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Frank Vogel says health and defense are keys to Suns’ 5-game win streak

After looking not right for the majority of the first 35-plus games of the season, the Phoenix Suns (24-18) have finally hit their groove and won five straight after defeating the Indiana Pacers 117-110 last night.

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One thing has finally stayed consistent for the Suns: the Big 3 have stayed healthy. The Suns are now 7-4 when all three of Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal have played together.

“Health is the No. 1 thing (for the win streak),” Suns’ coach Frank Vogel said. “We’re continuing to evolve as a team and grow, all of our guys, not just the Big 3, but the role players, the guys coming off the bench and like Grayson (Allen), (Jusuf) Nurkic, Eric (Gordon), those guys are finding their spots to be effective.”

Since the start of the win streak on Jan. 11, the Suns have the fourth-highest net rating (point differential per 100 possessions) in the NBA at +10.4.

Their offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) has jumped from 116.4 in the 37 prior games to 122.4 in the past five contests. Their defensive rating (points allowed per 100 posssessions) has gone from 115.6 to 112.0.

With that being said, the offensive jump was expected, but the defensive improvement has been key. Even though Durant had a remarkable 40 points with 0 free throws last night, Vogel has credited him as the primary reason for the Suns’ defensive effort. Durant has recorded two or more blocks in three straight contests and was just named the Week 13 Western Conference Player of the Week.

“I think we’re really committing to the defensive side of the ball,” Vogel said. “I think KD, a few games back, set a tone with guarding Kawhi (Leonard), guarding LeBron (James). He’s really been vocal and his leadership has been great in the last few games as well, just setting a tone for our guys, communicating more than usual, and he’s a big part of this (win streak).”

Durant said the team knew they had to get better on defense after they were blown out 138-111 by the Los Angeles Clippers on Jan. 8.

“I really believe after that Clipper game, we all just made a conscious effort of just playing harder,” Durant said. “It may look like it was just me because I was guarding some of the marquee guys around that time, but I think we all made a conscious decision to just play harder, play more physical, get up into the ball a little bit more, just make life tougher for the opposing team. Since I’m old and I was guarding some of the best players around that time, it just seemed like it was all me, but I think as a collective we made that decision.”

The Suns will look to continue this strong play tonight when they host the Chicago Bulls (21-23) at 6 p.m. MST tonight.

Kevin Durant named Western Conference Player of the Week

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Brendan Mau is a senior writer covering the Phoenix Suns and more for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on X via @Brendan_Mau

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