Phoenix Suns Getting it Done Late on the Defensive End

T NovaContributor INovember 18, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 12:  Steve Nash #13, Channing Frye #8, Amar'e Stoudemire #1, Grant Hill #33 and Jason Richardson #23 of the Phoenix Suns talk during a timeout against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on November 12, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Its getting cooler in the nights here in the desert.  Is hell freezing over?  No, that's just the Suns getting wins by their incredible defensive play as of late.

Five of 12. That's five times in 12 games the Suns have been down by double digit points and have rallied to win the ballgame. 

Five of 12.  That's five times in 12 games the Suns have gone into the fourth quarter trailing and have come out on top.  They are now 5-2 in games they go into the fourth quarter trailing.  Last season?  They were 4-30.  An abysmal situation last year that has gone a complete 180 this year.

Phoenix has been incredible in fourth quarters this year, holding their opponents to just over 40 percent shooting in the final quarter through their first 12 games of the year. 

Last night against Houston (a team that includes an impressive win at the Staples Center against the Lakers) they held them to 9-28 FGs in the fourth.  The Suns guards forced Houston perimeter players into tough, contested jump shots.  Their defensive play inside was equally impressive, with role player Jarron Collins stepping up huge, altering and blocking shots down the stretch.  He also provided some critical buckets as time expired.

This defense thing is pretty cool.  Players like Collins and Jared Dudley are inspiring others with their hustle and energy on the defensive end.  Even Steve Nash did a decent job of staying in front of Aaron Brooks and forcing some bad shots/passes from him.  Jason Richardson and Grant Hill were even more effective, and how about Leandro Barbosa's block on Chase Budinger?  It was one of NINE rejections by the Suns.

There are going to be a lot of folks to disagree with this article.  How can a team that is giving up 106 PPG be a "good" defensive team?  Here's the thing: they're not.  They're still not a defensive-oriented team, and they never will be.  This team is built to win on their high-tempo offense orchestrated by a future hall-of-famer. 

The Suns finally are able to get stops on the defensive end late in games, something they have never been able to do in the years since Steve's return.  So sure, they may never be a great, or even good defensive team.  But if they can get timely stops, they may have enough to at least challenge Kobe Bryant and the Lakers for top team in the West.