The Phoenix Suns found the wrinkle in the Charlotte Bobcats improved defense Friday.
As discovered in this week’s By The Numbers, Charlotte is one of the worst teams in the league at defending the 3-point shot. Led by five 3-pointers from Channing Frye, Phoenix shot over 43 percent from long range in their 98-91 victory over Charlotte. The Bobcats were unable to respond with a 3 of 14 effort from 3-point range.
Phoenix is 12th in 3-point percentage and fifth in opponent 3-point percentage. Charlotte is 28th in 3-point percentage and 26th in opponent 3-point percentage. The two teams couldn’t be any more opposite in their results. Phoenix is limiting the perimeter shooting of the opposition while hitting their own 3-pointers.
Charlotte isn’t making any 3′s and can’t make the opponent do the same. The Bobcats weren’t beat on talent tonight, they were defeated on a matchup. The Suns, who are off to a surprising 6-6 start of their own, controlled tempo and were focused on exploiting the Bobcats weakness of defending the 3-point line and making 3′s.
Bismack Biyombo sat out for the first time this season due to coach’s decision.
Cody Zeller, Jeff Adrien and Anthony Tolliver all received minutes over last season’s starting center. Steve Clifford told reporters after the game that he wants to see if Adrien’s recent play will continue.
“Just because Jeff Adrien is playing so well,” Clifford said in a quote used in the Charlotte Observer. “We have functioned so well with Jeff Adrien on the floor that I’ve got to see if it lasts.”
Adrien had five points and three rebounds in 16 minutes, which is typically what Biyombo will produce in limited time. Adrien has a 20.1 player efficiency rating in 136 minutes. For comparison, Biyombo has a 10.1 rating in 291 minutes.
Adrien is averaging 12.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per 36 minutes.
Charlotte exercised a team option for Biyombo next season in October. Biyombo will make a little more than $3.8 million next season in a probable role as a backup center.
There was ample speculation that the additions of Zeller and Al Jefferson in the offseason would make Biyombo expendable. Biyombo is averaging 24.3 minutes this season, but with a healthy Jefferson, those minutes could be the lowest of Biyombo’s tenure in Charlotte.
Biyombo’s improvements have been minimal in three seasons and it’s clear the team wants to compete sooner, rather than later. Biyombo is still fairly raw and hasn’t made a great adjustment to the NBA.
Biyombo can still be useful for the Bobcats as a reserve, but a scenario of him being the team’s long-term starting center no longer appears plausible.
IN THE BONUS
- Phoenix snapped a four-game losing streak with Friday’s victory.
- Jefferson had nine points, six rebounds, three assists, three blocks, and two steals in his return to the starting lineup. He shot 3 of 6 from the field.
- Zeller went 2 0f 11 from the field with six points and nine rebounds. Zeller is shooting 35 percent from the field this season.
- Phoenix’s 43 percent 3-point shooting could have been higher if it weren’t for Gerald Green. Green missed all eight of his 3-point attempts.
- Former Duke player Miles Plumlee has started each of the Suns 12 games at center. Plumlee, who came to Phoenix in the deal that sent Luis Scola to Indiana over the summer, is averaging 10.3 points, 9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks this season.
- Eric Bledsoe sat out with a leg injury Friday. Bledsoe is averaging 20.4 points, 6.8 assists and 4.8 rebounds this season.
- Credit Phoenix’s front office for acquiring some promising players through trade recently. Green, Plumlee, Bledsoe and Marcus Morris were all acquired through trades and have played well for the Suns.
- Archie Goodwin had eight points and six rebounds. Goodwin was the 29th pick in the draft and showed some good promise in the open floor during the second quarter.
ABOVE THE RIM
- Rick Bonnell, Charlotte Observer: Some fans feigned shock that Biyombo didn’t play tonight. I didn’t expect him to go DNP-CD, but I made sure to mention in my Friday story that Biyombo played only 7 ½ minutes in the second half against the Nets when the game was decided. You know who played Biz’s minutes? Jeff Adrien. You know why? Because while Biyombo is longer and a better athlete, Adrien is a quicker study and, to use Clifford’s word, the team “functions’’ better right now with Adrien playing.
- Sean Sullivan, Bright Side of the Sun: Of course, the most positive note of all is that the Suns were able to snap their four-game skid to once again put a “W” in the score column, no matter how ugly the end of the game was. The Suns have a great deal of work to do on their fourth quarter woes, as they simply cannot afford to play this way and expect to win games against quality opponents. The Suns were fortunate to escape with this win tonight.
- Derek James, Rufus on Fire: During the game I tweeted that the Suns kept running ahead of the Bobcats to hold the door open for them, but the Bobcats would run up behind them and slam the door shut. It’s true: they couldn’t stay out of their own way. If you force as many turnovers and missed free throws and dominate in the paint like they did, you should win at least 80 percent of the time. Yet, they didn’t and the Bobcats will have some good food for thought as they head to Milwaukee for a back-to-back tomorrow night.
- Kevin Zimmerman, Valley of the Suns: The second-slowest team in the NBA in terms of pace got caught up playing like the Suns. Early on, there wasn’t much changed for Phoenix compared to the last few games, but Charlotte’s poor defense finally allowed the Suns to find an offensive flow.