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Suns’ Jones discusses possibility of Kelly Oubre Jr. starting

Phoenix Suns guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (3) celebrates after defeating the Boston Celtics in a basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. The Suns won 111-103. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The Phoenix Suns’ recent seven-game homestand had a bittersweet ending.

Following six straight losses to some of the NBA’s best teams, Phoenix was able to come away with a 115-111 victory over the Sacramento Kings in the homestand’s finale.

Ironically, the Suns sole victory of the homestand came without guard Devin Booker.

Most would predict that any team would be worse without its best player.

But the Suns went 2-1 without Booker over his three-game absence, including a 102-93 home victory over the Denver Nuggets, who have the fourth-best record in the NBA.

Booker returned for the first of the team’s four-game road trip that started in Indiana on Tuesday.

Phoenix lost to the Pacers 131-97, as the Suns’ defense now has the league’s second-worst field goal percentage allowed (48.1 percent) and sixth-worst points allowed per game (114.6).

“When you’re a younger team, less skilled, less seasoned than your opponent, you have to win on the edges,” Phoenix Suns co-interim GM James Jones told Burns & Gambo on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

“We have to establish and maintain our defensive identity regardless of who we put on the floor.”

A bright spot amongst the team’s struggles this year is midseason acquisition Kelly Oubre Jr.

Since coming to the Valley, Oubre is fourth on the team in both field goal percentage (45.9 percent) and points per game (13.4) while being sixth on the team in minutes per game (25.6).

In the 14 games Oubre has been in a Suns jersey, the team has accumulated five of its 11 total wins on the season..

So should Jones and head coach Igor Kokoskov consider starting the 23-year-old?

“It isn’t linear,” Jones said.

“The second unit can push our team, make up ground that they may lose with the starters, so it is tricky. You take a guy like Kelly who is a big piece of your bench. He’s probably the best talent on the floor against second units and thrust him into the starting unit, and now you may lose some ground with the second unit.”

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