The Suns have admitted they’re not a team with a lot of room for error. They didn’t play that way at Minnesota, attempting behind-the-back and no-look passes, proving that the Suns can indeed play loosely.
Just not efficiently.
Against one of the best defensive perimeters in the league (Ricky Rubio, Luke Ridnour and Andrei Kirilenko average a combined 4.9 steals per game), the result was an appalling 27 turnovers that led to 33 points for the Timberwolves, more than making up for the absence of Kevin Love.
Luis Scola snagged most turnover honors, flirting with the kind of triple double that makes ball-dominant point guards jealous. His 14 points and nine rebounds were met with eight turnovers, a result of aggressive post defense from Derrick Williams, Greg Steimsma and double-teaming guards.
Scola wasn’t the only one. Goran Dragic (six turnovers) and Kendall Marshall (three) repeatedly got caught in the air with nowhere to go before throwing the ball away. P.J Tucker and Jared Dudley, in fact, were the only Suns who played that didn’t log a turnover.
It’s a shame, because when Phoenix wasn’t turning the ball over, they were turning in one of their best offensive performances of the season. The Suns shot 37-of-73 from the field in the 105-93 loss on Saturday, a rare appearance above 50 percent for a team with no player outside of Goran Dragic that can be counted on to score consistently.
Shot selection was the difference, with the younger guys showing the most improvement. Markieff Morris had one of his most efficient nights as a pro, scoring a game-high 20 points on just 11 shots. Only four of those were 3-pointers, a relief for fans fearing that Morris would continue his attempt to evolve into Channing Frye 2.0.
Wesley Johnson helped spark the Suns to an early lead before finishing with 15 points on spot-ups, pull-ups and transition baskets. Like Dragic did in Houston last year, Johnson is increasing his value late in the year. Sure, it’s happening on a lottery team with no expectations in meaningless, late-season games, but Suns brass has likely seen enough from the soon-to-be free agent to make them think long and hard this summer.
Morris project back on board?
After a seven-game stretch of less than 10 minutes per game, Marcus Morris appears to be (somewhat) back in Lindsey Hunter’s rotation. The recently acquired twin has played double-digit minutes in the last three games, and the Suns made a point to run a couple plays for him Saturday night.
You’re not going to believe this, but at least two of them involved his brother Markieff.
One play saw the twins run their own version of a pick and roll (Marcus missed that shot) and the other had Markieff feeding Marcus in the post (also failed).
It’s clear, however, that the two play with more energy when on the floor together. The question is whether that energy/talent is enough to justify keeping them long-term. Barring a trade, they’ll have at least next year to answer that before the team options in their rookie contracts come up.
With Jermaine O’Neal held out for the second time in four games due to a bruised shin, Hamed Haddadi again stepped in as the Suns’ backup center. While Haddadi provided the inside presence expected from a 7-foot-2 big man, coming up with four boards in 10 minutes. He matched that with an equally impressive four turnovers.
Despite Eddie Johnson’s on-air love for the Iranian big man, don’t be shocked if the Suns waive him before next season. He’s due over $1.3 million in 2013-14, but it’s non-guaranteed.