PHILADELPHIA — The Phoenix Suns used a strong finish to win Sunday night. On Monday, they rode the momentum to a 124-113 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers
Guard Gerald Green scored a season-high 30 points and backcourt partner Goran Dragic added 24 for the Suns, who shot 77.3 percent from the field in the first quarter while outscoring the Sixers 40-26, then fought off Philadelphia the rest of the way.
Phoenix (26-18) posted its highest-scoring first quarter of the season.
Green made 10 of 12 shots from the floor and Dragic hit nine of 13. The Suns, who rallied from an 18-point halftime deficit to win in Cleveland on Sunday, shot 53.8 percent from the field in Philadelphia and equaled their season high for points.
“Last night we felt like we needed to start off games faster,” Green said, “so we told ourselves we just wanted to come and give ourselves a little lead in the first half.”
Added Suns coach Jeff Hornacek, “I think we learned a little bit last night from our first half, when we just kind of went out there and played. Second half we played better and said, ‘Let’s carry this over into tonight’s game.’ The guys did it right from the start.”
Forward P.J. Tucker added 15 points for Phoenix. Center Miles Plumlee contributed 14 points and 13 rebounds, and forward Markieff Morris had 13 points off the bench. Morris also had four of the Suns’ season-high 12 blocked shots, and Green added three.
Guard Michael Carter-Williams had 22 points and 11 assists for Philadelphia, which lost for the sixth time in seven games. Forwards Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner had 21 points each, and center Spencer Hawes had 18.
The Sixers (14-31) never led. They mounted their last challenge midway through the fourth quarter, reeling off seven straight points — including a three-point play by Young — to cut a 15-point deficit to 104-96 with 5:44 to play.
With the gap still 108-100, Tucker triggered a 10-2 run with a follow shot. Green added the last eight Phoenix points in that flurry, on a 3-pointer, a thunderous dunk and another 3-pointer. That gave the Suns a 118-102 lead with 2:11 to play.
“It felt good for me,” Green said. “I just kind of let the game come to me, just kind of took what the defense gave me. My teammates were doing a good job screening for me, getting me open, finding me in transition.”
After Tucker opened the game’s scoring by driving the baseline for a layup, Sixers coach Brett Brown called a timeout just 25 seconds into the game. It didn’t help. Phoenix made its next five shots as well, and nine of 10 from the floor to open a 21-9 lead.
When someone suggested to Brown afterward that it didn’t seem his team was committed to defense at the beginning of the game, he said, “That’s because we weren’t.”
By the end of the first quarter, Dragic and Green were each 5-for-5 from the field for 12 points, helping the Suns establish a 14-point lead. Phoenix’s marksmanship was the best by a Philadelphia opponent in any quarter this season, and the point total equaled the highest by a Sixers foe in a first quarter.
“Any time you let a team jump out on you,” Young said, “it’s going to be hard to recoup that.”
The Suns led 62-48 late in the second quarter before Turner scored the last six points of the half.
Dragic finished the half with 15 points, and Green had 14. Turner paced the Sixers with 13 first-half points.
Phoenix re-established a double-figure lead early in the third quarter and maintained it most of the quarter. The Suns scored the last five points of the third, three of those by Tucker, to build a 13-point bulge heading into the fourth quarter.
NOTES: Earlier in the day, the Sixers sent rookie G Lorenzo Brown to the Delaware 87ers of the Developmental League for the fourth time this season. Brown had 12 points and 10 assists while playing nearly 30 minutes in Delaware’s 99-87 victory over the Austin Toros — a 10 a.m. start — then returned to the Sixers and played the final five seconds of the game. He said it was like “AAU all over again.” … Suns coach Jeff Hornacek played 132 games for the Sixers between 1992 and 1994, 86 of them losses, after arriving from Phoenix in a trade involving All-Star forward Charles Barkley. “Even though we weren’t a great team, every night you could just feel the emotions in the city. That was fun,” Hornacek said. … Sixers coach Brett Brown called Hall of Famer Tom Gola, who died Sunday at age 81, “one of the icons.” Gola, a native Philadelphian who starred (and coached) at La Salle University, also fashioned a 10-year NBA career that included time with the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors. … Suns G Eric Bledsoe (right knee arthroscopy) missed his 13th consecutive game. … Philadelphia coach Brett Brown, F Thaddeus Young and F Evan Young were all assessed technical fouls.
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