Maybe it’s still too soon to declare the Phoenix Suns as “for real” and out of the tanking category, because things might change later on, but right now they’re not just winning. They happen to be one of the best shows in the NBA, mostly thanks to their dual point guard backcourt of Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, leading the team to a 106-102 win over the Golden State Warriors.
It’s quite surprising to see the Suns (14-9) with a better record than the Warriors (13-12) but it might tell us something about the coaches of both teams, and just how important was someone like Andre Iguodala to this group, which is now pretty much the same team we same do very well last year, minus the absent Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry, both off to other teams, and both a bit more important than the Warriors cared to admit.
It was Bledsoe’s turn to lead the ship, scoring 24 points, adding 8 rebounds and 8 assists, while Goran Dragic followed with 21. Dragic had no problem moving back to the shooting guard slot, hitting 4-of-4 from beyond the arc, combining with Channing Frye (5-of-7 from three) to give the Suns an excellent contrast to the Warriors and their over reliance on three point shooting. Frye, who finished with 20 points, started the first half 5 for 5 from the floor, including 3 for 3 from beyond the 3-point line. His streak ended with a half court heave to end the half. Golden State did finish making 50% of their attempts from 3-point range, as Stephen Curry scored 30 points on 4-of-7 from beyond the arc, but the Warriors are dealing with too many injury problems to look like a strong Western conference team right now.
It was the first time this season the Suns had three players with 20 points in the same game, and it was a third-consecutive game for Dragic with 20 points or more; the third time in his career and for the first time with the Suns.
Mark Jackson, Warriors head coach – I am finding that the guys in the suit and tie want it more than the guys in uniform. It’s disappointing right now. We are going to be fine, but it’s disappointing to once again lose in the same fashion. We see it. Everybody sees it. But I don’t see anybody in uniform with that same passion. Enough is enough at some point. We are watching the same movie every single night. Making a habit of blaming your players for losses doesn’t always turn out so well for coaches.
Things look a bit more harmonious for the Suns under Jeff Hornacek, who has given this team a very confident attitude, helping them run teams off the floor. Most of their talent and scoring is in the starting backcourt, but the Morris twins, combining to score 18 points and grab 9 rebounds, provided a lot of energy from the bench that a lot of teams find very difficult to handle.
The Suns don’t have the depth or the diversity in terms of how their talent is spread in order to be more than a last-place playoff team or something along those lines, but it doesn’t mean they can’t make it very fun to watch them surprise team after team with their great passing and quick basketball, showing once again that selfish stars and big names isn’t the only way to go with in this league.