Thursday, November 13, 2014
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Suns get hot late, cut down Nets

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[November 13, 2014]  PHOENIX -- In the first two games of this five-game homestand, the Phoenix Suns shot the lights out in the first quarter and went downhill from there. But in the last two, the Suns staggered out of the starting gates only to find their stride when it mattered most -- late.

Reserve guards Gerald Green and Isaiah Thomas combined for 49 points and the Phoenix Suns rallied from a 19-point deficit in the second quarter to beat the Brooklyn Nets 112-104 Wednesday night.

After cooling off after hot starts in losses to the Memphis Grizzlies and Sacramento Kings, the Suns trailed Golden State by as many as 13 points before rallying to win and followed a similar script -- with their two explosive reserves leading the charge.

"It doesn't matter how you win or lose, it's whether you win or lose," said Green, who scored his 28 points in 26 minutes. "We're going to get better it's just the beginning of the season. We finally decided to play the way we are capable of playing (in the second half) and the way we should play to give ourselves a chance to win. We just had to pick up the energy and intensity and I'm encouraged with the way we played in the second half."

Guard Goran Dragic added 18 points and six assists for the Suns, who led 2-0 but didn't see the lead again until late in the third quarter. The Nets shot 71 percent in the first half and had control of the game, but they went ice cold after intermission and missed 29 of 40 shots from the field (27.5 percent).

"We lost our aggressiveness," Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. "They started pressuring more and taking the ball out of the point guard's hands and we just made too many turnovers and not trying to run the offense."

Green had 18 of his 28 in the second quarter and Thomas had 17 of his 21 in the second half as the Suns snapped a five-game losing streak to the Nets -- the longest winning streak the Nets had ever had over Phoenix. In the fourth quarter of the last two games, Phoenix has outscored opponents 70-36 in the fourth quarter, with Green and Thomas accounting for 53 combined points.

"We can't keep putting ourselves in this position because we are not going to be able to come back every time," Thomas said. "We're not going to always be at home where the fans give us energy. We have to start out better and not get down so big."

Green had five rebounds, three assists and a steal, but his shooting in the second quarter kept the Suns from getting blown out early.

"Gerald can get shots off," Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek said. "Some of them aren't the greatest shots, but he can get rolling and he puts a lot of pressure on a defense. Teams have to scramble and make sure he doesn't get an open look. He's a dangerous player when he's making the right decisions."

Guard Joe Johnson had 21 points to lead the Nets and center Brook Lopez added 16, but none after intermission. Forward Mirza Teletovic added 16 points and four of Brooklyn's nine 3-pointers.

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"It happened. Obviously none of us wanted it to," Lopez said. "We were out there fighting, but once they got it rolling, they just kept chipping away and we didn't play our game enough in the second half."

Despite their shooting woes, the Nets still led 90-83 on a jumper by forward Kevin Garnett with 8:12 to go. But the Suns answered with an 18-4 run and took the lead for good at 95-94 on the first two of six straight points by Thomas, a 4-foot floater with 4:48 left.

The Nets made 12 of 17 shots in both the first and second quarters and that 70 percent clip kept them safely in front. Brooklyn scored 11 points off six Phoenix turnovers in the first 10 minutes and two 3-pointers -- one by guard Bojan Bogdanovic and one by Teletovic -- keyed a 10-0 run to give the Nets a 16-point lead at 29-13 with 2:18 left.

Brooklyn pushed the lead to 19 at 38-19 on two Jarrett Jack free throws with 10:19 left in the half and led 63-49 lead at intermission before the cold spell set in.

"In the second half it was like we got into a rut," Johnson said. "We couldn't get stops and we couldn't score. To blow such a big lead, that's just hard to swallow."

NOTES: The Suns forced 27 Golden State turnovers in their 107-95 win over the Warriors on Sunday. That was the most turnovers Phoenix forced since Dec. 16, 2003, when the Seattle Supersonics had 27. ... The game featured three sets of brothers: The Dragics (Goran and Zoran of the Suns), the Morrises (Markieff and Marcus of the Suns) and the Plumlees (Miles of the Suns and Mason of the Nets). Nets coach Lionel Hollins was an assistant to Paul Westphal when the Suns reached the NBA Finals in 1992-93, losing to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in six games. Now Westphal is an assistant to Hollins with the Nets. "I asked if he was interested in coaching and he said, 'Sure if the right opportunity came around.' I said, 'What about assistant coach?' He said, 'Well, if it was with you.' And lo and behold, down the road things opened up."

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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