The Suns finally had their first sighting of a long-lost defense Friday night in Boston but even a season-best statistical performance did not have them ahead in the fourth quarter. With nine minutes to go, Suns center Miles Plumlee took a poke to the eye and had to leave and coach Jeff Hornacek turned to rookie Alex Len for his first crunch-time minutes of his season's 31 appearances. It might not be cause for league-wide Len-sanity but Len's big finish was insane enough to help the Suns escape TD Garden with an 87-80 victory in their lowest scoring game of the season. Len already had been holding his own but the 20-year-old who has to carry around a One Direction backpack this season won the game for the Suns when he broke a last-minute tie by tipping in an Eric Bledsoe miss as he was fouled. "Biggest play of the game," Suns forward P.J. Tucker said. "Happy for 'Rook.' He knocked the free throw down. Ice cold. He was really big on 'D' too. He made guys take tougher shots. He's going to be good." Len converted the 3-point play with 54 seconds remaining, starting a 7-0 close for Phoenix to pull within a game of eighth-place Memphis (who they must pass) and 1½ games of seventh-place Dallas. "They just told me to rebound," Len said of the coaches upon making his Friday debut with 8:53 to go and the Suns trailing by three. "Rebounds were big in the game so I just had to box out my players and play defense. I wasn't really focused on offense. I just had to get every rebound I can." Len did more than that. He blocked a Jared Sullinger post shot. He finished off a Bledsoe drive, scored on another free throw and used his 7-foot frame to block out for his rebounds or others. He tallied six points and three rebounds in his nine minutes.
Phoenix Suns fight off Boston Celtics for 87-80 win
Arizona Republic | Mar 15