Wins don’t come very often for Suns fans, but Friday night in LaLaLand was a good wire-to-wire win where the Suns showed what could happen if they make some shots.
The Suns made a season-high 13 threes and held off a late foul-driven rally by the Lakers to break a three-game losing streak on Eric Bledsoe’s 27th birthday.
Ending my day the right way! With a W.. and got to celebrate it with my teammates! #phx— Eric Bledsoe (@EBled2) December 10, 2016
For the first time all season, the Suns met coach Watson’s desired goal of 30+ three-point attempts in back to back games. In fact, the Suns have topped 30 attempts in three of the last four after reaching that mark just once in the first 19 games.
For a young team with a number of three-point shooters (ok, maybe not three-point MAKERS), the Suns are still just 26th in three-point attempt rate (26.6% of all shots). The Pringles currently lead the league with 43% of all shots being a three-pointer. A whopping seven teams currently exceed Watson’s goal of 30 per game, which would be a league record. Last year, only two teams topped 30+ attempts per game, and the year before only one did it.
When asked about the Suns low three-point-attempt rate by Zach Lowe, Watson was succinct.
“We have some solid 3-point shooters,” Watson said to Lowe. “But we have to make them.”
The Suns are really bad at making threes so far, only recently rising up to 23rd in the league at 33.3% after starting the first few weeks under the 30% mark. If the Suns can make more of their threes, we will see more of them taken.
Back to Friday’s game.
The Suns made a season-high 13 threes on Friday against the Lakers, with old Suns Leandro Barbosa making 5-of-7 and Jared Dudley making 2-of-4.
It was Barbosa’s best game of the year, with 21 points and 4 assists on the night.
Young Devin Booker had recently been better on this threes (40% over the prior 10 games), but drained only 1-of-6 on Friday on the way to 15 points before fouling out.
Alex Len had a heck of a game, with 14 points (6-10 shooting), 13 rebounds and FIVE blocks against the Lakers.
Alex Len finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds and STILL managed to have himself a block party. ✋ pic.twitter.com/CyJvLI24zD— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) December 10, 2016
Len even had a pair of assists on the night, including a sweet one on the pick-and-roll to Barbosa in the corner for a dagger three after the Lakers had pulled close.
The player of the game was Eric Bledsoe, who was aggressive all night on offense after celebrating his 27th birthday.
Bledsoe had 20 points at halftime, and finished the game with 30 points (10/18 FG, 3/5 3P, 7/8 FTs)) but that’s not all. Oh no, that is not all. Bledsoe also dropped a season-high nine dimes, grabbed four rebounds, nabbed three steals and even blocked a shot.
Watch the Bled-show here!
That foul stench
The Suns had a comfortable lead all night, even stretching it to 18 with about 4 minutes left in the third quarter.
But then the Lakers got some life, drawing the Suns into an ugly foul-fest. To open the fourth quarter, the Suns committed an unbelievable 6 fouls in the first three minutes to put the Lakers on the line the rest of the game. Altogether, the Lakers took 34 free throws against the league’s most foul-happy team since 2005.
Still, the Lakers couldn’t get any closer than three points no matter unconscious Lou Williams got (35 points off the bench). Sweet Lou has now scored more points in his last four games (137) than any bench player in a four-game span since the NBA started tracking stats (1970).
Winner winner birthday dinner!
But the Suns held on to win, 119-115.
Watch all nine minutes of highlights here.