Blueprint from Wins Could Help in Rematch vs. Kings
Suns forward P.J. Tucker had said after Friday’s overtime loss he wanted to play the very next day. Phoenix will get that chance after yet another narrow defeat at Sacramento last night.
There are plenty of memories from that game they’d like to forget. The 10-0 game-ending run by the Kings. The rash of turnovers on the other end.
Remembering the good might be more helpful than forgetting the bad, particularly when it comes to how the Suns finished the games they won.
Comparing victories and losses is fair, since all have been, at most, five-point affairs with five minutes left in regulation. Phoenix has also led every game heading into the fourth quarter.
In the opener against Portland, Phoenix closed the game on a 10-3 run. Hosting the Pelicans, they scored their final 17 points on layups or free throws, a stark difference from last night when the Suns took 13 of their 20 fourth quarter shots from outside the key.
Eric Bledsoe provides a significant lift in that aspect of the game. In the Suns’ win over Denver, he either scored or assisted on 15 of their final 17 points, usually on slashing drives to the rim.
With or without Bledsoe (he’s questionable for tonight’s rematch), Phoenix is intent on taking better advantage of the opportunities afforded. The Kings are still only 3-7, and they’ll be followed on the schedule by Charlotte (5-6) and Orlando (4-6). A three-game winning streak heading into next week’s tilt at Miami would be ideal.
Any game-to-game momentum starts with a win, and chances are the Suns would love to start by beating the Kings less than 24 hours after their latest narrow defeat.
Greivis Vasquez got the starting nod for Sacramento last night, but it was Isaiah Thomas who played crunch-time minutes opposite of Goran Dragic.
The Kings’ waterbug point guard applied some late-game pressure along with DeMarcus Cousins on pick-and-rolls, helping cause seven turnovers by the Suns point guard.
Dragic will likely have done a lot of talking and planning with Hornacek and the Suns big men in hopes of being better prepared for such pressure tonight. On the other end, Dragic will need to better contain Thomas (19 points, 6-of-12 FG) in the event Bledsoe sits out again.
Offensive rebounds derailed the Suns’ momentum at crucial stages in last night’s loss. After amassing a 14-point lead with 3:58 left in the third quarter, Phoenix gave up four offensive boards and got outscored 10-2 before the period ended.
The Suns will need more from Markieff Morris (11 minutes, zero rebounds) and Miles Plumlee (six rebounds) if they hope to hold serve on the glass.
Phoenix has experienced more than enough misfortune through the first 10 games of the season, but perhaps none more disheartening than this: in the Suns’ five losses, Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic have only been on the court together for one of them.
The dual point guard backcourt has been an offensive sensation when healthy, but that caveat has separated the duo far too often for the Suns’ liking thanks to a string of random accidents. Dragic suffered two player collisions, one of which required 13 stitches above his left eye. He also sprained an ankle midway through a close loss to Oklahoma City.
Finally healthy, Dragic returned only to see Bledsoe go down in a similarly random collision with teammate P.J. Tucker in practice. The 6-1 guard suffered a significantly bruised shin, which forced him to miss Tuesday’s game at Sacramento.
The two point guards will, at some point, put together a significant string of games that sees them both on the floor. The Suns just hope it’s sooner than later.