Key Three of the Week (Nov. 11 - Nov. 17)

Barry Gossage/NBAE

Two painful losses in a row (at Portland and at home against Brooklyn) cast an unfair shadow over some stellar performances by the Suns from last week.

Once again, Phoenix was gritty, defensive-minded and thrilling to watch, even in defeat. And while the Suns would just as soon forget last week and move on, we look back just long enough to pinpoint the Key Three Players of the Week.

Goran Dragic

The Slovenian playmaker was a microcosm of the up-and-down week Phoenix endured. Last week’s resume for “The Dragon”: 33 points, a handful of stitches and a new son.

Two days after his first-born son Mateo was born, Dragic nearly turned the Portland game singlehandedly. He hit two three-pointers and assisted on a third to cap off a 9-0 run that could have decided the game in the Suns favor. Instead he suffered a nasty face-to-face collision while securing the ball for the assist and was forced to miss the last quarter-and-a-half of what ended up being a one-point loss.

Two nights later he returned with half the normal eyesight in his left eye – a result of the stitches and swelling – and poured in 19 point and 10 assists. At the end of the game, however, Dragic could only contest what ended up being the game-winning floater by Joe Johnson in overtime.

Eric Bledsoe

The Suns’ guard’s late-game heroics had reached the point of desperate reaching for nicknames to suit them. The Closer. The Bledshow. End-game Eric.

It’s not hard to imagine, then, why Bledsoe was one of the more disappointed parties after the back-to-back losses last week. His effort at Portland (23 points, six assists, three rebounds) was stellar, but ultimately not enough.

He followed that up by scorching the Nets for 13 second-quarter points and finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals. His shot from distance (1-for-6) was just off enough to allow Brooklyn to steal the game in overtime.

P.J. Tucker

The veteran forward was kicking himself after both losses last week. At Portland, he missed one of the last-second tip-in chances Phoenix had at the rim to win the game. Against Brooklyn, he thought Marcus Morris had a rebound he was about to secure, but instead ended up in Brooklyn’s hands for the game-deciding possession.

The two split-second plays shouldn’t mask the effort of the other 47:59 of each game. He pestered the Blazers for eight points, six rebounds and four steals, then torched the Nets for 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting.

Most impressive of all is Tucker’s overall efficiency from deep. After a summer’s worth of work on his outside shot, he is currently third in the league in three-point percentage with a 54.5 percent clip.