Posted by Kevin Zimmerman on March 3rd, 8:00 am
PHOENIX — It’s true.
The Suns’ defense has allowed 111.6 points over the last five games, three of which were losses. Pace has something to do with it, but then again, allowing four of those opponents to shoot better than 52 percent says there’s something broken defensively.
Jeff Hornacek will admit that, but in the last two games, he’ll take the other fact. Phoenix has pulled out victories against the New Orleans Pelicans and Atlanta Hawks.
“I think both of our teams are probably hard to guard in terms of how we both play, kicking it up, quick shots,” he said Sunday night after the Suns beat Atlanta 129-120. “Both teams have guards that can really penetrate. That breaks down defenses. And when teams are good at passing the ball and shooting the ball … It may look like there’s no defense out there, but guys were trying.
“It’s a win for us,” Hornacek added. “Some nights, the offense wins the game for you and maybe tonight it did.”
To be fair, there have been crucial spurts of solid defense for the Suns in the last two outings. Friday, the Pelicans shot 56 percent through the first three quarters but only hit 47.6 percent in the fourth quarter to Phoenix’s 57.9 percent. The Hawks were drilling 55.6 percent through the first three quarters on Sunday, but the Suns clamped down, holding coach Mike Budenholzer’s team to 42.9 percent shooting to their 57.1 percent accuracy in the final 12 minutes.
That sure proves the old theory: A good offense always beats a good defense.
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Tags: Atlanta Hawks · Phoenix Suns Analysis
Posted by Kevin Zimmerman on March 2nd, 9:06 pm
PHOENIX – The defense wasn’t where Jeff Hornacek wants it, but the Phoenix Suns again ground out a game against a battered sub-.500 behind their offense.
Phoenix pulled away from the Atlanta Hawks, then relinquished a double-digit lead, then built it back up in the final moments in a 129-120 win where defense was hard to find but lights-out shooting and a relentless pace was a theme of the night for both squads.
Gerald Green scored 33 points, 15 off three-point buckets, and then capped his night with four big free throws as the Hawks tried to play a fouling game in the final minutes. Goran Dragic, with his entire family watching from the stands, added 19 points and eight assists, while Markieff and Marcus Morris combined for 39 points and 17 rebounds in what was probably their best combined game in Suns uniforms.
The Suns shot 55 percent overall, hit 15-of-24 from three but allowed Atlanta to hit 14-of-31 from deep on 52 percent shooting.
It wasn’t necessarily all their faults. Jeff Teague looked a lot like Dragic, and the spacing provided by a lineup of mostly shooters — Al Horford, Paul Millsap and Pero Antic are injured — made it tough.
Teague had 29 points, nine dimes and six boards on 14-of-21 shooting, quite a Dragic-like stat line.
As has been the case for the last few games, Ish Smith was the difference-maker as the first guard off the bench. The starting unit’s sluggishness led to a 29-22 deficit for the Suns, but with the tempo ramped up, Smith led a team that finished the first quarter with a flurry. He remained on the court to give Dragic a break from the ball-handling duties in the second quarter, where the Suns outscored the Hawks 39-28 to take a 79-85 halftime lead – two points off the U.S. Airways Center record for points in a half.
Smith seems to have firmly etched his way into the rotation ahead of Archie Goodwin and Leandro Barbosa, though each played for a stint. Barbosa got late run and scored seven points, and newly-acquired forward Shavlik Randolph earned time, as expected, in the backup center position.
Atlanta hardly looked concerned about finding itself down by as many as 16. With less than two minutes to play in the third quarter, the Hawks pulled within one, 95-94, before the Suns closed out the quarter on a quick 7-1 run.
It went that way for the rest of the game, with Atlanta threatening thanks to Phoenix giving an injury-plagued team daylight to pull off an upset. But the Suns won, and they continue to survive with Eric Bledsoe’s return on the horizon.
Jeff Sanders had some pregame questions, and here are the answers.
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Tags: Atlanta Hawks · Phoenix Suns Recap
Posted by Jeffrey Sanders on March 2nd, 11:13 am
Time: 6 p.m. MST
The Phoenix Suns probably should have lost on Friday night to the New Orleans Pelicans. They let the Pellies shoot 53.8 percent from the field and that includes a 14-of-18 night from Anthony Davis. Defense was not where it needed to be for the Suns and they were lucky to be playing a team that played even worse defense. Oh, and that Goran Dragic guy scoring 40 sure did help a little.
Sunday, the Suns play an Atlanta Hawks team that is banged up and struggling. They went just 2-12 in the month of February and are without Al Horford and probably Paul Millsap as well.
This is a game the Suns cannot afford to lose with the schedule that they have coming up — and Dragic knows it.
“We play twice against Clippers, Thunder and Warriors, tough four games for us,” Dragic said. “I think we have to take care of every game. Let’s try to get this one and after that I think we always respond to the good teams.”
The Suns have habitually lost games to lesser opponents this year. They have lost two games each to both the Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz, they fell to a beat up Bulls team at home and recently lost to the T-Wolves at home.
With the Memphis Grizzlies right on the Suns’ tail for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference, they cannot afford to slip up.
Let’s look at some keys for tonight’s game.
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Tags: Atlanta Hawks · Phoenix Suns Preview
Posted by Jeffrey Sanders on March 1st, 1:55 pm
PHOENIX — Suns guard Eric Bledsoe was a full participant in practice on Saturday for the first time since undergoing meniscus surgery on his knee, but there’s still no set return date.
“He said the knee felt really good and has recovered well every time he has pushed himself harder,” Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said. “Today, we did primarily 5-on-5 and it will be interesting to see how he responds tomorrow.
“He has done well,” McDonough added. “You still see the explosiveness, see the burst and the ability to get by his guy and finish at the rim. We are optimisitic he will help us down the stretch.”
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Tags: Eric Bledsoe
Posted by Jeffrey Sanders on March 1st, 12:49 pm
PHOENIX — The Suns signed 6-foot-10 forward Shavlik Randolph and released little-used center Slava Kravtsov Saturday morning. Randolph was recently playing overseas in China where he was averaging 22.3 points and 12.3 rebounds a game in six appearances. He just returned from China when he found out about the news.
“I just got back and was just working out in Miami when my agent called me, and I ended up meeting with Ryan (McDonough) in Raleigh,” Randolph said. “They wanted to bring me in and work me out, one thing led to another and I ended up staying.”
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Tags: Phoenix Suns
Posted by Ryan Weisert on March 1st, 12:00 pm
BOSTON — So much of the focus at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference is on analyzing and optimizing performance on the court. SportVu cameras capture players’ every movement in real-time. Catapult smart shirts measure a player’s heart rate, total exertion, and distance covered. There’s even a basketball which can connect to your smartphone and make you a better free throw shooter. But that’s only one side of the technological and analytical revolution that Sloan highlights. The other, less-prominent but still vital side is the revolution in how teams learn about their fans, sell tickets, and actually make money.
The Portland Trail Blazers are enjoying one of their most successful seasons since Brandon Roy had two good knees. As you might expect, their ticket sales are up across the board. But after a closer look, it’s becomes clear that Portland’s uptick in on-court success doesn’t come close to fully explaining their revenue growth. For that, they have Sq1 to thank.
Sq1 is a data-driven sales and marketing optimization company with offices in Houston, Dallas, and Portland. Simply put, Sq1 uses data and technology to help businesses make more money. For the Trail Blazers, this meant increasing single-game ticket sales. So how did Sq1 deliver such impressive results so quickly? They focused on the fan.
Anyone who has ever tried to buy a single-game ticket to any major sporting event knows how unnecessarily difficult it can be. Seating maps, special offers, and clunky e-commerce take buyers in a million different directions when all they are hoping to do is buy a ticket and enjoy a game. Sq1 tapped into Portland’s dynamic pricing engine, cut through all the noise, and simplified the process. They made purchasing a ticket online more user-friendly and put in place advanced resources to generate a bevy of valuable data and help the Trail Blazers understand their fans’ buying behavior better than any team in the NBA. I had the opportunity to sit down with Vince Ircandia, VP of Business Operations and Analytics for the Trail Blazers, and Gabe Winslow, a Partner at Sq1, to discuss their partnership and the future of NBA ticketing.
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Tags: Phoenix Suns