CLEVELAND (AP) — Alvin Gentry and Byron Scott watched the same game Tuesday night, but the two coaches had vastly different reactions to what they saw.
Goran Dragic scored 19 points, Michael Beasley added 15 and the Phoenix Suns took control late in the third quarter to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 91-78 Tuesday night.
Gentry was all smiles after his team scored the final 14 points of the third en route to winning for just the second time in seven road games this season.
“We wanted to push the tempo a little bit,” he said. “Once we finally got our energy up in the third quarter, we did that, and I thought we did a great job of finding the mismatches.”
It’s not surprising that Scott, whose team has lost 10 of its last 11 games, had a different point of view.
“I’ll make just a real quick statement — Andy Varejao was fantastic,” he said. “Everybody else stunk tonight. Anything else you need to know?”
Phoenix’s big run resulted in a 71-59 lead it would not relinquish. The Suns’ spurt reached 34-11 at one point and a 91-70 lead late in the game.
Cleveland went ahead 59-57 with 3:28 left in the third quarter on Waiters’ layup, but the Suns, playing their second game on a six-city trip, took over. Four points each by Beasley, Jared Dudley and Luis Scola, and a basket by Jermaine O’Neal accounted for the run.
Scola scored 14 points, while Dudley added 11 for Phoenix.
“We’re not Oklahoma City,” Dudley said. “We’re not the best team in the West, but we can play better and we can come home above .500.”
Varejao had 20 points and 18 rebounds for his sixth straight double-double. He’s averaging 14.7 points and 17.7 rebounds during the stretch. Varejao leads the NBA in rebounding with a 14.9 average.
“To me right now he’s the best center in the NBA,” Scott said. “By far the best in the Eastern Conference. Coaches and players are starting to recognize how well he’s playing.”
“The way Anderson is rebounding the ball right now, the only comparison you can make is to Dennis Rodman,” Gentry said.
Cleveland played its fifth straight game without star point guard Kyrie Irving, who is out until mid-December with a broken left index finger, but Cleveland’s injury situation may be taking another hit. Guard Dion Waiters, selected with the No. 4 pick in the draft, bruised his left hand in the second quarter and left the game, but X-rays were negative. He eventually returned and had 16 points and seven assists.
Backup shooting guard Daniel Gibson missed his third game in the last six with a sore right elbow. Both will have MRIs on Wednesday.
Cleveland played its fourth game in five nights. The Cavaliers went 0-3 on a trip through Orlando, Miami and Memphis — with the losses coming by a combined 12 points.
Asked if the grueling schedule was a factor in the latest loss, Scott said, “Nope. I didn’t think our energy level was up to start the game. Andy’s energy’s level was up and Alonzo Gee got after it defensively, but after that, nothing.”
The Cavaliers scored 13 points in the first quarter after putting up nine in the fourth of Monday’s loss to the Grizzlies.
Phoenix avoided its worst road start in a decade. The Suns opened their 2002-03 road schedule 1-7.
The Suns are giving up a league-worst 103.3 points per game, but Cleveland struggled offensively. The Cavaliers scored 32 points and made 12 of 44 shots in the first half, finishing at 36 percent (30 of 84) for the game.
The Suns overcame a 26-point third-quarter deficit in a 107-105 victory over the Cavaliers on Nov. 9 in Phoenix.
NOTES: O’Neal had nine points, snapping his streak of double-figure games at five. … Technical fouls were issued to Suns G Shannon Brown and Waiters in the third quarter. … Phoenix is at Detroit on Wednesday. The Suns complete their road trip against Toronto, New York and Memphis. … Irving went through a shooting drill before the game with his finger in a splint and heavily wrapped in blue tape. … The Cavaliers went into Tuesday having played a league-low four home games. … Cleveland is off until Friday when it plays at Atlanta.