Suns rally for 103-99 win over Nuggets

Markieff Morris found himself on the bench after he didn’t

hustle back and allowed a dunk in the second quarter.

That certainly got his attention. Next time in, Morris played

with way more determination.

Same with the rest of the Phoenix Suns. It was the only way to

erase an early 21-point deficit.

Morris scored 25 points and Gerald Green added 19, helping the

Suns rally for a 103-99 win over the Denver Nuggets on Friday

night.

”We never quit. We came out and fought all the way to the

end,” Morris said. ”It’s a great feeling, man.”

It was hardly one player, either, and the reserves played a big

hand, too, outscoring the starters, 64-39.

”That just goes to show you what type of team we have,” said

Green, who tied a career-high with six 3-pointers. ”Some nights

are not going to be everybody’s night. Any given night, somebody

can step up on this team and help us win. That’s what it takes.

”That shows a lot about our character.”

First, Green got hot, hitting 3-pointer after 3-pointer.

And once the Nuggets spread out their defense in order to stop

the long-range shooting, Goran Dragic went to work by driving the

lane. He finished with 17 points, including two big layups down the

stretch.

Steadily, the Suns worked their way back into a contest that

looked all but over, especially with the Nuggets up 79-62 with 4

minutes left in the third quarter.

But Suns coach Jeff Hornacek kept them on course, kept their

confidence high. That did the trick.

”I’ve got to give coach the credit, he never panicked. He never

yelled at us,” Green said. ”He just kept with it, kept telling us

to stick with the plan and it’s going to work.”

Wilson Chandler had 15 points for the Nuggets, while J.J.

Hickson added 13 points and 14 rebounds.

Ty Lawson was in the lineup despite coming down with a stomach

bug on Thursday. He was slightly off his game, going 3 of 11 from

the floor and finishing with 13 points.

”They were down 21 points but they kept fighting,” Denver

forward Darrell Arthur said.

Phoenix tied it 88-all on a layup from Ish Smith – his only

basket of the game – with 8:21 remaining. Soon after, the Suns took

their first lead since scoring the opening bucket when Dragic

dribbled past Denver defenders for a layup.

From there, it was back and forth until a pair of free throws

and a layup from Dragic gave the Suns a four-point lead.

With a 102-99 advantage, Phoenix allowed Randy Foye to get a

good look at a 3-point attempt, but Foye was off target with 5.9

seconds remaining. Morris sealed the win by making a free

throw.

A character-building win for the Suns.

A demoralizing loss for the Nuggets as they lost their second

straight game at Pepsi Center to drop to 7-5 at home on the season.

They were a franchise-best 38-3 last season.

”I’m not very happy, and I’ll take the hit for tonight’s game,

for allowing some things in practice to carry over into the game,”

coach Brian Shaw said. ”When it was going good for us in the first

half, we were all smiles and played as if the game was over and

didn’t have a second half to play.”

Dragic and fellow guard Eric Bledsoe entered the game averaging

more than 18 points apiece. They combined for 27, with Dragic’s

biggest buckets arriving down the stretch.

For that, he credits Green.

”We were hitting those 3s. Then, their players, they were

afraid to be in the paint, to leave open our shooters,” Dragic

said. ”It’s much easier when you have more space in the paint –

you can create. We did that.”

At 15-10, the Suns may just be ahead of schedule in terms of

turning around a team that had the worst record in the Western

Conference last season.

”We’re winning some games against some good teams and that’s

giving them confidence and helping to speed up the process a little

bit,” Hornacek said.

NOTES: Both teams return to the court Saturday night. Phoenix

hosts the Dallas Mavericks while the Nuggets play the Clippers in

Los Angeles. … The fourth quarter turned into quite a show

Markieff Morris and twin Marcus as they combined for 16 points. …

Jordan Hamilton served his one-game suspension for throwing a punch

at Oklahoma City center Steven Adams on Tuesday. … Nate Robinson

picked up a technical foul in the second quarter. … According to

the Nuggets, the 21 points was their largest blown lead at home

since Nov. 29, 2002, against Golden State.