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Phoenix Suns look to stay ‘in sync' heading into All-Star break

Phoenix Suns' Jeff Hornacek, right, talks with Goran Dragic, left, of Slovenia, during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX, Ariz. - As the Phoenix Suns faced an identical scenario a week ago -- coming off a Saturday win with their next game not until Tuesday -- head coach Jeff Hornacek gave his players a break. They would not practice on Sunday.

OK, so it was Super Bowl Sunday.

Still, Hornacek figured a team that had won five straight and had gone four weeks without a full day off at home -- meaning no early morning travel arrivals -- needed one.

Not this Sunday, after an impressive win over Golden State the night before and a visit coming up by two-time defending champion Miami on Tuesday.

"Typically this deep into the season, today would've probably been a day off, except for the fact that we got kind of a goofy schedule," said Hornacek, referencing the five-day All-Star break ahead. "We got to try to keep their conditioning, so we wanted them to come in today and just do a little bit."

Practice lasted roughly an hour, just long enough to "get our heart pumping a little bit" according to Gerald Green.

"This kind of just keeps us in rhythm, keeps everything in sync," he said. "Everybody knows that we have a higher agenda. Right now we got to try finish strong this first half of the season before the All-Star break."

The Suns broke out of their recent two-game funk by beating the Warriors 122-109. And yes, Goran Dragic scored a career-high 34 points, Green added 25 and the team shot 53.8 percent. But more importantly, it was the defense -- specifically in the fourth quarter -- that stood out to Hornacek.

"We did an excellent job of putting pressure on guys, helping each other out and making every shot they took a tough shot," he said.

The Warriors missed 13 of 20 shots, including five of six three-pointers in the final 12 minutes.

The win pushed the Suns' record to 30-20, second-best in the Pacific Division and sixth-best in the Western Conference.

"It's great that we've gotten here," Hornacek said. "But I've said it all year, these guys got a little taste early of some success and they feel they can win every game."

Including the last game before the break, a game against a Heat team that surprisingly lost at Utah on Saturday, 94-89.

"It'll be big for us," Tucker said of a potential victory over Miami (35-14), the fourth-best team in the league. "It's just one out of 82, but we definitely want to win it going into the All-Star break so when we come back we'll be -- hopefully, we can be rolling."

About the Author

School: Syracuse University, '96

When you started with Bonneville Phoenix: December 1, 1999

Favorite sports memory: Game 7, 2001 World Series

Least-favorite sports memory: Game 1, 1988 World Series

Favorite all-time athlete(s): Larry Bird, Don Mattingly

Favorite sports movies: Hoosiers, Field of Dreams


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