Phoenix Suns Enjoy Scorching-Hot January


Eric Bledsoe led the Phoenix Suns to their first 10-win month of the 2014-2015 season in January including big victories against some big name opponents.

Phoenix entered the 2015 calendar year with an 18-16 mark after dropping an overtime thriller to Oklahoma City 137-134 on New Years Eve.

The Suns began 2015 with a bang consisting of four consecutive victories over Philadelphia, Toronto, Milwaukee, and Minnesota. The most impressive victory from this foursome was the 125-109 victory over the Raptors who were second in the Eastern Conference standings at the time that the two clubs met.

The first of two back-to-back losses came in the third and fourth games of a four-game road trip against San Antonio (100-95) and Memphis (122-110 OT). Phoenix was ultra-competitive in each game, but fell short at the end of the game due to fatigue.

Phoenix opened a franchise-record eight-game homes-stand following the four-game road trip in Milwaukee, Minnesota, San Antonio, and Memphis. With six of the eight opponents holding playoff spots at the time of their respective game it was time for the Suns to show the basketball world that they are a playoff-caliber squad.

LeBron James returned from an injury in the first game of the home stretch, but a 35-point performance by Markieff Morris kept the Suns ahead for the majority of the contest and allowed the Suns to steal a victory from the Eastern Conference contender. Cleveland has yet to lose since dropping the game in Phoenix.

Jan 13, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe (2) dribbles around Cleveland Cavaliers guard

J.R. Smith

(5) during the third quarter at US Airways Center. Phoenix won 107-100. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Goran Dragic had a pair of 20+ point performances in the next two games against Minnesota and the Los Angeles Lakers as the Suns won by double digits in each contest.

Phoenix notched their second four-game winning streak of the month when Bledsoe dropped 33 points and grabbed 10 boards against Portland. With the victory the Suns moved to 26-18 which was the the most games over .500 the team had been all year.

On “Orange Friday” against the Houston Rockets the Suns almost pulled off a comeback of the ages. Trailing by 15 points with 5:30 left in the fourth quarter it seemed like Houston had the win in hand.

Morris began to hit clutch shot after clutch shot and before you knew it Phoenix had used a 24-9 run to tie the game at 111-111 with just over 10 seconds left on the game clock. James Harden would have none of the valiant effort by the Suns and nailed a buzzer-beater from the left elbow as time expired to seal a 113-111 victory for the Rockets.

Jan 23, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) shoots the game winning shot at the buzzer against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center. The Rockets defeated the Suns 113-111. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Phoenix suffered a loss to their Pacific division foe, Los Angeles Clippers, on Jan. 25 120-100. It was the greatest point differential in a loss for the Suns since Nov. 28 against the Denver Nuggets when they lost 122-97.

With NFL Media taking over downtown Phoenix for the Super Bowl the Suns were able to come together as a team and practice at team owner Robert Sarver’s house. Coach Jeff Hornacek said that the team had a great practice and that they were ready to take on the scorching-hot Wizards the following evening.

The Suns were indeed ready for Washington. Phoenix started off hot from the field and a 17-point lead at the half. Washington would not go away in the second half however and they made it a four-point game down the stretch. Phoenix put the Wizards away with clutch free throws and walked away with a 106-98 victory.

More from Heat Waved

Two days later the Suns finished the eight-game home-stand against Derrick Rose (yes, he’s healthy) and the Chicago Bulls. Phoenix once more came out of the gates hot and held a double-digit lead at half time. Chicago’s defense showed up big time in the third quarter as they held the Suns to just 13 points to cut the deficit to just one point.

The lead went back-and-forth in the final frame, but a Bledsoe shot in the lane with 10 seconds left in the game to put the Suns up by four points was the dagger. Phoenix’s 99-93 victory over the Bulls helped them finish the home-stand with a 6-2 mark.

In the final game in the month of January the Suns traveled to the Bay Area to take on the Western Conference leading Golden State Warriors. The Warriors had fallen on tough times coming into the game as losers of two consecutive and struggled early on.

Phoenix could not take advantage of the slow start by the Warriors as Golden State was still able to hold a slim 52-51 lead at half time. Golden State’s defense was stellar out of the locker room, outscoring the Suns 54-36 in the second half to come away with a 106-87 victory.

Jan 31, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe (2) drives past Golden State Warriors guard

Stephen Curry

(30) in the first quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The loss the the Warriors dropped the Suns to 28-21 overall on the year. Phoenix would be the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs if the season ended today. San Antonio is up by 2.5 games over Phoenix for the seventh seed and New Orleans is just two games behind Phoenix for the final postseason spot.

Phoenix must step up defensively if they hope to make a push for the playoffs and/or to be successful in the playoffs. The Suns are currently allowing the 28th most points per game in the NBA at 104.9. Luckily for them their offense is tied for fourth in the NBA in points with 106.8 as they are just 0.1 points per game behind the Mavericks and the Clippers.

Looking forward to February, Phoenix has five games before the All-Star break. The Suns will have home games against the Grizzlies, Jazz and Rockets, while hitting the road to take on the Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings.

We could very likely see a 30+ win Suns team at the All-Star break if they continue their hot play that they have been playing the past month.