Jazz vs. Suns: Eric Bledsoe resilient as Suns go 12 deep

Posted by on November 1st, 11:05 pm

PHOENIX – Irrational confidence makes you grip your seat and grind your teeth when Eric Bledsoe is forcing the issue. Many times, it’s off a defensive rebound, and in the Suns’ 87-84 win against the Jazz, it was mostly off Utah’s 20 turnovers or sparked by Phoenix’s 10 blocked shots.

Yeah, it wasn’t much about the defensive rebounds considering the Jazz nabbed 22 off the offensive glass.

“We just didn’t have it tonight,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. “Hopefully these guys learn that you can’t always wait ’til the end. You win this one but you keep playing with fire like that, it’s going to bite you.”

It didn’t Friday night at U.S. Airways Center thanks to a perhaps irrational Bledsoe three-pointer with 0.7 seconds left that lifted an 84-all tie. Phoenix’s execution on offense wasn’t all that swell, but the defense that held the Jazz to 36.5 percent shooting and forced 20 turnovers wasn’t all that shabby – Utah didn’t score more than 23 points in any quarter.

“Tonight we didn’t finish it,” Hornacek said. “We didn’t finish it by getting the rebound. On defense, if you sit there and say, ‘I’m going to stop my guy, I’m going to stop my guy,’ all of a sudden you’re the guy who forgets to do that. I think they did a pretty good job about that.”

The Suns looked set for overtime after Jazz forward Gordon Hayward worked around a screen on the left wing of an inbounds play. Phoenix forward P.J. Tucker chased him through the screen and seemed close enough for a contest. But Hayward came to a halt atop the three-point arc and showed that savvy that had him, with Bledsoe, in the conversation as a player who could’ve earned an extension to his expiring rookie deal.

Forgive us reporters that we didn’t ask Hornacek if the play reminded him of a game involving his old Utah Jazz team — a Game 6 loss to the Chicago Bulls back in 1998. Let’s just say it wasn’t inertia keeping Tucker from stopping with Hayward to contest the shot.

“He’s such a good player, he did it subtly,” Tucker said of Hayward’s push-off. “I hate to say this, but like the Michael Jordan little (push-off) … that’s a tough shot man, tough shot. It was a great shot.”

Phoenix had the final say with the game tied, and a purposely broken play by Bledsoe saw the Suns steal a victory.

There was no need for a three when Bledsoe set up the offense with 16.8 seconds left on the clock. Yet, the guard who had struggled with five turnovers in the first half and went through a 4-for-15 shooting night knew what he had as Hayward eyed him defensively. Bledsoe waved off a Miles Plumlee screen as the time on the clock dwindled.

“I just kept being aggressive,” Bledsoe said. “My teammates kept telling me, coach kept telling me, my shot is going to fall and I just stuck with it.

“I knew he was playing the drive,” Bledsoe said of Hayward. “So you know, I was going to wait until the clock got really low to shoot it, so I already had it in my mind to shoot it. I planned on it being a three. He was a the way down, daring me to shoot it.”

Dragic gets hurt on ‘football play’

Late in the first half, Goran Dragic and P.J. Tucker collided violently just past halfcourt as the Jazz attempted to advance the ball with a long pass over the top of the retreating players.

“He took off, it was a long high pass, and I was kind of playing cornerback on it,” Tucker said, “waiting for it to drop. And as soon as it started to drop I took off and Goran was coming in like a safety, trying to get an interception. It was a football play.”

Neither player got up initially. Dragic was first but he was also the first to leave. He started the second half for Phoenix but was pulled shortly after the third quarter began.

The injury caused Hornacek to go 12-men deep on Friday, and Dragic’s replacement, Ish Smith, put in two points, five boards and an assist with a bench unit also including Dionte Christmas.

“(Smith) gave us a huge lift,” Hornacek said. “To me (Dragic) just didn’t look right, so we figured take him out, put Ish in, let (Dragic) get checked out, and make sure we’re not pushing him through something we shouldn’t be pushing him through.”

Christmas played his first NBA game and gave Phoenix a lift. He filled in Archie Goodwin’s rotation spot in the second half even though Goodwin looked comfortable and scored four points and recorded two blocks in 10 first-half minutes.

“Second half I just felt that we needed more shooting, that’s why we went with Dionte instead,” Hornacek said.”

It worked. Christmas came out gunning and scored nine points while grabbing four rebounds.

“Coach put me in at a crucial time and he has a lot of confidence in me,” he said, “so I have to show that I can be professional about it, and give it all I got but still be smart about the situation.”

Kevin Zimmerman is the lead blogger and editor for Valley of the Suns. He is also editor of AZDesertSwarm.com, an Arizona Wildcats\’ blog, and a contributor at SB Nation and Pac-12.com.

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Tags: Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns Analysis · Utah Jazz

48 responses so far ↓

  • 1 SHAZAM // Nov 1, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    hey kevin remember the site we discussed awhile ago? http://www.sunsdial.com .. they just gave you a cool shout out and mentioned a lot of the people who comment here..congrats..they did a chat comments hall of fame thing if you care

  • 2 SHAZAM // Nov 2, 2013 at 12:43 am

    everybody wants wiggens even the heat are tanking

  • 3 vtsunrise // Nov 2, 2013 at 3:50 am

    The Suns don’t really have “stars,” but does their galaxy go deeper this year?

  • 4 vtsunrise // Nov 2, 2013 at 4:08 am

    I like this BrightSide explanation of why the Bledsoe situation likely won’t end up as another Joe Johnson horror story: http://www.brightsideofthesun.com/2013/11/1/5054306/phoenix-suns-situation-with-eric-bledsoe-has-shades-of-joe-johnson

  • 5 EBJM // Nov 2, 2013 at 4:51 am

    I’m bothered by just one thing. Favors and Kanter were a handful on the boards and poor Plumlee needed some help badly. Frye, Len and Morris were not getting it done yet while Horny was willing to go 12 deep our only other bruiser, Slava registered another DNP. Come on now, Favors grabbed 17 boards and Kanter had 10 offensive boards. Plumlee was strong again with 13/13/3.

    Plumlee still leading all vote getters for Most Improved Player.

  • 6 EBJM // Nov 2, 2013 at 5:31 am

    Food for thought: This summer the Magic offered Aaron Affalo, PF Andrew Nicholson and a 1sr rd pick to the Clips for Bledsoe. Well last night Affalo lit up Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans for 30 points and Nicholson came off the bench to chip in 9/5 helping the Magic blow-out the heavily favored Pelicans. I mentioned earlier the Magic have said they would give Jameer Nelson to the 1st team willing to give up a 1st rd pick. They are clearing the way for Bledsoe and thanks to Babby won’t have to give up anything but money.

  • 7 EBJM // Nov 2, 2013 at 6:49 am

    Evan Turner looks to be on his way out of Philly. Bledsoe and Geen for Turner? Hollinger claims Philly woild lose 8 more while Phoenix only loses 1 more.

  • 8 Sillmarillion // Nov 2, 2013 at 6:56 am

    Miles Plumlee is on fire! He looks really smooth. Bledsoe had the nerves to make the decisive clutch play.
    Alex Len on the other hand is a desaster, another wasted pick after Marshall. He even made it on Shaqtin a fool.

  • 9 Russell's Suns // Nov 2, 2013 at 7:00 am

    @EBJM The suns own the rights to Bledsoe. he is restricted. That means lets say for arguments sake the Suns told bledsoe they are offering him the same deal that dragic got at $7.5 mil a year, but for 5 years. And he turned it down. Let’s say another team in the off season ups the offer to bledose to 11 million a year ( I doubt he will get more than 9-10 mil a year)… but lets say he does get 11 million offer, he can only be offered 4 years, while the suns can offer 5, the suns can easily match the 4 year 44 million offer or they can counter offer and tell bledsoe to take a 5 year 52 million offer.

    Also, Phoenix has the right to match just like New Orleans did in the Gordon trade New Orleans wanted a 1st round pick and 2nd round pick plus gortat from us in order not to match. Suns hold all the cards in the bledsoe contract, he is restricted. Let him prove himself through an 82 game season first.

  • 10 Azbballfan // Nov 2, 2013 at 7:32 am

    Len as bad as marshall? really?

    i really doubt that

    its going to take some time, but Len will adjust

    3 points, a board, a steal, and a block and changing shots on the defensive end in 13 minutes is pretty decent

    plumlee was great

    we got lucky though in this win

    how many teams miss two shots at point blank range then have the guy who takes the tying shot step out of bounds?

    the Jazz missed 10 free throws as well

    we got lucky

  • 11 Russell's Suns // Nov 2, 2013 at 8:40 am

    @Azbballfan That tying shot with 0.7 seconds left, and he missed the shot badly. I’m not sure why everyone is getting on hayward, the guy was asked to make a miracle play, he had almost no time to shoot.

    But you are right it was a bad game, both teams looked terrible.

  • 12 Azbballfan // Nov 2, 2013 at 8:52 am

    Right, the shot wouldnt have counted anyway, but players dont typically step out of bounds like that in a critical moment

    our bench played really well, gave us 36 points and nearly every player was a plus in the plus minus column

    even though Bledsoe made the 3 and it was the winning shot, the team was god awful from 3 point land the whole game

    an isolation play running down the clock with a guy in your face is not a high percentage shot

    when we find ourselves in that situation again i would rather see him drive and set up an easy 2 rather than a tough 3 you dont have to take

    i am glad dragic and tucker are ok, that collision looked bad

  • 13 Ryan // Nov 2, 2013 at 9:19 am

    MINI LEBROOOOOOOOON

  • 14 RudeCerveza // Nov 2, 2013 at 9:53 am

    DICK

  • 15 jake case // Nov 2, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Not to mention that Hayward hit a huge shot to tie the game just before Bledsoe’s game winner.

  • 16 foreveris2long // Nov 2, 2013 at 10:16 am

    I love the whole team because they have heart, athleticism and character as they do not spend all night whining to the officials about blown calls allowing them to get back on defense to contest shots. I do not care what their record will be, just keep doing what you are doing Horny as the guys are playing their hearts out for you.

    EBJM, I like Evans a lot but I am not trading Bledsoe. When Bledsoe adjust to putting more rotation on his jump shots, his shooting % will improve making him virtually unstoppable.

    Goodwin and Len gave quality minutes, especially on the defensive end. Christmas and Smith stepped up in a big way offensively. Keeping Smith and dumping Marshall was a great move. We are not a good team but we still won ugly. Character and not being afraid to fail will produce results like this.

  • 17 Keith // Nov 2, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Goodwin and Len played well, especially on D, for their 2nd game. They will be good. Loved Christmas. Guy has heart and definitely one of our best shooters, if not the best. Anyway, loving our D and coaching. Keep it up!

  • 18 EBJM // Nov 2, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    I’d appreciate some clarification from someone who absolutely knows for sure about restricted free agency in regards to Russell’s comments.

    The way I understand the CBA is the Suns had until Oct. 31, 2013 to extend Bledsoe. The consensus is he wanted 4 years @ $10 million per but Babby declined.

    What that now means is that a team under the cap who is very interested in Bledsoe such as the aforementioned Magic can offer Bledsoe the max allowed under the CBA. Sure the Suns can match THAT offer and keep him but under this scenario the Suns do not hold all the cards. The only tool they have left is the right to first refusal. Meaning they can match any offer, period.

    If the Suns weren’t willing to pay him $10 million yesterday, Bledsoe will have to play like Rajon Rondo by this summer to pay more than that. Being a RFA, that means match the offer or let him walk for nothing. Suns cannot make a “counter offer”. They had until the 31st to come big oe go home.

    In regards to giving away players and draft picks to keep a team from matching, well I’ve never witnessed or read about such a transaction. That basically would be a variation of a sign and trade which you cannot do with a RFA. It would have to be a separate deal that the NBA would not approve because it is an obvious attempt to circumvent the CBA.

    So we go back to square one and whether Bledsoe actually wants to be a Sun for another four years. Evan Turner definately wants out of Philly and we all know what type of player he is. He would probally be elated will the Suns and the amount of love the fans would show him.

    Dragic, Goodwin, & Turner out front with Plumlee in the middle and a PF to be drafted this summer named Julius Randle.

    I’d appreciate any misinterpretation of the rules by our resident attorney and pilot.

  • 19 EBJM // Nov 2, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Forever you have commited to Bledsoe after only two games! Impressive indeed! So does that mean you match the Magic’s max offer that we all know is coming this summer?

  • 20 DBreezy // Nov 2, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Ugly, but fun ending to the game and a nice way to go into the first road trip. The good, bad, and the we’ll take it!

  • 21 BUTLER // Nov 2, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    This had to feel good for Horny. Wish I could’ve seen the game.

  • 22 Scott // Nov 2, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    Suns beat two lottery-bound teams in the early part of the season … yay!

  • 23 C.J. // Nov 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    I’ve heard some criticism towards Alex Len from some Suns fans…I have watched him very closely and I am loving what I am seeing. As a guy that played Center in high school and college, I know a good big man when I see him. Alex Len has great footwork in the post and does a very good job boxing out…he also holds his defensive stance in defense and rotates very well on help defense…you can see that he is very young and still very timid but his confidence will come along soon…do not sleep on this guy! In two years he will be a very good player if he can stay healthy!

  • 24 Ty-Sun // Nov 2, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    @EBJM – I’m not an expert but the RFA rules are pretty clear. Once a player becomes a RFA, he may or may not accept ONE offer sheet from another team. The team that owns his rights can match that offer and that player MUST stay with that team under the conditions of that offer sheet as the terms of his new contract. That player cannot be traded to the team that made the offer for at least one year.

    That’s it. There are no counter offers or trading picks or other players involved EVER.

  • 25 Ty-Sun // Nov 2, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    Tomorrow night will come the real test for this team. Not only will they play one of the best teams in the West – OKC – they will be playing a team that was embarrassed last night by the T-Wolves.

  • 26 Foreveris2long // Nov 2, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    EBJM, I said this a week or two ago about Bledsoe, because I live in Southern California I have seen him play dozens of times, many times in person. So while most of the Suns fans have seen him here and there, I have seen him a lot more. Therefore I am really confident in his upside.

    As for Turner I have loved his game since his Ohio State days. I still love his game. In fact if we did not have Goodwin I would really be interested in him. However with Goodwin who I like a lot and the fact Turner can leave at the end of the season, I would not be crazy about the deal today. Not to mention there are three or four really nice wings coming out of college next summer who should be available to the Suns.

  • 27 Azbballfan // Nov 2, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    i forgot to point out that this Suns team and maybe the franchise as a whole might be finally fixing something we have been terrible at for forever

    Defense

    our rotations, so far have been alot better through these two games

    even if the Suns are not blocking a ton of shots our bigmen are changing shots, no more just letting a guy go right past 3 defenders for an uncontested layup

    i am skeptical this team can keep this up, and i dont think we will make the playoffs either, but the Suns focus on D instead of just beating the guy down the court is refreshing

    You have to start somewhere, and drafting 2 players in the last draft that actually play defense instead of just being a scorer is the right foundation to build from

  • 28 Azbballfan // Nov 2, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Also Ty-Sun

    wasnt there a sign and trade deal between New Orleans and Sacramento that sent Tyreke Evans to Norleans in exchange for Vasquez?

    hmmm anyone remember if Evans was a RFA or not?

    i think he was

    so i think the thing we need to figure out is, can you sign and trade a RFA?

    i would take Jameer Nelson off there hands and Andrew Nicholson and Orlandos 1st round 2014 pick

    for Bledsoe, and the Morris twins

    Hey, it works in the trade machine!

  • 29 DBreezy // Nov 2, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Ty-Sun,

    Those rules only matter once a player has signed their offer sheet. Typically word of the offer being agreed to comes out before the offer sheet is signed. That gives the two teams time to work out a sign and trade if it’s mutually beneficial. The newest cba wrinkle that’s applicable is that there’s no longer any home team benefit for doing a sign or extend and trade. Any team can make one player a designated player and give them a 5th year. Also I believe the higher raises that used to be available to players resigning with their old teams are gone as well. Also of note, qualifying offers are higher and the matching period is much shorter than it used to be.

  • 30 Foreveris2long // Nov 2, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    CJ, There are a few guys on here who played competitive ball and offer really good insight similar to what you offered above. You are money in your analysis on Len. So many fans just look at stats or the fact he was 0-5 from the field on a given night and erroneously conclude the player is a bust. He has the frame work to be a very good center in this league. He is only getting his feet wet but he has NBA skills even if most people have not seen them yet. Stay on board!

  • 31 Foreveris2long // Nov 2, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    EBJM, Forgot to answer part of your question regarding matching an offer sheet to Bledsoe. Yes I would match it absent some miracle deal to good to pass on. The Suns made their bed so let’s see how they sleep on it.

    How much money teams can offer a RFA will depend on the Basketball Related Income the NBA generated from I think this present season. Last year we saw our potential beloved Gordon received 4 years $58 million which was the max. The maximum available in 2014 will depend on the BRI for this season.

    DBreezy might be right about the 5th year but I am not certain. It is my understanding unless a player has been with the same team the last 3 seasons, he is precluded from getting a 5 year deal. This issue has peaked my interest so I will re-visit this weekend.

  • 32 Foreveris2long // Nov 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    EBJM, DBreezy is money about the 5 year contract if a team designates a particular player.A team only has three days to match an offer sheet. I am out

  • 33 Scott // Nov 2, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    @CJ -

    Don’t worry about criticism of Len from Suns fans. You will find every possible opinion out there if you look hard enough.

    Len was a good pick, a smart guy with size, athleticism, motor, and the ability to play both offense and defense. He’s young, recovering from his injuries / surgeries, and still trying to get up to speed in the NBA. That’s all.

    Goodwin is having the same adjustment period. Like Len, he’s faring a little better on defense right now. The offense will come eventually for both players.

    Also, while Len and Goodwin will generally get better throughout the year, keep in mind that if they play enough minutes at some point they’ll probably be mentally fatigued, as the NBA season is so much longer than the college season.

    This is the sort of stuff most rookies go through. Occasionally you get a rookie who does well in their first year, like Amare did, but that’s not the case for most.

  • 34 Kevin Zimmerman // Nov 2, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Just wanted to clarify that Bledsoe wanted AT LEAST $10 million, per the Stein report, meaning he could have been looking for a max extension for all we know. Sort of a “no duh” he wanted that much type of situation. Hard to know where the Suns were and what Bledsoe wanted.

  • 35 Ty-Sun // Nov 2, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    DBreezy, you are correct. I was trying to be brief but the rules I was speaking about only apply after a player signs an offer sheet.

    The team with a RFA also has to first make a qualifying offer (specified in the previous contract) or the player becomes an unrestricted free agent. For Bledsoe that QA is $3,726,966. At the end of this season, Bledsoe can either accept that offer from the Suns (if they make it… which they almost certainly will) or accept an offer sheet from another team. If he accepts the Suns’ QA then he plays out the rest of his contract with the Suns and becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. If he signs an offer sheet from another team, the Suns can either match it and retain him under the conditions of the new contract offer or let him go to the team making the offer.

    That much I’m certain of and I’m sure I’m not telling you anything new but I decided to write it all out for anyone else reading this.

    I will take your word on the sign-and-trade option available before the offer sheet is actually signed.

  • 36 Ty-Sun // Nov 2, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    Just for the record, I’m NOT down on Bledsoe for trying to get as much as he can. If I wasn’t already a Suns fan and WAS an NBA player, I wouldn’t be too quick to commit myself to playing for a rebuilding team with a new first time GM, a new first time head coach and a notoriously cheap owner for he next 4-5 years.

    I just hope that Bledsoe hasn’t already made up his mind to try to get out of Phoenix ASAP.

  • 37 Azbballfan // Nov 2, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    Looking forward to Sundays 5 PM game

    OKC will look to come out with a purpose after getting owned by Minny the other day

  • 38 EBJM // Nov 2, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Ok, I guess the key in dealing with your RFA is NOT to have him sign an offer sheet if you want aomething in return. The Tyreke Evans trade illustrates it perfectly. Evans was a RFA BUT Sacramento wanted Greivis Vasquez and the Pelicans needed to shed salary after aquiring Jrue Holiday to be able to offer Evans $44 million. So Portland jumped in because they coveted Robin Lopez and the Pelicans needed to dump his salary also. Everybody was happy in that scenario.

    Bottom line is the Suns are going to have to go all in to keep Bledsoe because he will be the top PG partially available.

  • 39 john // Nov 2, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    I doubt Bledsoe will fetch much more than a guy like Jennings on the open market. He’s not a max player.

  • 40 john // Nov 2, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    And, btw, if I turn out to be wrong and Bledsoe is a max guy after all, the Suns will be THRILLED, not mad at themselves for not saving a couple million when they could.

  • 41 Jeremiah // Nov 2, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    John, Exactly right. If the Suns end up giving Bledsoe 15M/year it will be because they feel he is good enough to at least be worth close to that much money. Which would likely mean that he has a heck of a year for us. I don’t fall into the zone of people who think that Bledsoe not signing already is a sign that he doesn’t want to play for us, but just a sign that he feels like he will be worth more money after playing this season.

  • 42 Russell's Suns // Nov 2, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    @John, exactly. No team in the league is going to throw max money at Bledsoe unless he proves himself a max player over a course of a full season (Nash in his MVP days was making no more than $11 million a year).

    If Bledsoe, by chance proves he can carry a team, the Suns will be more than glad to match any max offer. Phoenix will have almost 30+ million in cap space next year. Like I said the Suns really hold all the cards. If another team really wants him, they will have to give up players and picks for him, otherwise Phoenix will simply match the offer.

  • 43 DBreezy // Nov 2, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    Foreveris,

    I think what you were alluding to with the 3 year thing are Bird or Early Bird rights, which transfer when a player has been traded.

  • 44 Jeremiah // Nov 2, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    Scott, I’m not so sure that Portland is missing the playoffs this year. In fact every game that Portland has played since playing us (beat down Denver in Denver and are up by 11 on the Spurs at halftime) has them looking better and better. Utah lost to OKC in a close game, lost to us and are now playing a very close game with Houston on the second game of a back to back. I don’t think they are both making the playoffs, but the Blazers are probably making it.

  • 45 DBreezy // Nov 2, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    Gotta hand it to Stern. For his final trick he’s got the Sixers and Suns at 5-0 with the Suns set to push it 6-0 tomorrow :)

  • 46 SueB // Nov 3, 2013 at 4:47 am

    OH, here I am, twisting and turning and trying to decide – League Pass or no League Pass. I know they have just beaten two bad teams at home. I know they will have a lot of ugly streaks where they can’t score at ALL, as in parts of this game. But come on, who can’t love a team with some guy named Dionte Christmas on it, who came into his first NBA game and contributed to a win.

    Also, I’ve missed EJ.

  • 47 joey // Nov 3, 2013 at 9:56 am

    This team is starting to look like a 28-32 win team to me and it’s going to cost us our chance of getting wiggins. That would be another suns travesty like the lew alcinder coin flip we lost to milwaukee. Suns fans, we always seem to either get screwed or find a way to screw ourselves. Bledsoe is a nice pkayer, but him playing for a contract is going to cost us more than just money. We are going to lose the next kevin durant in wiggins. God i hope i’m wrong!!!!!!! GO SUNS

  • 48 foreveris2long // Nov 3, 2013 at 11:03 am

    You are right DBreezy. Good catch.

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