The Phoenix Suns did everything seemingly right for about 3 minutes against the Cleveland Cavaliers, but a late three-point barrage sunk the Suns.
Although they scored only 88 points in Cleveland on Wednesday evening, Phoenix was in the game against Cleveland throughout the night until a late run from the Cavs hit the Suns right in the gut, and Phoenix could not recover.
A slow start for Cavs and Suns keeps it close early
It was another slow start for the Suns against the Cavaliers. Fortunately for Phoenix, Cleveland had an equally slow start. Phoenix had an early 10-4 with only about five minutes to play in what looked more like a high school game than professional basketball. From there, Cleveland kicked on and ended the first quarter on an 11-4 run to have a one-point lead at the end of one.
Unbeknownst to the Suns, that end of the first-quarter run was a precursor of what was to come at the end of the game.
On the bright side, the Suns did have their best quarter in several games with a 29-18 second quarter, giving Phoenix a ten-point half-time lead. Unfortunately, the lead was not something Phoenix could hold onto in the second half.
Cleveland cut the lead in half to five after three quarters, but neither team was playing great, with the score 64-59.
Phoenix almost immediately lost that lead, another harbinger of the end-game, but did manage to jump right back in front of Cleveland and led by seven, 79-72, with just under seven minutes to play. From that point forward, the Suns went cold, and the Cavs found their range.
Cleveland found their footing in the fourth quarter, while the Suns lost their touch
This was undoubtedly a fourth quarter where the Suns missed Devin Booker. Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, and Landry Shamet combined to go 4-15 from the field in the fourth quarter, putting too much pressure on Chris Paul, who led the team with eight points in the quarter and 25 for the game.
While the Suns could not effectively execute and get buckets, the Cavaliers – who went 5-22 (20%) from three-point range in the first three quarters, found whatever was missing and shot 6 of 11 (55%) in the fourth quarter. Two threes from Donovan Mitchell – who only had 20 points a game after his 71-point outing – came on either side of three-pointers from Cedi Osman and Caris LeVert.
In the end, a different Cavalier, Evan Mobley, hit the winner as Bridges missed a game-tying attempt. Still, it was a lack of execution and the three-point barrage that put Mobley in a position to give Cleveland the lead and win the game.