"We are a really hard-nosed team," Suns guard Goran Dragic said.
"It doesn't matter if we are up or down 20 points. We are still
going to battle until the end."
The Suns (25-18) battled back from a 20-point deficit in the first
half to shock the host Cleveland Cavaliers, 99-90, on Sunday before
15,872 at Quicken Loans Arena.
It was a collapse of epic proportions.
The Cavaliers had to have been feeling good about themselves in the
first half, as they took an 18-point lead into the locker room.
Some were suggesting it was their most complete half of the season.
All that changed in the second half, as the Cavs crumbled and were
"I'm disappointed that we came out and played that way," Cavs coach
Mike Brown said. "We should all be embarrassed with the way we
played in second half."
The Cavs' major damage occurred in the third quarter. A 3-point
barrage by the Suns started the second half with the Cavaliers on
the heels. By the time the third quarter was over, the Cavs had been
The Suns were suffocating defensively in the third, as the Cavs shot
a woeful 2-for-22 from the field. NBA teams don't oftentimes shoot
nine percent from the floor for an entire 12-minute quarter.
The six-point effort was a season low for the Cavs in any quarter
this season. It also tied a Suns' franchise record for fewest points
allowed in a quarter. It came close to tying the Cavs' all-time mark
of four points in a quarter.
Forward Channing Frye connected on all three 3-point goals in the
third. The Suns made five of 12 from behind the arc in the third.
"It was hard to watch," Brown said.
He said the coaches conferred with the players at halftime,
encouraging them to continue to defend and to close out on the Suns'
"We came out and did the opposite of everything we talked about,"
Suns forward Markieff Morris came off the bench and had a game-high
27 points and 15 rebounds.
Dragic added 15 points, five rebounds and seven assists, while
forward P.J. Tucker had 13 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and two
"They outworked us in the second half, simply put," Cavs guard Kyrie
Irving had a team-high 24 points, a game-high nine assists and two
steals for the Cavs. He was 8-for-23 from the field, including
0-for-3 from the 3-point line.
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Forward Luol Deng finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and
five assists, while forward Tristan Thompson added 17 points and
The Cavs suffered a major scare with 4 minutes, 25 seconds left
in the game when center Anderson Varejao fell awkwardly to the
court. He held his left knee. However, he stayed in the game. He
had just two points, but pulled down 10 rebounds.
The medical staff said it's general wear and tear on his knee.
He'll be further evaluated on Monday.
"I was worried," Brown said. "His knee was bothering him a
little bit. It was tough to see."
The Cavs opened up a 61-43 advantage at halftime, but fans were
still a bit wary. They've seen them blow leads like that before.
"I got on our case pretty much about defense," Suns coach Jeff
Hornacek said. "In the first half, we didn't give an effort. I
said they average 96 points, and they have 61 already.
"I said to come out in the second half and play defense like we
are supposed to, be aggressive, and you'll slowly climb back in
Brown said the turning point came when the Suns came out for the
second half and made five 3-point goals, three by Frye, in a
span of 3:41.
"Part of it was them hitting five 3s — bang, bang, bang, bang,
bang — and them gaining confidence, and us starting to wonder,"
he said. "I didn't see lack of effort, (maybe) a lack of focus.
"Channing Frye was just standing out there. We relaxed mentally,
and did things weren't supposed to do."
NOTES: The Cavs dropped to 1-3 on the five-game homestand that
ends on Tuesday vs. New Orleans. Remember, this was supposed to
be the homestand that jump-started their serious playoff push.
"It's very frustrating," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. ... The
Cavaliers recalled F Sergey Karasev and G Carrick Felix from the
NBA Development League. Brown said the action they received in
the D-League was "priceless." ... Cavs big men Anderson Varejao
(10.3) and Tristan Thompson (9.8) are pulling down a combined
20.1 rebounds per game. Among Eastern Conference duos, they
trail only the Detroit Pistons' Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe,
who combined for 21.5 entering Sunday. ... G Goran Dragic, the
Suns' leading scorer and playmaker, has a fan in Brown. "I
thought since he's been in the league, if he had a team that's
his own, had the right people around him and in the right
system, he could really do some damage," Brown said. ... Suns G
Eric Bledsoe (right arthroscopic knee surgery) should be back
sometime after the All-Star break. He came on the team's
four-game East Coast trip to do his rehab work with the training
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