Faced with adversity for first time this season, Suns need to get back to focusing on little details


PHOENIX — Maybe it’s how it happened — three hard-fought losses followed by a clunker — or the fact that it took 11 games to transpire, but the Phoenix Suns surprisingly find themselves in unfamiliar territory for the first time in 2013-14.

After Wednesday night’s 113-106 loss to the Sacramento Kings, Phoenix is currently mired in its first four-game losing streak of the season.

For a team that most believed was destined for doom and gloom from the outset, four-game losing streaks would seem like the norm and not all that shocking. But for a Jeff Hornacek-led squad that has played its tail off in just about every one of its 11 contests, a bout of adversity is very much a new wrinkle in a season that’s been full of more highs than lows.

Last season, Phoenix dropped at least four games in a row on six separate occasions, including three streaks that lasted six, seven and 10 games respectively. As one of only four players on the Suns’ current active roster who endured such agony in 2012-13, P.J. Tucker emphasized the need for this year’s squad to remain focused on the bigger picture, rather than letting an early slump derail the season before it really even starts.

“You have to keep guys’ heads focused,” Tucker said. “Guys know it’s the NBA, man. We have so much more to play, so much more going. It’s about keeping our heads up. We still have a lot of season ahead of us. We’re going to keep playing.

“We’re young and ready to play. We’re heading out on a road trip and hope to get a couple games out of it.”

The recent four-game losing streak can be linked to a number of deficiencies: a failure to close late, stagnant half court offense, inconsistent lineups due to Eric Bledsoe’s absence, lapses during key portions of the second half, lack of size and strength on the glass and on and on the list goes.

But don’t blame Phoenix’s woes on chemistry, at least not within earshot of Goran Dragic. The Suns guard, who scored a season-high 31 points in Wednesday’s loss, thinks it has less to do with eight new faces on the roster and more to do with playing sound, fundamental basketball.

“I think our execution is the problem,” Dragic said. “We don’t set the screens. We don’t pass the ball when the guy is open. Sometimes we just have that bug inside that makes it so we don’t know how to play. Even last night in Sacramento, we had too many turnovers.

“I mean we’re running plays where they didn’t set screens. They just ran over with their guy, and we couldn’t make a pass. If you’re not making hard cuts and sprints to set a screen, it’s tough to play.”

Dragic’s backcourt mate Wednesday, Gerald Green, added that the team’s lack of execution stems in part because of its youth. And because of that, the little things — ones that can often contribute to ending losing streaks — are being ignored.

“The difference between a veteran team and a young team is that a veteran team is going to really focus in on the little details of what they have to do to win,” Green said. “I think what we’re not doing is locking in on the small details. I think we’re just beating ourselves, that’s just about doing the little things, the small details and the 50-50 balls that we’re just not locked into and focused on.”

But Green, being the veteran that he is, noted that patience is in order, even in the face of adversity. With 71 games to play, the Suns still have plenty of time to erase a painful November losing streak.

“You just have to keep working,” said Green. “This happened to us last year with the Pacers. There’s going to be ups and downs. It’s like a roller coaster. You just got to keep working, and hopefully we turn this thing around. We have to tell the young guys to stay together. That’s what we same when we came in here at the end of the game, ‘Just stay together.’ That’s the key.”

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Playoffs to the left of me
    Tanking to the right
    Here I am
    Stuck in the Middle with You

  • Polish fan

    Maybe Gortat is not an All Star but he contributed in phx games well.i can read between the lines that Goran miss experienced center who can set the screen properly. Plum is not that super and Alex is a prospect…. Cheers guys ;)

  • Sunsn7

    Julius “the manhandle” Randle anyone? Jabari “paul pierce” Parker? Wig-wham?

    NBA Lottery, looks like we’ll be making it in June after all! :)

  • Bam

    Just need the training staff at the suns to convince bledsoe to take 2 times the average amount of time used for recovery for injuries “for the sake of his career” and we’re set…

  • Sunsn7

    Bam!…

  • vtsunrise

    Well “sung” Hawki.

    I know things will get better
    Hold it together
    Take your time
    (Just don’t hold your breath)

    You push and then you shove,
    You hate and then you love
    You try to switch it up
    But you’re stuck in the middle
    No matter what you do
    You had it how you choose
    Well either way you got to lose
    When you’re stuck in the middle.
    I guess this time I’ll wait it out

    …I’m back in VT and it’s feeling rather drafty…

  • Dave:f32

    Jabari Parker reminds me of a young Grant Hill

  • Dave:f32

    Just like the lanky Nerlens Noel conjures memories of the light and putting-on-weight-challenged Hakim Warrick

  • Scott

    @Dave:f32 -

    That’s what I thought when I first saw Parker, though it was in an interview, not playing.

  • Bam

    Honestly speaking though.
    I think the most important takeaway for the team this year is this: setting up a good, competitive/winning culture. It doesn’t have to be tangible numbers in terms of stats, win/loss column, or things like breaking some record to make a statement, but what’s important is to break out of the horrible stage called the “state of mediocrity”.

    I’m not referring to the state where you make the 8th seed of the playoff, i’m referring to the state of the team being content to be mediocre just to start building later.

    It’s basically a form of procrastination, except as an organization. It loses fans, and sadly, teams like the bucks, bobcats, wizards, and hornets (now pelicans) are stuck in for so long, and have difficulty breaking it. It’s the fact that the organization thinks that it’s OK to simply make the playoffs, to get into “sort of a contention”. Or hell, if they miss, then try again the next year… since there’s always the rebuild…if they fail.

    Which explains why teams like Pelicans are doing things like getting so many players although it’s unlikely they are getting into the playoffs. It’s building a competitive culture.

    That said, back to the point, although I think the best route for the Suns is to get a high pick this year, the best thing to do will be to achieve a competitive/winning culture in the team. Having players like PJ Tucker, Dragic on the team are almost a requirement, which is why i dont believe in trading them away IRL, although i bet in most trade-simulatons the best thing to do is to turn them over for additional picks, if possible.

  • Bam

    BTW….Just a short note. This year’s team highly reminded me of Dallas Mavericks of a year ago minus Nowitzki, in the sense that so many close games slipped away, simply because of the clutch factor as well as consistency. (Dirk was injured in the earlier part of the season which contributed to a staggering horrendous level of loss in close games. Dallas won 0 or 1 of their overtimes last season, and lost nearly almost every single close game before Nowitzki came back). That by itself is a good sign considering the fact that it probably suggests that a good system has been in place (training/coaching staff), and that the limitation is probably due to player talent rather than the system in place, which goes a long way. Hopefully this team will improve as the season go along, and we can start to spot who we would really keep for the long term.

  • Dave:f32

    @Scott, im guessing the fact that he goes to Duke, is coached by MK, and has similar build, height and haircut doesnt help much Lol

  • Azballfan

    one of the things i noticed from yesterdays game?

    Len only played 5 minutes, but he had 2 points and 4 boards in that time

    he will eventually heal and earn starters minutes

    i love what plumlee is doing

    supposedly the Suns are in love with Gordon Hayward and want to offer him a “unmatchable” deal next summer

    looks like all our FA money is going to Bledsoe and Hayward

    i bet McMiracle has another trade in the works

    we need to free up more cap space

    Okafor is only sizeable expiring contract, we need to figure out how to move some other guys like Channing Fyre for cap space or something along those lines if bledsoe and hayward are gonna be the future of the team

  • BCrayZ

    Frye & Gogi are all that is left.

    They represent our most glorious recent past.

    More importantly, they have a bright future. Frye will show us more & more, as his conditioning continues to improve. Gogi will be best with an Eric or a Brazilian Blur. He will put up gaudy stats that will lead to loss after loss, if made to fly solo.

    MUST reunite that “killer bench unit.” Let’s go SUNS!!!!