The Phoenix Suns’ season has been reduced to looking for bright spots.
It’s hard to find anything shiny after suffering just the fourth 40-point loss in franchise history like they did Monday night in Los Angeles, but interim head coach Earl Watson did.
After admitting that what he told the team in the locker room following a 127-87 loss to the Clippers could not be repeated, Watson singled out the recent play of center Alex Len.
“I think it was great for Alex Len to get starter minutes against the best defending big in the league,” Watson told Doug and Wolf Tuesday morning on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “DeAndre (Jordan) is physical, he’s athletic, he’s gifted running court. On offense, he’s unique, because it’s not straight post, it’s reading pick-and-rolls and recovering to your man.
“Alex Len, to me, did a solid job taking another step forward.”
Over the last two games, Len has matched up against San Antonio’s Tim Duncan — an eight-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection — and Jordan, who finished third in the Defensive Player of the Year voting a season ago. He scored a career-high 23 points against the Spurs on Sunday and followed it up with a 14-point, eight-rebound performance at Staples Center Monday night.
Watson was especially effusive in his praise over one moment of Len’s performance.
“There was one play, where Alex caught the ball in the paint, made a move, made a pivot and had an and-one dunk,” the coach said. “To me, that was more impactful than anything he did in that entire game.
“The fact that he always gives you his heart, he’s always in tune with the game and he cares. That means more than anything for us as a program.”
Len, a third-year pro, is averaging a career-high 7.4 points per game while adding 6.4 rebounds per contest. In 22 starts this year, he’s averaging 9.9 points and 7.6 rebounds.
The Suns return home to face the Brooklyn Nets Thursday night at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The game can be heard on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM starting with pregame coverage at 6:30 p.m.