The Suns are back to their winning ways after Friday night’s victory over the Pelicans. They’d like to make it a trend against the reeling Hawks, who have lost nine of their last 10.
Phoenix would love to secure this win before an important upcoming four-game stretch against the Western contending Clippers, Thunder, Warriors and Clippers again.
Will Phoenix take care of business like they did Friday night? Can the Hawks overcome key injuries? That and more bear watching in tonight’s game.
Bottling the 4th
The final period of Friday’s win saw Phoenix turn in the kind of energy – especially on defense – the team had missed during its previous three-game slide.
The Suns ended up scoring six fast break points and 35 total points in the fourth quarter alone, a period that normally slows down as possessions become valuable in crunch time.
If Phoenix can duplicate that energy, they’ll be in good shape to keep the game at their tempo and in their control.
When the injury bug has bitten Suns’ opponents, it has ended up biting Phoenix as well.
Minnesota (Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Martin), Memphis (Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph), Chicago (Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer) and other teams have beaten the Suns despite missing extremely key players.
Hornacek has repeatedly stressed the need to respect every player on the opposing team. They’ll need to keep that in mind tonight when they go up against the Hawks, who will be without All-Star big men Al Horford and Paul Millsap.
Goran Dragic annihilated the month of February with the following averages: 23.5 points, 6.2 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game while shooting 56.0 percent from the field and 49.0 percent from downtown.
The sixth-year guard also set a new career-high in points three different times in February, including 40 points in the final game of the month on Friday.
It was hard to believe Dragic could improve on his stellar January (22.3 ppg, 52.2 percent shooting), but he did and then some. Is more in store for March?
Guard the Three
Atlanta is quietly one of the better long-distance shooting teams in the league, hitting 38 percent of their attempts from downtown (fifth in the NBA).
League-leading three-point marksman Kyle Korver (47.5 percent) is a big part of that offense, but DeMarre Carroll, Lou Williams and Mike Scott are dangerous as well.
Keef at the Line
Markieff Morris’ aggressive play can be monitored at the free throw line, where he averaged over five attempts per contest in the month of February, including 6.8 attempts per game over the last seven.
Those trips are a welcome sign of energy off the bench, which has often swung momentum back in the Suns’ favor. Without Millsap or Horford manning the middle tonight, look for Morris to continue getting into the paint.
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