By: Kayla Mortellaro
PHOENIX— The Phoenix Suns came out with high-energy and aggressiveness that led to a dominating win over the Sacramento Kings, 118-97 at Talking Stick Resort Arena Wednesday night.
The Suns were led by Eric Bledsoe, who finished the night with 19 points, eight assists, and six rebounds.
“He’s very good at getting those steals and playing the passing lanes,” Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek said after the game. “Sometimes it’s too much. But when he gets his hand in, he’s strong, he gets that ball, he knocks it loose, he gets low to the ground. That was big for us to get off to a good start.”
Overall, the Suns were the more aggressive team, but a lull in the second half allowed the Kings to tie it up at 55-all at the 7:43 mark in the third quarter. Hornacek called a timeout and Phoenix responded in a big way by going on an 11-0 run.
Guard Brandon Knight, who was held scoreless in the first half, was the one leading the charge during the run. He found his shot in the second half and finished the game with 17 points and seven assists.
“Bled [Eric Bledsoe] was great in the beginning of the game, then Brandon [Knight] was great that one stretch in the third quarter, then Alex [Len] had that really good stretch,” Hornacek said. “PJ [Tucker had a good stretch. We had contributions from a lot of guys tonight, which we need.”
Sacramento head coach George Karl attributed the collapse after the tie game in the third quarter to a lack of concentration from his team.
“Brandon Knight got hot as hell and made some threes and got it back up to 11,” Karl said. “We didn’t have enough energy or defense to figure out how to win the game. Defensively, right after that, we fell apart.”
The Kings were led by Kosta Koufos who had a team-high 16 points off the bench. Marco Belinelli and James Anderson added 15 points. The Suns held Rajon Rondo to just nine points and six assists. The Kings were also without DeMarcus Cousins who is dealing with an Achilles injury.
For the Suns, six players finished with double-digit scoring. In addition to starters Bledsoe and Knight, Markieff Morris had 11 points and PJ Tucker had 10 points on three-of-four shooting from behind the arc. Len led the charge off the bench with 16 points as he was aided by three second-half dunks and several nice outside shots. Warren contributed 13 points.
Also impressive for the Suns was getting scoring contributions from all 13- active players.
“We got a deep team,” Bledsoe said post-game. “Everybody was bringing something to the team. We just got to stay the course and play together.”
Something the Suns have struggled with all-season long has been their jump shots. On the season, Phoenix is shooting 40.3 percent from the floor and just 28.8 percent from behind the arc. But Wednesday night in front of a home crowd of 16,497 fans, the Suns lit it up from everywhere.
As a team on Wednesday night, Phoenix shot 54.2 percent from the floor and 60.9 percent from behind the arc.
“If you can shoot that percentage you’ll be pretty good that game, no matter what team you are,” Hornacek said about his team’s three point shooting. “We’ve been having the looks, we just haven’t been making them. It was good to see the guys knock down shots.”
As the season is young, just the fifth game of the year, the team is aware of the work that lays ahead of them, and will certainly try to use the momentum that has been built thus far. In the end, it is about staying together as a team and finding ways to win.
“I don’t feel too bad,” Tucker said about the 3-2 start to the 2015-2016 season. “We don’t even think about that Dallas game, we kind of just threw that one under the rug. So to look at it, to be 3-1 out of those last four games is pretty good. I think we are still developing, we’re still getting better, we’re still learning each other, playing with each other, especially on defense we’re figuring it out. I think it’s a decent start. I think we can be better and we have work to be done.”
Through the first five games, the Suns have started the season above .500 for the third-straight year under coach Hornacek.
Coming up next: The Suns host the Pistons Friday, November 6, at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Tip-off is 7:30 p.m.