Take 3: Phoenix Suns to start Bledsoe, Dragic in same backcourt once more
PHOENIX, Ariz. — The Phoenix Suns will attempt to roll out their dual point guard backcourt once again this week. That is, if the two of them, Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, can stay out of harm’s way — or better yet, P.J. Tucker’s way.
“P.J. about ran into Goran today on a cut,” head coach Jeff Hornacek said after practice Monday. He then joked, “I was like, ‘Oh man. Pick on someone your own size, P.J. You’ve already knocked out our two guards.'”
It was then suggested to Hornacek that perhaps his two playmakers should start wearing green no-contact jerseys in practice.
“Might not be a bad idea,” he said laughing.
Dragic is fine, though.
And so too is Bledsoe, who played both games of the home-and-home set against Utah while coming off the bench. It was the Kentucky product’s first action in nearly two weeks, having missed six games because of a bruised left shin, the result of a collision with Tucker.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Bledsoe said. “There’s still a little pain, but I’ve just got to continue playing. It’s definitely not going to stop me from playing. Once I step between the lines, there’s no excuses. At the end of the day, I got to go out there and help my team the best way I can.”
The Suns have been anxious to see the fruits of the Bledsoe-Dragic pairing. But, due to injuries — Bledsoe’s shin and Dragic’s sprained left ankle, plus his own run-in with Tucker (the two bumped heads in a game on Nov. 1) — the two point guards have seen limited playing time together. They have started and finished the same game on three times in 17 contests.
“It’s definitely going to work,” Bledsoe said.
The third try at an extended run of the point guard experiment is expected to begin when the Suns visit the Memphis Grizzlies Tuesday.
With Bledsoe back with the first unit, Gerald Green will likely return to a reserve role, which is where he was penciled in prior to the season.
In 12 starts — whether filling in for Dragic at the start of the season or more recently taking Bledsoe’s spot — Green has averaged 15.8 points and 3.0 rebounds while shooting 44.7 percent in 32.1 minutes per game.
“I’ve liked the opportunity, but I know that Eric is a better player starting than coming off the bench, so I’m down with whatever helps the team win,” he said.
Hornacek praised Green’s performance this season, be it as a starter or coming off the pine.
“(Green) has always been good. He plays the same way whether he starts or comes off the bench,” the coach said. “He’s always talked about doing what’s best for the team. He’ll do whatever it takes.”
And that applies for everyone, Hornacek added.
“We don’t have a single guy that made an All-Star team yet on this team,” Hornacek said he told his players.
In other words, no one player is above the rest.
“We have to try to show up every night. We need all those guys,” he said. “If one of our guys has a poor effort night, that’s going to hurt us. We need everybody to play hard.”
Just keep an eye out for Tucker.