Suns Notebook: Eric Bledsoe Eager for Return
Head Coach Jeff Hornacek said on Wednesday that if Eric Bledsoe sat out that night’s game due to a bruised shin suffered in practice, he would likely play Friday at Charlotte.
That will be welcome news to the fourth-year guard, who had been on an early season tear with averages of 20.4 points, 6.8 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game. He admitted it was difficult to take a game-long seat, especially in the Suns’ three-point loss at Sacramento.
“I was sitting on the bench [on Tuesday] and I almost bit my nails off,” Bledsoe said. “I wanted to get in so bad.”
The Suns feel the same way, especially in conjunction with their desire to see him and Goran Dragic both available on a consistent basis. After seeing the duo combine for 48 points, 15 assists and 13 rebounds in the season opener, Dragic and Bledsoe have played complete games together in just two of the last nine contests.
“When those two guys are in there, we have a little bit better chance of creating some easy buckets inside just off penetration and dump-offs,” Hornacek said. “When we’ve got to rely on Goran the whole time to do it, it makes it tough ‘cause teams can kind of gear up on our one guy. Our other guys are good shooters and good defenders and that stuff, but we don’t have a lot of those guys that can really create something for somebody else except for Eric and Goran and His [Smith].”
The dual point guard experiment was well supported by Hornacek and Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough during the offseason. Bledsoe is also eager to see it happen while acknowledging how fortuitous it’s been to have two starting-quality playmakers in light of their recent hard luck.
“I always think about [playing with Dragic],” he said. “It’s good to have two good point guards in this type of situation. Hopefully later on down the road me and him will play a lot together.”
Bledsoe has also come to appreciate his teammate’s doggedness in shaking off his own injury woes, which included two in-game collisions with other players and a sprained ankle.
“Goran, he’s a tough competitior,” Bledsoe said. “He’s going to go to war with anybody. It don’t matter how good they are. He’s a warrior and you take your hat off to him. He’s been hit in the eye, [sprained] ankle and he just continues to come back and compete.”
Onus on Bigs to Step Up
Since winning the Western Conference Player of the Week Award, Markieff Morris is averaging 4.3 points, 3.3 rebounds while shooting just 19 percent over the last four games.
Morris fought through a cold earlier this week, but has also struggled under the weight of increased attention from opposing defenses.Center Miles Plumlee is undergoing a similar adjustment, and Phoenix is seeing a subsequent drop in production from its frontcourt rotation.
“We need some of the bigs to step up,” Hornacek said. “We have Miles out there, but we’re not a very big team. With Alex [Len’s] foot [recovering], Markieff’s our next biggest guy. We need to get him going.”
Len was active in his five minutes in Wednesday night’s loss, coming up with two points and four rebounds in just five minutes. Three of his boards came on the offensive glass.
Gerald Green’s 23-point performance on Wednesday was the latest proof of his ability to produce in whatever role the team needs him. In the six games he has started, the veteran swingman has averaged 17.7 points on 49 percent shooting, including a dead-even 50 percent from beyond the arc.
Green’s scoring dips to 11.6 points per game when coming off the bench, but his shooting jumps to 51.2 percent in through those five games.
Green is currently 25th in the league in three-point percentage, joining P.J. tucker (11th) in the top 25.
Miles Plumlee registered three blocks on Wednesday, his sixth game with at least two blocks on the season. The second-year big man ranks eighth in the league at exactly two blocks per contest. He is 24th in rebounding (8.8 rpg).
Dragic’s 31 points on Wednesday made for his highest-scoring output since he poured in 32 in a four-point loss to Golden State on April 5.