By Ben York, Suns.com The Suns and Rockets meet for the first of three contests this season, with the next two coming in February. Winners of 11 of the last 16 meetings with the Rockets, the Suns face Houston on the road Wednesday on the second night of a back-to-back. The game will be televised on FOX Sports Arizona at 6:00pm and fans can listen to the radio broadcast on Arizona Sports 620. Click through to see five things Suns fans should watch for during #SunsAtRockets.
The Backcourt When Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic are clicking, the Suns are a tough team to beat. Bledsoe (18.8, 5.8) and Dragic (17.9, 7.1) are both averaging above 15.0 points and 5.0 assists this season; the Suns last had two players average above both these marks in a season in 1992-93 when Charles Barkley (25.6, 5.1) and Kevin Johnson (16.1, 7.8) both did so. This season could be the fifth time overall this has occurred in franchise history as Jeff Hornacek and Johnson did so in three consecutive seasons from 1989-92.
3-Point Shooting The Suns have made 7+ three-pointers in 10 consecutive games, the team’s longest streak since doing so in 12 straight games from April 7-Nov. 8, 2010. With Houston’s defensive presence in the paint, catching fire from downtown could be a major factor in the game.
Tucker’s Spark P.J. Tucker is hugely important to the Suns’ success. Tucker has scored 10+ points in five of his past 10 games, and has made a three-pointer in 12 of his first 18 games while shooting 47.8 percent from distance (20-of-41 from the corner). The Suns will need both a scoring and energy boost from Tucker against the Rockets tonight.
Transition Game The Suns rank 9th in the NBA with an Offensive Rating (points scored per 100 possessions) of 104.6 (29th at 98.2 last season) and have scored at least 20 fast break points in 10 of the first 18 games. In 2012-13, Phoenix scored 20+ fast break points 12 times all season. Furthermore, their up-tempo game usually leads to more free throw attempts; the Suns are 7-0 this season when attempting more free throws than their opponent and 2-7 when their opponent attempts more.
Energy Playing on the road on the second night of a back-to-back set is never easy – especially when it’s the fifth such set this season already. However, if the Suns want to steal a win in Houston, they’ll need to come out of the gates playing hard from the start. Houston is a very deep team who has seemingly found their groove of late, so Phoenix will need to continue attacking the paint while also playing smart basketball.