The Phoenix Suns started their four-game road trip in dramatic fashion, erasing a big deficit behind a dominant defensive performance in the second half to come away with a win.
On Monday night, the Suns continue the trip when they face the Philadelphia 76ers, a team on the opposite end of the defensive spectrum.
Against Cleveland on Sunday, the Suns held the Cavaliers to just six third-quarter points and only 29 in the entire second half in a 99-90 victory. Phoenix trailed by 18 at halftime, but shot 43.6 percent in the second half, while limiting Cleveland to 23.8 percent.
Markieff Morris scored 27 points and grabbed a season-high 15 rebounds for the Suns, who have won three of four following a three-game skid.
"We are a really hard-nosed team," said Goran Dragic, who added 15 points. "It doesn’t matter if we are up or down 20 points, we are still going to battle until the end."
The comeback was even more impressive because the Suns (25-18) had struggled to put away teams on the road prior to their rally in Cleveland. Phoenix had dropped three straight away from home, though it had been outscored by just 3.0 points per game in those contests.
"On the road, you have to play defense. If you don’t play defense on the road, you have no chance," Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said.
The Suns should be able to get their offense going well before halftime against the 76ers, who are allowing a league-worst 109.5 points per game.
Oklahoma City became the sixth straight opponent and 10th in 11 games to score at least 100 against Philadelphia (14-30) on Saturday, shooting 52.6 percent from the field in a 103-91 victory.
Kevin Durant was the second player in as many games to record a triple-double against the 76ers, tallying 32 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists. That came a night after Toronto’s Kyle Lowry had 18 points, 13 assists and 10 boards in the Raptors’ 104-95 win. No team has allowed an opposing player to record a triple-double in three consecutive contests since the 1985-86 season, when the league began tracking the feat.
With their defense struggling mightily, the 76ers need their offense to contribute more but that hasn’t been the case lately. Philadelphia has averaged 94.4 points and shot 42.4 percent from the field during a 2-9 stretch.
Leading scorer Evan Turner has missed 19 of 28 from the field in the last two games, while rookie Michael Carter-Williams is shooting 32.6 percent (15 for 46) in his past three.
Turner was unavailable when these teams met Dec. 28 in Phoenix, missing the game because of a sore knee. Thaddeus Young had 30 for the 76ers, but they were outscored 31-14 in fast-break points in a 115-101 loss.
That was the second straight win in the series for Phoenix, which has lost three of four in Philadelphia.