The Key To Keeping Leads
Phoenix’s biggest advantage is having three starting-caliber point guards. The point guard hydra lineups are working in limited minutes to close out games, but even when the trio isn’t playing at the same time, the Suns’ point guards have been a nightmare to defend now that they’ve become acclimated to their new roles.
Against the Lakers, the point guards combined for a season-high 65 points along with 16 assists and 15 rebounds. Last night against Portland, they set a new season-high by scoring 76 of Phoenix’s 115 points on nearly 55 percent shooting.
The Suns are 16-3 this season in games where all three point guards score at least 10 points, and a perfect 8-0 when they each score 15.
But the three point guards aren’t there to just score points, and both Dragic and Hornacek agreed the difference between building leads and losing them comes down to ball movement and distribution.
"“”We were passing the ball well in the first two quarters, I think our lead was 20,” Dragic said. “And then we were playing individual, you know, isolations and we didn’t have good shots.”"
For Hornacek, the Suns need to be more focused on both ends of the floor in the event of a double-digit lead.
"“We got up by 23 or 24, then all of a sudden we gambled for a steal and they get a three,” he said. “Now we start taking some quick shots instead of waiting for a really good one — penetrate, kick out where you’re sitting on it — we tried to make our own plays.”"
When the Suns are moving the ball, they’re incredibly tough to stop. On two possessions in the first half, for example, Bledsoe did an excellent job attacking his man, drawing the help defense, and finding the open man for back-to-back threes. But when the lead ballooned, so did Phoenix’s confidence, which led to too many heat checks.
Against playoff-caliber teams with fully healthy lineups, the Suns can’t shy away from the ball movement that gets them their best looks and, hopefully, the lead. But Gerald Green is hopeful these last few games will help the Suns moving forward:
"“I think we’re playing for something, that’s how we’re playing. We’re not going to try and take anything for granted. We can learn from these mistakes. We don’t want to play this all of the time but it’s good that we learned from it today and hopefully we can improve for the next game.”"