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Center of the Sun: Suns in Western Conference driver’s seat as second half of season gets underway

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 Detroit Pistons Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

Phoenix Suns @ Toronto Raptors W (99-95) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns @ Indiana Pacers W (112-94) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns @ Detroit Pistons W (135-108) Full Recap

The Suns sitting at 33-9 with the best record in the NBA seems almost unbelievable. Just three years ago, at this point in the season the Suns were 10-32 and were soon to begin the franchise’s worst ever losing streak (17 games) on their way to a 19-63 finish and another trip to the NBA lottery. Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges are the only players that remain from that team.

Little did we know back then that the team’s fortunes would - or could - turn so quickly!

The Suns currently control their own destiny. With a 2.5 game lead over the 2nd place Warriors, all they have to do is keep winning... something they’ve gotten pretty good at. With players sidelined for various reasons, the Suns have proven resilient and the “next man up” mentality has proven to be more than just a phrase. It is a reality for them. And even when their stars are not having the best of nights, the Suns have proven that they often can still win.

A lot can happen between now and the end of the season though. There are plenty of tests yet to be taken and passed before the final test - the playoffs - begin.

Three months and 40 more exciting Suns basketball games to go.

It’s truly a great time to be a Suns fan.

Game Highlights



Deandre Ayton (27PTS) Finds his Groove vs. Indiana Pacers

Devin Booker (35PTS) Gets Hot in the Third vs. Indiana Pacers


Devin Booker Drops a 30 Piece vs. Detroit Pistons

JaVale McGee Steps up, Scores 20 Points vs. Detroit Pistons

Key Stats

58.9% FG, 1st (in clutch time)

Clutch time is defined as the last five minutes of a game when a team is leading or trailing by five points or fewer. This season the Suns are dominating clutch time in terms of FG percentage. They’re 1st in the league by a wide margin with the LA Clippers a distant 2nd with a 50.8% clutch time FG percentage. The Suns also average the fewest clutch time turnovers in the league (0.5) and are number one in clutch time assists (2.2). Their CT 3-point shooting isn’t too shabby either (39.4%, 7th) and they’re tied for 2nd in CT personal fouls drawn (2.4).

Random stats: Over the last 10 games Jalen Smith has averaged 3.8 offensive rebounds per game, 9th in the entire NBA during that period of time. Since returning from H&S protocols, Jae Crowder has averaged 8.0 rebounds per game, 3.4 rpg over his season average (4.6).

Quotes of the Week

“Everything takes care of itself with talking on defense and getting it done on the defensive end. As long as we get stops, I feel like offense will just take care of itself.” - Cam Payne

“If you can just stay solid, with the offensive guys we have, at some point we feel like we can win games.” - Monty Williams

“I’m too blessed to be stressed.” - Devin Booker

Injury Status Report

Deandre Ayton (Ankle) Game Time Decision.

Cameron Johnson (Ankle) Game Time Decision.

Abdel Nader (Knee) Expected to be out until at least January 22.

Frank Kaminsky (Knee) Expected to be out until at least March 8.

Dario Saric (Knee) Expected to be out until at least April 1.

News & Notes

Phoenix Suns: Cameron Johnson is a critical piece to the team’s success. Sir Charles In Charge

Chris Paul is currently leading the NBA with most 10+AST games this season. Sportsrush

Suns Have A Big-Man Predicament They’re Happy to Deal With. EURweb

Suns Notes: Bass, Booker, Saric, Payne, Shamet. Hoops Rumors

No Guesswork.

Midseason Report: Breaking down all 15 teams in the West.

This Week in Suns History

On January 18, 1971, Phoenix forward Paul Silas set a franchise record with 27 rebounds in a 118-99 win over the Cincinnati Royals. In doing so he broke the previous record of 24 rebounds set on Nov. 15, 1968 by George Wilson which was also tied on Nov. 7, 1970 by... Paul Silas.

On January 19, 2016, as a rookie, Devin Booker scored 32 points in a 97-94 loss to the Indiana Pacers. It was the first game in which he scored 30 or more points in his NBA career.

On January 20, 1970, Phoenix’s Dick Van Arsdale and Cincinnati’s Tom Van Arsdale become the first brothers to play in the same All-Star Game. Dick scored eight points for the West team, while Tom scored five for the East, which won the game 142-135 in Philadelphia.

On January 22, 1968, the NBA Board of Governors granted franchises to the cities of Milwaukee and Phoenix.

On January 23, 2016, Tyson Chandler tied Paul Silas’ franchise record of 27 rebounds in a 98-95 win over the Atlanta Hawks.

Suns Trivia

Only 5 Suns players have ever gotten 25+ rebounds in a single regular season game. Paul Silas (1971) and Tyson Chandler (2016) share the team record with 27 each. Paul Silas (1972), Neal Walk (1973) and Charles Barkley (1995) share 2nd place with 26 each and Maurice Lucas holds third with 25 in 1983.

Including this year’s record setting 18-game win streak, the Suns have had only 11 win streaks of 10 or more games in team history.

Previewing the Week Ahead

Monday, Jan. 17 - Phoenix Suns @ San Antonio Spurs 6:30 pm AZT

Thursday, Jan. 20 - Phoenix Suns @ Dallas Mavericks 5:30 pm AZT (TNT)

Saturday, Jan. 22 - Phoenix Suns @ Indiana Pacers 7:00 pm AZT

This week the Suns finish their 5-game road trip with two games in Texas before heading home.

The Suns’ first stop-off in Texas is against an old nemesis now fallen on hard times, the 16-27 San Antonio Spurs. While their overall roster is lacking in top end talent this year, they still have the mastermind, Gregg Popovich, pulling the strings from the sideline. That means that the Suns can’t afford to take this game lightly. As Monty Williams knows Pop well, I’m certain he’s been hammering this fact into his player’s heads since the the final buzzer sounded in Detroit yesterday. This being the second game of a back-to-back on the road has to also raise some concern but I believe the Suns will get the win even though the final score might be close.

Next the Suns make the short hop over to Dallas to take on the 24-19 Mavericks. The Mavs are 9-2 in their last 11 games and 5th in the Western Conference after a rough stretch in their schedule left them at 15-17 just three weeks ago. During that 11-game stretch Dallas’ defense has led the NBA and boosted their net rating to 1st despite their offense ranking only 12th. This will be a tough game but the Suns have two days to rest before it and Dallas will be playing on the second night of a B2B after facing Toronto on Wednesday. I think that the Suns’ extra rest vs Dallas’ weary legs will be enough of an edge to get Phoenix another win.

Finally the Suns return home for a relatively quick rematch with the Pacers whom they defeated in Indiana just 8 days before. I think that the Suns will please the home crowd by sending the Pacers on their way with another loss to Phoenix in their pockets.

My prediction is that the Suns will go 3-0 this week.

What’s your prediction?

Important Future Dates

January 20 - All Two-Way Contracts are guaranteed for the remainder of the season.

February 10 - NBA Trade Deadline (3 p.m. ET).

February 18-23 - NBA All-Star break.

February 20 - NBA All-Star Game.

March 1 - Last day a player can be waived by one team and remain eligible to appear in the postseason for another team.

March 10 - Last day to use a disabled player exception.

April 10 - Regular season ends. Last day players can sign contracts for 2021/22. Last day two-way contracts can be converted to standard NBA contracts.

April 11 - Playoff rosters set (3:00pm ET).

April 12-15 - Play-In Tournament.

April 16 - Playoffs begin.

May 17 - NBA Draft Lottery.

June 23 - NBA Draft.

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