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Backcourt blues: Suns guards have uphill battle with Knight hobbled

LISTEN: Jeff Hornacek, Suns head coach

Since dealing Goran Dragic to Miami in the waning moments before the NBA trade deadline, the Phoenix Suns have posted a 4-7 record and now sit three games behind Oklahoma City for the eighth and final seed out West. Though the Suns moved quickly to acquire Brandon Knight from Milwaukee to fill the void left by Dragic, the move has not yielded immediate and positive results, leaving many to wonder aloud if all the wheeling and dealing did more harm than good.

Adding injury to insult, the organization’s most notable midseason acquisition will be sidelined indefinitely after spraining his left ankle in Monday night’s 98-80 loss to Golden State; an injury that could effectively torpedo the Suns’ already sinking playoff chances. Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek joined Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM to discuss his team’s backcourt blues.

“He was playing great last night,” said Hornacek of Knight, who left the game after scoring 13 points in 13 minutes of action. “I felt bad for him that he twisted his ankle. We don’t know how long he’ll be out, but was having a great game. He was kind of doing the stuff that [Stephen] Curry does.

“There’s no swelling, which is a good sign. It’ll get treatment and then of course, like with every player, he’ll go out and [try to] be ready for the next game. We’ll probably have to look at bringing in another backup point guard, but I thought Archie [Goodwin] did a pretty decent job at backup point guard last night. He made some nice passes.”

Depending on the severity of Knight’s injury, the potential void in the lineup figures to be filled by some combination of the aforementioned Goodwin, Gerald Green, and a likely minutes increase for Knight’s backcourt mate, Eric Bledsoe.

Of course, Bledsoe has been saddled with his own on-court woes as of late, ranking in the league’s bottom 10 for turnovers committed per game this season (3.4). That number has only risen recently, as Bledsoe has averaged a whopping 4.7 turnovers per contest in the 11 games following the Dragic deal.

“He’s got to continue to learn and watch tape,” said Hornacek of Bledsoe. “I think he might have to develop a little bit of a different mindset. I think his mindset is that he thinks he needs to make the play. He needs to make the assist play where whatever pass he makes leads to a layup or an easy shot. We just have to get him to make the first pass. Sometimes I think he takes it in too deep and I think that’s when he has turnovers. He has to get more hockey assists — come off [screens], drag a guy in, throw it to the wing, let the wing drive it, and then kick to somebody. He may not get the assist, but it will help us get more buckets.”

Considering the recent hits the Suns have taken, and the fact that 13 of the team’s final 17 games come against teams in playoff contention, buckets may come at a premium. Once an area of noted strength, the Phoenix backcourt suddenly appears to be in a tenuous spot, as the final stretch for the playoffs is in full throw.