Suns End Nine Game Losing Streak, Beat Hornets 111-102
The Suns looked to get their first win of 2016, and end a nine game losing streak, against the Charlotte Hornets. Ronnie Price got the start for the Suns, which gave Brandon Knight the ability to go back to being the starting shooting guard in the starting lineup. The Suns were able to pull off the win, with a final score of 111-102. The win was a career milestone for Jeff Hornaceck, giving him his 100th win as a head coach for the Suns. The next game will be on Friday, against the Heat in Phoenix.
Price looked for his teammates while handling the ball in the first, and Knight looked much more comfortable without the sole point guard responsibilities. Devin Booker was given the first guard rotations off of the bench, taking the normal spot maintained by Price on the bench. Booker was able to make the most of his minutes off the bench, hitting back to back shots late in the first, one of which was a three point shot, and grabbing a couple rebounds. The Suns were able to end the first quarter with a lead of 34-32, their first lead after the first quarter since December 18th(Thanks Mitch for pointing this out!).
Mirza Teletovic started the quarter out by poking the ball out of the hands of Frank Kaminsky of the Hornets, but the Suns couldn’t score until a couple possessions passed. From there Booker was able to hit his second three of the night. After a Price three, Booker was able to get a transition lay up to give him ten total points in the game with 7 minutes left in the second. This was part of a 13-0 run that was able to put the Suns up 50-36, which included a Jon Leuer shot from behind the arc. The Hornets were able to hit two shots in a row to cut the lead to under ten, so the Suns opted to trade shots with the Hornets. The Suns continued to show hustle, and led the Hornets 60-52 at the half. Booker scored 10 points off the bench, with six rebounds, two assists, and a steal.
P.J. Tucker had to get helped off of the floor with a little over nine minutes in the third, forcing T.J. Warren to be put back in the game earlier than any other bench player for the Suns. Warren was able to get a steal on his second defensive possession, which ended with ball movement and a Tyson Chandler slam dunk from a Leuer lob. The Suns were not able to keep the energy up from the first two quarters, and with a combination of bad turnovers and bad shots, let the Hornets get a one point lead with two and a half minutes left in the third. Teletovic stopped the Hornet lead from getting too out of hand, and hit back-to-back threes to end the quarter, giving the Suns an 86-85 lead.
Tucker found himself back in the game to start the fourth quarter, and his defense was one of the reasons that the Suns were able to push their lead to eight. The Hornets were able to stop some of the Suns’ momentum, and cut the their lead to five due to a couple missed threes from Teletovic. The Suns love the three, and didn’t give up on the shot when it wasn’t falling. Booker and Teletovic hit two shot from behind the arc to give the Suns a nine point lead. The Hornets wouldn’t let the Suns get comfortable with that lead, forcing the Suns to trade buckets. The Suns lead by four with two minutes left in the game, and the refs were intent to let the players play. With 54.2 minutes left in the game, Tucker hit a corner three that were able to put the Suns up by seven. The Suns were able to finish off the game, and snapped their nine game losing streak, with a final score of 111-102. The Suns shot 41-84(48.8%) from the field, with 19-33(57.6%) from behind the arc, and 10-13(76.9) from the free throw line.
The bench unit was strong, and while one could make a separate paragraph for each of Warren, Teletovic, and Booker, I’ll keep with one. Warren scored 17 points off of 7-14 shooting, Teletovic scored 19 while shooting 5-12 from the three point line, and Booker scored 17 points and recorded ten rebounds. Booker notched his first double-double of his career, and succeeded in coming off of the bench this game.
Price in the starting lineup was a big positive for the starters’ defense, and helped Knight look more relaxed out on the floor. He didn’t handle the ball every possession while he was out, and he didn’t close out the game, but he helped Knight get into a rhythm. Price scored nine points in the starting lineup, and this should be the starting lineup for the next couple of games. I know, I say this all the time, but I’m for real this time!
No bads today, because we aren’t on a nine game losing streak anymore. Turnovers, bad shots are the usual perpetrators in the bad column, but for now, lets enjoy the win.