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Phoenix Suns

Updated Jan 24, 2014 - 4:40 pm

Suns coach: Players now expect to win every game

Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek calls out a play in the first quarter during an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Like all teams, the Phoenix Suns had goals coming into the 2013-14 season.

By most accounts, they've already reached or surpassed even the most modest of hopes, winning 24 of their first 41 games and nearly equaling the win total the team had all of last season.

But while the wins are nice, head coach Jeff Hornacek told the Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM that the organization had other things in mind at the beginning.

"The goals we set forth to start the season had nothing to do with wins and losses," he said. "It just was we want to have good chemistry, we want to play hard, play together. You'll win a good amount of games if you do that.

"For that being the goals, I think we've done that."

With 24 wins, the Suns are currently seventh in the Western Conference and would be in the playoffs if they started today. It would be the first time since 2010 the team participated in the postseason, and the first time in a long time for many of their players.

In fact, just three members of this years Suns team were in the playoffs last season, and neither Gerald Green nor Miles Plumlee played a significant role in the Indiana Pacers' run. Eric Bledsoe, who played a vital role with the Clippers, is currently out with a knee injury.

"The biggest problem is when you come off losing teams," Hornacek said when asked about convincing a team to share the ball and play with good chemistry. "A lot of times that's why teams lose, because they don't pass the ball. Early on we had to emphasize that a lot."

Hornacek said that the team's early success helped to get the message across, that the team could compete if it plays a certain way.

"Then you have to have the right players," he added. "We have guys that are buying into what the coaches are asking. We have some veteran leaders in Channing (Frye) and P.J. (Tucker) who, when things aren't going that way, they'll get on some guys.

"Chemistry is hard to define, what makes it good. A lot of times -- I wouldn't say it's luck -- but you put it out there and the guys have to buy into it. Then all of a sudden you can be pretty decent."

And given that the Suns are pretty decent, the season's goals have justifiably changed a bit.

"We come out there, they expect to win every game," Hornacek said of his players. "And that's what's great.

"Going into the season with not high expectations, I'm not sure our guys, mentally, would have thought they could win every game. But they do now."

About the Author

School: University of Arizona

When you started with Bonneville Phoenix: Fall 2008, right before Cardinals Super Bowl run

Favorite sports memory: Being at Game 7 of the 2001 World Series with my dad

Favorite all-time athlete: Larry Centers

Favorite sports movies: The Sandlot, Rookie of the Year, Jerry Maguire

Most crushing sports moment: Grew up in Arizona and went to UA from 2002-06. In short, there are too many to name just one.


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