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Jeff Hornacek wishes Suns would ‘zero in’ for 48 minutes

With 11 games remaining in the regular season, it’s anyone’s guess whether or not the Phoenix Suns will be in the NBA Playoffs.

The Suns beat the Atlanta Hawks 102-95 Monday night to improve their record to 42-29 and move into the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot by virtue of a tiebreaker over the Dallas Mavericks.

What isn’t a mystery with this year’s team is the fact that they’re never out of a game. Three times this season, the Suns have overcome a deficit of more than 20 points to win on the road. The most recent occurrence was Sunday, when Phoenix climbed out of a 22-point hole to beat Minnesota 127-120.

A couple of weeks ago, head coach Jeff Hornacek insisted his team needed to get tougher as they were in the midst of a three-game losing streak. Since then, the Suns are 6-1, begging the question of whether or not they’ve achieved the goal of getting tougher.

“I don’t know,” Hornacek told Doug and Wolf Tuesday morning on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “I think they play tough. I think mentally sometimes we play just thinking ‘hey, it’s a nice pickup game,’ and then we get zeroed in.

“I’d like for them to be zeroed in from the tip and then we wouldn’t get down by 20 and have to make these great comebacks.”

Despite the fact that the team isn’t always focused enough for their head coach’s liking, they’re never out of a game.

“That’s the one credit to these guys, they don’t give up. They’re always playing, they believe they’re in every game,” Hornacek said. “The big thing they’ve done this year is they’ve proved that when the games are on the line, they’ve been able to make plays.

“I’m proud of the guys the way they’ve really stepped it up. In fourth quarters, they believe they can come back and win any game.”

The Suns are making plays on both ends of the floor late in games. During their current four-game winning streak, they’ve outscored their opponents 111-82 and held them to 29.6 percent shooting in the fourth quarter.