11-30-2009, 02:49 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Re: goran dragic
here's a piece the az republic did on Dragic and some other stuff too
TORONTO - Goran Dragic might help disappoint a nation Sunday.
In Canada's biggest basketball event, favorite son Steve Nash might not be seen as much as in the past at Air Canada Centre because a Slovenian backup point guard is holding his own.
One of the better parts of the Suns' 13-3 season has been things that need not be discussed. Just as much as rebounding and defense, the backup point guard situation was fodder for conversation with frustration for five years.
Although coach Alvin Gentry calls Nash's time on the bench the scariest minutes of his life, the Suns' show has not been a horror without him because of Dragic's progress.
Dragic still has the lowest plus-minus ratio (team vs. opponent scoring with him on the court) per minute of the nine everyday players, but he falls on the positive side overall. The Suns outscored Detroit a week ago by 19 in the 22 minutes Dragic played. During the Suns' current three-game blowout streak, Dragic has been able to play 20.7 minutes per game and is averaging 9.7 points (on 50 percent shooting), 3.0 assists and 4.7 rebounds.
"I just now have to get consistency," Dragic said. "Some games, I play really well. Some games, I play a little bit bad. I'm really enjoying this game and feel more comfortable.
"I'm alone with my girlfriend, so this team is my family. It's hard when you're not playing well and not playing a lot. This year, I feel a part of something."
Nash's 32.3 minutes per game is his lowest average in a decade. Leandro Barbosa helps fill the role behind Nash, taking some ballhandling as the Suns run different sets to play to the backups' strengths.
"The thing that's always good for us is if we can sit Steve over there for six minutes of the fourth quarter as opposed to being in for the last nine minutes," Gentry said.
It was about this time last season that Dragic vanished from the rotation until February. His confidence is visible in his fastbreak drives, set 3-point shots, his pump-fake leaners and the time he went between Jamaal Tinsley's legs for retribution.
"I'm more confident and shooting better," Dragic said. "Every game is better. On the second unit, everyone can score. We are dangerous."
Rookie Earl Clark is never sure what Amin Elhassan, the Suns' assistant director of basketball operations, is doing when he calls him at night. He just knows Elhassan shows up to rebound every time Clark is willing to do extra shooting beyond his post-practice work with assistant coach Igor Kokoskov.
Even with that, it might be an anomaly that Clark went 6 for 6 with mostly jumpers Friday after struggling with his shot.
"Anomaly might be a small understatement," Gentry said. "Let's not crown him Ray Allen yet."
Clark said he is "trying to learn from the great players around me."
He drew their attention Friday when he leaped sideways to try to dunk on 7-foot Ryan Hollins, who fouled him. Clark had a special slam in a recent practice when he moved the ball from his left hand to his right hand in mid-air to dunk on Amar'e Stoudemire.
"I got funny feet," Clark said. "I don't know how to jump right. So I always jump on my right side, and it looks kind of awkward.
In the past three wins, the Suns are shooting 59.7 percent overall and 50.8 percent on 3-pointers.
• The Suns outscored Minnesota by 33 Friday in Grant Hill's 26 minutes.