Hornacek Posts Standings For Final Push

by Matt Petersen

Jeff Hornacek waited 67 games to do it. If he could have, he would have waited longer.

But with Phoenix two games behind the final playoff spot and win-worthy motivation needed for the 15 remaining contests on the schedule, the Suns Head Coach felt the time had come.

That’s why, when the players walked into the locker room before Wedneday’s home game against Orlando, they saw the Western Conference standings on the whiteboard for the very first time this season.

“It was time,” Hornacek said.

Make no mistake, the Suns’ head coach and former playoff regular hates looking ahead, particularly with a young team. Patience has been his motto all season.

It was patience that fueled optimism for a squad that boasted the second-least amount of NBA experience in the league.

It was patience that encouraged him to go all in on a backcourt of Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, even when the pair went through early-season growing pains of sharing point guard duties.

It was patience that kept Hornacek from ever becoming overly demonstrative or loudly critical even after losses to teams like Utah, New York or Detroit.

He knew this particular set of players needed that patience as much as – and perhaps more than – they needed opportunities.

The combination of the two has Phoenix sitting 10 games over .500 in a season critics predicted they’d finish 63 games under that mark.

The longer Phoenix continued to defy the odds, the more realistic “making the playoffs” became. Now the team is close enough – and the season short enough – to the point where Hornacek knew patience had served its purpose.

“We’re a young team, we figured the later we can hit that, the better,” he said. “But now it’s time. Hopefully they’ll be looking at that stuff and realize what these games mean.”