There is one fundamental difference between the Suns team from last year and the squad they’ve assembled this season. As a general rule the fans can believe the Suns will pull out close games, not relinquish big leads and will stay competitive against good teams.
The 2013-14 version holds a 12-9 record, while last year the team was 7-14 at the same point in the season. That’s a big swing from seven games under .500 to three games over, following a calculated fire sale of the roster to gain draft picks and young players full of potential and raw talent.
The biggest thing is hope.
Suns fans now have hope, while the players and coaches have the confidence the team can overcome any deficit and win those close games. That was not true in the valley of the Sun last year. Back then, you almost counted games against elite playoff teams as a loss before tip-off. If the team was down by more than 15, it seemed like it was all over. Also, it seemed like no lead was safe.
This season is different. This Suns squad can win the close games evidenced by Eric Bledsoe’s buzzer-beating three against the Utah Jazz early in the season. They can come back from double-digit deficits like they have a few times this year, while the Lakers game was a good example of holding off a decent team.
Phoenix held a substantial lead, but Kobe and the Lakers kept making small runs trying to make a dent and get back in the game. The Suns however, fought back getting more clutch rebounds from P.J. Tucker as well as great offense, playmaking and stability from Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe.
This fundamental difference should keep the Suns above .500 for the rest of the year and help them make the playoffs.