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James Jones: Phoenix Suns developing strong ‘culture of discipline’

James Jones, Suns general manager (Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)

The Phoenix Suns have won nine of their last 10 games.

They’re one of the hottest teams in the NBA at 17-9, yet still find themselves three games back in their own division, trailing both Los Angeles teams. The Suns are fourth in the Western Conference standings.

They may not have the best record in the league, but the effort James Jones is witnessing on both ends of the court has the general manager feeling good about where the team stands through the first 26 games of the season.

“When you look at the Western Conference, as good as we’ve been playing, we haven’t gained any ground, but I think we continue to develop this culture of discipline that’s going to carry us when we get to the playoffs,” Jones told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf on Tuesday.

“Because you can win the regular season, but if you’re not building the habits that allow to have success in the postseason, you’re going to be left with a sinking feeling in your stomach when the season’s over.”

While Phoenix has scored at least 100 points in their last 10 games, it’s been the defensive effort that Jones has seen a big improvement in. Phoenix enters play Tuesday with the fifth-best defensive rating and is seventh in the NBA in defensive rebounds per game (35.8).

It also doesn’t hurt to have one of the best scorers in the league in guard Devin Booker.

Booker, who was named the NBA’s Western Conference Player of the Week on Monday, has been on a tear of late. In his last four games, Booker averaged 32.3 points, 5.3 assists and five rebounds per game. Overall, he’s averaging 24.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 35.2 minutes per game this season.

“He’s matured. Devin’s learned to pick his spots,” Jones said. “I think earlier in the year he was trying to figure out how to lead this team. Trying to do it verbally, trying to do it physically, emotionally. I think it was an adjustment for him when he realized he didn’t have to do all of it with Chris [Paul].

“All Devin needed to do was control himself, control the pace and offensively deliver in the clutch. He’s been aggressive offensively and defensively he’s been more vocal. I think he understands his teammates. That’s the maturity of a young player when he can understand his teammates.”

“It’s been a lot of fun, especially the last 10 games where we started to play together and we’re playing some good teams and having fun while we’re doing it,” Jones added.

The Suns will look to make it seven-straight victories Tuesday night when they take on the visiting Brooklyn Nets, coached by former Phoenix point guard Steve Nash.

Tune to 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station to for all the action.


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