The Phoenix Suns played hard, but couldn’t stop Deron Williams and the New Jersey Nets, who pulled away in the end for a 110-103 victory in a closely contested match. The game was tied 16 times, and the lead changed 18 times. Statistically, both teams had 13 turnovers and 35 rebounds. The Suns were 13 of 16 from the free throw line, and the Nets were 15 of 19. The Suns made 41 of 79 shots, and the Nets were 40 of 80. The Suns and Nets both scored 18 points off turnovers. The difference in the game ended up being the hot three-point shooting of the Nets in the second half. Suns coach Alvin Gentry said, “We couldn’t come up with the three or four plays that could get us over the hump.”
Ronnie Price and Shannon Brown got their first starts of the season for the Suns, as Steve Nash and Grant Hill sat out the game due to minor injuries. Channing Frye scored the first basket for the Suns, and ended the quarter with seven points. After the game, Frye said “I thought the effort was there. They (just) shot the skin off the ball.” Kris Humphries had the hot hand early, scoring eight points for the Nets, but the Suns led 25-22 after one. It was only the third time in 11 games this season that the Suns had a lead after the first quarter.
The second quarter was just as highly contested, with the lead changing hands seven times. Both teams exchanged three-pointers at critical moments. The Suns were five of eight from three, with Sebastian Telfair making two of three. The Nets were four for five, with Deron Williams hitting the final three of the quarter to give the Nets a 54-51 lead at halftime. Neither team led by more than five points throughout the first half.
The Suns went on an early 9-1 run in the third and took a 60-57 lead when Ronnie Price nailed a 28-foot three-pointer from the top of the key. The lead didn’t last long as Deron Williams came right back and hit a 25 foot three-pointer on the Nets next possession. The game remained close for the next seven minutes, and was tied at 77 until Deron Williams decided to take the game into his own hands. After already scoring seven points in the quarter, Williams hit three three-pointers in a row, and scored the final 11 point of the quarter for the Nets. The Suns could only come up with five points during that span, and found themselves trailing 88-82 after three.
Hakim Warrick’s layup cut the lead to 91-88 in the fourth, but then the Nets went on a 9-0 run to take a 12 point lead. The Suns immediately made an 11-2 run to cut the lead to three once again, with just under three minutes left in the game. Unfortunately, the Suns missed two critical three’s, and the Nets went on an 8-2 run to end the game.
Deron Williams had a career night, scoring 35 while making six of nine from three, and adding 14 assists. Ronnie Price said of his former Jazz teammate, “When he’s coming off screens and knocking down shots like that … there’s really nothing you can do.” MarShon Brooks added twenty points, and Anthony Morrow made four of seven from three. Overall the Nets made 15 of 32 three-pointers, hitting ten of 21 in the second half. In contrast, the Suns were six of 12 in the first half, but only two of ten from three in the second half. Marcin Gortat was the leading scorer for the Suns with 20 points and ten rebounds. Ronnie Price had a career-high 18 points, including a team high eight assists in his first start for the Suns. The Suns seemed a little out of sync with the different rotations caused by Nash and Hill sitting out, and the bench only scored a total of 19 points in the game.
This was the third straight game the Suns have lost, and the third straight game one guard has dominated the scoring for the opposition. First Kobe Bryant went off for 48, then Kyrie Irving scored 26 with six assists, and Friday night Deron Williams had 35 with 14 assists. This was only the Nets second win in Phoenix over the last 18 years. Back-to-back losses to Eastern Conference teams with records under .500, was not how the Suns wanted to end their home stand. Next up, the Suns go on a brutal five game road trip, playing the Spurs (who have not lost a home game this season), Bulls, Knicks, Celtics, and Mavericks over the next nine days.