If I hadn’t watched the last two games and you asked me to look at the stats and tell you which game I thought the Suns won, it would have been the New Orleans game.
Grant Hill and the Suns blocked San Antonio’s home winning streak on Monday. (NBAE Photos)
The Suns did everything they should have to win that game (stats-wise) and couldn’t pull it out. On the other hand, many of the box score indicators for a win in the San Antonio game weren’t there and the Suns scraped by with a W.
Phoenix shot a higher percentage against New Orleans – 47.5% as opposed to 46.8%. They allowed a much lower shooting percentage against the Hornets – 40.7% vs. 45.9%. The Suns also shot better in both three-point field goals and free throws. Additionally, they had more rebounds, a higher percentage of the total rebounds, more assists and a better assist/turnover ratio against the Hornets. Yet it was the San Antonio game that Phoenix won. What happened?
Actually, there were several things that happened in the San Antonio game – some of them seemingly small, yet statistically relevant. For instance, Phoenix lost by 3 points to the Hornets and had one less offensive rebound in that game. Just one extra offensive rebound could have led to a two or even a four point turnaround that would have changed the outcome of the game. They also had one less turnover against the Spurs.
Phoenix increased the number of steals and the difference in steals against the Spurs. In the Hornets game, the men in purple only had one more steal than the Hornets. Against San Antonio the Suns had 5 more steals. That creates more scoring opportunities for the Suns and less for the Spurs.
On the other hand, if you watched the two games and didn’t look at the box scores, you probably would have picked the San Antonio game as the one Phoenix won. They seemed to be playing with more intensity and a lot more enthusiasm. Here’s another interesting statistic: in the New Orleans loss, the Phoenix starters had 21 fouls during the game. In the San Antonio win, they had 14. The starters also played 10% less minutes in the Spurs game than in the Hornets game (167 vs 183). Both Boris Diaw and Leandro Barbosa played about 33% more minutes on Monday night than they did on Saturday.
Overall, the Suns win in San Antonio was a good one. It showed that the team does know how to play together. There were some problems that the team can still improve on but that is the reason they play 82 regular season games. If teams were perfect right out of the gate, they could just go right to the playoffs.
What are your thoughts on the game?