Floater ‘money shot’ for Suns big Richaun Holmes

The Arizona Republic - - Sports - SCHU­MACHER/THE REPUB­LIC ROB Duane Rankin

Richaun Holmes’ push shot in the lane is like the al­ter ego to his two-handed stuffs.

Op­po­site of his fe­ro­cious slams that per­son­ify his pas­sion­ate and en­er­getic style of play, the floater has a soft touch around the bas­ket, but is just as ef­fec­tive.

“It’s some­thing that I’ve re­ally been work­ing on for a while,” Holmes said. “You can’t dunk every­thing. A lit­tle in­be­tween shot. Try to get a good look. It’s some­thing that’s shot for me.”

Holmes put it great use in scor­ing 14 points to help Phoenix stun Den­ver, 10293, Satur­day night.

“I was shoot­ing the push shot even when I was in Philly,” said Holmes, whom Philadel­phia traded to Phoenix last sum­mer for cash con­sid­er­a­tions.

“It was some­thing I was de­vel­op­ing and it’s just this sum­mer, with this team, it was some­thing I worked ex­tremely hard on to try to make it as au­to­matic as pos­si­ble. I have the re­sults so far.”

Suns coach Igor Kokoskov says that’s turned into

agood Holmes’ “money shot.” It’s an in­vest­ment that has be­gun to turn a profit in help­ing Holmes shoot a ca­reer-best 68.3 per­cent.

That’s 13 per­cent­age points bet­ter than his pre­vi­ous ca­reer high of 55.8 per­cent. He re­leases it on the way, doesn’t jump real high on it, but has high ex­ten­sion on the re­lease.

“He’s in the gym right now with (as­sis­tant) Corliss Wil­liamson, un­der­stand­ing, ‘This is my shot,’ ” Kokoskov said. “It’s go­ing to be avail­able. ‘I’m go­ing to be open.’ Bet­ter be ready.”

Av­er­ag­ing 12.8 points in his past six games, Holmes is shoot­ing an in­sane 75.6 per­cent dur­ing that stretch. He went 6-of-9 Satur­day in help­ing Phoenix’s bench outscore Den­ver’s by a 4925 mar­gin.

“Kelly Oubre had a great night,” Den­ver coach Michael Malone said. “Richaun Holmes had a great night. We didn’t match their en­ergy off the bench. So their bench def­i­nitely dom­i­nated us.”

Oubre scored a game-high 26 points in match­ing his ca­reer high for the sec­ond time in three games.

While Oubre has made Phoenix’s bench even stronger since com­ing via trade from Washington for Trevor Ariza, Holmes has been the tone set­ter for the Suns’ sec­ond unit with his ag­gres­sive style of play.

“He just goes out there no mat­ter what the score is and just plays hard like his life is on the line down there,” Suns rookie 7-footer Dean­dre Ay­ton said.

Holmes is of­ten the smaller big in the game, but he’s over­come that with re­lent­less ef­fort. At Dal­las, he had twohanded dunks on con­sec­u­tive trips with a missed lob at­tempt in be­tween.

Lift­ing weights af­ter prac­tice has en­hanced his strength to play that way on a con­sis­tent ba­sis, but this push shot has be­come a per­fect com­ple­ment to his power game – and a key cog in the Suns’ of­fense.

“Teams are go­ing to keep dou­bling the ball,” Kokoskov said. “So we’re look­ing for three out­lets. One of our out­lets is go­ing to be the big guy, which is Ay­ton and Richaun Holmes in the half roll to the bucket.”

Ok­la­homa City’s Steven Adams uses it as well. It’s a shot that’s taken mid­way in the lane and takes ad­van­tage of the space the de­fender tends to nat­u­rally give in try­ing to pro­tect the rim.

“Back in the day, we were work­ing the floaters with the guards,” Kokoskov said. “When you break the paint. Work on the floater. Shoot over the big guy, but floaters have got to be in the reper­toire for bigs, too, be­cause a lot of bigs are be­neath for be­low the ball. They don’t en­gage.”

Kokoskov said Utah, where he last coached as an as­sis­tant be­fore tak­ing over in Phoenix, will play be­hind the screen with de­fend­ing De­fen­sive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert pro­tect­ing the rim.

“That’s still good cov­er­age, but then the floater is go­ing to be avail­able,” Kokoskov said. “… (Holmes’s) got to keep work­ing that shot be­cause it’s very ef­fec­tive the way the teams are play­ing de­fen­sively.”

He’s no Tony Parker, but Holmes is be­com­ing nearly au­to­matic with his push-shot floater in the lane.

“Soft touch,” Kokoskov said. “It’s a tal­ent. His ded­i­ca­tion, hard work ev­ery day. It’s a part of his daily rou­tine. Daily vi­ta­mins he’s tak­ing.”

Phoenix Suns' Richaun Holmes blocks the shot by Dal­las Mav­er­icks' Har­ri­son Barnes dur­ing a game on Dec. 13 at Talk­ing Stick Re­sort Arena.

Av­er­ag­ing 12.8 points in his past six games, the Suns’ Richaun Holmes is shoot­ing 75.6 per­cent dur­ing that stretch.

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