The Phoenix Suns are enjoying their best stretch of basketball since mid-December.
The question is why.
“Everybody is more focused,” answered Goran Dragic. “We don’t do those silly mistakes anymore, like every time we need a basket sometimes we make a turnover or (have a) bad possession. The last three games we didn’t do that.”
The Suns can match their season-best winning streak with a victory against Toronto Wednesday night at US Airways Center.
Of course, the flip side to this recent success is a drop in the NBA Lottery standings. The Suns, third-worst a week ago, now own the seventh-worst record (21-39) among all teams. The chances of landing one of the Top 3 picks in the draft are slipping.
The players do not pay attention to such talk; that’s for the fans to worry about. The players, their worry is about getting better — whether that’s improving individually or collectively as a unit.
Dragic believes the team is focused on the later.
“We are a young team so we have to practice,” he said. “We have to be in the gym as long as possible. I know it’s hard when the season is a lot of games, but still, (we) try to correct some things, try to get better every day and then bring it in the game.”
What Dragic and the Suns have brought is defense, the primary directive of interim head coach Lindsey Hunter.
“Our defense is, I would say, better, especially rotations,” Dragic said. “If you play good defense, then you don’t put pressure on offense. Even if you miss, you’re confident you can defend.”
Hunter too has seen an improvement.
“They still don’t totally get it all,” he said, “but I think the more and more they grasp the concepts the better we’ll be. It’s kind of showing up.”
Over the last three games, the Suns’ defensive efficiency (a statistic that measures the number of points a team allows per 100 possessions) is the best in the NBA at 88.5, almost fifteen points better than their season mark (103.2), which ranks 21st.
“I’m not going to say how solid it is right now,” Hunter continued, “but you can see glimpses of us being a pretty good defensive team.”