Suns scorch Hawks in 1st half of 129-120 win
PHOENIX (AP) The Phoenix Suns might be excused for their defensive lapses. They were putting most of their energy into a record-setting offensive display.
The Suns achieved season highs in total points, points in a half and assists, and tied their single-game best for made 3-pointers in a 129-120 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night.
Their first-half point total of 79 was the most in the NBA before halftime this season and two shy of a US Airways Center record for points in a half.
The only cloudy spot for the Suns was that they allowed more than 100 points for the fifth straight game. This after they sank 15 3-pointers and dished out 29 assists in a blink-and-you-missed it kind of game where neither team paid any mind to the shot clock.
”Both of our teams are hard to guard in terms of how we play. Kicking it up and quick shots, and the way that both teams have guards that can really penetrate,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. ”That breaks down defenses when teams are good at passing the ball and shooting the ball. Sometimes there might look like there was zero defense out there, but I’m sure the guys were trying.”
Gerald Green certainly was trying on offense. He hit 5 of 6 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 33 points. The previous high for Phoenix in any half this season was 67 points, but 63 percent shooting, including 12 of 18 on 3-pointers in the first half, shattered the team mark.
”We were making 2s and some 3s. They were making all 3s,” Hawks guard Jeff Teague said.
Goran Dragic added 19 points for the Suns, hearing the chants of ”MVP” from the home crowd, and Marcus Morris had 18 points and nine rebounds off the bench. Twin brother Markieff added 21 points and eight rebounds.
”It’s two fast-paced teams going against each other,” Green said. ”We knew it was going to be like that, but I didn’t know they were going to be running like that.”
Phoenix led by as many as 15 points late in the second quarter, even though Atlanta scored 65 first-half points, including 37 in the first quarter, the highest against the Suns in any first quarter this season.
Teague had 29 points and eight assists for the Hawks, and Mike Scott added 20 points.
”It’s nothing we need to be super overly cautious about,” Green said of the Suns’ defense, ”but we do need to take a step back and kind of look and see what we’re doing wrong, especially in the first quarter.”
The second half saw slightly less scoring from both teams, but the Suns led 90-77 after Green’s high-flying dunk over the Hawks’ Shelvin Mack with 7:21 left in the third quarter.
The Suns’ lead was at 95-89 after Kyle Korver hit his fifth 3-pointer at the 3:54 mark, and down to 95-91 on a basket by Mack with 3:22 to play.
Mack made it a one-point game with a layup to cap an 8-0 run, but the Suns scored seven of the last eight points of the third quarter to take a 102-95 lead into the fourth.
Leandro Barbosa, playing his first game since missing the past five with a sprained toe, scored five key points in the fourth quarter to keep the Hawks at bay. The Suns never held less than a five-point lead in the quarter.
A transition pass from Dragic to P.J. Tucker for a long jumper made the score 121-110 with 3:20 left in the game and essentially ended any chance for a Hawks comeback.
”They shot the ball extremely well. They play with great pace, they put lot of pressure in your defense, make or miss,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. ”Our transition defense wasn’t good enough.”
The Hawks have lost 11 of their last 12 games. The Suns haven’t lost two straight games to the Hawks since the 1991-92 season.
It took Korver less than two minutes to continue his NBA-record streak of at least one made 3-pointer in a game. His long-range shot at 10:29 of the first quarter gave him 127 straight games with a made three-ball.
Korver made six of seven 3-pointers to finish with 18 points.
NOTES: Newly acquired power forward Shavlik Randolph made his Suns debut Sunday. He played 10 minutes and scored two points off the bench. … Hornacek said guard Eric Bledsoe, who is coming back from knee surgery earlier this season, looked good in 5-on-5 action in practice recently. Bledsoe hasn’t played since Dec. 30. The Suns want Bledsoe’s conditioning to return to game level before allowing him to play, which could keep him out for another two weeks. … Budenholzer is a native of Holbrook, Ariz., in northeastern Arizona, and had family and friends at Sunday’s game. … Hawks F Paul Millsap missed his fourth straight game with a right knee contusion. … C Mike Muscala, signed late last week, made his Hawks debut and played 19 minutes. He had four points, five rebounds and two blocked shots.