After threatening to set league records (in the wrong way) for three-point shooting defense, the Phoenix Suns are lately enjoying a regression to the mean by their opponents.
Across the league, teams make an average of 35.8% of their three-point attempts in the 2012-13 season. After allowing a league-high 43% over the first 18 games of the season, the Suns have limited opponents to only 29% over the last six games (22 for 79).
Even against a Memphis team that screams for double-teaming in the post, Alvin Gentry was not about to allow the Grizzlies to rain down a bunch of threes.
"We still are going to try to stay away from freeing up 3-point shooters," he said before the game. "You got to pick your poison."
Memphis made only 2 of 10 three pointers in the game while also limiting Randolph's domination by mixing in a zone defense that the Suns had not sported much at all this season. During the game-turning run in the second quarter where the Suns fought back from an 11-point deficit, the Grizzlies scored on only 3 of 12 possessions for 7 points in the last 8 minutes of the second quarter.
"We played a zone some," Gentry said afterward. "But we just weren't gonna run around and spread our defense out where they could start making 3-point shots. We tried to limit the 3-point shooting by playing Zach straight up."
While the Suns three-point defense appears to have improved, it has had little if no impact on the bottom line. Their defensive efficiency has not moved an inch (109 points allowed per 100 possessions) and they lost the first four of those five games.
Tonight's opponent, the Utah Jazz, make nearly 38% of their threes on the season so this good trend by the Suns will be interesting to watch.