Suns step on Sixers in fourth quarter
PHOENIX — Suns coach Jeff Hornacek warned his team that the 76ers wouldn’t forget Phoenix guard Drew Bledsoe’s proclamation that his old school, Kentucky, would beat Philadelphia in a playoff series.
It took a halftime reminder, and finally a fourth-quarter spurt, for the Suns to finally put away the NBA’s worst team.
Gerald Green and Markieff Morris each scored 21 points and the Suns pulled away for a 112-96 victory Friday night to avoid another bad home loss to a poor Eastern Conference team.
"It just took them a little while," Hornacek said. "They kind of got on themselves at halftime and said, ‘OK, let’s go.’"
The Suns hit 14 of 32 3-pointers, none bigger than Green’s 3 in an 11-2 run to start the fourth as Phoenix snapped a two-game skid.
Tony Wroten scored 28 points for the Sixers, who trailed 80-79 with a minute left in the third quarter. But a poor final period sent them to their 27th loss in 31 games.
"I was very happy with our effort," Sixers coach Brett Brown said.
The Suns completed the season sweep after Bledsoe claimed before the November game that Kentucky would beat the Sixers 4-1 in a playoff series.
Unlike the first game when Bledsoe was knocked on his back by Nerlens Noel 30 seconds in, there were no incidents.
"Every time we play them, probably for the rest of their careers, they’re going to be jacked up for that game," Hornacek said.
With the Suns finally in control late, it allowed for an NBA first when Markieff and Marcus Morris played with teammates Goran and Zoran Dragic for the Suns. It was the first time two sets of brothers played for a team at the same time.
Zoran Dragic scored his first NBA points, completing a three-point play off an assist from his brother.
"We had that feeling we had when we played together for the (Slovenian) national team," Goran Dragic said. "It’s always nice to have him on the floor and share the jersey."
Outside of Alex Len’s career-high six blocks, the Suns played lackluster defense for much of the night to allow the NBA’s worst offensive team to stay close.
The Sixers sported their 15th starting lineup combination, with Luc Mbah a Moute back at center after missing two games with a strained left calf and K.J. McDaniels at shooting guard.
It was the second start for the rookie McDaniels, as Brown said he wanted to "try something" after rookie Jakarr Sampson had started the past five games in place of the sick Hollis Thompson.
An energized Mbah a Moute set the tone early with seven points and four rebounds in the first 4 minutes. And the Sixers’ easy path to the hoop continued late in the first half when Wroten scored on consecutive drives to help erase a 10-point deficit and put Philadelphia ahead 59-57 at halftime.
The Suns built an 80-68 lead on consecutive alley-oop dunks by Green and Miles Plumlee from feeds by Bledsoe. But the Sixers responded with an 11-0 run.
Two nights after an overtime loss in Oklahoma City, the Suns led by 16 points in the fourth quarter to improve to 8-7 at home and remain eighth in the West.
"We were getting to the basket and we did hit some shots," Sixers guard Michael Carter-Williams said. "They made some adjustments in the second half and those adjustments helped them win the game."
76ers: Carter-Williams, who was 3 for 27 from the field in the previous two games, scored 17 points on 8-of-20 shooting. … Philadelphia’s 16 turnovers snapped a streak of 13 games with at least 17. … The Sixers’ 59 first-half points were a season high.
Suns: The Morris twins and Dragic brothers played together for 31 seconds. … Green has made at least one 3-pointer in 23 straight games.
Sixers director of statistical information Harvey Pollack, the only person who has worked for the NBA since its inception in 1946, was in critical but stable condition after a one-car accident Thursday in Philadelphia. The 92-year-old Pollack suffered numerous injuries and underwent hip surgery Friday.
"I’m surprised he didn’t just walk out of the car and brush himself off. He’s a stud, an absolute stud," Brown said. "Our thoughts are with him."
Pollack was the scorekeeper for Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962.
76ers: Saturday at the Los Angeles Clippers.
Suns: Host Toronto on Sunday.