Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe, one of three great ones on this team, had a fun night and ended up with his second triple-double of the season and his career.
"I thought we were great, offensively and defensively," he said after the Suns beat up on the 20-9 Dallas Mavericks. "Everybody was alert. We can't ask for a better game, this is probably by far one of the funnest games I've played in."
Bledsoe finished with 16 points, 11 assists and 10 (barely) rebounds. More on that last rebound in a minute.
But you can't please everybody all of the time. Even in a big win over the Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek was frequently livid over the team's lack of recognition of matchups, which led to unnecessary turnovers and bad possessions.
With a ten point lead and less than a minute left in the game, Hornacek called consecutive timeouts to get his players' attention. I asked him about that sequence after the game.
"Well because they didn't run the play," he said of the pair of timeouts. "Once we called the first timeout, if we're going to go with the three guards, we've got to find where the mismatch is. There's no sense for one guy to be wrestling with another guy at the one or two spot if you've got a mismatch at the three. So I called a timeout to...Richard Jefferson's on Goran, Goran should be able to get out. That's the biggest mismatch right there and just get it. I think they think the game's over and they can just do the easiest thing and then consequently, Isaiah falls down and they didn't call a foul and whether it's a foul or not, that's beside the point. You don't need to put yourself in situations like that. Then when we came out of the timeout, they didn't run the play right, I called another one."
There you have it. When you're up big, in a big win, young players still have a tendency to think about themselves rather than the big picture. These are not sage veterans on this Phoenix squad. Thomas is 25. Bledsoe just turned 25, as did the Morrii. They aren't always going to be focused on the bigger picture.
But we digress.
THE SUNS WON A BIG GAME AT HOME!
Let's celebrate the holidays with a 4-game Suns winning streak and a big, really-needed-that win at home.
The win was keyed by a huge run in the second quarter, led by all-NBA player Goran Dragic. This was right after the Suns had failed to score in the first four minutes of the second quarter, getting down 39-30 at one point.
"We weren't playing that well in the first half," Hornacek said. "And Goran got rolling and really attacked and made some plays for us. That's what we need. We need all of those guys that are our top guys, so they've got to make big stretches like that."
Dragic had 12 of his 25 points in the second quarter.
Let's listen to Goran's take on the game.
Goran says the team's defense is key to winning games, as they've been saying all year. The Suns defense, though, has been quite inconsistent.
The funniest part of the game was when Eric Bledsoe stole a rebound from Dragic in the final minute to cap off his triple-double performance. When you're up comfortably, as the Suns were all 4th quarter, that's a kind of milestone you want to hit.
Bledsoe's rebound knocked Dragic to the floor, and the two came up smiling.
"I was teasing Bled, ‘You were bullying me on that play.'," Dragic joked. "If I'm honest I didn't know that he needed one more rebound. If I would've known I would have just let it go and let him take it. It's great when he actually got it. The whole crowd and teammates were laughing about it, so I think that's a good thing."
Before Bledsoe got a triple double a couple weeks ago against the Clippers, no Phoenix Suns had registered such a game since 2006. EIGHT YEARS.
Now, Bledsoe has two in the last two weeks.
"I was exhausted," he said of finishing that triple double. "I was running around the basketball court like a chicken trying to find that last one. I credit my teammates."
Some comments on Alex Len's 17 and 7 night against Tyson Chandler. In five starts, Len is now averaging 9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in just 22 minutes (due to foul trouble). That's a per-36 double-double, and his presence is even better than the numbers suggest. The kid is a beast.
Bledsoe on Len: "He's unbelievable. He's down there fighting for boards. He's open and we just wanted to reward him for playing extremely hard."
Dragic on Len: "Alex is a huge part of this team. He's such a different guy from last year. Last year he had a lot of problems with injuries but now this is the past. Now he's a totally new player and we need him. He did a great, amazing job tonight. I think he scored 17 points or something like that, he gave us that defensive presence. If somebody is penetrating he's going to be there."
At home, the Phoenix Suns are now 5-2 against Western Conference and 2-5 against the East.
On the road, the Suns are 7-1 against the East and 2-6 against the West.
To make the playoffs, the Suns will have to crack that nut of winning more consistently regardless of the locale and the opponent.
"We're always pushing for perfection," coach Hornacek said. "We're not at the level where we can accept periods of time where we don't play the right way or we don't play defensively because then all of a sudden you let this three-or-four minute span go and it becomes six minute span in another game. So it's trying to push these guys to give that defensive effort all 48 minutes. The offense is going to come. We've got a lot of scorers on the team. If we can get at it defensively, that's going to help our offense too with fast breaks. I think they just had a better effort defensively [in the last two games]."
"Nobody in the NBA is pretty much terrible," Bledsoe said. "The record might say it, but they [everyone] got pretty good talent on their team so we are just going to take it a game at a time."