Suns balance rest and the playoff chase


PHOENIX — Two days after giving up 58.6 percent shooting to the Brooklyn Nets, the Phoenix Suns finally saw a defensive breakthrough. Jeff Hornacek’s team held the Orlando Magic to 40 percent shooting, and while a 48-minute effort would be preferred, the Suns did enough when it came down to it to pull off a blowout win.

Phoenix went on a 23-3 run beginning at the tail end of the third quarter and held Orlando to 5-for-17 shooting (29 percent) in the fourth while forcing eight turnovers in the period to beat the Magic 109-93 on Wednesday.

Before the game, Hornacek seemed worried about his road-weary Suns. He’s still clinging to keeping his team well-rested despite the necessity for wins with 14 games and just four home outings left.

Hornacek said his team’s defense perhaps suffered because players were so worried about individual defense too much; they were sticking to their own players rather than helping and trusting rotations to cover their own assignments on kick-outs. While Brooklyn made Phoenix’s lack of help pay with 52 points in the paint, the Suns held the Magic to 34 paint points Wednesday at U.S. Airways Center and fixed that issue for a day.

Urgency finally showed after two and a half sluggish quarters. Marcus Morris hit two threes at the end of the third quarter, and then Phoenix broke open the game quickly, scoring 25 fastbreak points and 24 off turnovers.

“It’s fun to watch,” Hornacek said. “When these guys are not worried about their own man, we’re helping each other out, cracking down, getting their hands on balls and all of a sudden we take off and go. Marcus got those threes today. To me, that’s the fun way to play.”

And the other issue, proper rest, was touched on in a victory that came as Phoenix brought itself within 1.5 games of both Memphis and Dallas — the Grizzlies slipped past the Jazz on Wednesday while the Mavs fell in overtime to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Goran Dragic led his team with 18 points and six assists in a team-high 34 minutes, and no other player played more than 25 minutes. Channing Frye scored 12, Miles Plumlee added 10 points and nine boards, and Gerald Green scored 14 off the bench. Eric Bledsoe, still working his way back from his knee injury, struggled from the field and still looked like he lacked explosion in finishing at the rim, but he still dipped and dribbled his way to opening up open shots for his teammates en route to six assists.

And for the first time this season, Hornacek displayed the playoff standings in the locker room.

“Now it’s time,” he said.

“We came in there at halftime and said, ‘Hey, if you think we’re a playoff team, this is the time you come out at the third quarter and you get after it and really try to take the game away.”

That Phoenix did.

Cell phones and outside noise hasn’t kept the Western Conference race standings out of the locker room, of course. Dragic even admitted that Suns owner Robert Sarver announced that the Mavs fell to the T-Wolves in the middle of Phoenix’s game on Wednesday. But Hornacek keeping the standings off the locker room whiteboard alludes to his thought process, perhaps.

He keeps holding back the reins to keep his players fresh and in incremental battles, playing a game of balance that’s especially fine for a first-year head coach.

“Games like this could really help us in terms of being resting going forward,” he said.

Finding a rhythm

Eric Bledsoe’s ball-handling has taken the pressure away from Dragic in finding his own shots as well as opening opportunities for his teammates. Still, the offense wasn’t quite clicking for the dual point guard lineup.

“I don’t think it’s back where it was earlier in the season yet,” Hornacek said. “It’s getting better. When we come down and if you don’t have something right away on a quick drag, swing the ball and get it to the other guy. That puts a lot of pressure on other teams.”

Quotable

“(We need to) take a little bit more emotional commitment to each play.” — Channing Frye on the Suns paying attention to greater detail and pushing harder each play.

  • bill_thomas

    Ancient Phil stupped
    Jeannie Buss tonight !!! Hooray !

  • bill_thomas

    Kobe was watching, that filthy voyeur–rapist !!!!!!!!!!

  • bill_thomas

    Kobe the Rapist. Yeh, bring it on !!!!!!!!!!!

  • bill_thomas

    Gay Kobe, the rapist. Where is that half-breed wife of his ????????

  • bill_thomas

    Bring us more Nike filthy-rich half-breeds !!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  • bill_thomas

    C’mon Nike. Bring us a few more filthy-rich half breeds !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • bill_thomas

    Kobe half breed !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

  • bill_thomas

    Half breed Kobe wife !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • bill_thomas

    How bout more half-breed c’mon Kobe you loser !!!!!!!!!!

  • bill_thomas

    C’mon Nike. We need more half-breed heros !!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://thewhistle.com/media/uploads/basketball/ixkznsh1nwmur.gif Suns Fan in Portland

    Oh, that’s not offensive at all.

  • EBJM

    I hear ya SFIP. Kobe’s beautiful wife, Vanessa Cornejo Ubrieta, is the daughter of Mexican parents and was born in Panoma, California. Both of Kobe’s parents are African-American.

    With the majority of Americans having multiple ethnicities, the level of ignorance in this extremely offensive tirade is at the top of the list for a post at this website.

    Their daughters, Natalia Diamante Bryant and Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant are two beautiful young ladies and it is such a shame that while we live in an era where people of mixed ethnicites have become some of our most famous celebrities, President Obama, Mariah Carey, Tiger Woods and Halle Berry to name a few, that we are forced to tolerate such igorance and insensitivity on a SPORTS website.

  • http://thewhistle.com/media/uploads/basketball/ixkznsh1nwmur.gif Suns Fan in Portland

    Very well said EBJM. I’m not someone who thinks that speech should be sanitized and I don’t think anyone has a right to not be offended, but that was just ignorant. I’ve seen this same guy write some pretty offensive stuff on here before, but that was just way over the top. What a fool…

  • Go5uns

    I stop by to read great insight into the team and the game, but it’s time to block bill_thomas’ IP address again before he ruins the board.

  • john

    @bill_thomas is the type of rare soul that deserves censorship.

  • Dave:f32

    @BT the channel of all bill all the time. Just a little too much hot chocolate and racist marshMALOs, maybe???

  • http://none Go Phx

    Someone’s off his meds again.

  • VotS Critic

    Bill Thomas has been running rampant again for too long.

  • BUTLER

    SUN worshipers accept all peoples regardless of previous affiliation with the lackers.

  • the real al

    Half breeds make up majority of the most beautiful /respectible people on earth! Im one of those “half breeds” and so is my fiance… Get over it billy bob! That train left along time ago..

    On a positive note….LETS GO SUNS!! TIME FOR A PLAYOFF PUSH!!

  • frenchysunsfan

    14 games remaining now, we must win 10 and above all beat the Mavs and Grizzlies in April …

  • john

    Winning 10 easily gets them in. I’d say they’re in if they win 8 (with a lot of luck), 9 (with some luck), and 10 (only terrible luck would keep them out).

  • Serek

    I’m probably as purely white as Walter’s meth, but I agree with all above posters (except the drunken moron at the top). Highly regettable but there is just not enough spices around here to get any sort of mix. Not to say there aren’t any beautiful/respectable people, quite the opposite actually.

    So – let’s keep the racial prejudice (both ways) out of the way, and to make it easier, ban the idiot – I don’t really know why he started it (anyone got any ideas?) – and let’s get back to basketball, shall we?

    I hope for a good run on this last stretch.

  • Dan S

    Been drinking again I see Bill…or bath salts? haha

  • sunsn7

    “(We need to) take a little bit more emotional commitment to each play.” — Channing Frye on the Suns paying attention to greater detail and pushing harder each play.”

    Really? HE, of all people said that? Wow..

    Point taken Zimmerman.

  • Dave:f32

    Lets just say that we all know just how lucky Channing is in seeing any gametime. Ever notice that in all the leads the Suns build comes when Frye isnt on the court.

  • Al

    Channing always has good quotes. Too bad that he can’t back it up with consistent contributions on offense…or defense…

  • DZ

    @Kevin Zimmerman

    Please ban the racist bastard from VOTS. I know you guys don’t like banning people but bill’s racist comments are disgusting.

  • sunsn7

    BUTLER aka Padre Purple

    you must grace us with your presence and your wit more often ;)

  • Luka

    Channing Frye was 1-21 through the first three games of the WCF back in 2010. The Phoenix Suns actually had to up their offer for Frye back then when letting him walk would’ve been the prudent choice. I’m counting the days until this mofo is off the team. No more fadeaways off the backboard, or stupid faces to the red after you clearly fouled, or anymore dumb quotes blowing smoke that you even really give effort out there. Have fun riding the pine someplace else.

  • http://thewhistle.com/media/uploads/basketball/ixkznsh1nwmur.gif Suns Fan in Portland

    I think Channing is one of those guys that Nash made seem like was good and a certain type of player, but then it goes to their head and they think they really ARE that kind of player… A few GMs fell for the same trick too. So he has one good season, and forever after he thinks he can just stand at the 3 pt line and wait to chuck it up. Oh, and don’t worry about defense, we’ll just outscore them. Thanks D’antoni (ha).

  • sunsn7

    Hey Serek?

    Wasn’t “Walter’s meth” blue?

    Not to worry, I have no problem with Smurfs! ;)

  • Serek

    sunsn7 – oh yeah, I forgot it was, after he started using the new process :) good point.

  • http://none Be Real

    Oh wow, we beat one of the worst teams in the nba. Excuse me if I don’t get overly excited when the suns have been losing more games than they’ve been winning lately. Beating a celler dwellar doesn’t mean crap. We went from one of the hottest teams in the western conference to needing to win 8 to 10 games to maybe get that last playoff spot and get our asses kicked in the first round. This is not the year the Suns win the championship. I’d rather get the lotto pick at this point.

  • john

    Gtfo, be real. What’s the point of your babble?