Time: 8:30 p.m. MST
Despite the NBA trade deadline approaching in less than 24 hours, the Suns’ only real move has been internal.
Reserve swingman Wesley Johnson, after posting season-highs in points (14) and rebounds (eight) in Phoenix’s 102-98 win over Portland, figures to get even more playing time tonight. Suns head coach Lindsey Hunter reportedly told Johnson to get ready during the All-Star break in a conversation the former top-five pick had been hoping for since coming to Phoenix via trade from Minnesota.
The brief rise of Johnson (and the Suns) contrasts sharply with the slumping Warriors. After starting the season 30-17 and landing forward David Lee in the All-Star Game, Golden State has dropped six straight and plummeted to sixth in the Western Conference.
The most encouraging note for Suns fans? The Warriors have allowed less than 115 points just once in that six-game span.
Golden State’s defensive woes could translate to Phoenix making the Portland win more than a positive note in a season full of negativity and uncertainty. Marcin Gortat, Jared Dudley, Sebastian Telfair and Jermaine O’Neal have all heard their names in the rumor mill, with the whispers potentially reaching a crescendo before the deadline passes.
Phoenix, however, appears resolute in maintaining what assets it has, namely draft picks and cap space, even if it also means keeping the subpar player assets along with them.
Goran Dragic hasn’t been one of the discussed players in trade talks, but against Portland he played like one who wanted to stay. The fifth-year guard tallied a career-high 18 assists, facilitating an offensive flow painfully absent the majority of this season.
O’Neal turned in a similarly impressive 13 rebounds in 20 minutes, production that will be sorely needed against the Warriors’ frontcourt tandem of Andrew Bogut and David Lee.