Coming into the season Phoenix Suns head coach Alvin Gentry stated that he wanted the team to be known for playing hard, playing with energy, and to have people walk away thinking "those guys really competed" no matter the outcome. The outcome to date was a team ten games under .500 so something had to change.
That change came in the form of P.J. Tucker being inserted into the starting line-up.
Adding that ball of energy to the mix helped the Suns get off to a much better pace in the first and third quarters that they combined to win 58-41; easily the best outputs combined on the season. Tucker helped establish the pace that led to creating 17 total turnovers and he was even able to convert some of those hustle points himself with only his sixth game in double-digits (10) on the season.
The team spread the energy evenly throughout the game with 12 offensive rebounds, 44 total rebounds, and 15 second chance points. The rebounding was a team effort according to Gentry:
We have talked about that. Our perimeter guys, you know we are not a great rebounding team and so we have to do it by committee. So we talked to our perimeter guys about when the ball goes up there we can't worry about leaking out and trying to get an easy basket. We have to have possession of the ball and we are still we think good enough to get in the open court and run. But we have the tendency to leak out. We have to become real conscious of staying in and having out perimeters help out on the boards.
As a team the Suns have the personnel to get on the boards with their guards, which is something the Philadelphia 76ers do very well, but were held in check tonight.
With Marcin Gortat (14), Tucker (6), Luis Scola (4), Goran Dragic (4), Markieff Morris (4), and Michael Beasley (4) getting on the glass as a group they give their defense a fighting chance to finish off stops. Leaking out has been a major issue for the team -- not only the guards, but also the big men who are accustom to running in this type of system forgetting the ball is necessary in a fast-break.
Is this energy sustainable?
No matter what Tucker is going to bring it. Whether it is in 30 minutes as a starter or in 6 minutes off of the bench; it is in his DNA to play hard and fight. The ripple effect is the most important part of his play getting Gortat, Brown, and Dragic playing with heightened senses.