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Better 3-point shooting key for Phoenix Suns’ growth

Phoenix Suns forward Josh Jackson, left, smiles as he slaps hands with Suns' Devin Booker, middle, and TJ Warren, right, after Jackson was fouled during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017, in Phoenix. The Suns defeated the Bulls 113-105. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — Good teams shoot the 3-ball. And shoot it well.

Among the NBA’s 10-best 3-point shooting teams, seven would make the playoffs if the season were to end today.

The Phoenix Suns hope to be in that position — sooner rather than later, of course — but one of the bigger obstacles in their way is their inability to consistently hit the three.

Only one team, the Los Angeles Lakers, shoots worse than the Suns from beyond the arc. The Lakers make 32.8 percent of their 3-point attempts, while the Suns sit at a 33.9 percent clip.

The league average, by the way, is 36.3 percent, which at the moment is the highest its been in nine years.

“We work on it every day,” interim head coach Jay Triano said Wednesday. “I think the NBA is trending towards more 3-point shots being taken and more 3-point shots being made. That’s one of the things we’re trying to do.”

In Sunday’s win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Suns had one of their better 3-point shooting performances. They made (17) and attempted (39) more 3-pointers than they had in any of their previous 41 games.

Guard Devin Booker, who went 5-of-10 from beyond the arc, credited the team’s spacing and ball movement — making the extra pass — for their season-best results.

“That’s how the game is involving,” he said. “It started, I’d say, with Golden State where you realize a contested two or a two-point shot, a mid-range shot, is not as effective as 3s so a lot of teams are going for 3s and lay-ups now.”

Should the Suns find their 3-point stroke again and reach double-digits in that category on Friday when the Houston Rockets visit, it’ll mark only the sixth time this season they’ve hit 10 or more 3s in back-to-back games.

Overall, the Suns rank among the bottom third in 3-pointers made.

With the exception of Dallas, the top-5 teams in 3-point makes — Houston, Cleveland, Boston and Golden State — are among the league’s six best teams.

Still, Triano doesn’t want to see the Suns attempting more 3s just to make more 3s.

“I don’t want to say we need to get 30-plus because if they’re not 30 quality shots, I don’t want them,” he said. “But, I think the NBA is trending towards 30-plus a game. I’d like us to get there, but if we’re shooting 27 percent, I don’t like it. It’s got to be good shots, after ball movement, after we’ve changed sides of the floor, then I’m comfortable with that.”

Mr. 10,000

Play, and play well, in the NBA long enough and you’re bound to reach a milestone or two.

Center Tyson Chandler is in his 17th season and needs just 22 rebounds to become the 40th player in league history to reach 10,000 career rebounds.

“It’s a big deal. That’s a lot of hard work, a lot of effort to keep yourself on the basketball court and produce,” he said Wednesday. “Any of those milestones and accolades like that, I don’t take them for granted.”

Of the 39 players with at least 10,000 career rebounds, 22 are currently in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. There have been four Suns players who have reached the 10,000-rebound mark: Shaquille O’Neal (13,099), Charles Barkley (12,546), Paul Silas (12,357) and Shawn Marion (10,101).

Chandler has grabbed double-digit rebounds in a season-best five straight games, including a 13-rebound effort against the Thunder.

“I feel great. My teammates are playing great around me. I’m able to be in better positions,” he said, before adding, “We’re growing as a team. You grow as a team, you feel good out there, you’re able to be a little more productive.”

FREE THROWS

— For the second straight day, forward Marquese Chriss did not practice. He continues to receive treatment for a right hip strain suffered in the second quarter in the Thunder game.

Chriss and point guard Isaiah Canaan, who is also sidelined due to a left adductor strain, are considered day-to-day, according to Triano.

“It’ll depend on what happens over the next 48 hours,” he said, referring to their availability against the Rockets.

— Next to the All-Star break, this four-day stretch between games is the Suns’ longest of the season.

“I was hoping we would use it more for practices and implementing new things,” Triano said, “but we’re using it more for rehabilitation and rest for a lot of our players to get healthy and finish the second half of the year.”

The Suns are 42 games into an 82-game schedule. Only Boston (43) has played more games.

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