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Center of the Sun, Part 1: Suns closing in on 3rd in the West

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Your weekly roundup of Suns news, rumors, notes and videos from the prior week plus a preview of the week to come.

Phoenix Suns v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

Phoenix Suns vs Portland Trail Blazers W (132-100) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns vs Charlotte Hornets L (124-121) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns @ Chicago Bulls W (106-97) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns @ Minnesota Timberwolves W (118-99) Full Recap

It would have been nice to win them all this week but winning 3 of 4 has put some distance between the Suns and the teams behind them in the standings. It’s also drawn them closer to breaking into the top 3.

At 22-11 Phoenix is now has a semi-comfortable 3-game lead over the 5th place Spurs and they are only 0.5 games behind the 3rd place Clippers and 1 game behind the Lakers. If you go by win/loss percentage, the Suns and Clippers (who have played 3 more games than the Suns) are dead even at .667.

The Suns are looking more like a real contender as the season goes on and all of the new pieces seem to be figuring out their roles. After looking like a turnover machine early in the season with a total of 35 in his first 6 games (5.8 per game), Devin Booker has literally gotten a grip and cut that to 17 in his last 6 (2.8). He’s also upped his scoring while gradually getting comfortable with his new backcourt mate, Chris Paul, and averaged 33 ppg last week while bringing his season average up to 25.5.

Although the Suns are still playing at the second slowest pace in the NBA, they are 13th in points per game while their defense holds opposing teams to the 4th lowest point total. While everyone enjoys watching points being put up on the scoreboard, defense has been the real hero of this season. If Mikal Bridges doesn’t get named to an All-Defensive team this year it will be as big of a snub as Booker being originally left off the All-Star roster. As good as he is, team defense isn’t just one man though and everyone gets credit for upping their games on that side of the court this season.

There’s still a lot of games left to play and it’s not going to get any easier. As a matter of fact, Tankathon.com lists the Suns as having the 4th toughest remaining schedule so the Suns can’t afford to sit back and admire what they’ve already accomplished this season just yet.


Game Highlights

TRAIL BLAZERS at SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | February 22, 2021

Devin Booker 34 Points Full Highlights vs Blazers | February 22, 2021

HORNETS at SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | February 24, 2021

SUNS at BULLS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | February 26, 2021

SUNS at TIMBERWOLVES | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | February 28, 2021

Devin Booker Heats Up For A Season-High 43 To Lift Suns!


Key Stats

123.9 OffRtg (1st), 106.6 DefRtg (6th), 17.3 NetRtg (1st)

Those are the Suns’ ratings for last week. For the season the Suns are 8th in OffRtg, 4th in DefRtg, and 3rd in NetRtg.

Points in the paint: 47.8%

In their last 4 games the Suns have increased their percentage of points scored in the paint from 39.2% for the season (25th) to 47.8% (6th), and increase of 8.6%. The percentage of their points from three has gone down from 35.2% (12th) for the season to 27.0% (25th).

Random stats: Following his 43 point outburst on Sunday, Devin Booker’s career point total now stands at 8,422. He needs just 9 more points to pass Larry Nance to move into 9th on the list of Suns All-Time Points Leaders. The Suns have now won 13 straight when holding their opponents to fewer than 120 points.

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com and/or Basketball-Reference.com.


Quotes of the Week

“Our best offense is our defense...it makes you play more confident when you know you can get stops on defense” - Mikal Bridges

“We still got a ways to go, but I think the thing we’re starting to understand is that defense is what travels.” - Chris Paul

“I came to Phoenix because of Book.” - Chris Paul


Rookie Report

Jalen Smith - 5.4 mpg, 1.4 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.2 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.2 bpg, 0.1 TO, 0.4 PF, 25.0 3PT%

  • This week - 2.1 mpg, 0.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.0 TO, 0.5 PF, 0.0 3PT% (2 games)

G League Stats (6 games) - 16.3 mpg, 8.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.5 bpg, 0.8 TO, 1.3 PF, 25.0 3PT%

Ty-Shon Alexander - 2.5 mpg, 0.0 ppg, 0.5 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.0 TO, 0.5 PF, 0.0 3PT%

  • Assigned to NBA G League (Canton Charge - 10 games)

Charge Stats - 24.8 mpg, 9.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.6 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.1 bpg, 1.2 TO, 0.9 PF, 36.5 3PT%

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com.


Injury Status Report

No current injuries.


Previewing the week ahead

Tuesday, March 2 - Phoenix Suns @ LA Lakers 8:00 pm AZT (TNT)

Thursday, March 4 - Phoenix Suns vs Golden State Warriors 8:00 pm AZT

Sunday, March 7 - NBA All-Star Game 5:00 pm AZT (TNT)

Only two games for the Suns this week but both are important ones against Pacific division opponents.

First up, the Suns head to LA to take on the 24-11 Lakers. LA hit a bit of a rough patch lately with Anthony Davis (22.5 ppg, 8.4 rebs) sidelined with a sore Achilles but are still a dangerous team with a heathy LeBron James (25.7 ppg, 8.2 rebs, 7.9 asts). With Dennis Schroder’s return from missing 4 games while on health & safety protocols, they’re even more so as they’re 2-0 and in 2nd place in the West since his return. They’re coming off a big 117-91 win against the Warriors on Sunday and might be too much for the Suns to handle. Unfortunately, I expect the Suns to come up short in this contest and come away with a loss.

Next the Warriors come to Phoenix for a make up of one of the 3 games that were cancelled due to health & safety protocols back in mid-January. The Suns are already 1-0 against Golden State and a win on Thursday insures the Suns having the tie-breaker against them in case that comes into play at the end of the season. Although GS is presently several games behind the Suns in the standings, they have been playing well lately (with the exception of their last loss to the Lakers) and you can never take a team with Stephen Curry (29.9 ppg) on it lightly. With them coming into Phoenix straight from a road game in Portland on Wednesday night, I think the Suns will win this one and go up 2-0 in their season series with Golden State.

I’m predicting the Suns will go 1-1 this week.

What’s your prediction?

ALSO THIS WEEK: On March 3 all players signed as free agents during the offseason are eligible to be traded.


There’s your roundup and preview, Suns fans!

Coming up later this morning is the other half of the COTS we are now calling ‘Inside the Suns’. ‘Inside the Suns’ will contain the highly popular Fan Table as well as interesting Suns history, trivia and the weekly poll question.