The Suns were playing so badly that their parents might have booed them. Once down by 20 and trailing 61-43 at halftime to the league’s second-worst offense, they got a scolding no parent could muster Sunday night. Suns assistant coach Mike Longabardi, in charge of piecing back together a shredded defense, channeled his 2001 Jim “Playoffs?!” Mora with a similar rant and Suns coach Jeff Hornacek completed the “bad cop, bad cop” approach that peppered the Suns players’ ears like a flurry of verbal hooks. It brought about a defensive turnabout for the record books, as the Suns held Cleveland to a Phoenix opponent franchise low-tying six points in the third quarter to rally to a 99-90 win at Quicken Loans Arena. “We’re the best comeback team in the NBA,” Suns point guard Goran Dragic said. “Longo went off. He said he was like a European coach yelling at us.” The Suns (25-18) have repeatedly come back from the dead like Jason Voorhees. They also have rallied to win this season from 13-, 14-, 16- and 21-point holes but never so decisively defensive. The third quarter started off like nothing special when Suns guard Gerald Green missed the first three shots, but Cleveland (16-28) missed its first 10 second-half shots and went 2 for 22 in the third quarter with some trapping off screens to put more pressure on Cavaliers star point guard Kyrie Irving. Irving went from a 13-point, seven-assist first half to a 3-for-14 shooting second half. A 25-6 Suns third quarter tied the franchise record for fewest points allowed in a quarter with six (Feb. 28, 1999, vs. Golden State, and Feb. 21, 2002, at Memphis) and tied the franchise record for fewest opponent field goals made in a quarter with two (done several times, the last being Feb. 28, 1999 vs. Golden State). “Our guys were tired in the third quarter, but I said, ‘That’s the way we play. A lot of these teams don’t run like we do,’” Hornacek said. The Suns rallied from 26 down to win against Cleveland last season, but it is hardly the same Suns team. The rally from 21 down at Denver on Dec. 20 is more representative of the same road wherewithal the Suns showed Sunday night. That overwhelming third quarter was enough only for a one-point lead. It took the bench scoring on the first eight possessions of the fourth quarter to complete a 29-5 run.
Phoenix Suns storm back to defeat the Cavaliers in Cleveland
Arizona Republic | Jan 27