The Suns cooled off Al Jefferson plus Goran Dragic continued to show why he belongs in the All Star Game.
There was no let down for the Phoenix Suns Saturday night at US Airways Center. They returned home and made quick of the Charlotte Bobcats with a 105-95 win and the game wasn't as close as the score showed.
The Suns led by as much as 27 points and the last time they trailed was at 13-10 less than midway through the first quarter.
That opening quarter belonged to Goran Dragic, who scored 15 of his 25 points on 5-7 shooting, 1-1 from deep and 4-5 at the line.
"It was just in the flow of the game," explained Dragic about his hot start. "Not only me, we tried to start good as a team, tried to build the lead and get into halftime with a 10 point advantage"
Phoenix accomplished their goal leading by 18 when they headed into the locker room mostly on the back of a scorching second quarter from Marcus Morris.
Morris scored 13 of his 15 points knocking down 5-6 shots and two threes. During the four games the team played from January 22nd to January 27th Morris averaged five points on four shots and 43.8% shooting. He's regained his rhythm the last three putting up double figures in each while shooting 54.8% from the field.
More important than anything the Suns did on the offensive end they were able to slow down Bobcats center Al Jefferson.
Jefferson was coming off a three game stretch where he averaged 35.7 points and 14 rebounds was held to 10 points and six rebounds. Big Al struggled shooting 4-15 from the field.
"We wanted to keep throwing guys at him," said Coach Hornacek after the game. "Sometimes it's the case of a guy gets an early foul so we switched over and put Channing on him. We didn't want any of our guys to get two quick ones. When you got a bunch of bigs you can continually rotate guys on him just for the purpose of fouls and plus someone be fresh on him at all times. You have to have that to play against him."
"You got to make it hard," continued Hornacek regarding their strategy with Jefferson. "We want to try push him out, catch it farther out, pressure on the passer so they can't throw a nice easy pass to him. Then when he makes his moves and spins you gotta have other guys there."
Frye, whose reputation on the defensive end isn't heralded, was a big part of the defense on the Bobcats center. Big Al gets added to the list of Blake Griffin and Kevin Love as efficient scoring bigs Frye has helped slow down.
"He's a load man," said Frye about Jefferson. "I just didn't want him to have 40 on me. He's playing pretty much as good as basketball as Kevin Durant the last 5 or 6 games. He's a workload down there and I saw him get comfortable early and I got to figure out a way to turn his water off. My teammates did a great job of helping me and sticking with the plan making sure the second and third options he felt like someone was there to mix it up. I just battled, I just wanted to make him tired and work for it."
As a team the Suns held Charlotte to 41% shooting and through the first three quarters it was an even more impressive 36.7% before letting things get a little slopping in the final 12 minutes.
The Suns have won five straight to get to a season high 11 games over .500. Their next four games are against teams .500 or better starting with the Bulls at home on Tuesday.
The Suns are finally back at home and will be at US Airways Center for eight of the next 10. Can Phoenix win its fifth straight?
Will the Suns be able to slow down the red hot Al Jefferson?
The Suns return to the comfy confines of the U.S. Airways Center in an even better position than they expected. Four games in five nights on the road ended up being four wins in five nights on the road.
Phoenix begins a stretch of four of the next fives games at home tonight against the Charlotte Bobcats.
After going 2-5 in the first seven games without Eric Bledsoe the Suns have hit their stride and are back in the mix for the Pacific Division. Phoenix is essentially tied for second place with the Golden State Warriors, three and a half games behind the Clippers for first.
Charlotte will continue to be without Kemba Walker (ankle), who has missed the past six games. They've gone 4-2 starting Ramon Sessions, Gerald Henderson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Josh McRoberts and Al Jefferson.
When the Suns beat the Bobcats 98-91 on November 22nd it was Al Jefferson's first action after missing four games. He only played 25 minutes and scored nine points on six shots.
It's a different story tonight - Jefferson is coming off a 40 point, 18 rebound and four assist effort in Charlotte's win over the Lakers on Friday.
Jefferson has been one of the hottest players in the NBA averaging 23.9 points and 11.3 rebounds in January, in his last three games he's putting up 35.7 points and 14 boards.
Miles Plumlee will get the first crack at him, but Plumlee has struggled at times this season dealing with bigger players with back to the basket post games. When Phoenix opens the game I would expect them to attack Jefferson on the other end of the court forcing him to defend the Dragic/Plumlee pick and roll.
This could be a good opportunity to give Alex Len a chance to defend one of the better scoring big men in the NBA. He's played 14, 22 and 14 minutes in the last three games and his length and strength provides a bigger deterrent to Big Al on the defensive end.