Suns Emphasize Execution After Back-to-Back Losses

Barry Gossage/NBAE

Jeff Hornacek did not go back to the drawing board after Phoenix lost back-to-back games to Chicago and at Houston. Nothing that drastic was necessary.

What was necessary was the team’s memory of that drawing board, particularly the offensive side of it.

Yes, Phoenix put up 108 points at Houston on Wednesday, a considerable improvement over their 92-point showing against the Bulls. The quality of that offense, however, was not sufficient for Hornacek, who has seen a enough slippage in half-court offense to necessitate a major brush-up in that area.

“When you play a lot of games, you don’t get a lot of practice time, sometimes guys are short-cutting things,” Hornacek said.

Phoenix has not cut any one corner to an alarming degree, but there has been enough “short-cutting” in enough areas to merit the coaching staff’s attention.

Against Chicago, the Suns resorted to an unhealthy dose of isolation basketball, which resulted in just 12 assists, tying their season-low.

The Rockets game indicated progress, but Phoenix’s scoring was helped by a Houston team that was much more willing to run than the Bulls the night before. The Suns shot less than 30 percent from three in both games, a result of the subpar half-court execution Hornacek is trying to re-establish.

“It’s very important where we want a pick set in a certain area in a play, but if you don’t set it right there it screws up the whole play,” he said. “We just tried to go over some of those things, show them some of that stuff on tape and try to get better.”

Turnovers (21 vs. Chicago) were also an issue. Many of them came on forced passes to frontcourt players trying to post up in a mismatch. Too often, they were deflected by the defender or knocked out of bounds by the post player who had to scramble for better position.

Hornacek wants the passing in general to be quicker, especially when a fast break opportunity is stifled. At that point, he says, the half-court offense needs to kick in sooner than it has been.

“It’s positioning,” he said. “Guys fall out of thinking ‘I’ll get it to him,’ but if you get it to him quickly, if you get in the right position…everything that happens quickly in the offense, it makes passes easier.”

Passes in general will likely help the Suns’ offense become more efficient. Phoenix is the only team in the league to assist on less than half of their made shots this season. Missing Eric Bledsoe (18.0 ppg, 5.8 apg) hasn’t helped, but backcourt teammate Goran Dragic is adamant that a collective focus and execution will get the job done.

“If the guys are not in the right place or if you’re late a little bit, then we lose that rhythm on offense,” Dragic said.