A recent trend has the Phoenix Suns falling behind by double digits right out of the gate, only to make the comeback later in the game. Head coach Jeff Hornacek thinks it might be due to an early lack of focus.
“I didn’t shoot before games,” Hornacek told Doug and Wolf during Newsmakers Week on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “These guys get there at four, 4:30 for a 7 o’ clock game and they’re in the weight room, they’re out there shooting, then they come in the locker room and there’s that time to kind of waste and you’re watching tape. To me, it’s probably tough to get focused.”
Hornacek played 14 seasons in the NBA, including six with the Suns, so he has plenty of experience of getting focused for a game himself. He said it’s about “being mentally tough.”
“Eddie Johnson and I rode together to the games when I was here in Phoenix and we got there probably, I hate to say it, about an hour and 10 minutes before the game,” Hornacek said. “It was enough to walk in the locker room — you know on the drive there you start to focus on the game. You get in the locker room, you get tape, you’re in the locker room, you see your 10, 15 minutes of tape and now the meeting starts. So you have that continuous focus from the time you got in your car to head to the game.
“I think these guys lose a little bit of that because they’re there so early.”
The last three games have been a perfect example of just that. Against the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday, the Suns were down 12 after the first quarter. On Friday, it was the Utah Jazz who jumped in front to an 11-point lead eight minutes into the game.
Then it was the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night, as the Suns fell behind 14 points early once again. They came all the way back to take the lead in the fourth quarter, only to lose on a buzzer-beater for the fourth time this season.
“Last night, what I said, a team like that you can’t wait until the fourth quarter,” Hornacek said. “We’re down by 12 points, whatever it was — 14 points in the fourth quarter and yeah they made a great comeback, but you can’t wait until the end of the game because something crazy might happen.”