns played strong basketball, which was a welcome change compared to some of their last few games. They shot 36-79(45.6%) from the field, with 11-25(44%) from deep and 14-20(70%) from the free throw line. The Suns were also able to out-rebound the Cavs 44-37. All starters not named Alex Len scored in double figures, and Len and Knight were the only starters who shot under 50% from the field. Turnovers and defensive rotations were once again an issue, but that isn’t anything new this season. The players will need to continue with this kind of energy, and hopefully the bench assistant change will light a fire under the players, and not force a bigger coaching change.
T.J. Warren. The leading scorer for the Suns scored 23 total points off of 9-15 shooting from the field and 4-5 from deep. Warren added five rebounds and one steal in a grand total of 27 and a half minutes. He may have some off games, but Warren continues to show flashes of being a future all star.
Defensive rotations and turnovers were once again an issue, but those can be talked about almost any game for the Suns this season. The effort was there this game, and that is more important.