Suns notes: Dragic thriving in new roles on, off court
Dragic thriving in new roles both on and off court; Frye heating up, regaining conditioning.
By RANDY HILLFS Arizona
PHOENIX -- Goran Dragic is learning, day by day, that sharing your space with a newcomer requires patience and the willingness to adjust.
But is the Suns' point guard completely comfortable with this arrangement?
“No,” Dragic said after scoring 31 points in Wednesday night’s 120-106 victory over the Trail Blazers.
For the record, he wasn’t referring to the process of adjusting his game to accommodate first-year teammate Eric Bledsoe.
The adjustment in question was working on reduced sleep after becoming a first-time father earlier this month. And now that Mateo has joined Dragic and wife Maja, a lack of rest can seem more difficult to deal with than a lot of opposing point guards he’s managed to shred.
“They sleep all day and they are awake all night,” the Dragon -- basing his assessment on Mateo’s sleep habits -- said in regard to infant slumber. “But I love it ... he’s great.”
Well, right back at you, Goran.
Although "great" may be stretching things a bit, the lefty from Slovenia has been pretty salty during a six-game stretch working without the aforementioned Bledsoe. During that span, Dragic has averaged 20.5 points (shooting 49 percent overall and 42 percent from 3-point range), a tick under nine assists, four rebounds and three turnovers.
While helping end Portland’s 11-game winning streak, he poured in 31 points and handed out 10 assists.
“Goran gave us a lift when things weren’t going great,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. “He made some big shots for us and kept us in the game.”
And once the Suns had control of the game, Dragic made sure the pace remained in his team’s favor.
“Like Jeff said, every time we look at the tape when we play in the half court, we have problems,” Dragic said. “We don’t run the actions so well and we have a lot of isolations. But when we run, we get those easy open 3s and easy layups, and I think everyone wants to play like that.”
But playing like that takes a lot of energy, and having energy requires sufficient sleep for recovery.
“Right now, I feel great,” Dragic said after beating Portland. “But we’ll see how I feel tomorrow.”
TUCK AND ROLLED
Despite missing the action for a sixth consecutive game, Bledsoe actively celebrated Wednesday’s victory.
After pointing out that teammate P.J. Tucker (two points) had been “locked up” by Portland’s Nicolas Batum, Bledsoe was asked to explain the in-practice collision that led to his nettlesome shin contusion.
“I was just defending Ish (teammate Smith) and Tuck came over to help,” he said. “We were working on game situations, and it was late in the shot clock and he ran into me. It just happened.
“I told him (Tucker) we need to get him a bell.”
The ringing endorsement was extended to the rest of the Suns, who play the Jazz on Friday in Salt Lake City and in Phoenix one night later. His status for both games remains uncertain.
“It’s day to day,” Bledsoe said of his shin-related availability. “But at least it’s feeling better every day.”
FRYE HEATING UP
Twice in the last four games, veteran power forward Channing Frye has reached or exceeded the 20-point plateau.
Against the Blazers, Frye made 10 of 12 shots -- including 3 of 5 from beyond the 3-point arc -- in a 25-point, nine-rebound effort.
He’s produced at least 16 point in five of the last six games and converted 17 of 36 3-point attempts during that stretch. His ability to hold down the middle defensively in certain matchups enables the Suns to play smaller, space the floor with more shooting threats and pick up the tempo.
“I think his conditioning is getting better,” Hornacek said. “I still don’t think he’s in the best shape of his career, but he’s getting there. I think that what’s happening now is he’s not tired when he’s shooting those shots, and he’s making them.”
For Frye, the uprising includes an upgrade in focus and mental preparation.
“I’ve been working with (assistant coach) Mark West,” Frye said. “I’ve been working with Kenny G. (assistant coach Gattison) and Irv (skill development coach Irving Roland) and basically all of the coaches, trying to pick their brains about how teams are going to play me.
“When I get to the post, will they front, flash ... so it’s really just me trying to cover all aspects of my game and try to be a complete player. Some nights it’s going to work and some nights it doesn’t.”