PHOENIX — A month and a day had passed since the Phoenix Suns had been on a winning streak. With a 105-101 overtime win in San Antonio Wednesday against the Spurs, it’s back to business against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.
But a number of good things happened for the Suns against San Antonio. Jermaine O’Neal popping into the time machine was key, and reading Tim Duncan’s admission that he lost the battle wasn’t something you don’t see all too often. Yet, Wes Johnson’s game-tying three-pointer with seconds ticking away seemed to get all the publicity.
It was Johnson’s defense, however, that deserves equal praise. Interim coach Lindsey Hunter switched Johnson onto Spurs point guard Tony Parker late in the game, and Parker ended up scoring the only overtime point by San Antonio.
“The biggest thing is defensively how great he’s been,” Hunter said. “I think that (Johnson was assigned Parker) just happened because Goran got in foul trouble so … he did an outstanding job. That’s no easy coverage. He’s probably top-two in best point guards in the NBA. Wes did a great job with his length, staying in front of him, challenging shots.
“He didn’t have a great offensive game, he made the big three,” Hunter added, “but aside from a couple shots here and there, he didn’t play offensively great.”
Johnson scored eight points and shot just 3-of-9 for the game.
Handling the frontcourt rotations
Hunter also addressed how he turned to a frontcourt of Marcin Gortat and O’Neal. Tiago Splitter had been dominating the rebounding front for the Spurs against the Suns power forwards, so Hunter said it was time to try the dual-center unit. That turned out well for Hunter, as the duo combined for 29 points and 28 rebounds.
Rotations haven’t been consistent with Hunter, who said that he’ll always game-plan an idea of how his rotations will work prior to games. Rarely have they gone as planned.
“I always have a plan – in a perfect world – of what I want to happen,” Hunter said. “I think you always have to have a baseline of what you want to do and script it. But it never seems to go according to the script.”
Who does Goran Dragic play like?
Before the game against Atlanta, Hunter was asked who Suns guard Goran Dragic reminds him of.
“I hated guarding left-handed guards,” Hunter mused. “He’s like (Spurs guard Manu) Ginobili as a point guard. I would associate him with Ginobili a lot. I see a lot of him. And he actually guards Ginobili well too.”