In losing two games in a row, one to a team at the bottom of the standings and another right in the middle, the Phoenix Suns (11-9) started to show more cracks in the armor. They were not defending with consistent passion, they were playing lackadaisical as of late, and without a sense of urgency.
That is one thing that the Suns have been consistent with all season, when they get erratic, inconsistent, they can rally to get back on track.
This season the team has had five 2-game winning streaks, which is their highest winning streaks of the season, and two have come off of different losing streaks. At 11-9 the team is not consistent and has not played a brand of basketball that would be conducive of a playoff team out west -- maybe in the Eastern Conference, but they have been up and down at best.
With that the Suns in the first quarter of the season (24.4% of the schedule) have been better than advertised before the season.
For a young team to take a leap from doormat to potential playoff team they have to beat teams when they are short-handed (Houston) and teams that are below them in the standings (Toronto) like they have done this week. Against the Raptors the team embraced their flaws and in a single game sample size went from being abominable on the offensive glass and in the paint to better than one of the better teams in those two categories.
This week was important or the Suns to create some separation in the standings between wins and losses. They did so by improving on the offensive glass (-4 overall) and scoring second chance points (-12) with those rebounds.
Those numbers seem poor, as negative numbers generally are, but they won the rebounding and second chance points battle in two of the three games and in the game they lost the battle, they won the war against the Rockets.
After giving up 100+ points in five straight games the Suns found asylum in Houston, against a short-handed Rockets team, and at home against the hapless Raptors. What made the Suns uniquely successful at the beginning of the season was their defense, through seven games 96.0 points allowed, giving up 100 points only twice. One time in a win. Can't consistently give up 100+ points and be a playoff team at the same time. That is rare.
Quote of the Week
When you are up 14 with three minutes to go that is when you really want to lock down, because when you get one or two more stops they take their guys out, put their subs in, and then we can play our guys. Then the game is over. I think they like to torture us coaches, I don't know... -- Head Coach Jeff Hornacek after the win over the Raptors
Surrogate Watch continues and the Suns have one lottery pick (theirs) and with the current projections they do not own four picks yet. It was a pipe-dream to begin the season, but still something to root for. Here is the update on how the three picks look right now:
Keep following along here to get updates and information on the 2014 NBA Draft Class and more.
News & Notes
- Alex Len registered three more DNP-Coaches Decisions taking his total this year to 16 for the year...
- Kobe Bryant returned to action (9 points 8 rebounds 4 assists 8 turnovers) and faces off against the Suns tomorrow night in Los Angeles...
- Tim Kempton Jr. (son of Suns announcer Tim Kempton) had his first career double-double with 18 points and 15 rebounds in a loss...
!!!Phoenix Suns Holiday Contest!!!
Make sure you listen to the special edition of the Phoenix Suns Podcast this week on Tuesday to get the details. We are holding another contest with a fantastic prize pack sent to one loyal Bright Sider as a Christmas present. As a staff we appreciate the loyalty, participation, and effort all of you put into making Bright Side one of the premier destinations for Phoenix Suns news, notes, and commentary.
Again, special edition of the podcast dropping Tuesday. Hint, you are going to want to listen to the podcast as early as possible tomorrow...
Previewing the Week Ahead:
Tuesday, December 10th @ Los Angeles Lakers (10-10)
Friday, December 13th vs. Sacramento Kings (5-13)
Sunday, December 15th vs. Golden State Warriors (12-9)
Going back to the key stat of the week the Suns are facing off against three Top 20 defenses in the Lakers (102.6 PPG), the Warriors (101.0), and the Kings (97.9 PPG) which will challenge the recent defensive improvements. This week the highlights are the return of Kobe Bryant against the Suns (second game back), the return of Rudy Gay shooting jumpers (now with the Kings), and a can't miss game from an entertainment perspective (the Warriors) against the Splash Brothers. The Suns have an opportunity to take two out of three again this week putting some cushion between their record and the .500 line.