Tonight, the Phoenix Suns were able to earn a home win against the Brooklyn Nets, 112-104, based on their intensity and energy in the second half. The Suns dug themselves a hole early on, allowing the Nets to score on high-percentage shots at and around the basket, along with late rotations allowing them to hit some big shots beyond the arc as well.
At the same time, Phoenix was having a great deal of trouble scoring early on, as they couldn't seem to find the bottom of the basket. This led to a staggering differential in field goal percentages in the first half. The Brooklyn Nets shot 71% from the field, while the Suns only shot only 40%. This caused the Suns to fall behind by 14 points by the end of the second quarter..
However, the Suns completely flipped the script in the second half, Not only did the Suns ramp up their defensive intensity, but those stops created transition offense and easy scoring opportunities for the Suns, who thrive in the open court and feed off the energy of big shots and dunks. The Suns intensity on defense helped give them more energy on offense as well, and they were able to completely change the tone of the game, allowing the Nets to shoot only 27.5% in the second half, while they increased their scoring from the field to 57.9%
That was the difference in the game.
Player Locker Room Interviews
Tonight, I was able to track down Gerald Green, Eric Bledsoe, and Isaiah Thomas immediately after the game. Here's what the man of the hour, Mr. 28 points himself, had to say about tonight's victory:
Gerald mirrored the same opinion about why the Suns had so much more success in the second half, compared to the first...Intensity. He talked about needing to start the games better in the first half, but how he was encouraged by the team's ability to fight and play hard to get the win. He also win's best quote of the night, "Phoenix Suns, we run and gun".
Eric Bledsoe gave a fairly short and sweet interview, but he seemed to be in good spirits in the locker room, despite his reduced playing time due to the play of Thomas and Green in the 4th quarter. Bledsoe talked about the team's talented bench, especially Green and Thomas who have been difference makers for the Suns so far this season.
Isaiah Thomas also said that although he was happy with the win, he realized the team can't continue falling behind early and expect to be able to battle back at the end of the game. Thomas talked about the importance of getting defensive stops so they can run in transition, where the Suns are at their best.
The Suns are definitely still a work in progress, with some fairly noticeable issues at the moment. They are still trying to find the right rotations to maximize their on-court chemistry, while finding minutes for all of the talented players on the roster who can help the team win games.
Perhaps the biggest issue so far, has been finding a way to get all three of the Suns' talented point guards involved on a consistent basis, while sharing the duties of running the offense and splitting minutes. So far, they have struggled to find that balance, as we have only seen a couple of games in which all three have had big games at the same time.
But one must remember, it's only been eight games, and although things haven't yet worked out just the way they had envisioned, it is still working. The Suns can't continue to fall behind early and hope to fight back late, but the fact that they have been able to do so with regularity should also speak to the resiliency of this team.
One thing's for sure, these Suns never say quit. And when they finally start to put it all together...watch out.