December 11, 2012: Dragic, Tucker expected to return vs. Memphis
The place the Suns call home---US Airways Center, has hardly provided the home court advantage many teams, or at least many of the good teams, have in the NBA.
There was the one possession loss on opening night versus Golden State, the overtime defeat at the hands of Chicago and the valiant comeback attempt against Dallas: three losses by a combined 11 points.
And now a season-long five-game home stand has started with a 98-90 defeat to an Orlando team that was on the final game of a weeklong west coast trip.
"There's an opportunity here for us," head coach Alvin Gentry said of being at home for an extended period. "We've got to seize the moment if we're going to stay in this thing and be a factor as far as the race for a playoff spot."
The Suns could do themselves a huge favor moving in that direction with an improved effort defensively. In each of their last two games, they allowed their opponent to shoot better than 60-percent in the fourth quarter.
"It's tough to win these kind of games if the opponent is having open shots and keep knocking those shots (down)," Goran Dragic said.
On the season, the Suns find themselves 27th in points allowed, 28th in field goal defense and 29th in defending 3-pointers.
"We went through a tough time last year," Gentry said. "We kept plugging away at it and we found a way to get it turned around. We'll do the same thing this year."
If nothing else, the Suns should be healthier by their next game, Wednesday against Memphis.
Dragic was back at practice, albeit on a limited basis, following a bout with the flu.
"I still feel weak," he said.
Dragic missed the Magic game after struggling the day before in L.A. against the Clippers. He said he's gained one pound from the six pounds he lost since Saturday.
The news is better on PJ Tucker, who has not played in the last two games after suffering a knee sprain almost a week ago against Dallas.
He returned Tuesday, going through his first full practice.
"I felt good. My knee feels good. I look good," Tucker said with a smile. "My wind is back. I've been riding the bike and getting my conditioning in so I'm ready for (Wednesday)."