MINNEAPOLIS — Markieff Morris scored 25 points off the bench to lead the Phoenix Suns to their biggest comeback of the season, a 127-120 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Phoenix trailed by 22 in Sunday’s first half, but shot a season-high 57 percent from the floor to overcome Kevin Love’s 36 points and 14 rebounds. Love fell an assist short of a triple-double and committed a crucial turnover in the final minute.
With the game tied at 118, Love lost the ball in the paint and Eric Bledsoe made a fast-break layup.
Gerald Green, Bledsoe and P.J. Tucker each hit a pair of free throws in the closing seconds to help the Suns pull within a half-game of eighth-place Memphis in the Western Conference.
“I’m always proud of the way they come back at the end of games, they never give up,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. “We were playing horribly for a half, maybe partway into the third quarter and somehow they ended up pulling that game out.”
While Hornacek lamented his team’s tendencies to start slow, the Suns were fortunate the Wolves — who fell six games behind Phoenix — have a habit of starting strong before fading. Now the Suns are hoping the Wolves’ psyche can recover in time to put up big points again when they play at Memphis tonight. Phoenix, meanwhile, continues its road trip in Atlanta.
“If we want to be contenders and be in the playoffs, we got to start showing it by winning these kind of games,” Tucker said. “We came out and played in the second half.”
The Suns tied a season high by allowing 41 points in the first quarter and trailed 103-93 heading in the final period, but they outscored the Wolves 34-17 in the fourth. Minnesota, meanwhile, blew its largest lead of the season.
- Lakers 103, Magic 94:
- In Los Angeles, former Arizona Wildcat Jordan Hill had a career-high 28 points and 13 rebounds in his first start in over nine weeks as Los Angeles handed Orlando its ninth-straight loss.
Nick Young scored 26 points off the bench, helping the Lakers end a four-game skid. Pau Gasol had six points in 18 minutes, and sat out the second half after feeling nauseous and dizzy.
Steve Nash, who had 11 assists in 19 minutes off the bench Friday night against Washington after missing the previous 15 games because of chronic nerve damage in his back, did not play.
Orlando’s Victor Oladipo had 21 points and 10 assists.
- Cavaliers 106, Knicks 100:
- In New York, Jarrett Jack scored a season-high 31 points as Cleveland ended New York’s eight-game winning streak. The Knicks wasted a chance to pull within two games of a playoff spot.
Hours after being handed a chance to pull closer to the final spot in the Eastern Conference when Atlanta blew a fourth-quarter lead in Toronto, the Knicks responded with an inept final period of their own after they led by 17 points in the first half.
They couldn’t stop Jack and couldn’t get a basket from Carmelo Anthony, who missed all five shots in the final period and finished with 32 points.
- Raptors 96, Hawks 86:
- In Toronto, Kyle Lowry scored 25 points, and Jonas Valanciunas had 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Raptors.
DeMar DeRozan scored 21 points, Greivis Vasquez had 12 and Terrence Ross 10 as the Raptors avoided their first three-game home losing streak since dropping games against Brooklyn, Miami and Denver between Nov. 26 and Dec. 1.
Lowry, who had 13 points as Toronto erased an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter, has scored 19 points or more in a career-high nine consecutive games.
DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap each scored 17 as the Hawks lost their second straight following a five-game winning streak.
- Nuggets 105, Wizards 102:
- In Denver, Kenneth Faried had 20 points, and Aaron Brooks hit four straight free throws in the final 12 seconds, helping injury-riddled Denver.
Randy Foye added 17 for a Nuggets team that was missing J.J. Hickson, who suffered a torn ligament in his right knee Friday. Wilson Chandler also didn’t play (strained left hip) and Jan Vesely didn’t return after bruising his rib cage late in the third quarter.
Bradley Beal scored 21 points as the Wizards wrapped up a four-game road swing with a 1-3 record.
The Nuggets were already without Danilo Gallinari (left ACL), JaVale McGee (broken tibia) and Nate Robinson (left ACL), who all have undergone season-ending operations.
- Kings 124, Bucks 107:
- In Sacramento, Calif., DeMarcus Cousins had 32 points and 12 rebounds, and Isaiah Thomas had 30 points and eight assists for Sacramento, which sent Milwaukee to its seventh-straight loss.
Cousins made 14 of 19 shots, four of six free throws and added four assists and two steals.
Sacramento led by 23 points after one quarter, took a 70-44 lead into halftime and was ahead by 34 points after three quarters.
Rudy Gay had 24 points and eight rebounds, and Ben McLemore scored 15 points for the Kings.
O.J. Mayo scored 21 points for Milwaukee.
- Nets 107, Mavericks 104, OT:
- In Dallas, Joe Johnson scored 22 points, including the tying layup in regulation and the go-ahead three-pointer in overtime, to lead Brooklyn in Jason Kidd’s return to Dallas as a coach.
The Nets swept the two-game season series with Dallas in their first year under Kidd, who spent his 41st birthday on the floor where he was essentially the coach at point guard when the Mavericks won the 2011 title.
Marcus Thornton had 11 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter for the Nets, who won their fourth- straight game
Monta Ellis led Dallas with 26 points, but Dirk Nowitzki matched his season low with eight points on one of his toughest shooting nights of the season. Nowitzki hit his first shot of overtime after going 1 of 10 in regulation.