Tonight the Suns will face the Charlotte Bobcats on the road, in an attempt to break a four game slide that has been the result of mostly missed opportunities and an inability to close out games. Will the Suns be able to break their unfavorable streak against the Bobcats?

What: Phoenix Suns @ Charlotte Bobcats

Where: Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC

When: 5:00 p.m. (AZ)

Watch: FSAZ (Locally) , NBA League Pass

The 5-6 Phoenix Suns and the 6-6 Charlotte Bobcats have a lot in common going into tonight's game. In addition to holding a similar record, both teams have star players who are questionable to play as of now...Eric Bledsoe for the Suns, and Al Jefferson for the Bobcats. Additionally, both Goran Dragic and Kemba Walker scored 31 points, both season highs, for their teams in their last game. One key difference being that Kemba's effort helped lead the Bobcats to a win over the Nets, while Dragic's performance still wasn't enough to overcome a loss to the Kings.

Stats:

Suns:


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Eric Bledsoe 9 34.8 6.9 13.8 50.0 1.1 3.8 29.4 5.6 6.7 83.3 0.6 4.0 4.6 6.8 3.9 1.8 0.1 2.0 20.4
Goran Dragic 8 32.1 5.8 12.9 44.7 0.9 3.1 28.0 3.5 4.3 82.4 0.3 2.0 2.3 5.4 2.6 1.0 0.1 2.3 15.9
Gerald Green 11 27.2 5.3 10.5 50.0 2.7 5.8 46.9 1.6 2.3 72.0 0.7 2.0 2.7 1.1 2.0 0.5 0.6 2.9 14.9
Markieff Morris 10 24.8 4.6 8.8 52.3 0.4 0.9 44.4 2.4 3.0 80.0 1.3 4.1 5.4 1.6 1.3 1.6 0.2 2.0 12.0
Miles Plumlee 11 31.1 4.9 9.7 50.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.1 2.7 40.0 2.5 6.4 8.8 0.5 1.5 0.5 2.0 2.6 10.9
Marcus Morris 11 23.1 3.5 7.6 45.2 1.4 3.2 42.9 1.6 1.9 85.7 1.5 4.4 5.9 0.9 2.3 1.2 0.2 2.3 9.9
P.J. Tucker 11 31.6 3.4 7.6 44.0 1.4 2.7 50.0 0.8 1.2 69.2 1.2 3.3 4.5 1.8 1.4 1.4 0.3 2.3 8.9
Channing Frye 11 24.5 2.7 7.5 36.1 1.0 3.5 28.9 0.7 0.8 88.9 0.9 3.9 4.8 0.3 1.0 0.7 0.8 3.0 7.2
Archie Goodwin 10 12.2 1.8 5.0 36.0 0.2 1.5 13.3 0.3 0.5 60.0 0.4 1.2 1.6 0.7 1.0 0.6 0.5 0.7 4.1
Dionte Christmas 8 8.9 1.1 2.6 42.9 0.5 1.4 36.4 0.4 0.5 75.0 0.4 1.4 1.8 0.1 0.4 0.3 0.0 1.0 3.1
Ish Smith 8 11.4 1.1 3.8 30.0 0.1 1.0 12.5 0.4 0.4 100.0 0.1 1.3 1.4 2.1 0.8 0.6 0.1 0.8 2.8
Alex Len 4 7.8 0.8 1.8 42.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.5 50.0 1.3 0.5 1.8 0.3 0.8 0.5 0.5 2.0 1.8
Viacheslav Kravtsov 4 3.8 0.3 0.5 50.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.5 50.0 0.5 0.5 1.0 0.0 0.8 0.0 0.0 0.8 0.8



Bobcats:


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Kemba Walker 12 34.8 5.8 16.1 35.8 1.3 4.4 30.2 3.2 4.1 77.6 0.7 3.3 3.9 4.1 2.0 1.8 0.7 1.8 16.0
Al Jefferson 3 30.3 6.3 15.7 40.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.3 2.7 87.5 2.3 6.3 8.7 2.3 0.3 0.3 1.3 2.7 15.0
Gerald Henderson 12 32.1 4.8 13.2 36.1 0.4 1.2 35.7 3.5 4.4 79.2 0.9 4.0 4.9 2.7 1.8 1.0 0.2 2.3 13.4
Ramon Sessions 12 20.8 3.4 8.4 40.6 0.3 1.1 23.1 4.4 5.9 74.6 0.4 1.3 1.7 3.3 1.8 0.5 0.2 1.1 11.5
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 12 28.3 4.3 8.3 51.5 0.0 0.4 0.0 2.1 3.4 61.0 1.9 3.7 5.6 0.9 2.2 0.6 0.9 2.9 10.6
Jeff Taylor 12 25.1 3.7 9.6 38.3 0.8 2.8 26.5 1.6 2.8 57.6 0.8 1.8 2.6 0.9 0.9 0.3 0.2 2.3 9.7
Josh McRoberts 11 28.5 3.2 8.5 37.2 1.5 4.2 37.0 1.1 1.5 70.6 1.5 3.5 4.9 4.7 1.5 0.8 0.6 2.3 9.0
Cody Zeller 12 17.4 2.0 5.2 38.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.3 1.8 68.2 1.5 2.3 3.8 0.8 1.1 0.9 0.3 2.4 5.3
Anthony Tolliver 9 15.9 1.3 3.8 35.3 1.2 3.0 40.7 0.4 0.4 100.0 0.6 1.7 2.2 1.0 0.7 0.3 0.3 1.7 4.3
Bismack Biyombo 12 24.3 1.7 2.6 64.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 2.1 48.0 1.6 5.8 7.4 0.1 0.7 0.0 1.1 2.1 4.3
Ben Gordon 1 8.0 1.0 3.0 33.3 0.0 1.0 0.0 2.0 4.0 50.0 0.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 0.0 1.0 0.0 1.0 4.0
Jeff Adrien 8 15.0 1.5 2.5 60.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.8 1.3 60.0 2.4 3.0 5.4 0.5 0.1 0.3 1.4 1.5 3.8
Jannero Pargo 1 4.0 1.0 4.0 25.0 0.0 3.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 1.0 0.0 1.0 2.0



Probable Starting Line-Ups:

Suns:

G - Goran Dragic

G - Gerald Green (Eric Bledsoe)

F - P.J. Tucker

F - Channing Frye

C - Miles Plumlee



Bobcats:

G - Kemba Walker

G - Gerald Henderson

F - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

F - Josh McRoberts (Al Jefferson)

C - Bismack Biyombo

Keys to the Game:

The biggest key to victory for the Suns in my opinion is Eric Bledsoe. In his absence, Bledsoe has proven to be an irreplaceable components of the "good" Suns team. While Dragic has performed admirably in his absence, the Suns are missing a true go-to guy, and the 4th quarter closer to help propel this team to victory.

If Bledsoe can't go, the Suns are going to have to try to turn things around without him, which means taking care of the ball, first and foremost. The Suns are one of the most turnover prone teams in the league, averaging 17.4 per game. The Suns still need to hustle and run the floor, but they need to make sure they aren't playing too sloppily while doing so.

The other major key is execution. When the Suns are moving without the ball, finding the open man, and playing aggressive while making fast rotations on defense, they are a force to be reckoned with. However, they cannot afford to fall asleep like they seemed to do during the 3rd quarter against the Kings in their last game.

On the plus side, the Suns owned the Bobcats last season, sweeping them 3-0 during their last three match-ups. However, the Suns can't depend on history to be their x-factor tonight. Despite their reputation over the last several years, the Bobcats are on the rise and capable of playing very well, as evidenced by their recent win against the Nets. So, the Suns must play with full effort and attention to detail, with or without Bledsoe, if they hope to win this game.

*Editor's Note*

Per multiple reports (Paul Coro among them), Eric Bledsoe is doubtful for this game after not being able to make it through shoot-around, while Al Jefferson will play and start for Charlotte.

Time: 5 p.m. MST TV: FSA Following the Phoenix Suns’ most disappointing performance of the season, a 113-106 loss to the Sacramento Kings Wednesday night, the message was simple: Stay together....

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A look at Suns-related news floating around the internet from the last week. Also an open thread to discuss anything and everything.

The Suns are on a 4 game losing streak, with three of them coming in a nail-biting, heart-breaking fashion. The last loss - a 113-106 defeat at home to the Sacramento Kings - was definitely the ugliest one. The Suns looked out of sync for most of the night, reminding us of the atrocity of a team we watched all of last year. The game itself was pretty wacky - the Suns scored a season-low 12 points in the third quarter and followed with a season-high 44 points in the final period.

So the last week included a two-point loss to Brooklyn, and two losses to Sacramento by a total of 10 points. It definitely wasn't the best week for the Suns, but there were some positives to take away (other than the obvious good news for fans of "tanking"). Eric Bledsoe didn't play in either of the games against the Kings and the Suns clearly missed him.

In the first game, Dragic didn't have any help at the end of the game and as a result had about as awful of a quarter I've ever seen him have. The following night, Dragic ended up with 31 points but didn't get much help from teammates not named Gerald Green. Lastly, the Suns stormed back at the end of the game when the game was all but over, displaying their tenacity and unwillingness to quit (hence the 44 point outburst). Phoenix will go on the road and try to break this losing streak in Charlotte Friday night.

Anyway, it's time to take a look at some random Suns-related content that floated around various parts of the internet this last week.

Power Rankings

Most of these power rankings were published earlier in the week, so keep in mind that they haven't accounted for the two losses to Sacramento.

CBS Sports (Nov. 18) - #12:

Still look like a team that plays well early and runs out of ammo, but they're also very fun and stay within striking range at most times.

Sports Illustrated (Nov. 18) - #12:

The Suns were three points away from a 7-2 start, but suffered two heartbreaking losses last week. In fact, all of their four losses have been by seven points or fewer, a painful rite of passage for a young NBA team.

ESPN (Nov. 18) - #13:

Interesting theory volunteered last week by ex-Sun Marcin Gortat, who says the new defensive coordinator in Phoenix -- Mike Longabardi -- is as much of an impact newcomer in the desert as Eric Bledsoe or boss Jeff Hornacek. All four losses by just 13 points combined for the Cinderella Suns so far.

USA Today (Nov. 17) - #13:

Eric Bledsoe refuses to let general manager Ryan McDonough rebuild in peace.

NBC Sports (Nov. 18) - #14

They keep playing close games — every one of their games has been within five points in the final five minutes. That’s fun to watch, and while that’s not how you win sustainably it’s better than we expected from them preseason.

Preposterously Premature Playoff Picture

Wc_standings_11-21_medium

Good god, Utah. I think it's now obvious who the real tanking team in the West is...

Link of the Week

Check out Marc Spears' profile on the Morrii over at Yahoo Sports.

Plays of the Week

Archie's steal and slam against Sacramento


Goran Dragic's dish to Gerald Green for the high-flying flush


Tweets of the Week

Bledsoe said his shin "definitely got a lot better" and is about to test it. He said "I almost bit my nails off" watching last night's 4th.

— Paul Coro (@paulcoro) November 21, 2013

.@A1Laflare10 is one of the last player on the court once again after practice. #PuttingInTheWork #IgniteTheFuture pic.twitter.com/VsgixQv8j4

— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) November 18, 2013

Am I having more fun watching Goodwin play, or is Goodwin having more fun playing? Tough to say.

— Jack Winter (@ArmstrongWinter) November 20, 2013

Suns have dropped their last three games by a combined six points. Ironically six is also the number of years they've taken off my life.

— Espo (@Espo) November 20, 2013

According to a GM, the Suns will do everything possible this summer to sign Gordon Hayward to an unmatchable offer sheet....

— Peter Vecsey (@PeterVecsey1) November 21, 2013

Thanks a lot PJ and Gerald 😑😑😑 http://t.co/Ew8t9vfxEM

— Archie Goodwin (@A1Laflare10) November 18, 2013

Bright Sider of the Week

The third Bright Sider award of this season goes to someone who delivered my favorite comment of the week. Congratulations, Alex Skinner! And thank you for your eloquent, much-needed comment about the levels of insanity we often encounter on this website:

Alex_skinner_comment_medium

And on that note, the runner-up award goes to dooder for providing some of the said insanity. Thank you for the hilarity, dooder. Unfortunately, you don't win the award because you are not a singular Talent worth the price of admission in and of yourself. So it’s not like you inspire awe the way MJ did in his infancy. Better luck next time, buddy.

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Any other news you'd like to share? Any suggestions for what else you'd like me to do/include in these weekly segments (I'm open to anything!)? As always, feel free to discuss below!

A year after the Suns made a max offer to Eric Gordon, which was quickly matched by New Orleans, the Phoenix Suns are "reportedly" planning to overpay Utah SF Gordon Hayward next summer.

First, here's the tweet:

Screen_shot_2013-11-21_at_3

First of all, make what you will of a rumor like this. It's just a tweet and those are free - and don't need any attribution.

Second of all, even if this was totally true, unless the "GM" was McDonough himself, it's 100% pure speculation.

Third of all, even if the source was McDonough himself, July 1 is a LONNNNNNGGGG way off. Gotta think that if the Suns get a great SF in the draft next year, Hayward wouldn't be such a priority.

Fourth of all, even if the source was McDonough and the clock moved forward to July 1 by magic today, it's tough - if not impossible - to make any RFA offer "unmatchable".

The CBA only allows

  • 15% bonus on first-year salary and
  • maxes out the first year salary at about $14 million for a four-year veteran and
  • provides for LOWER raises than Utah can offer and
  • provides for FEWER years than Utah can offer

In fact, Utah is hoping someone does all the work for them next summer and just has to match. That's what New Orleans did - to the Suns in fact - last year.

But hey, it's a good rumor.

Hayward is a potential All-Star at small forward, and has been healthy his whole career. So at least he's a better bet than Eric Gordon. But that makes him a better bet for Utah to match too.

Nothing to see here. The smartest thing the Suns could do is trade for Hayward this season, and become the team in the driver's seat just like they already are with Eric Bledsoe.

Whether he is starting, coming off the bench, creating posters, or draining threes... The Phoenix Suns found a utility player in an unlikely form this year.

The one thing about the Phoenix Suns this year, more than anything, is the fact that none of the difference makers on the roster have ever been in the position they are in now. Everyone is new to their role and responsibilities.

There were a lot of questions as to how each individual would react to their new roles whether they would rise to the occasion or struggle under the pressure.

So far, with the exception of a few, everyone has taking this opportunity head on spearheaded by the rise of Gerald Green.

Rise may not be the correct word, but it punctuates the play of Green so far this season. He has risen up in every scenario and moment thrown at him as a starter, reserve, mentor, and hired gun of Coach Jeff Hornacek to score points in bunches. On this roster Green is one of the few players with the athleticism to rise up in transition, rise above the rim, and have the shooting acumen to rise up as a threat from three-point range. Offensively he is a weapon that can change the momentum of a game if used appropriately.

"Gerald can shoot the ball," Coach Hornacek on Green. "He can finish plays and offensively he really adds something to our team. He spreads the court out; he's not a guy who has any problems about taking shots. Sometimes you have to live with some shots he takes, but he can make some of those crazy shots too so you kind of just let him go. He's kind of our Jamal Crawford-type guy. You like to see him be that aggressive guy because he's one of the guys on this team that can put up points in bunches."

Those are all things that Green has been able to do his entire career.

Green is an offensive weapon. His athleticism and offensive potential are what led to him being drafted 18th Overall in the 2005 Draft by the Boston Celtics.

He's kind of our Jamal Crawford-type guy ... He's one of the guys on this team that can put up points in bunches. -Coach Hornacek on Green's Impact

In his first four years in the NBA Green hung up four different jerseys in four different locker-rooms before heading to Russia for a two year stint. He was unable to find a coach or an organization that gave him stability and consistency. At 23 years old Green went from high school phenom -- the last first round pick to come straight from high school to the NBA, to trade chip, to flame-out, to out of the league.

Those two years in Russia gave Green the fortuity to mature as a basketball player and find his role on the court.

Over the years he was more of a fill-in star than a regularly used rotation player.

In Boston the only opportunity Green received with any consistency was as Paul Pierce's replacement in the starting line-up for 26 starts to showcase him for an eventual blockbuster trade. That was a bad Celtics team that finished 24-58 and was 2-24 during Green's run as a starter. Overall Green has started 47 games in his career before landing in Phoenix between the Celtics, Mavericks, Nets, and Pacers with a combined record of 13-34 in that role.

All of those opportunities were as Band-Aid's for injured starters like Pierce in Boston, Josh Howard in Dallas, and Lance Stephenson in Indiana. Green was never the man because he was the man, but here in Phoenix the Suns are giving him a unique opportunity to make that type of impact.

"I do not think I was trying to resurge my career here... I am trying to win," Green on coming to Phoenix with an eye on a career resurgence. "I am here to try and get this team back to what they used to be when I got drafted. That is my goal. I came from a team that was one game away from being in the NBA Finals, even if I was playing or not playing; I was a part of that team. You always have to reach for the moon and fall among the stars, that is what I have always been taught."

The renaissance may not have been planned, but it is happening.

When you watch Green practice before games or on off-days it is ever-apparent that he is just dripping with raw athletic talent. He is so smooth with the ball as a shooter and has great fluidity as an athlete that allows him to make plays on both ends of the floor.

Early on he has consistently been one of the last guys on the floor and leaves the most sweat on the court after working out.

Sample size and all, Green is having a career stretch for the Suns as a utility player for them. He has started two games for the injured Eric Bledsoe, four for the injured Goran Dragic, and come off the bench for the other five providing the same level of play no matter the situation. He is playing this season like a veteran who has seen the ins-and-outs of every form of basketball from the dregs of the league to title contenders.

"I have been on teams that do not help you," Green said of his previous experiences. "I have been on teams where people do have egos and this is not one of those teams. I love the direction we are going in because of that."

Green has never had a stretch of nine games like he has to start this season playing 30 minutes per game, scoring 16.9 points per game, and shooting 49.5% from the field (47.5% from three) mixing in starts with his bench role.

Shotchart_1385063240378_medium

His role as a utility player has been key to the Suns success. Last season the team had zero players that had the ability to finish in the paint (62.9%) and stretch the defense (46.9%) to the three-point line extended.

Those offensive numbers have been invaluable this season.

Last season the Suns best inside-outside threats on the wing were Jared Dudley (61.3% inside the paint & 39.1% 3PT), Shannon Brown (NA% & 27.7%), and Wesley Johnson (57.9% & 32.3%).

None of which had the same intimidation as Green attacking the rim.

With teams having to honor Miles Plumlee at the rim, the attacking nature of Dragic and Bledsoe, it opens up scoring opportunities for Green. He has been put in a position to take advantage of his athletic abilities with highlight plays above the rim and game changing bombs from behind the arc. This season Green has checked off his gamely quota of a highlight dunk and a big three every game, sometimes multiple times a game. The season though is a marathon and the nine game sprint will be tough to keep up with, no question, and will be the biggest question as the season grows longer and longer.

Coach, I have never had a coach that kept telling me to shoot it every time... -Green on his offensive freedom

Going forward, that is uncharted territory for Green and the Suns.

This nine game stretch has been terrific, but this is something that Green has not done before. The play of Plumlee, Bledsoe, and even the coaching of Hornacek has not been tested for an 82 game season.

One thing will not change is the coaching message to Green from his head coach. After a road loss to Sacramento on the bus ride to the airport Green approached his coach with a rhetorical (statement) question: Coach, I have never had a coach that kept telling me to shoot it every time.

"Well," Coach Hornacek replied. "Gerald, that is what you do. You are a great shooter, that is why we run the stuff we do with Eric and Goran, Miles rolling hard, and if they throw it out to you just catch it and shoot it."

Whether Green is shooting for the moon or, with his freak athleticism, trying to jump over it he has succeeded in falling in with the stars as well as with fanbase here in the Valley.

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