CLEVELAND – Markieff Morris scored 27 points and the Phoenix Suns rallied from an 18-point halftime deficit to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers 99-90 on Sunday night.
The Suns turned in a dominant second half, outscoring the Cavaliers 56-29. Channing Frye finished with 16 points, including four 3-pointers after halftime, and Goran Dragic scored 15 to help Phoenix pull off the comeback on the first stop of a four-game road trip.
The Cavaliers, who led by 20 late in the second quarter, fell to 1-3 on a five-game homestand considered crucial to their chances of staying in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Kyrie Irving scored 24 points and Luol Deng added 18 for Cleveland.
Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao injured his left leg late in the fourth quarter. He was down on the court for several minutes, but remained in the game.
Phoenix trailed 61-43 at halftime, but hit five 3-pointers in the third quarter and outscored Cleveland 25-6. P.J. Tucker scored on an offensive rebound with 45 seconds left to put Phoenix ahead 68-67, its first lead since 9-6 just 4 minutes into the game.
The Cavaliers were 2 of 22 from the field in the third and set a season low for points in a quarter. Cleveland’s 29 points after halftime marked a season worst for a half.
The Suns broke away from a 70-all tie with 11 straight points early in the fourth. Leandro Barbosa’s free throw put Phoenix ahead for good. Morris, who came off the bench, scored six points in the run before Barbosa’s steal and layup made it 81-70 with 8:38 remaining.
Irving’s two free throws with 2:06 to play cut it to 88-85. The teams traded baskets before Frye’s 3-pointer made it 93-87 with 1:14 remaining.
The Suns came out firing in the third quarter, forcing Cleveland to call timeout twice in the first 5 minutes. Frye hit 3s on three straight possessions. Gerald Green added a 3-pointer and a jumper, and a 3 by Dragic helped cut the lead to 65-61.
Phoenix cut the lead to two on two occasions. Ish Smith’s free throw with 1:13 remaining made it 67-66 before Tucker put the Suns ahead.
Cleveland ended the second quarter on a 22-10 run sparked by Deng’s 10 points and six by Irving. The Cavaliers led 39-33 with 7:39 remaining in the period when Deng hit two jumpers, a layup and four free throws. He also found Jarrett Jack in the corner for a 3-pointer with a pass from the top of the key. Irving added a pair of jumpers and two foul shots as Cleveland built a 20-point lead late in the quarter.
Irving had 13 points and seven assists in the first half. The third-year guard, elected an All-Star starter for the first time last week, had six assists in the first quarter, including Cleveland’s first four baskets of the game. Deng had 12 points, six rebounds and four assists in the first half.
The Suns opened a road trip in which they will play four games in five nights. Phoenix went 1-4 on a trip earlier this month.
The Suns have won their last three visits to Cleveland and five of six in the series overall.