Anyone still wondering if the Phoenix Suns are a suddenly much-improved team needed only watch the Suns-Miami Heat game Tuesday. The Suns took leads into halftime and the fourth quarter on the road and had the current No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference on the ropes, but 17 unanswered points over a more than six-minute span of the fourth quarter cost the Suns any chance they had at a major upset.
The loss ended a four-game Phoenix winning streak.
The Suns stunned the crowd at American Airlines Arena, and probably stunned the Heat's Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh for all but the last 7:29 of the game. A Shannon Brown 3-pointer gave the Suns a 90-80 lead at that point in the game, but the rest of the game was all "El Heat" in its salute to Latinos game against "Los Suns."
Things looked good for the Suns, especially when Sebastian Telfair shook his defender and penetrated then kicked out to Brown for the three. But it was all downhill from there.
Though Steve Nash returned to the game with 6:26 left, the Heat were already on their way to the big run. Wade hit James for layup to make it 90-88, and after a steal Wade was all alone for a dunk to tie it with 4:11 to play.
Bosh hit two free throws to give the Heat the lead, but the killer was the Suns forcing guard Mario Chalmers to pass wildly from under the basket, where he somehow found Wade for a layup and foul.
When the Suns lost track of the shot clock and turned the ball over with 2:07 to play, the game was effectively over. James hit a jumper to make it 97-90 Miami.
James crashed to the floor on a solid screen from the Suns' Grant Hill and needed to be helped off, but stayed in the game. "The King" finished with 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Bosh led all scorers with 29.
Four Suns scored in double figures led by Hill's 19. The Suns outscored the Heat 31-21 in the second quarter and took a 53-49 lead into halftime.
Rookie Markieff Morris showed some potential but also some rookie rawness. He finished with 12 points.
Late in the third quarter, Morris missed two free throws. He made up for it with a blocked shot to stuff a 3-on-1 Heat fastbreak and hustled to the other end of the court for a dunk and foul. Seconds later, Morris blocked a James layup that wasn't going to go into the basket and was called for goaltending.
The Heat won their 14th straight home game.