Suns Strokes: Second-half spurt paces Phoenix to come-from-behind win over Celtics
Taken to overtime the night before in Denver, the Suns needed every bit of the 48 minutes to hold off the Celtics to complete their fourth sweep of a back-to-back set this season.
Down 10 midway through the third quarter, the Suns went on a 25-5 run including 17 unanswered points to take a 10-point advantage, 81-71, with 9:45 remaining.
Goran Dragic and Markieff Morris each scored six points, but it was Marcus Morris who went on a personal 8-0 run to close the stretch for the Suns. He made a 32-foot pull-up three-pointer at the third quarter buzzer, before making another three-pointer and finishing a fast break dunk to account for the first five points of the fourth quarter. Markieff Morris (18 points) led six players in double figures, including four starters (Dragic, Gerald Green 17; Channing Frye 15, P.J. Tucker 10).
The Suns led by as many as 11 points in the first half.
The Suns had four second half turnovers, all in the third quarter.
The Suns ability to close quarters. They ended the first quarter on an 8-0 run and the third quarter on a 12-0 run.
Markieff Morris has scored in double figures in three straight and 15 of the last 16 games. Over this 16-game stretch, he is averaging 15.3 points on 46.9 percent shooting, in addition to grabbing 5.9 rebounds.
Tucker recorded a double-double in consecutive games for the first time in his career, finishing with 10 points and 11 rebounds while adding a season- and career-high tying six assists.
Green is averaging 26.0 points (55.4 percent shooting including 48.4 percent from three) and five rebounds in his last four games.
Ish Smith missed five of his six shot attempts but he had five assists, all in the second half.
THE BAD You mean besides the alma mater losing to unranked Boston College...in overtime...at home?
Okay, well then how about the Suns missing seven of 11 first half foul attempts, including Dragic's less-than-stellar 1-of-4? Or maybe the Suns' 14 first half turnovers that the Celtics converted into 18 points? And then there was that Celtics' 16-4 start to the third quarter.
STAT OF THE GAME
The Suns outscored the Celtics 30-8 in fast break points, marking the fifth time this season the Suns have outscored their opponent by at least 20 fast break points. The Suns have now scored at least 30 fastbreak points in a game six times this season.
HE SAID IT
"Shhh... We don't want anyone to go after him when he's a free agent," head coach Jeff Hornacek answered when asked about Tucker being an underrated starter. "No, P.J. is a workhorse---he plays hard, he brings the intensity all the time. He's got a knack for the ball and when he's determined to get it he goes and gets it. We love what he brings to us in terms of leadership, energy, toughness; he's been invaluable."
The Suns improved to 32-21, their best start through 53 games since sitting at 37-16 in 2007-08.
The Suns grabbed four of their 10 offensive rebounds on their first possession -- which last 74 seconds before Marcus Morris hit a three -- of the fourth quarter.
The Suns continue the four-game homestand, welcoming in the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, February 21. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning 30 minutes earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
The Suns are 0-2 against the Spurs, losing in the final minute in San Antonio, 99-96 and then losing in the final five minutes in the most recent meeting in Phoenix, 108-101.
Craig Grialou, Reporter
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