Suns Strokes: Cavs lead wire-to-wire in Bledsoe's return
The Suns had rallied from 26 down and 20 down to win the previous two meetings against Cleveland, but a 15-point deficit proved to be too much to overcome Wednesday.
The Suns lost 110-101 -- their third straight defeat that dropped them a full two-games out of the playoff race in the West after Dallas and Memphis both won on the road.
"You would think they would know the situation with the games we are in, the standings and that kind of stuff," head coach Jeff Hornacek said.
"I think everyone understands that at this point everyone has to step up. You are trying to win games. We have to win games we are suppose to. That is the disappointing part."
Not even the return of Eric Bledsoe (15 points, nine assists and three rebounds in 32 minutes) could turn the tide in the Suns' favor.
"It's a team we needed to beat and a game we needed to win and we didn't so it's going to make it that much tougher (to make the playoffs)," he said.
Goran Dragic led the Suns with 20. Markieff Morris added 18 and 10 rebounds. It was his eighth double-double of the season, the most of any reserve player in the NBA. Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 23 points, one of six Cavaliers in double figures, including all five starters. Cleveland, which snapped a four-game losing streak, led wire-to-wire.
Bledsoe ended a 33-game absence checking in with 7:39 to play in the first quarter. His impact was immediate with two points and two assists in the first 92 seconds he was on the floor. Bledsoe finished the quarter with three points, four assists and one rebound.
Dragic scored 11 points in the third quarter helping the Suns pull to within two, which they did on three different occassions, but could never finish the comeback.
Marcus Morris, in his first start of the season, had 14 points, extending his career-long streak scoring in double figures to seven straight games.
Miles Plumlee grabbed five of his 10 rebounds in the second quarter. It was his 21st game with double-digit rebounds of the season.
The Suns held an opponent under 50 percent shooting for the first time in eight games.
With 4:35 to play in the first quarter, Spencer Hawes hit a layup giving him 14 points or two more than the entire Suns team. He finished with 17, helping the Cavaliers score 37, setting a new season-high for points in the first quarter. It marked the second straight game and third time in four games overall, the Suns allowed a 30-point first quarter.
Dion Waiters' buzzer-beating three to end the third quarter started a 10-0 run, part of a 19-7 burst that put the Cavaliers ahead by 14, 98-84 with 6:33 to play in the game.
Gerald Green did not make a single three, snapping a run of nine consecutive games with at least one three-pointer. He missed all six of his attempts.
The NBA's No. 1 fast break team (19.0 points per game) had but one fast break field goal in the first half, getting outscored 11-2.
The Cavaliers outscored the Suns, 27-14 in second chance points, including a 16-0 advantage in the first quarter.
The Suns missed nine of 22 free throws.
STAT OF THE GAME
The Cavaliers shot 50 percent (12-of-24) from beyond the arc, becoming the first Suns' opponent to shoot at least 50 percent while trying at least 24 three-pointers in a game since the New Orleans Hornets shot 13-of-26 (50 percent) in a Suns' 111-108 win on November 23, 2012.
HE SAID IT
"They looked like the team that was trying to get into the playoffs. We looked like the team that just wanted to play a basketball game," Hornacek said.
I'm so mad at myself for letting my teammates down and not being there for them tonight.. We will never stop #SunsNation— PJ Tucker (@PJTUCKER17) March 13, 2014
The Suns used their sixth different starting lineup with Marcus Morris becoming the ninth different player to start a game this season. Morris got the nod at small forward with PJ Tucker serving a one-game suspension for what the league called "an elbow to the chin" of the Clippers Blake Griffin on Monday.
Former Sun Devil Carrick Felix had about 20 friends and family in attendance. He did not play as he recovers from a left patella stress fracture suffered at the end of January.
Cleveland signed Gilbert native and former Mountain Pointe High standout Shane Edwards to a 10-day contract.
The Suns hit the road. They'll play three games in four days beginning at Boston on Friday, March 14.
Tip off is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning 30 minutes earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. The Suns have won five of eight against the Celtics, including a victory last month at US Airways Center. Behind Markieff Morris' team-high 18 points, the Suns earned the win, 100-94.
Craig Grialou, Reporter
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