Goran Dragic is having a career year playing with coach Jeff Hornacek, who sees a lot of himself in Dragic as a player. Now, Dragic may join Hornacek in an exclusive scoring club that contains only Hornacek and a national hero from back home, Drazen Petrovic.

When the Phoenix Suns acquired Eric Bledsoe last summer to team up with incumbent point guard Goran Dragic, the Suns said it was a perfect match made along the lines of Jeff Hornacek's run as the combo guard next to Kevin Johnson that helped an upstart Suns team to 4 seasons of 53+ wins and a trip to the Western Conference Finals in 1991.

Dragic/Hornacek parallels

Hornacek was drafted into turmoil, his rookie season marred by a team drug scandal and only 27 wins. Dragic was signed as a free agent, his first season as a starter marred by an underperforming, mismatched roster that won only 25 games.

Jeff saw the Suns acquire hot shot PG Kevin Johnson, who had backed up All-Star Mark Price in Cleveland, in one of the roster-purge trades to be the PG of the future.

Dragic saw the Suns acquire hot shot PG Eric Bledsoe, who had backed up All-Star Chris Paul in Los Angeles, in one of the roster-purge trades to be the PG of the future.

Hornacek and KJ clicked immediately because Hornacek deferred the primary point guard duties to the smaller but more athletic (and periodically hurt) Johnson while Horny became the dangerous scorer/passer who averaged 13+ points, 5+ assists, and 3.5+ rebounds for four straight years alongside the mercurial KJ as the Suns won at least 53 games in four straight seasons.

Dragic and Bledsoe clicked immediately because Dragic deferred the primary point guard duties to the smaller but more athletic (and periodically hurt) Bledsoe while Dragic upped his scoring average while keeping his assists at nearly 6 per game.

20/50/40

Jeff Hornacek's best scoring season was 1991-92 when joined the 20/50/40 club by scoring 20.1 points while shooting 50+% from the field (51.2%) and 40+% on three-pointers (43.9%).

In the 21 NBA seasons since, only one guard (Drazen Petrovic, 92-93) and three forwards (Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki) have matched the 20/50/40 feat in a season.

Until now (hopefully).

With five games to go, Goran Dragic's best NBA season is on schedule to join Hornacek, Petrovic and three of the best forwards of all time in the 20/50/40 club. Dragic is averaging 20.5 ppg, .508 FG%, .417 3P%.

Let me repeat. No NBA guard has matched the 20/50/40 marks since 1992-93, and Dragic's own coach was the last American guard to do it.

But that's not the only warm and fuzzy connection here. Dragic remembers Petrovic, a Croatian, fondly.

"He was one of the best European players," Dragic said of Petrovic, who was Yugoslavian along with Dragic until the country split into multiple parts. "When I grew up, he was a national hero back home. If I can do that...(shakes head). It's all hard work, and it's paying off. I cannot sleep on those numbers, I have to keep getting better."

Then I had a nice exchange with Dragic about who was the last NBA player before Petrovic to join the 20/50/40 club.

"Do you know who made it before Petrovic?"

"KJ?" he asked, thinking I was setting him up after the earlier questions, but he guessed wrong. When I shook my head, he said, "I don't know."

"Hornacek," I told him.

"Jeff?!" he yelled in surprise. A big smile opened up. "I didn't know. I'll have to talk to him."

"He told you it was going to work out for you," I said, about pairing with Bledsoe.

"Yes he did!"

As long as Dragic doesn't go off the rails in the next week, he will join his own coach Jeff Hornacek and one of his country's heroes Drazen Petrovic as the only NBA guards to score 20+ points per game while shooting 50+% from the field and 40+% on three pointers.

Not bad for a 6'3" guard from Slovenia once dubbed 'Goran Tragic'. In retrospect, the hiring of Jeff Hornacek could not have been more perfect for the Slovenian guard.

Dragic had a rough start to the Oklahoma City game, missing his three first-quarter shots before coming out. He was frustrated, given the high stakes of the game for the Suns' season.

"He told me, 'Kid, you're in Slovenia, and your fans are cheering for you'," Dragic recalled, of Hornacek trying to get Dragic to clear his head and start fresh in the second quarter. "'It's 0-0, go out and have fun.'"

Dragic came out and scored 19 second-quarter points, making 8 of 10 shots in the process as the Suns grabbed a 9-point halftime lead. That the guard gave credit to his coach for helping him clear his head is yet another sign that Hornacek and Dragic are kindred spirits on the court. Dragic has had similar stories all season long of how encouraging Hornacek is with him and all the players.

Now, with a rare 20/50/40 season under his belt, he should be named to an All-NBA team after the season as one of the top guards in the league.

What a great story to have for the rest of his life.

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PHOENIX — It’s clear Goran Dragic and P.J. Tucker, holdovers from a failed regime, are two reasons the Phoenix Suns cling to the final Western Conference playoff spot with five games left...

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PHOENIX – The Suns aren’t dead yet. Arguably and in the moment of a 122-115 win on Sunday, they’ve never been so alive. Phoenix has a mighty hill to climb — the Grizzlies lost to...

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A heavyweight battle. Playoff worthy. In fact, potentially a preview of the playoffs that will start in a couple of weeks. The Phoenix Suns beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, and now have won 2 of 3 on the season from OKC despite Kevin Durant setting a scoring mark.

The Oklahoma City Thunder and Phoenix Suns made big shot after big shot in the fourth quarter. The Suns had a 3-point lead with four minutes to go on a P.J. Tucker three, but Westbrook hit a contested three and Durant hit a contested baseline jumper to take the lead 110-108.

But the Suns came back this time, unlike last Wednesday, with their heart and grit. They pulled this game out of the Thunder's hands. No one gave it to them.

With the win, the Suns have pulled to 8th position in the West all by themselves, after the Grizzlies lost to San Antonio earlier tonight.

The Suns are now 18-0 when Goran Dragic (26) and Eric Bledsoe (18) score 16+ points. Markieff Morris was big down the stretch with several tough makes in the post. Gerald Green had 24 big points, including 5-7 on three pointers.

P.J. Tucker played his best game in a long time, with 22 points including 4-5 on threes and some tough plays under the hoop. And despite Durant getting 38 points, P.J. was able to defend Durant one-on-one just enough that the Suns could play honest on everyone else and win the game.

Let's Go Suns!!

The Suns didn't make it easy on themselves. They had gotten themselves into the penalty - going to the free throw line with every Thunder foul - at the 9 minute mark but stopped forcing the issue and settled for jumpers too much. The Suns didn't draw more free throws until Dragic drew a back court foul with three minutes left.

This was gut check time. When the Thunder took the 110-108 lead with four minutes left, the game felt a lot like last Wednesday's game against the Clippers. In that game, the Suns had a 17-point lead late in the third quarter, only to lose the game by four.

Tonight, the Suns had a 14-point lead late in the third before the Thunder came back to even the score and take the lead with more than five minutes left.

But this time the Suns had enough to finish the job. They played hard, so hard you could cut diamonds. When Eric Bledsoe stole the ball and P.J. Tucker drew the foul to widen the lead to five, the Suns were cheering harder than anyone in the building.

That's two wins in the last month over the Thunder, folks.

The Suns needed to dig deep to win the game despite Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant turning into scoring machines. Durant and Westbrook had 68 points between them.

The Suns didn't help themselves by going 11-20 from the line, and drawing only two free throws from the 9 minute mark to the 1 minute mark.

This time, the Suns had enough to finish the job. What a game!

-----

The game started really well for the Suns, except for Channing Frye missing three straight open threes. Still, the Suns led 14-13 before he sat down for Markieff Morris. Miles Plumlee was active early, with 6 points and 5 rebounds in the first 5 minutes against Kendrick Perkins.

Soon, the Suns sat Frye and the Thunder sat Perkins and the game ramped up even more. We may not see Perkins again tonight, except maybe a cameo to start the third quarter.

Durant played the whole first quarter for OKC, but didn't score after stating with 7 quick points except for going 1-2 at the free throw line.

Goran Dragic did not score until the second quarter, when the Suns already had a 30-27 lead. The Thunder went really small in the second quarter, playing Caron Butler as the second-biggest guy out there with Nick Collison. The only guy taller than 6'8" was Collison. The Suns went small as well, but "Suns small" is a lot bigger than the Thunder's. The Suns went with Dragic, Green, Morris, Morris and Randolph. The only guy shorter than 6'8" was Dragic.

The Suns kept a strong lead through first half of the second quarter, but missed on two easy alley-oop opportunities in the first 18 minutes - one by Plumlee, the other by Green. The lead could have been more than 6 with 5:30 to go in the half.

The Goran Dragic happened. Dragic made 7 straight shots at one point on a variety of drives, midrange shots and long range shots to finish with 16 in the second quarter alone.

The Suns halftime lead was 9 points, 62-53, despite Eric Bledsoe having turnover issues trying to be too aggressive at the end of the quarter.

In the third quarter, the Suns came out strong and extended the lead to 14 behind Gerald Green pouring in 8 points in the first 5 minutes of the quarter.

But then Russell Westbrook started driving relentlessly to the rim and the Thunder cut the lead to 5 before Dragic and Bledsoe got their own scores at the rim.

The Thunder kept coming though, scoring 38 points in the third quarter alone (after scoring only 53 in the first half), and took a one-point lead early in the fourth.

The Suns got into desperation mode then, forcing the Thunder to put them in the penalty with 9 minutes left, while the Thunder just kept making shots over and over again.

The Suns made big shots too, including a Tucker three to get the lead back at 108-105.

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