Hot Hand Always on Hand For Suns

Barry Gossage/NBAE

Teamwork has been the oft-repeated response from Suns’ players who are asked about the team’s success.

That’s all well and good, but the unintentional passing of the shooting baton hasn’t hurt either. Phoenix has helped itself by seeing a different player catch fire as soon as another one cools off.

Markieff Morris won a Western Conference Player of the Week award early this season, courtesy of a three-game stretch that saw him average 24.6 points on 78.9 percent shooting. He followed with four consecutive games of single-digit scoring efforts.

Gerald Green, it turned out, had simply taken the hot hand. The veteran swingman put up 17.5 points per contest over the next six games, shooting 40.5 percent from three-point range.

When Green’s production tapered off, Goran Dragic made up for it with one of the best stretches of his career, putting up 22 points per game at a 52.5 percent clip over a 13-game span.

The Slovenian playmaker has since cooled off, going 0-for-10 from three-point range over the last four games. That hasn’t hurt the Suns all that much, since Green has again caught fire after hitting a whopping 19 three-pointers on 35 tries (54.3 percent) over the last three games.

Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek is fine and even encouraged by the trend. Having been on the playing side in the NBA for 14 years, he understands that consistently good shooting in the NBA’s marathon season is a taller task than many realize.

“Some nights you’re going to have good shots and you might be hot,” Hornacek said. “Other nights, maybe not. Still rely on your teammates. No one’s going to shoot well all 82 games. I know I didn’t."

There have been smaller doses of the same symptom. P.J. Tucker’s rough three-game stretch last week (13 points total, 4-for-19 FG) coincided with back-to-back 20-point performances from Channing Frye. When both of them were cold at Denver (2-for-14 FG combined), Markieff Morris went off for 25 points on just 14 shot attempts.

Through the Suns’ first 27 games, six different players have led the team in scoring in at least one game.

“I’m not expecting these guys to shoot great every night, but so far, when one guy’s off, someone else is picking up the slack,” Hornacek said. “That’s great to know."