Suns’ playoff chances might hinge on health of bruised and battered Goran Dragic


PHOENIX — The large, navy blue towel draped over his face should have been a telltale sign.

It was there not so much to hide the agony of defeat, his team’s third straight and seventh in its last 10 games, but rather to temporarily ease the physical pain.

Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic didn’t just end up on the wrong side of Wednesday night’s outcome, he wore the bumps and bruises that came along with it well after the final buzzer sounded.

It’s par for the course at this point in the 82-game schedule. Come March and April, it’s as much a battle of attrition as it is a battle for playoff positioning.

But this was a little bit unique, even for the Slovenian.

Dragic has collided head-first with a teammate, required 13 stitches above his left eye, sprained ankles and been hit countless times in just about every imaginable body part through 64 games, and yet he never resembled the beaten down floor general that occupied his locker space following the Suns’ 110-101 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

His latest affliction, a shot to his already-ailing left side while setting a pick on Anderson Varejao in the first half, seemed to take a toll not felt from the aforementioned list of maladies.

The usually affable 27-year-old was reduced to a much different sort of character. He didn’t even have the heart to sugarcoat his uncomfortable reality.

“Yes, [this is the worst pain I've felt this late in a season],” said Dragic, who also had his midsection wrapped in ice packs. “Everything hurts. I’m going to fight through it. It’s not like this is the first time it’s happened.”

It’s certainly not the first time, but it also probably won’t be the last.

While Dragic didn’t let his battered body get in the way of his 30th 20-plus point performance of 2013-14 Wednesday night, it’s a great mystery as to whether he can survive what’s been to date the hallmark season of his career.

Averaging a career-high 34.8 minutes per game is one thing, doing so while also leading an overachieving squad full of unproven talent every step of the way is quite another.

Add in the fact that he had to so primarily alone over the last 33 games due to the backcourt absence of Eric Bledsoe, and it’s no wonder he sat motionless minutes after Phoenix’s nine-point loss at US Airways Center — looking more like a defeated prize fighter than a starting point guard.

“I mean it would probably be easier if Eric didn’t get hurt,” said Dragic, who is averaging 23.1 points and 6.3 assists in his last 20 games. “I’m just going to go home and get a long, long sleep. I’m going to try and hold my baby and get some energy from him. I’m just going to try and take care of my body, and hopefully I’ll come back with energy.

“I would definitely say it hurts more when you lose. All the punches you get, I think it hurts even more. If you’re winning, those things go away.”

With 18 games to go and the final few playoff spots in the Western Conference still up for grabs, the two become inversely related.

Phoenix can’t win without Goran Dragic, so it must find a way to protect its budding star — whether that means a slight minute reduction or simply using him off the ball more with Bledsoe or Ish Smith running the point.

Plain and simple, all of the Suns’ current shortcomings — be it their defensive struggles, lack of frontcourt production or inconsistent effort on the glass — become moot points if the sixth-year guard isn’t on the court down the stretch.

If everything hurts now for Dragic, imagine the pain and frustration he’ll feel if he’s forced to sit outside the party for yet another spring.

Tags: Goran Dragic Phoenix Suns

  • Scott

    I think it also hurts that his teammates aren’t as talented or as dedicated to winning. He’s not going to say that, but that’s my call on the situation.

  • tina

    agree with scott here…he is toooooo nice to say that

  • emonec

    Scott, couldn’t agree more. That is way I was proposing for Suns to go for Luol Deng (or Noah, or any other decent defense player..). Basketball isn’t only about shooting 3s, and I’m afraid the rest of the team (except PJ) cannot bandwagoning on Dragon’s energy any more

  • emonec

    That’s why …sorry ;-)

  • sunsn7

    Bledsoe will absolutely ease the load for Goran Dragic. He’ll be fine.

    But yeah, not all of his teammates share the same passion for winning. Channing Frye is “that guy”. A paycheck playa who is quite content to CHUCK AND DUCK. And I do mean “duck”. Or flinch. Or cower. Or cringe.

    You get the idea.

  • DZ

    Don’t mistake Frye’s lack of talent for lack of heart or effort. All he’s ever been is a stretch 4 that can shoot the 3. Expecting more out of him now just isn’t reasonable.

    Markieff Morris is a better overall player but he and Marcus play best when playing together. Marcus isn’t as good as PJ. Period. Marcus may be a slightly better offensive player than PJ but PJ is just better in every other aspect of the game.

    The biggest mistake the Suns made LAST year was trading for Marcus Morris. Not because he isn’t a good player but because it kept Markieff from learning to play without him. They can play great together but they rely on each other too much. Neither will ever be great players in the NBA but both of them would probably develop into better individual players if they weren’t playing on the same team. What it boils down to is that, if you start Markieff then you should probably start Marcus too just to get the best out of the both of them.

    What Bledsoe gives to the team between now and the end of the season will have a big impact on his next contract. He knows this and hopefully it won’t prompt his to to try and showboat. He’s certainly a great player but I hope he doesn’t try to pad his stats looking forward to his next contract. I don’t know if that would be good or bad for the Suns.

  • Rengaw

    I never thought I would be defending Frye, but at times he is making an effort to play defense but it rarely works out as anything positive for the Suns. No one on the team complains more about calls than he does. His feet are really slow and he doesn’t anticipate plays well.
    But, boy, what a sweet jumper.

  • DZ

    Before anyone else calls me on the “biggest mistake” the Suns made last year, I admit that trading for Marcus Morris wasn’t it. Lol, that really wasn’t even close but I do think that putting Markieff and Marcus together on the same team inhibits their individual development because they rely on each other too much and aren’t developing their individual skills as much as they would if they were playing on separate teams.

  • Raffi AKA Anonymous

    We need Noah/Derozan/Love on this team. Game over.

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  • DZ

    But that Alex Len sure is a bust

  • EBJM

    Sunsn7 don’t be that “guy”!

    DZ, Channing Frye was one of the best CENTERS in the country while a Wildcat.

    ” A strong work ethic allowed him to develop into one of the nation’s top big men … An excellent athlete, Frye gave the Cats a strong inside presence as he finished his career ranked second on the Arizona and Pac-10 career blocked shot list with 258 … Great hands and a solid mid-range jumper … Registered 93 double-figure-point and 35 double-figure-rebound games in his four-year career … Averaged 14.3 points and 9.6 rebounds in 12 career NCAA Tournament games … A starter in 119 of 133 career games played.”

    He didn’t shoot threes until he got to Phoenix.

  • EBJM

    DZ don’t be that “guy”!

    Alex Len is 20 years old and missed all of training camp and half of the season. Look at how long it took the centers from 2008 class to develop, Robin Lopez, Roy Hilbert, JaVale McGee, kosta Koufos, Nikola Pekovic, Deandre Jordan and Omer Asik.

    That also happens to be Goran Dragic’s draft class and he is seven years older than Len.

  • sunsn7

    EBJM please don’t be “that guy”

    We’re not talking about his tenure at UofA or his time with the Knicks. Why you would even refer to that in the context of the current Channing frye is beyond me.

    Unless your point is to point the blame for his regression elsewhere (Gentry)?

  • DZ

    EBJM always making excuses for Suns players. Dont be that “guy”, EBJM.

  • sunsn7

    “Don’t mistake Frye’s lack of talent for lack of heart or effort. All he’s ever been is a stretch 4 that can shoot the 3. Expecting more out of him now just isn’t reasonable.”

    DZ please don’t be “that guy”

    I’m not buying that for one second. All Suns fans know Frye isn’t going to display physical prowess, we get that. What we can’t fathom is his lack of passion, disengagement, and reverting back to the old Frye.

    We’ve all seen frye give more effort defensively and he’s received his props from Suns fans, me included, afterwards. So if we are going to sing his praises it’s more than fair that he is dealt criticism. Especially when the criticism deals with effort and leaving the other guys on the floor hanging because of it.

    Accountability.

  • Rengaw

    @EBJM-your point further emphasizes the fact that Frye is lazy and has developed complacency. If he weren’t allowed to be “that guy” thats a big guy jacking up jumpshots from outside, then he would HAVE TO develop a tough effective inside game. But, he is a spoiled, privileged player who came from money and not one coach has challenged him in the pros to be the best BIG MAN he can be. Quite the opposite he was catered and pandered to and allowed to develop lazy skills such as the chuck and duck game he has now.

  • Raffi AKA Anonymous

    We just need to get Lebron/Howard/Davis on this team. Game over. Lol

  • emonec

    The stats: frye had 6 ribbies in 35 min, bledsoe had 3 ribbies in 32 min.. Sad a guard coming off an knee injury has almost as many rebounds coming off the bench as the starting pf does!

  • EBJM

    I’ll be that “guy”!

    You guys know I DESPISE Channing Frye.

    1) I was just having fun with Sunsn7.

    2) I was referring to DZ saying that Frye has always been who he currently is. Rengaw is the only one who understood what I was trying to say.

    Knicks drafted him #8 overall because he was one of the BEST college CENTERS. Andrew Bogut was taken #1 overall. Andrew Bynum was taken #9.

    Frye never worked to become physically stronger and was buried on the Blazers bench after being traded by New York. D’Antoni/Gentry ruined him.

    He is now worthless but he had great potential nine years ago.

  • EBJM

    Speaking of lacking a playoff-caliber SF, I wonder if McD regrets giving away Caron Butler? Thunder happily signed him and I saw him play against the Lakers tonight.

  • Ughz

    Any truth to the rumors the Suns are in the hunt for Carlos Boozer for the playoffs? Maybe a Chicago buyout, and a Phoenix signing?

  • Rengaw

    If we are going after a power forward, let’s make sure he is a good defender and intimidates players coming into the lane. Not a Carlos Boozer and others like him.

    If I was going to throw alot if money at someone, lets think about guys like Lamarcus Aldridge, Joquim Noah, and those kind of guys.

    The only team that can consistently win with lesser talent is San Antonio.

  • bill_thomas

    Hornacek’s substitution patterns are reminiscent of Mike Brown and Mike Woodson. CAN WE FIX THIS SOMEHOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • bill_thomas

    I have vaginal suppositories available for Frye whenever he needs them.

  • DBreezy

    Frye never played for D’Antoni or Porter for that matter.

  • bill_thomas

    I have anal suppositories avail. also for Frye. C’mon man, meet me at my place !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • bill_thomas

    AnalSuppositoryCity@Amazon.com

    This is an Amazon FREE CITY. Free SHIPPING ANYTIME. COURTESY AMAZON.

    ANAL SUPPOSITORY CITY. AT AMAZON DOT COM. YEAH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • bill_thomas

    Frye needs to be shucking grapes in the Central Valley !!!!!!

    That is all he is good for. Yeah !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

  • bill_thomas

    Frye, at 8 inches shorter than you, I’ll knock you to Kingdom Kum !!!!!!!!!!

  • bill_thomas

    I’m not gonna say anything about your mom.

  • bill_thomas

    Cumbust Frye !!!!!!!!!

  • bill_thomas

    Anal Suppository Frye !!!!!!!!!!!!

  • bill_thomas

    Vaginal suppositories always available for Frye !!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  • bill_thomas

    Did someone say GAY??? He is not gay, he is just plain STUPID !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • bill_thomas

    I think we’re fucking done. There are a lot of 18-wheeelers that can take this CUNT out of here.
    See ya later, BABY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • bill_thomas

    Just Release Him !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1 Fucking Idiot McDonough !!!!!!11

  • bill_thomas

    RELEASE FRYE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • bill_thomas

    Gay Frye need to go to NYC. Get an appointment from the gay mayor.

  • bill_thomas

    I’m making a bulk purchase of Vaginal Suppositories so I can satisfy peeps such as FRYE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • EBJM

    “Frye never played for D’Antoni or Porter for that matter.”

    D’Antoni/Gentry = Gentry was a D’Antoni clone.

    Frye would not have played for Porter. He played inside/out with Shaq.

  • EBJM

    “Why you would even refer to that in the context of the current Channing frye is beyond me.”

    “Don’t mistake Frye’s lack of talent for lack of heart or effort. All he’s ever been is a stretch 4 that can shoot the 3. Expecting more out of him now just isn’t reasonable.”

    “ALL HE’S EVER BEEN IS A STRETCH 4 THAT CAN SHOOT THE 3.”

    In 2009-’10 he was the Suns starting CENTER for 41 games when Robin Lopez went down with injury.

    From 2005-’06 through 2008-’09 he shot a TOTAL of 37 threes. His first year in Phoenix he shot 392.

    “Why you would even refer to that in the context of the current Channing frye is beyond me.”

    Rebuttal statement refuting DZ’s statement.

  • DZ

    @EBJM – Those Len comments were not written by me. Someone else stole my nick for those comments.

  • DBreezy

    “D’Antoni/Gentry = Gentry was a D’Antoni clone.
    Frye would not have played for Porter. He played inside/out with Shaq.”

    I don’t think Frye would have played much for D’Antoni, at least not in the 5 role that he was brought to the team for by Kerr. While D’Antoni likes shooters, he seems to basically prefer 4′s and 5′s who have a speed advantage vs the competition who can run down the middle. That doesn’t describe Frye. Ironically enough, I think he actually prefers more rebounding out of his 4′s and 5′s than guys like Channing and Kieff give. He basically left all of the rebounding to those two positions, especially after JJ departed, which would be a disaster with this Suns team.

  • john

    Can I be “that guy?”

  • Foreveris2long

    DZ restoring credibility to his name. These impostors are bored.

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  • DZ

    @EBJM – Since I finally have some time, what I meant when I said, “All he’s ever been is a stretch 4 that can shoot the 3″ was that has been all he has been as a starter for the Suns. I wasn’t clear about that in my original statement.

    I’m well aware that he’s played the center position and was a center originally but the only times he ever started at center for the Suns was because Lopez was injured. I have long said that Frye was essentially a “tweener” in the sense that he’s not a very good starter at any position but he’s a very good backup at both the 4 and 5.

  • bill_thomas

    How bout give condoms to everyone-stretcht 4′s get double condoms.

  • bill_thomas

    Frye is essentially a rodent on the run !!!!!!!!