(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)

(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)

Amare Stoudemire was his overpowering-self inside, and Steve Nash was his controlling MVP-self outside, inside, and all points in between, but the game ball for this one goes to Goran Dragic.

Not just for his career-high 18 points on 7 of 9 shooting, including 4 of 5 threes, although in the end that might well have been the difference as the Suns stretched their home record to 9-0 and extended their streak to 17 straight wins over a two-season span.

The thing that really bodes well for the Suns is how far the 23-year-old shooter in a point guard’s body has come since his rookie season in terms of confidence and court presence.

If he continues to improve at his present pace he’ll blossom into a lot more than just a backup relief at the point for Nash. In some ways Tuesday night was his coming-out party since arriving here from Slovenia last year. He didn’t get to play all that much as a rookie, and when he did, he didn’t really play all that well.

It wasn’t that he didn’t have the tools. It’s just that he seemed unsure how to use them, and was obviously frustrated by his lack of playing time.

But that was then and this is now, and now his future is starting to look as bright as some (though not all) said it was when the Suns signed him, and his present doesn’t look to shabby either. If nothing else he gives the Suns yet another game changer off the bench to go with Leandro Barbosa. Toss Jared Dudley and Louis Amundson into that mix and the Suns have their strongest bench in recent memory.

The first half last night was a testimonial to their firepower as they blew the Spurs half way back to the Alamo with a 67-point blast that included three of Dragic’s treys. And the second half was a testimonial to their toughness – they saw a 20-point lead shrink to one and then out-gutted the Spurs down the stretch.

A key factor in the fourth-period surge that built the lead back up to 12 was their ability to win some major skirmishes (more like wars actually) on the boards when the issue was very much in doubt.

As the season turns past the quarter pole, it is clear the Suns are becoming one of the biggest surprises in the NBA. They were originally slotted as MAYBE the eighth best team in the West, but as of now you’d have to say only the Lakers stand clearly above them in the West. And given the scheduling quirks that has had the Lakers playing mostly at home and the Suns playing mostly on the road, even that gap may not be quite as unbridgeable as it seems.

Granted, you don’t want to get TOO carried away by beating the Spurs in December, however satisfying it may be. Most of the notices they have gotten in December in the Popovich era tend to be obits, and at 12-10 (2-6 on the road), and this year figures to be no exception. But just as often as they’ve been declared dead in December they have been declared dynastic in April and May.

So don’t sell the Spurs short because they’re struggling now. But don’t sell the Suns short just because, either.

If they stay healthy they’re going to take us on a wild and crazy ride come Spring!

  • Prong

    In his game recap against the Spurs on NBA.com, Mike Tulumello wrote that Dragic is Serbian. We all know he’s from Slovenia.

    Can the team’s PR contact NBA.com and fix that mistake?

    Thanks.

  • Gregor

    Goran Dragic … he was exelent player even when he played for Union Olimpija Ljubljana in Slovenia ! Great work Gogi , keep on rocking !

  • JOHN SERPE

    Unless the entire Suns organization was inept, ok, I know thats tempting, they saw that Dragic was a raw diamond waiting for Nash to polish him up to a brilliant shine. Last night the Spurs were the first to be blinded by the glare. We saw Amare running the floor and can you believe it actually playing defense!!! Whats going on here in Suns land? Who really are these guys in orange? First they start the season as if were the new heirs to the NBA title. Then we fold like a carnival getting out of town fast. Now we show energy, comback heart, defense. What gives?? Wild and crazy ride come spring? My head is spinning already.

  • Millan

    Clamp down. Defense defense defense. There is nothing better than seeing the frustration on the opposing players faces because YOU won’t let them score. Get them out of rhythm.
    Put the clamp on em!

  • mike

    The Dragon lives in Phoenix

  • Eric

    Defense was great in last night’s game. The only problems I saw were when the Spurs went with their 3-pt shooting lineup. The Suns can double when Parker’s on the floor but they can’t double all the time when the Spurs dump 4 3-pt shooters on the floor with Duncan. Play man to man when the 3 pt shooters are out and force them to drive and shoot off the dribble. Roger Mason was pretty wide open everytime he caught the ball yesterday. I swear the first half made me think he was gonna be 100% for the whole night from 3. I couldn’t watch the 2nd half but that’s one of the main problems I saw in the 1st. They just need to learn when to double and when not to. All in all, this was what I expected from the Suns when they hustle and give it their all. As much as I hate bandwagoners, I highly recommend they jump on now before the wagon’s too full.

  • JOHN SERPE

    Count this fan done BELIEVING!!!! Suns lose to Portland after a 15 point lead. Portland, the team didn’t even have enough players to suit up, the NBA had to let them go to the D league. Let me know when we get a coach that could figure out defending a player (Bayless) who made 3 uncontested three’s in a row from the same spot was probably a good idea. This one goes down as the worst 4th quarter collapse to date. No excuse in the world can explain this kind of effort. One word sums it all up, PATHETIC!!!!