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Hornacek, Suns players prepared to move past recent difficult losses

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Two games lost by a combined three points in 48 hours.

The Phoenix Suns have had their hearts broken in each of the past two times they have taken the court.

Do losses like that — Damian Lillard’s driving, uncontested layup and the Suns’ subsequent three missed attempts in Portland followed by Joe Johnson’s running floater over Channing Frye as the home horn sounded to end overtime against Brooklyn — linger?

“It can’t,” P.J. Tucker said. “Can’t linger in the NBA.”


The Suns though have had three full days — including two practice days — to think about, go over and dissect their first back-to-back losses of the season.

“We came in the next day [Sunday] and Coach [Jeff Hornacek] had a tough two-hour practice,” Tucker said. “Right back at it, back working. Everybody in here going hard. I think that’s a good thing about being a young team. Guys are so fresh. You’re so ready to play. Everybody is ready to play so much.”

The Suns (5-4) are the second-most inexperienced team in the league, which perhaps makes it easier for them to adhere to what coaches often refer to as the 24-hour rule.

“For us, these four losses have been tough, but I think we’ve just got to just have that short-term mentality: Don’t worry about it. It’s over with,” Gerald Green said. “We got a lot done (in practice). It was a good time for us to get our bodies right, but at the same time…we worked on some things that we needed to work on. We just have to figure out what are we doing wrong the last minute or two at the end of the games.”

The Suns return to action Tuesday when they visit Sacramento. The Kings (2-7) will return the favor Wednesday to complete a rare home-and-home set on consecutive days.

“We’ve had two good practices,” Hornacek said, adding that the focus centered on offense, specifically making the extra pass and moving without the ball. “We always emphasize that the way you practice is usually how you play games. You can’t sit there and be lazy in practice and think you’re just going to turn it on in games. This is where you get better in practice, and they all want to get better.”

The Suns are off to their best start in three seasons. They are the only team in the NBA to have held a fourth quarter lead in all of their games played.

“We know we’re right there,” Tucker said. “We very well could have only one or two losses if the ball bounces another way at the end of the game. We’ve got to take it. We’re a young team. A lot of us haven’t been in these situations, especially early on in the season. We’re just going to learn from it and grow from it and keep going.”

The team’s schedule ramps up between now and Thanksgiving weekend. Over the next 12 days, Phoenix will play eight games, including five on the road.

“We get a chance to go back out and prove ourselves and get back in those situations,” Tucker said. “And maybe next time they go our way.”