Suns' Plumlee keeps producing in win
Updated On: Dec 29 2013 12:08:02 AM CST
PHOENIX -- When center Miles Plumlee put up 18 points and 15 rebounds in a season-opening win for the Phoenix Suns, guard Goran Dragic knew his team had an added weapon he hadn't counted on.
And now, Dragic and the Suns are learning the best ways to utilize that weapon.
Five days after grabbing a career-high 20 rebounds, Plumlee scored 12 of his career-best 22 points in the first quarter and added 12 rebounds as the Suns shook off the pesky Philadelphia 76ers 115-101 on Saturday night for their ninth win in their last 11 games.
"He rebounded, he scored, he was doing everything, and when he plays like that it is much easier for our team," said Dragic, who added 21 points as the Suns bounced back from a 29-point loss at Golden State on Friday night.
"That first game, when he had that great game, everyone said, 'OK, look at that.' Now we know he's a pretty skilled big guy, he can shoot with the right or left hand and he can take a lob or a bounce pass; he'll dunk it.
"He protects the paint, he's a great rebounder and without him ... we'd be struggling. If he's going to play like that every night, it's going to be tough to beat us."
Plumlee, who played 55 minutes for Indiana as a rookie last season, now had eight double-doubles in his first 29 games with Phoenix and three in the last six games. He shook off a seven-stitch cut after a third-quarter fall, returning to help the Suns close out the game.
"I'm happy with my progress," Plumlee said. "I feel better every game. I feel like I have more energy because I'm not as anxious on the court. I'm not wasting my energy.
"I think coach (Jeff Hornacek) likes to go to me in the beginning of the game to try and get me going. It gives me confidence and makes me feel good."
Guard Eric Bledsoe scored 20 points and forward Marcus Morris had 18 as the Suns rolled up 31 fast-break points to overcome a poor 3-point shooting night (9 of 33) to improve to 11-4 at home.
Forward Thaddeus Young tied a season high with 30 points and added 10 rebounds for Philadelphia, which has lost nine of its last 10 games and is 5-21 since starting the season 3-0.
Guard Michael Carter-Williams had 27 points for the Sixers but needed 28 shots from the field to get them. Guard Troy Wroten had 22 points as Philadelphia played without starting forward Evan Turner (knee) but stayed in the game with 11 3-pointers, one shy of a season high.
Philadelphia was 2 of 13 from beyond the arc in the second half and missed their last 11 tries.
"Defensively, we just have a long way to go," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. "Plumlee had a hell of a game; we give him credit. We hang around, we hang around and then he banks one in and makes another one."
The Sixers have now lost 13 straight games on the road. They haven't won away from home since beating the Wizards 109-102 in their first road game at Washington on Nov. 1.
"We're not going to win games giving up 30 fast-break points, so we've got to get back on mistakes," said Carter-Williams, who had five of Philadelphia's 20 turnovers. "That starts with me as the point guard getting back. When I get back, that leads to everyone else getting back."
The Suns led just 60-59 at the half but took the lead for good with a 10-0 run early in the third quarter. Phoenix extended the margin to as many as 15 in the fourth quarter, hitting four of their nine 3-point shots to pull away.
It was Jeff Hornacek Bobblehead Night at US Airways Center, but Hornacek spent a lot of it shaking his head -- disappointed with his team's effort, especially defensively in the first half.
"I don't think we played a great game tonight. We were OK, but that's about it," he said. "We have to get better. We're at the point where if we have any hopes of making the playoffs, we have to buckle it up. We were soft in the first half ... you can't make the playoffs if you play like that."
Phoenix put up 15 fast-break points in the first quarter in addition to 12 early points inside from Plumlee to build a nine-point lead.
But Philadelphia, which came into the game as the worst 3-point shooting in the league, hit nine in the first half and went 6 of 10 from behind the arc during a 32-point second quarter. Center Spencer Hawes hit two and Wroten had one in the final 2:34 as Philadelphia ended the half on a 13-4 run to cut the Phoenix lead to one.
NOTES: Sixers coach Brett Brown said he decided to sit F Evan Turner after the shootaround. "It's my decision. Evan would want to play," Brown said. "I feel like over the years (as an assistant to Gregg Popovich in San Antonio) I have learned a lot from Pop about the rhythm of an NBA season and trying to care for the players. Turner had missed only one game to injury in his four-year NBA career. ... Suns coach Jeff Hornacek played 132 games for Philadelphia from 1992 to 1994, coming to the Sixers from Phoenix in the Charles Barkley deal. ... Hornacek on the Suns' worst loss of the season, a 29-point drubbing on Friday at Golden State: "It took 28 games to have a bad one like that. The best thing to do is give it the old (former Suns coach Cotton Fitzsimmons) saying and flush it down the toilet." ... The Phoenix bench is averaging 37.8 points per game, fifth best in the league. The Suns are now 10-0 at home when the bench outscores the opponent's reserves. The Phoenix bench had a 35-28 advantage on Saturday.