PHOENIX — The secret is out.
The Phoenix Suns are no longer a surprise.
Already with nearly as many wins (14) as they were forecast to have for the entire season (the so-called experts placed the over/under anywhere between 18 and 21), the Suns have become the story in the NBA.
Everyone is taking notice, especially opposing teams.
“These guys have been hot as a firecracker and they’ve been playing great all year,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said following his team’s come-from-behind win Wednesday at US Airways Center. “The job Jeff (Hornacek) and his guys have done has been unbelievable, so for us it’s a thrill to come in here and win.”
The Suns had won five straight before falling to San Antonio, their longest winning streak since 2011.
Phoenix is 2-4 against the West’s top three teams — Portland, Oklahoma City and San Antonio — with the losses coming by a combined 18 points.
Yes, the Suns can compete with any team. But for veteran forward Channing Frye, that’s not enough.
“There’s (been) enough like, ‘well, we could’ve beat them’ type losses,” Frye said. “Now we expect to win these games.”
In the words of Hornacek, the Suns are “kind of past that point now” with regard to moral victories. “We’ve won games. These guys expect to win games. We want to keep them thinking that way and not use youth as an excuse.”
The NBA’s fourth-youngest and second-most inexperienced active roster next plays Friday at Denver, a team the Suns beat earlier at home, 114-103. The Nuggets are playing better under first-year head coach Brian Shaw, though they’ve gone 3-4 in their last seven games following a seven-game winning streak
The Suns, meanwhile, have thrust themselves into the national conversation. At the moment, they are a top-10 team in the NBA and looking to improve.
“When you have some success, especially winning on the road … I think that all builds,” Hornacek said. “Now these guys, whatever it is from anybody else, the expectations of those players is that they feel they can win every game. They’re not going to take any consolation in any close losses.”