As Suns Coach Alvin Gentry said, it was a great win against a quality team and a big game to take before going on the road for a six-game, 10-day trip. The Atlanta Hawks (34-23) are a dangerous team with their mix of athletic bigs and quality scoring options on the wings. Fortunately for the Suns, the combination of a game last night and three players unavailable due to a trade that went down this afternoon helped the home team get separation late.
"I thought our guys kind of wore down and coming off a back to back, and having to play catch up basketball when you're down 18 points is tough to do in this building," Hawks Coach Larry Drew said about his team. The Hawks were able to battle back and tie the game at 92 with five minutes to go before the Suns closed out with a 13-5 run.
The key to the Suns getting separation in the game and then giving up the lead in the fourth quarter was the bench unit. The Suns bench came in the second quarter and gave one of their stronger performances of the season. The reserves used a 20-9 run over through nine minutes of play to give Phoenix their biggest lead of the game -- 18 points.
Unfortunately, it was also the bench unit who blew a nine point lead in a matter of four minutes to start the fourth quarter. Overall, the Suns bench out-scored Atlanta's reserves 50-28 and had a 19-8 rebounding advantage. The Suns depth was a big factor even if the inconsistency was still a concern.
"I just thought we didn't do a very good job with our decisions at the start of the fourth quarter.We didn't do a good job executing and as I said, we get the ball right into the post, we got to be able to complete those. We stuck Grant (Hill) down there and he did a good job, we stuck Channing (Frye) down there and Channing came through for us," Gentry said.
The guy he's obviously talking about not finishing in the post against small players is Marcin Gortat. It's a part of his game that needs to improve.
The Suns were led offensively by Channing Frye who finished with 20 points on 8-14 shooting. He's on an incredible tear spanning the last four games. Over that stretch, Frye is averaging 22 points and is shooting 16-29 from three (.552) and 19-26 (.731) from two-point range. As we've said all season, when Frye is scoring, the Suns offense is incredibly hard to defend.
Fyre's three-point shooting opens up driving lanes and opportunities for Gortat and Robin Lopez on the pick and roll but tonight he got it done in the post against the switching defense of the Hawks.
The Suns finished the game with 105 points and 52.6 percent shooting despite only getting six points in 16 minutes from Vince Carter -- the guy who is supposed to be leading this team in points -- and Grant Hill who was 3-7 for seven points on the night.