Leandro Barbosa’s Spark Not Enough For Phoenix Suns

Justin Ford – USA TODAY Sports

Leandro Barbosa proved that he can still be productive for the Phoenix Suns today against the New York Knicks.

The Brazilian veteran was signed by the Suns to a 10-day contract less than a week ago, but after Eric Bledsoe went down with an injury, he could get his deal fully guaranteed sooner than expected if he produces like he did today. Barbosa was a huge part of the Suns’ comeback in the second half and his performance in the fourth quarter turned out to be key for Phoenix, but the effort fell short as the Knicks won the game 98-96 after a thrilling overtime.

Goran Dragic might get all the attention in terms of scoring, as he led the team once again with 28 points, eight rebounds and four assists, but the Suns could not have fought as they did if it wasn’t  for Barbosa’s leadership in the final stages of the contest. The veteran guard assumed Bledsoe’s role as the primary ball-handler, slashed constantly towards the rim, and sparked the offense consistently, often drawing attention and getting open looks for his teammates.

Barbosa scored seven points in the first three quarters but added 14 afterwards to finish with 21 points, three rebounds and two assists. Although his offensive contribution was decisive, his presence fell in the overtime, where he sat out for the majority of the period, and the Suns missed his poise and leadership, failing to score a single FG in the final five minutes.

Despite the loss, Barbosa showed that he can still have a role in an NBA rotation, and he should see an increased amount of playing time with the Suns during the reminder of the season. He can be a viable option off the bench and his tandem with Dragic proved to be a huge weapon for Phoenix while Bledsoe is sidelined.

Juan Pablo Aravena is a sports writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @jparavenarant or add him to your network on Google.

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