Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/18/12
PHOENIX -- It took almost a third of the season for the Phoenix Suns to patch together three straight wins. It also took climbing out of a 19-point hole against the slumping Sacramento Kings on Monday to complete the long journey. Shannon Brown scored 14 of his 22 points during Phoenix's 31-point third quarter, and Marcin Gortat added 14 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks as the Suns roared back in the second half to beat the Kings 101-90. After losing seven straight, the Suns (10-15) now are streaking in the other direction. Down 54-35 with just over two minutes left in the first half, Phoenix closed the second quarter with eight straight points, beginning a 39-14 run that turned the game. Brown ended his big third quarter on a driving layup with 21.5 seconds left to give the Suns a 74-68 lead. The Kings (7-17) got within three twice in the fourth quarter but no closer. They suffered their fifth consecutive loss. "They outworked us in the first half, and we were lucky to only be down 11 (at halftime)," said Suns guard Jared Dudley, who hit two 3-pointers in the final 3:31 and finished with 20 points. "Then we got on a nice little run in the third quarter, picked up the intensity, got stops, stopped turning the ball over so much and finally hit some shots." Luis Scola had 14 points and a career-high 10 assists for the Suns, who rallied from a double-digit deficit for the sixth time in eight home wins. Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry dismissed the idea his team was overconfident. "I look (at our record) and we have 15 losses," Gentry said. "We are in no position to overlook anybody." The Kings, who were throttled at home by the Denver Nuggets on Sunday, played without two of their three leading scorers (Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton) and got a miserable 1-for-10 shooting performance from DeMarcus Cousins, who scored nine points. Guard Jimmer Fredette, who went 0-for-11 from the field in three games against the Suns last year, led Sacramento with a career-high 22 points off the bench. "We won the first two quarters and played really well, but in the third quarter it kind of slipped on us," Fredette said. "They made a lot of shots and made a big run, and we couldn't get it back. We have to start the third quarter better and try to win the game right there." Up 14-8 eight minutes into the first period, the Suns missed 11 consecutive shots -- they missed 17 of 23 in the first quarter overall -- and the Kings went on a 19-2 run over a five-minute span. Fredette, who had all 12 of his first-half points in the second quarter, hit a 3-pointer to cap the run and give the Kings a 27-16 lead. Sacramento went on a 15-6 run midway through the second quarter, with two Fredette free throws putting the Kings up 52-33. "We played as perfect a first half of basketball as we could play with the right mindset we needed to win. We kept them on their heels, moved the ball, did everything," Sacramento coach Keith Smart said. "I thought this was the night to steal one on the road after last night. (We) did everything right until things started to go haywire in the second half." Brown took over in the third quarter, scoring 10 of Phoenix's first 16 points and capping a run of seven straight with a 3-pointer to give the Suns a 59-58 lead with 6:18 left. Phoenix never trailed again. "The coaches ran plays for me, my teammates moved the ball and the big fella (Gortat) was protecting the rim, so we got easy run-outs and easy looks," Brown said. "We missed easy shots that we normally make in the first half, and everything was going wrong for us. We know we have the ability to come back. We just have to stop having to prove it so much." NOTES: Cousins, who averaged 27.7 points and 11.7 rebounds in three games against the Suns last year, scored seven of his nine points from the line. ... Evans, who left after just 10 minutes in Sunday's ugly 122-97 home loss to Denver, tried out his sore left knee pregame but sat out for the sixth time in the last nine games. ... The Suns entered the game with six players averaging between 10 and 15 points a game, one of six NBA teams to have six players averaging in double figures -- Goran Dragic (15.0), Brown (12.3), Scola (12.1), Michael Beasley (11.1), Gortat (11.0) and Dudley (10.0). ... Thornton remained with his ill mother and was not with the Kings for a third straight game. He is back in Sacramento and should be ready for Wednesday's home game against the Golden State Warriors. ... The Suns held their previous two opponents under 85 points (Memphis 80, Utah 84). That was the first time they'd limited back-to-back opponents to 85 points or fewer in more than eight years (Nov. 23-27, 2004). ... The Kings led after the first quarter (22-16) for only the sixth time in 24 games.
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