Suns Hope For Repeat Result Against Pelicans
It’s been five days since the Suns defeated the Pelicans at New Orleans. In two games since then, Anthony Davis has poured in 50 points, 21 rebounds, nine blocks and four steals in two wins.
The second-year player, along with the Suns’ own Eric Bledsoe, is among (early) leading candidates for Most Improved Player. Against Phoenix, however, he struggled, shooting just 5-of-14, though his end-game stat line (17 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks) was still impressive in a losing effort.
Phoenix will try to avoid a slow start similar to what they suffered at New Orleans on Tuesday. The Suns trailed by 14 at one point in the first quarter, and needed a scorching performance from Gerald Green and other shooters in the third quarter to pull out the win.
Green could start for the fourth consecutive game. Goran Dragic is a game-time decision for the second game in a row as he and the team take a cautious approach toward his sprained ankle.
“I think [not playing] is driving him crazy,” Jeff Hornacek said. “You like those guys, guys that are competitors. They want to be out there. That’s why we’ve got to be a little careful with his ankle, just to make sure that he’s a hundred percent. A guy like that might want to play maybe too early.”
Davis has been hot in the last two games, but so has Suns big man Miles Plumlee. The second-year big man is coming off his third double-double performance of the season and put up 15 points, six rebounds and two blocks at San Antonio in the previous game.
The Suns’ center, like the rest of the team, suffered a poor start at New Orleans on Tuesday. After making his first shot he turned the ball over, missed his next two shot attempts, was blocked by Davis and got called for goaltending.
Plumlee’s turnaround since then has been as refreshing as his time with the Suns in general. Both he and Davis were first-round picks a year ago, though their respective rookie year expectations, opportunities and production couldn’t have been more opposite.
“It’s really gratifying to know that my work’s paying off,” Plumlee said.
In their last meeting, Phoenix managed to withstand the Pelicans’ greatest strength (three-point shooting, best in the league) and punctuate their biggest weakness (two-point shooting, second-worst).
Since that game, New Orleans has pulled off a successful reversal, hitting just 7-of-22 (31.8 percent) from deep but connecting on 48.3 percent of their attempts inside the arc.
The Suns will need to be ready to adjust if/when the Pelicans show their revamped offensive approach in tonight’s game.
Markieff Morris is playing well enough to be a starter, but Head Coach Jeff Hornacek says that’s what makes him so good off the bench.
“When we bring him off the bench like that, we have so more things [to run],” Hornacek said. “We can run him in the post. We feel comfortable about doing that...He probably could start, but for the best of the team, it’s probably bringing him off the bench."
It’s hard to argue. Morris gets the double-benefit of 1) having plays called for him and 2) going against less-talented backup forwards in the early going.
When the other team assigns a starting forward to guard him and/or alters its defensive scheme, Morris’ teammates are freed up to do damage in other ways.