November 12, 2014
The Suns are in search of combinations and rotations that click.
They found one with the lineup that outscored Golden State 36-12 in the first 101/2 minutes of the fourth quarter Sunday. Within that group, they already had discovered a bench backcourt in sync for energy and explosiveness.
Since training camp, there was something about pairing Isaiah Thomas and Gerald Green that kept showing up, but not quite like it did when they scored 31 during that 36-12 run.
"It's so easy playing with him," Green said. "He draws a lot of attention. He's always getting into the teeth of the defense. For me, I'm a shooter, so once you're up a little bit, all it takes is that much space for me to get my shot off. First, he's the ultimate competitor. Then, not only does he make himself better, he makes us better. When a guy comes in like that and can make plays and make other people better, it's not hard to be productive."
Green and Thomas have played together 9.3 minutes per game, not far off from starters Goran Dragic's and Eric Bledsoe's 13.9 per game. Green (13.1) and Thomas (16.9) combine for 30 points per game for a bench that ranks third in the NBA with 41.4 per game.
After starting in Sacramento, Thomas had a bigger adjustment to make this season than Green, but he has been exactly the type of scoring sixth man the Suns thought they needed. He is the team's leading scorer, and his scoring rate ranks seventh in the NBA.
Even though Green was going to get fewer shots and fewer minutes this season, his bench role is much like what it was last season. In 34 games as a sub last season, he averaged 24 minutes. This season, Green is at 21 minutes per game, although his shooting has dropped to 41 percent overall and 33 percent on 3-pointers.
Thomas and Green dominate the offense with the highest shot frequencies on the team.
"It's good to have some of that, as long as 90 percent of the time they're good shots," coach Jeff Hornacek said. "Sometimes, when they get going, it makes a defense really focus on those guys and then it opens up for other guys for an offensive rebound or an open lane to cut to the basket."
Green said he uses practice drills, post-practice sprints and one-on-one play to stay ready for more minutes, like when Bledsoe had two long-term injuries last season.
"Once I get in the game, I just feel like I have to give it my all," Green said.
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