Gerald Green, the Phoenix Suns’ free-spirited guard and designated gunner, came off the bench on Wednesday night and scored a season-high 28 points as the Suns erased a 19-point deficit to beat the Brooklyn Nets 112-104.
As is often the case with Green, he didn’t have the greatest shot selection. He went 7 of 15, including just 3 of 9 from 3-point range. But he hit 11-of-12 free throw attempts.
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Isaiah Thomas added 17 points off the bench for the Suns. Thomas and Green picked up the slack for starting point-guard duo of Eric Bledsoe (11 points, seven turnovers) and Goran Dragic (18 points, six assists), who weren’t clicking.
Joe Johnson led the Nets with 21 points, Mirza Teletovic scored 16 and had seven rebounds, and Brook Lopez had 16 points but only three rebounds. Kevin Garnett added 12 points and 10 rebounds.
In addition to his scoring, Green was solid on defense. He stole the ball from Johnson and started a fast-break layup, and three-point play by Goran Dragic for a decisive 106-99 lead with 1:57 left.
"I don’t think Joe saw me," Green said. "I had an opportunity to go for a steal. I know I make a lot of mistakes in a game. I’m trying to limit my mistakes. I’m not trying to add another. I got the steal. I saw the fast break. I tried to give it up to my teammates."
The Nets, though they entered the game as a higher-scoring team than the Suns (104.7 to 103.7), vowed before the game to slow the fast pace that the Suns prefer.
It worked for a half. Then the Nets gradually gave in to the Suns’ preferred pace, Thomas and Green went to work, and the Suns made their move and took over the game.
Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said he showed the Suns video clips of their defensive lapses at halftime and told his players, "If we take it up a notch defensively, we’ll have a chance to win the game."
It worked. The Nets also gradually gave in to the Suns’ preferred pace.
"In the second half, we just got into a rut. We obviously couldn’t get stops, and we couldn’t score," Johnson said. ."That is probably the toughest part. We couldn’t come up with the big plays. To blow such a big lead, that is hard to swallow."
Suns: Phoenix snapped a five-game losing streak vs. the Nets…The teams feature three sets of brothers: Nets center Mason Plumlee and Suns center Miles Plumlee; the Suns’ twin forwards Markieff and Marcus Morris; and guards Goran and Zoran Dragic of the Suns.
Nets: Nets rookie Bojan Bogdanovic followed up his career-high 22 points on Sunday against Orlando by going 4 of 14 for 14 points vs. the Suns.
The Nets visit Golden State on Thursday.
The Suns host Charlotte on Friday.
HONORING A LEGEND
The Suns honored longtime sportswriter Joe Gilmartin, a winner of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Curt Gowdy Award for media members. Honoring Gilmartin on Wednesday night allowed Nets head coach Lionel Hollins and his assistant, Paul Westphal, both former Phoenix-area basketball figures, to be in attendance. Gilmartin covered both of them for years.
"He was one of the true gentlemen sportswriters," said Hollins, who has known Gilmartin since Hollins was a star at Arizona State in 1973. "You could tell by his writing that he loved the game."