Dragic scores 23, Suns stop Magic

Tim Povtak, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

ORLANDO, Fla. -- It is fun playing point guard for a team winning more than expected. It is even more fun when it is a fast-breaking team like the Phoenix Suns.
Just ask Goran Dragic, who is becoming the envy of point guards across the league.
Dragic had 23 points and a season-high 13 assists, leading the fast-paced Phoenix Suns to a 104-96 victory over the Orlando Magic on Sunday night.
The Suns, who lead the NBA in fast-break points, led almost from start to finish as they breezed past the Magic before heading to Miami, where they play the Heat on Monday night.
"We like to run. It makes the game easier, and it makes it more fun," Dragic said. "I always like to play like that. We've got a lot of good athletes. Even the big guys can get out and run, and they like it. Everyone likes to play like this."
The Suns (7-6) got 20 points from guard Gerald Green, who started in place of Eric Bledsoe, and 16 points from reserve forward Marcus Morris. Forward Markieff Morris, his twin, had 12 points.
The Magic (4-9) were led by center Nikola Vucevic with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Forward Andrew Nicholson added 19 points and hit four of his six 3-point attempts.
The Suns held a 18-6, fast-break points advantage. The made only one of three free throws -- both franchise record lows -- but they made up for it by hitting 11 of 29 from 3-point range, keeping the Magic on their heels throughout the game.
"It's the perfect style for us, keep running and keep moving," said forward Channing Frye, who had 14 points. "We're not the biggest team, but we can run. And when a guy gets hot, it allows him to stay hot. Guys like that, and everybody gets a turn."
After trailing almost the entire game, the Magic closed to within three points twice in the closing minutes, but Dragic came to the rescue by scoring seven consecutive points for the Suns in the final 2:21. He had no turnovers in a near-flawless performance.
Frye had nine points in the final period.
"We had only 12 turnovers, but when we did turn it over, they capitalized on that," said Magic coach Jacque Vaughn. "They are going to push and make you miss. They ability to grab a rebound and push the ball puts a lot of pressure on your defense."
The Suns led 88-74 early in the fourth, but the Magic kept whittling away at the deficit. Nicholson hit his third 3-pointer, allowing the Magic to close to 93-90. They trailed 95-92, but that was as close as they could get.
The Suns were too good, and too fast, for the Magic to keep pace. It was the fewest free throws ever made and attempted for a Magic opponent, yet it wasn't enough.
"Getting easy buckets in transition is the key," Frye said. "We have so many guys who can handle and finish. When you slow it down, it allows your opponent to assess the situation. It's just the perfect style for us."
Phoenix took an 80-72 lead into the fourth. The Magic quickly cut the deficit to three points, but Green immediately answered with a 3-pointer, his fourth of the game.
The Suns led 53-44 at intermission, riding a fast start by Green, who had 15 points in the first half, including 13 in the first quarter when he hit three of five 3-point shots. He finished 4-for-9 from 3-point range.
The Suns led by 10 after the first quarter and by as many as 13 points in the second period. Nicholson had 10 points in 11 first-half minutes.
The Morris twins entered late in the first quarter and kept the Suns rolling through the second, combining for 15 points in the first half.
NOTES: The Suns became the first NBA team since the Utah Jazz on Nov. 19, 1977 to win an NBA game with only one free throw made. The Jazz beat the Houston Rockets 103-101 and made only one of five free throws that day, according to Elias. ... The Magic activated F Tobias Harris for the first time this season. Harris, who averaged 17.3 points in 27 games for Orlando last season, was sidelined since sustaining a high ankle sprain during an exhibition contest. Harris, now in his third NBA season, is a first cousin to F Channing Frye of the Suns. ... The Suns were without G Eric Bledsoe (bruised left shin) for the fourth consecutive game. Replacing him in the lineup was Gerald Green, who was expected to be Phoenix's top reserve this season but already has eight starts . ... The Suns are one of the two NBA teams without a loss of 10 or more points this season. The other is the Miami Heat. The Suns, under first-year coach Jeff Hornacek, are surprisingly entertaining this season, leading the league in fast-break points (22.5 per game). "I'm happy how hard we've been playing night in and night out," Hornacek said. "Only or two games haven't been like that." ... Magic F Glen Davis played well in his season debut Saturday night in a loss at Miami. He was still wearing a bandage below his right eye Sunday, covering the three-stitch cut he received Saturday from an elbow to the face by Heat F LeBron James. Davis scored six points Sunday.

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