On a week-long road trip, the Suns won three out of their four games improving to a 31-14 for second best in the Western Conference and third-best overall. In that week of games, Phoenix kept its league-best road game record of 16-6.
The Suns traveled to the East Coast to play the Heat, Magic, Raptors and Hornets for a test to see how they would respond after dropping a few games following the All-Star Game. The test would be especially hard with facing mostly competitive teams, all on the road, and with a back-to-back in the mix.
There was good, bad and ugly from the Phoenix Suns’ week-long road trip beginning with Miami.
In the first game of the road trip, Phoenix traveled to Miami to face a Heat team hungry to end their three-game losing streak. Phoenix played its best game of the week getting the job done on both the offensive and defensive end winning 110-100.
Facing the defending Eastern Conference champs the Suns took the battle to the Heat. The Suns handled their business enough so that Devin Booker and Chris Paul could get some rest since this game the first of a back-to-back.
This game was also the debut of forward Torrey Craig. He joined the team after Phoenix sent Milwaukee cash considerations the other way.
Holding Miami to 100 points
The defense held Miami to 41% from the field and 36% from three. The Suns kept Miami’s biggest stars in check the entire game. This season when the Suns hold their opponents to under 100 points they are perfect.
The Suns never gave the Heat a real chance to creep back in and retake the game. The Suns of old could never confidently hold a lead but this new version is an offensive juggernaut. Forcing 13 turnovers is typically what winning teams do in games.
Defense wins games and has been key for Phoenix this season, an area it struggled from greatly last season.
The Suns brought their shooting shoes to this game. The team finished at 50% from the field and began the game getting hot early from 3. The Suns have been a good three-point shooting team and this game they jumped ahead to get their lead.
The bench for Phoenix scored 37 points and took the load off of the starters to give them some rest before a quick turnaround vs Orlando.
Torrey Craig had 10 points off the bench in his debut. Known for his defense, if he can bring 8-10 points each game he will be a valued role player for Phoenix.
Getting to the free-throw line
The Suns only attempted nine free throws. Referees never seem to be on Phoenix’s side but this season they’ve been particularly unfavorable. Coming off of a top-tier free-throw percentage season, the Suns got many easy points at the line.
It’s not possible for the Suns to get the referees on their side but instead, they can be more aggressive attacking the basket and creating more contact thus giving the refs more chances to call fouls.
Defending Kendrick Nunn
It’s hard to pick out something ugly in such a well-balanced game. One player the Suns couldn’t hold down was Miami guard Kendrick Nunn. He finished with a game-high 25 points. Nunn hit five 3s and shot 51% from the field.
The Suns did a good job to keep everyone from Miami in check except for Nunn. Thankfully in this game, it was enough. The Heat never really threatened the lead but Nunn kept the game from becoming a blowout.