Suns start hot, handle 76ers for second straight win
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Phoenix’s locker room was turned into a makeshift cheese steak shop, Philly’s favorite sandwich in the stall of every Suns player. Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris, city natives, handled the catering for teammates who begged them for the tasty postgame feast.
"Every time I come out, I’ve got to make sure I take care of those guys," Markieff Morris said. "I’ve got to show ’em what Philly is about."
Philly sure did get a taste of what the Suns are about — a high-energy offense that ran at full force for 48 minutes.
Gerald Green scored 30 points and Goran Dragic had 24 to lead the Suns to a 124-113 victory over the 76ers on Monday night.
There was no need for a comeback in this one, as Phoenix led wire to wire over a hapless Philadelphia squad one night after rallying from an 18-point halftime deficit to win at Cleveland.
"We were just trying to pick up where we left off in the second half," Green said between bites of his cheese steak. "We just told ourselves today we wanted to start off quicker than we have the last few games."
Did they ever. The Suns made their first six shots and 10 of their first 11, and they raced to a 16-point lead in the process. Green made his first seven shots until he botched a fast-break dunk.
Markieff Morris scored 13 points and had four blocks. The Suns blocked a season-high 12 shots. Green and Dragic, Phoenix’s starting backcourt, combined to make 19 of 25 shots as the Suns shot around 60 percent for most of the game.
"Sometimes the guys come out and they’re tired or don’t have the energy," Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. "We had a lot of energy."
The Suns matched their season high with 124 points and improved to .500 (11-11) on the road.
Michael Carter-Williams had 22 points and 11 assists for the Sixers, who have lost 10 of 12.
The Suns picked up where they left off in Cleveland, where they held the Cavaliers to six points in the third quarter and outscored them 56-29 in the second half. They attacked the Sixers from all over the court, scoring in bunches on dunks, floaters and 3-pointers. Sixers coach Brett Brown called a timeout 25 seconds into the game. But whatever he didn’t like out of the Sixers he couldn’t fix. Green hit a 3 and Dragic connected on a 19-footer for a fast 36-20 lead.
"We didn’t come out the way we intended," Brown said. "We want to end this middle third being a better defensive team. We talk about it, we drill it, we show it. We’ve got to find a better way to get that done."
The Suns and Sixers were both expected to finish near the bottom of their conferences. After a 3-0 start, the 76ers crashed back to reality and are one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference. The surprising Suns (26-18), though, have survived the loss of Eric Bledsoe (knee) and have positioned themselves as playoff team in the Western Conference.
Phoenix took a 13-point lead into the fourth quarter and held off a brief Philadelphia run that whittled the margin to single digits.
Green settled the Suns with a 3-pointer that stretched the lead to 113-100 with 3:10 left. His fourth 3 of the game (on four attempts) sealed the win, and the Suns cruised to their fourth victory in five games.
Green could only laugh off the missed dunk that would have kept him flawless at that point. Overall, he made 10 of 12 shots and had three blocks.
"I like to make plays like that for a team," Green said. "That right there gives us juice. I thought that could have been a turning point in the game."
As it turned out, the blooper didn’t really matter in the final score.
Miles Plumlee had 14 points and 13 rebounds against a Sixers team that entered allowing a league-worst 109.5 points per game. P.J. Tucker scored 15.
Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young both scored 21 points for the Sixers.
"They came out and just made tough shots," Young said.
NOTES: Young, Turner and Brown were all whistled for technical fouls. … Former Temple star Dionte Christmas returned to town with the Suns. Christmas, a Philadelphia native, left about 50 tickets for friends and family. … The Sixers have allowed 100-plus points in seven straight games.