Fresh off a perfect four-game road trip, the Suns hope to continue their winning ways tonight against Charlotte. The two teams last met in November, when Phoenix pulled away late in Charlotte for the 98-91 win.
The Suns are hoping for a similar outcome to keep their recent string of success going. They’ve won six of their last seven and seven of their last nine, vaulting themselves to sixth in the Western Conference.
Will Phoenix’s momentum continue? At least five things will play a factor.
Phoenix mustered just 98 points in their last meeting with Charlotte, and needed 10 three-pointers to get that much.
The offense has looked much different over the last two weeks. The Suns are putting up over 112 points per contest in their last seven games while shooting 49 percent overall and 44 percent from three-point range.
Charlotte prides itself with defense (sixth-best in points allowed per game), so Phoenix will need to assert their offensive authority similar to how they performed in their home-and-away wins over Indiana.
Big, Big Al
Al Jefferson was quietly been one of the best players in the league in January, averaging 23.9 points, 11.3 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game. He’s coming off perhaps his best performance of the season, a 40-point, 18-rebound effort in a win over the Lakers.
Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek is familiar with Jefferson’s game from their dual tenures with the Jazz. Any tips he has for the Suns’ big men (Miles Plumlee, Channing Frye, Markieff Morris) in dealing with the Bobcats’ low-post threat will come in handy.
Better Than Ever Goran?
After already receiving league-wide praise throughout the season, Goran Dragic has taken his game to an even higher level over the past week. The sixth-year guard averaged 27.3 point on an absurd 61.7 percent shooting to go along with 6.7 assists and 3.7 rebounds over the last three games.
With Kemba Walker (ankle) potentially missing his seventh game in a row due to injury, Charlotte will be even more hard-pressed to match the Suns production at point guard. They’ll do their best with Ramon Sessions, who is averaging 11.0 points and 8.4 assists over his last five games.
Keep Bobcats Down
Phoenix appeared to find a balance of excellent offense and above-average defense in two of their four road wins last week, holding Cleveland and Indiana to 90 and 94 points, respectively.
The Suns appear well-positioned for another well-rounded outing against the Bobcats, who are third-worst in the league in points per game (94.4) and fourth-worst in shooting percentage (43.4).
Phoenix will want to avoid repeating the effort they gave at Milwaukee, where they gave up 117 points to the league-worst Bucks and made the game harder than it needed to be.
Markieff Morris is in the midst of the best stretch of his career. The third-year forward has scored in double-figures in nine consecutive games despite coming off the bench in every one of those contests.
The stretch comes after he was ejected in the first half of a two-point loss at New York on Jan. 13. Since then, Morris is averaging 18.2 points on 52.9 percent shooting to go along with 5.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.
Most encouraging of all? He’s attempting 5.9 free throw attempts per contest in that span and converting 84.9 percent of them.