Stats & Info: Phoenix Suns

Top stats to know: Pacers at Suns

January, 22, 2014
Jan 22
The Indiana Pacers look to continue their winning ways when they head west to take on the Phoenix Suns (ESPN, 10:30 pm ET). Here's a look at some of the game's top storylines.

The Pacers are dominating
The Pacers are a league-best 33-7 this season and are off to their best 40-game start in franchise history. Indiana has won five straight games by an average of 20.2 points.

The Pacers are allowing a league-low 92.8 points per 100 possessions. If that holds up through a full season, it would be the fewest points per 100 possessions a team has allowed since the 2003-04 Spurs (91.2) and Pistons (92.5).

Indiana is 11-2 against Western Conference teams this season. The Heat (10-2) are the only other team in the East that has a winning record against the West.

George is dominating too
Paul George is averaging 28.8 points on 54 percent shooting in his last four games.

George and Blake Griffin are the only players who rank in the top 10 in both points per game and defensive win shares. George led the league with 6.3 defensive win shares last season.

Paul George
George is shooting a career-high 46 percent from the field, and a big reason is that he’s improved his midrange game.

He’s shooting 42 percent on midrange shots, which are defined as 2-point field goal attempts outside the paint. He shot 33 percent on those shots two seasons ago and 36 percent last season.

George is also shooting 58 percent on corner 3-pointers, the best percentage among more than 100 players who have taken at least 25 of those shots.

Matchup to Watch: How the Suns get their 3s
The Suns rely heavily on the 3-point shot; 31 percent of their field goal attempts come from that range, the third-highest percentage in the league.

The Suns rank third in 3-point makes (9.4) and first in attempts per game (26.0).

The Pacers are defending the perimeter well. Opponents are shooting a league-worst 32 percent from the 3-point line. Only 19 percent of their points come from 3-point range (third-fewest in NBA).

The Hibbert effect
According to’s player-tracking data, opponents are attempting 9.7 shots at the rim per game against Roy Hibbert but are shooting only 41 percent on those shots. That’s the fourth-lowest percentage among the 65 players who have at least five such shots attempted against them per game.

Did You Know?
The Pacers have won two straight games against Phoenix, one win shy of tying their longest win streak in the 77-game history of the series. Indiana defeated Phoenix three straight times from 1987-88 to 2003-04.

Rachel Stern also contributed research to this post.

Key to victory: Knicks make 3s, Suns don't

January, 13, 2014
Jan 13
The Suns shot a season-worst 33.5 percent in losing to the Knicks.
What were the statistical keys to the New York Knicks' overtime win over the Phoenix Suns on Monday night?

This was the first time in six tries that they won a game decided by three points or fewer. And the number three was a big factor in this game.

Suns couldn’t buy a ‘3’
The Suns continued a trend that has been consistent of Knicks opponents recently. Phoenix was 7 for 30 from 3-point range.

In this five-game winning streak, the Knicks have held opponents to 24 percent shooting on their trifectas (28 for 115). Prior to this stretch, opponents were shooting 38 percent on their 3-pointers against the Knicks.

The Suns entered the game shooting 37 percent from 3, eighth-best in the NBA.

The Suns missed their final 12 shots of the game, including 0 for 7 shooting in overtime.

Anthony made his 3s, got his rebounds
Carmelo Anthony struggled with his mid-range shots, making only 3 of 14, but made up for that by making three 3-pointers and grabbing 16 rebounds.

Anthony finished with 29 points, marking the fourth time he’s had at least 29 points and 16 rebounds in a game. Two of those have come this season.

Anthony is 17 for 35 from 3-point range since Jan. 1.

Shot of the Game: Felton’s Corner 3
Raymond Felton played a key role in getting the game into overtime, draining a go-ahead 3-pointer from the right corner with 53 seconds to play in regulation.

It was good timing for Felton to make his first 3-pointer from that corner all season. He was 0 for 4 on those shots entering the day.

Felton had missed nine of his 11 3-point attempts over a three-game stretch prior to that make.

Stat of the Day
The Knicks have four wins against teams with records of .500 or better this month. They had a total of two in November and December, both against the Hawks.

Keys to victory: Streak-snappers

November, 28, 2013

The Spurs had a rough shooting night in their loss to the Thunder
The Elias Sports Bureau noted that Wednesday marked the first time in NBA history that a pair of winning streaks of 11 or more games ended on the same day.

What were the keys to victory for the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Phoenix Suns in stopping the 11-game winning streaks of the San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers?

For starters, Thunder in control
The Spurs starting five (Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, Tiago Splitter, Tony Parker and Danny Green) was outscored by eight points in its time on the floor.

The Thunder’s starting lineup (Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Thabo Sefolosha and Russell Westbrook) outscored the Spurs by seven when on the floor together.

Jackson delivers
On a day in which Durant and Westbrook were a combined 12-for-39, Reggie Jackson came off the bench to match his career high in scoring with 23 points in 26 minutes, on 10 of 14 shooting from the field.

Jackson is 19 for 29 from the field in his last three games, including 15 of 21 on his shots in the paint.

Dragic at his best
Goran Dragic had 31 points and 10 assists for the Suns. It is the second 30-10 game of his NBA career. Dragic was one point shy of tying his career high. He’s averaging 22.6 points in his last five games.

Dragic is 8-for-16 in this five-game stretch on 3-pointers taken between the wings (in other words, straight-on, or close-to-straight-on shots. He opened the year by making only 1 of his first 8.

The Suns have gotten the most out of Dragic all season, averaging 109 points per 100 possessions with him on the count, compared to 96 points per 100 possessions with him off the court.

Frye high
Channing Frye was 10 for 12 from the field, including a perfect 7 for 7 from 2-point range. That marks the best perfect shooting day from 2-point range in his career.

He’s also now 14-for-29 from 3-point range in his last four games.

Game 1 crucial for both Celtics and Heat

May, 28, 2012

Greg M. Cooper/US PresswireLeBron James averages 30.2 points in his postseason career in the Conference Finals.
The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat square off in Game 1 tonight (ESPN, 8:30 ET) in what is the third postseason meeting all-time between these two squads. Boston defeated Miami 4-1 in the 2010 First Round, while the Heat beat the Celtics last season 4-1 in the Conference Semifinals.

Tonight will be crucial, as the winner of Game 1 in the Conference Finals has gone on to win the series 80.0 percent (88-22) of the time in NBA history. The Celtics won the 2011-12 regular season series 3-1, but Mario Chalmers is the only one of the projected Game 1 starters to have started in all four meetings this season.

The Heat have performed well in these situations under coach Erik Spoelstra. According to Elias, Miami is 5-0 in playoff-series opening games at home under Spoelstra, and only four other head coaches in NBA history were 5-0 or better in series-opening home games: Doug Moe (8-0), Mike Dunleavy (6-0), Fred Schaus (5-0) and Bill Russell (5-0).

More good news for Heat fans: LeBron James averages 30.2 points in his postseason career in the Conference Finals, his highest scoring output of any postseason round. James has also averaged 27.1 points per game in 18 career postseason games against the Celtics.

Teammate Dwyane Wade has been even better against Boston, however. In 10 career postseason games, Wade averages 31.7 points against the Celtics, his highest against any team.

One aspect to watch for will be when the duo is in transition. James (72) and Wade (57) are ranked first and second in individual transition points this postseason, and the Heat are 7-0 this postseason when they score at least 14 transition points.

Boston, meanwhile, has had to combat history to even reach this stage in the playoffs. According to Elias, the Celtics are just the fourth team since the ABA-NBA merger in 1976-77 to make the Conference Finals after entering the All-Star break under .500. The last team to accomplish the feat was the Phoenix Suns in 1983-84 (lost to the Los Angeles Lakers 4-2 in the Conference Finals).

Much of the Celtics' postseason success has been thanks to Kevin Garnett, who has increased his offensive production this postseason. He is averaging a double-double, and has already recorded six games this postseason with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Teammate Rajon Rondo has also been key, having recorded at least 11 assists in nine of his 12 games this postseason. Rondo also has nine career postseason triple-doubles, second-most among active players and tied for the fourth-most all-time. Rondo's nine triple-doubles have all come in the last four postseasons, and are more than all other NBA players combined over that span (seven).

Bobcats fighting odds in Lottery

May, 28, 2012
The NBA Draft Lottery Wednesday (ESPN, 8 ET) sees the Charlotte Bobcats with the best odds at acquiring the top selection (25.0 percent) after finishing 7-59 on the season. But the worst record hardly secures the top pick, as just last year the Cleveland Cavaliers won the Draft Lottery with only a 2.8 percent chance.

In addition, since the lottery moved to its present format in 1994, the team with (or tied for) the best odds has won just three of the 18 lotteries: Philadelphia 76ers in 1996 (Allen Iverson), Cavaliers in 2003 (LeBron James) and Orlando Magic in 2004 (Dwight Howard). By comparison, the teams with the third and fifth-best odds have won four times.

It is new territory for the Bobcats franchise. Since joining the NBA in 2004, Charlotte has never held the No. 1 overall pick, and the Bobcats highest selection was in 2004 when they picked Emeka Okafor No. 2 overall (Bobcats originally had the No. 4 pick, but traded with the Los Angeles Clippers).

Ten current franchises have never made the No. 1 overall pick in an NBA Draft since 1966 (start of common draft), and along with Charlotte, the Phoenix Suns (0.6 percent chance) are the only other team in the 2012 Lottery.

The Houston Rockets, meanwhile, have a 0.5 percent chance of winning the Lottery, the third straight year they have held the worst odds. In addition, this is the third straight and fifth time in the last 12 years the Rockets have missed the playoffs despite having a winning record.

Looking ahead, since the start of the Lottery in 1985, 13 of the 27 No. 1 overall picks have gone on to win the NBA Rookie of the Year Award, including 2011 No. 1 overall pick Kyrie Irving. In addition, since 1990, four overall No. 1 picks went on to win the Rookie of the Year award and make the postseason (Derrick Rose, Tim Duncan, Chris Webber and David Robinson).
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories

1. SPURS FINISH OFF SWEEP: The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Utah Jazz, 87-81, finishing a four-game sweep to advance to the Western Conference Semifinals. This was the Spurs sixth postseason sweep since Tim Duncan was a rookie in the 1997-98 season. According to Elias, that ranks second in the NBA. Only the Los Angeles Lakers, with seven, have more over the last 15 seasons.

2. PAUL & GRIFFIN LEAD CLIPPERS TO VICTORY: The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Memphis Grizzlies, 101-97 in overtime, to take a 3-1 series lead. According to Elias, the Clippers became the first NBA team to have a pair of players (Chris Paul, Blake Griffin), with at least 25 points and at least seven assists in a playoff game since they did it themselves back on May 14, 2006 (Elton Brand had 30 and eight and Sam Cassell had 28 and nine in a victory over the Phoenix Suns).

3. RANGERS EARN HISTORIC WIN: The New York Rangers defeated the Washington Capitals, 3-2 in overtime to take a 3-2 series lead. That win would not have been possible if Brad Richards hadn’t tied the game with seven seconds left in regulation. According to Elias, this is the first NHL postseason to have three games feature game-tying goals in the final 15 seconds of regulation. The first-two games in the Phoenix Coyotes - Chicago Blackhawks series also had such goals.

4. COYOTES IN UNCHARTED TERRITORY: The Coyotes defeated the Nashville Predators, 2-1, to win the Western Conference Semifinals in five games. The Coyotes advanced to their first Conference Finals since joining the NHL in 1979-80. Prior to joining the NHL, the franchise (then known as the Winnipeg Jets) reached the WHA (Avco Cup) Finals five times in seven seasons.

5. WEAVER PERFECT 5-0: Jered Weaver allowed one earned run in six innings, as the Los Angeles Angels defeated the Minnesota Twins, 8-3. For the third time, Weaver has started a season 5-0. According to Elias, he joined Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens and Christy Mathewson as the only pitchers to start 5-0 in three seasons.

6. RED HOT ROOKIE: The Boston Red Sox defeated the Kansas City Royals, 11-5 to snap a five-game losing streak. Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks remained hot, going 3 for 5, with two home runs and five RBI. According to Elias, he tied the MLB record for most RBI (nine) in a player’s first four games to start career.
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories.

1. ANOTHER GAME 7: The New Jersey Devils stayed alive and forced a Game 7 with their 3-2 OT win against the Florida Panthers. Travis Zajac scored the game-winning goal, his third goal of the series. He only had two goals in the regular season. This is already the third playoff series that has gone to seven games, all in the Eastern Conference. The first of those Game 7s will be played Wednesday as the Boston Bruins host the Washington Capitals, with the Bruins looking to win their sixth straight game when facing elimination.

2. YU GOT IT: Yu Darvish pitched 8 1/3 IP and struck out 10 New York Yankees batters in a 2-0 Texas Rangers win. FROM ELIAS: Since divisional play began in 1969, only two other pitchers have hurled at least eight shutout innings with 10-or-more strikeouts in their first career start against the Yankees: Baltimore’s Bob Milacki on September 28, 1988 and Cleveland’s Bartolo Colon on September 21, 1998. Darvish is also the second Japanese-born starting pitcher to start 3-0 in his MLB career.

3. CHELSEA MOVES ON: Chelsea advanced to the UEFA Champions League Final (3-2 on aggregate) over defending champion Barcelona. Barcelona completed almost 1,200 more passes than Chelsea and took 34 more shots. Chelsea only put four shots on goal in the two games, but three of them went in. They will face the winner of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. That semifinal takes place at 2:45 ET and the final takes place on May 19.

4. ALL THAT JAZZ: The Utah Jazz beat the Phoenix Suns to clinch the final playoff spot. It will be the Jazz’s 1st playoff appearance since the 2009-10 season. All 16 playoff spots have been clinched. Other clinchings on Tuesday included the Chicago Bulls winning the East for the second straight season, and the Los Angeles Lakers winning the Pacific division. It is the 32nd division title for the Lakers, the most of any team.

Metta World Peace
World Peace
5. MISSING METTA: Lakers forward Metta World Peace was suspended seven games (including playoffs) for hitting James Harden in the head with an elbow. It is the second time that World Peace has been suspended as a Laker. He was suspended for one game after smacking J.J. Barea in the face during the playoffs last season. World Peace was averaging 14.1 PPG on 47.3 FG pct in April (both season-highs) after averaging just 6.1 PPG from December to March.
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories

1. BLACKHAWKS SCORING LATE: The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Phoenix Coyotes, 4-3, in overtime. FROM ELIAS: This is the first time in NHL playoff history that a team has scored the game-tying goal with 15 or fewer seconds left in regulation in consecutive games. The Blackhawks forced OT in Game 1 when Brent Seabrook scored a goal with 15 seconds left (Coyotes won game in OT).

2. SPURS, CELTICS CLINCH: Two NBA clinchings took place on Saturday. The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Phoenix Suns, 105-91, and clinched their 18th division title over the last 35 years. The Boston Celtics defeated the New Jersey Nets, 94-82, to secure their fifth straight playoff appearance. Prior to the start of the Pierce/Garnett/Allen era (2007-08), the Celtics had just four playoff appearances in the previous 12 seasons.

3. TURNING ON THE POWER: FROM ELIAS: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Mike Aviles, and Cody Ross all homered at Fenway Park in the Boston Red Sox' 13-5 romp over the Tampa Bay Rays. It was only the third time that a team managed by Bobby Valentine hit five home runs in a home game. It happened previously at Arlington Stadium (Sept. 20, 1985 against the Mariners) and Shea Stadium (June 26, 2000 versus the Marlins).

4. LIGHTNING QUICK: Greg Biffle won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. The race was run at a blistering pace. It set track records for fewest cautions (two), fewest caution laps (10), and average speed (160.575 MPH). The previous track record for average speed was 152.7 MPH (about 8 MPH slower).

Brian Wilson
5. WILSON OUT: Giants closer Brian Wilson will likely miss the remainder of the season. Wilson has “structural issues” in his right elbow. Wilson’s 164 saves since 2008 are the most in Major League Baseball. Mariano Rivera is second with 162.