Instead of doing a week in review this week, I thought I’d open up the scope and delve into how the Phoenix Suns did during the first month of 2014.
Let’s get to it!
The Phoenix Suns started off on a sour note as they lost to the Memphis Grizzlies at home in a winnable game. Dragic went for 33 points, but the Suns just couldn’t afford to give up 59 rebounds and let Jerryd Bayless score 17 points off the bench.
In order to get back in the win column, it always helps to play the plain awful Milwaukee Bucks, especially at home. The Suns won easily 116-100 and Ish Smith even dished out eight assists.
Phoenix then had to go on the road for five consecutive games and it wasn’t a good road-trip. They started out losing in Chicago by only five points in a winnable game. The Bulls obviously still didn’t have Derrick Rose healthy, had just traded Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer had to sit out because he was sick. And the Suns still lost. Just a bad game.
Then things got exciting when the Suns traveled to Minnesota to play Kevin Love and the Timberwolves. This was on of the two games ESPN “flexed” into when they saw how good the Suns were a couple months into the season. The game was close, but Phoenix won on a Gerald Green buzzer-beater fadeaway jumper. What a great finish on the national stage. The Suns had sounded the trumpets, they were legit. And had more in store, just not yet.
The next three games were horrible, as Phoenix lost on the road to Memphis, Detroit and New York in a four-day stretch by a combined measly nine points. And the New York loss was in overtime. The Suns obviously needed to work on finishing games strong without the help of the injured Eric Bledsoe.
The Suns came home from the long road-trip, dusted themselves off and had the pleasure of posting the rival Los Angeles Lakers and easily beat them by seven points, behind Gerald Green’s 28 point-burst.
After a nice victory over LA, the Suns “negated” the win by losing at home to the Dallas Mavericks by only three points, even though Dragic scored 28 points. This happened because Phoenix let rookie Shane Larkin score a career-high 18 points off the bench. He’s only hit double-digits in scoring (10 points to be exact) merely one other time.
The Suns then continued their home stand with great wins over the Denver Nuggets (117-103) and at the time NBA’s best Indiana Pacers (124-100). These were masterful wins, especially against the Pacers, which was the other ESPN game. In that game, Indiana gave up the most points they’d given up all season (and since Frank Vogel’s been head coach). The 24-point drubbing by Phoenix also tied their worst loss of the season.
In the getaway game before the road-trip, Phoenix faltered again. They lost to the Washington Wizards at home. The problem was the Suns let the Wizards’ starters all score at least 14 points. It’s always difficult to win the game right after an emotional game like beating the Pacers by so much.
Then came the road-trip.
I was so worried they’d go 2-2 or worse, accepting “road-losses” or “We split with a good team like the Pacers, and the loss was at the fourth game in five nights”. But nothing like that happened. They took care of business, beating three bad teams in Cleveland, Philadelphia and Milwaukee then going into Indiana and beating the Pacers again.
Now there are only five games left on the Suns’ slate before the week-long All-Star break, where the players get to rest and recuperate. Then they need to get ready for the stretch-run to the playoffs, which they’re actually in this year.
They need to blowout Charlotte and Chicago at home, try to beat the Rockets in Houston, then hopefully get a couple more wins at home versus the Golden State Warriors and the Miami Heat.
I predict they’ll go 3-2 or 4-1