With Phoenix now through a quarter of the season, Hornacek explained at practice Monday before they flew to Los Angeles, what has caused them to exceed expectations.
“I attribute it to those guys, they play hard,” said Hornacek. “They play together. They play the right way. They care for each other. They don’t get a ton of assists, I wish our assists were higher, but they’re sharing the ball, they’re hitting open guys. Guys are doing what’s asked (of them).”
The Suns are going to need to continue those fundamentals as they take on the Lakers Tuesday, coming off a rare three-day rest. It will be the second game of the season for superstar Kobe Bryant, who had a lack-luster debut against the Toronto Raptors Sunday at STAPLES Center, where he only scored nine points and committed eight turnovers. Bryant also tallied eight rebounds, four assists and a couple steals in his first game back.
Some of the talk at practice between the media, Hornacek and P.J. Tucker was about Kobe. They both dismissed Bryant’s sub-par (compared to his exceptional standard) performance, while Hornacek discussed how hard it is to shake off the rust when coming back from injury.
P.J. Tucker versus Kobe Bryant. While it’s kind of an easy matchup to pick, it will turn out to be the most important. It used to be let Kobe get his and try and limit the effectiveness of the rest of the team. However, with the rest of the team just over .500 without Kobe and playing pretty well, Bryant’s play could put them over the top Tuesday. He needs to be kept under 20 points for the Suns to win. It’s all up to Tucker.
What the Suns offense needs to take advantage of:
Put up the points. The Lakers are second-to-last in the league in points allowed, giving up 103 points per game. Get in the paint, kick out for open threes. Their defense shouldn’t scare you.
What the Suns defense needs to watch out for:
What’s going to budge? An immovable object or an unstoppable force… well it’s not on that level, but the Suns are good at stopping the three-pointer and the Lakers are good at making it. So how good? Stat courtesy of the Suns’ Matt Petersen.
— Matt Petersen (@TheMattPetersen) December 10, 2013
Lakers’ player who could make a surprise impact:
Xavier Henry could come off the bench and make a contribution.
Suns player who could make a surprise impact:
Miles Plumlee. He hasn’t scored too much lately, but his athleticism and speed will help him get around the older, slower Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman.
Prediction: Suns beat Lakers 111-101 behind a balanced attack with six Suns players in double-figures scoring.
Looking to go to the game? Suns vs. Lakers tickets are still available.