The Phoenix Suns have struggled to play consistently for 48 minutes a game thus far this season.  Despite committing 12 first half turnovers, Phoenix maintained their poise and concentration to stay with the Washington Wizards.  In the second half, better ball control and continued focus allowed Phoenix to build and maintain a steady lead.  As befitting a quality team, the Wizards made some small runs, but Phoenix never blinked.

A balanced scoring effort was led by Markieff Morris and Eric Bledsoe, who each put up 17 points.  4 other Suns scored in double figures, including Goran Dragi? with 16 and Gerald Green with 13.  Despite picking up 5 fouls in 23 minutes, Alex Len was a solid contributor, pitching in 8 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks.

The Suns played stout defense, holding the Wizards to 41% from the field and a meager 21.4% from downtown.  John Wall struggled to get his 14 points, going only 5-15 from the field.  Rasual Butler (17 points) and Kevin Seraphin (16 points) were Washington's leading scorers, which is probably not how coach Randy Wittman envisioned things unfolding.

Enjoy the streak, Bright Siders!  That's 3 in a row.  The Suns get a night off before traveling to Dallas to facing Dirk Nowitzki and his newest sidekick, Rajon Rondo as well as the rest of the Mavericks back in Phoenix.

First Quarter

* An abysmal start as Phoenix turns the ball over on their first 3 trips down the floor.  Wiz race out to a 6-0 lead.

* 13 of the Wizard's first 15 points have come on lay-ups, dunks or free throws from fouls on lay-ups and dunks.  That's aggressive basketball.

* As of 5:48 in the first quarter, the only remarkable plays by the Suns are 4 turnovers, 3 offensive rebounds, 2 Alex Len fouls, and a partridge breakaway foul in a pear tree committed on Eric Bledsoe.

* Amazing what even a little defense does: 7-0 run by Phoenix has them with in 1 point, 15-14.

* Watch this stat: John Wall and Bradley Beal each have 2 first quarter fouls.

* First quarter Shavlik Randolph sighting.  That rarely bodes well.

* Suns show a little life, but still trail 23-21.

Second Quarter

* Gerald Green gets the party started for Phoenix with a dunk and a 3-pointer for a 2-point Phoenix lead.

* Wait, what?! Plumlee with a 15-footer off the glass.  Suns lead grows a bit to 31-27.

* And a Kevin Seraphin putback and the seventh Phoenix turnover later, we're tied at 31-31.

* Shav Randolph ultimately played 6 first half minutes, totalling 1 point, 1 block and 1 drawn charged.  Good work, Ronald.

* Three pointers and almost-three pointers abound as Green, Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris all hit from long range.  Suns lead, 40-34.

* After attacking the basket to start the game, the Wizards appear to be settling for a lot more jumpers.  As I typed this Paul Pierce drove hard and Kevin Seraphin hammered home a dunk on Pierce's miss.

* Neither team playing their game right now.  This Wizards, the NBA's best 3 point making team has made 1 only one 3 pointer.  The Suns, one of the NBA's fastest breaking teams have 0 fast break points.

* Alex Len just locked up Bradley Beal on the perimeter with some mobile D on a switch. That was nice.  Sadly, he turned it over after a nice offensive rebound on the other end.  Not so nice.

* Kieff with a sweet move that froze Nenê and leads to an easy dunk.

* In the waning minutes of the first half, the wheels come off a bit for Phoenix.  An 8-point lead has dwindled to a tie and Alex Len just collected his 3rd foul.

* I'm not sure if the Suns are hanging with the Wizards or vice versa, but it's all tied up at 50 going into the second half.  If the Suns could have avoided turning the ball over TWELVE TIMES, this game would not be close right now.

* Markieff Morris leads the Suns with 11 points, while Kevin Seraphin (a Rich Paul client who signed a qualifying offer, if you know what I mean) leads Washington with 10.

Third Quarter

* Bradley Beal starts the quarter for the Wizards by committing his third foul.  The Suns respond with a Markieff Morris travel for turnover number 13.

* Goran Dragi? and Eric Bledsoe get aggressive with consecutive drives to the hoop.  Bledsoe completes the and-1 for a 55-52 Suns lead.

* Markieff Morris is hitting everything from everywhere.  His 15th point leads to a 5-point Phoenix lead.  A Wizards turnover and Dragi? mid-range jumper make it 61-54 Phoenix!

* Alex Len has a great block on Paul Pierce and follows it up with a beautifully assisted dunk from the Dragon!  63-54, Phoenix.

* The Suns stay aggressive and maintain a 10 point lead with contributions from Tucker and Bledsoe.

* Suns smell blood.  Dragi? buries consecutive 3-pointers to put Phoenix up 77-64.

* More Shav.  Is this real life?

* Wiz show signs of life and close the gap to 8 points going into the fourth quarter.

* This was the quarter of the Dragon: he scored 12 points and keyed a few breaks.

Fourth Quarter

* After some stagnant play to start the fourth quarter, Marcus Morris answers a John Wall jumper with a wide open three-pointer in transition.  86-77, Phoenix.

* Credit the Phoenix defense: the Wizards are shooting 2/11 from 3 point range despite leading the league in 3 point percentage.

* John Wall picks up his fourth foul with just under 7 minutes left in the game.

* Washington keeps hanging around, but Gerald Green maintains a double-digit lead by completing a 3-point play.  93-82, Phoenix.

* Why doesn't Alex Len play more?  5 fouls in 23 minutes might have something to do with it.

* The Green giveth, the Green taketh away.  On the following possession, Gerald turns it over and fouls Paul Pierce.

* It could be worse.  The Wizards hold Phoenix scoreless for almost 2 minutes, but they can't make their free throws.  Missing three of six in that stretch, they can only cut into the Phoenix lead by 4 points instead of 7.  Phoenix continues to lead, 93-87.

* IT3 stops the madness with a fast break lay-in.

* With 2 minutes left, Eric Bledsoe hits what could be a dagger PUJIT.  Suns by10 with 1:56 left in the game.

A preview of the Suns' trip-ending game at Washington, a tough opponent for a team that has struggled on back-to-backs.

      
 
 
Time: 4:00 MST TV: FSA The Eastern Conference is pitiful and don’t let anyone tell you differently. That being said, there are five legitimately Eastern talented teams and the Phoenix Suns (14-14)...

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FIBA Europe recently opened up the voting for FIBA Europe Player of the Year 2014. The awards are split into four categories: Men, Women, Young Men and Young Women. For each category FIBA releases a list of ten players to vote from based on their performances and/or special achievements at both international and club level in 2014.

Two Phoenix Suns players made the list for the Men's category this year: Goran Dragic and pick #27 of the 2014 Draft Bogdan Bogdanovic. To make it clear: out of all European players ten were selected for this prestigious list and TWO of them are Suns. Kudos to the players, but some props to the Suns front office as well.

For Goran this is nothing new, seeing as he was already on the list last year; mostly because of his outstanding performance in Eurobasket2013 in Slovenia where he also made the All-Tournament Team. He came in 5th place overall, though he had the third most fan votes (final ranking reflects a combination of fan and expert voting). This year FIBA is acknowledging Goran's efforts again:

Fatherhood has failed to slow down Goran Dragic, in fact it has had quite the opposite effect. In 2014 Dragic had his biggest impact on the NBA to date, producing week-in, week-out to earn the 2014 NBA Most Improved Player Award, as well as a spot on the All-NBA Third Team. The lightening-quick point guard was then raising his hand for national team duties, leading Slovenia to seventh spot at the FIBA Basketball World Cup with a team-high 16 points and 4.3 assists per game.

per fibaeurope.com

Bogdan, however, is on the list for the first time this year and it comes as no surprise considering the great year he had in Euroleague combined with excellent performances at the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

In what was an underwhelming season for Serbian powerhouse Partizan Belgrade, local lad Bogdanovic was a shining light for the club, leaving more than one European guard clutching at air as he regularly surpassed 20 points against elite European competition in the Euroleague, deservedly winning the Euroleague Rising Star Award. Following an inauspicious beginning to the FIBA World Cup, Bogdanovic's presence grew as the tournament progressed, finishing in double figures in all four of Serbia's knock out games, including 15 in the gold medal game.

per fibaeurope.com

Another chance to show support for your favourite players Suns fans. You can vote here once a day for three player you put in your preferred order. Voting closes on January 16th. Fan votes will be combined with votes from selected experts and the results from all categories will be announced from January 19 through January 28.

The eight other players who made the list are:  Boris Diaw, Pau Gasol, Alessandro Gentile, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Sergio Rodriguez, Milos Teodosic and Jonas Valanciunas.

What: Phoenix Suns vs. Washington Wizards

Where: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C

When: 4:00 PM, AZ Time

Watch/Listen: Fox Sports-AZ, ESPN Phoenix 620 AM

After eluding the hapless New York Knicks yesterday afternoon, the Phoenix Suns plow straight into the literal and figurative brick Wall that is the Washington Wizards.  In years past, that might have been an ironic sentence, but this season the Wiz are stonewalling opponents in the nation's capital.  Their home record is a stellar 13-2 and they haven't lost there since November 25.  Meanwhile, Phoenix will be looking to win their third in a row after slowly reclaiming their mojo with back-to-back wins.

Phoenix Suns Washington Wizards
G - Eric Bledsoe G - John Wall
G - Goran Dragi? G - Bradley Beal
F - P.J. Tucker F - Paul Pierce
F - Markieff Morris F - Kris Humphries
C - Alex Len C - Marcin Gortat

The Wizards

Want to see what the Phoenix Suns hope to look like in the near future?  Well, then tune in for today's game against the Washington Wizards.  Since cratering in the 2008-2009 season with and abysmal 19-63 record, the Wizards have used lottery picks, savvy trades and a new coach to re-build into an Eastern Conference powerhouse.  Any of that sound familiar?  With a record of 17-6, they own the best record in the Southeast Division and the second best record in the Eastern Conference.

They've gotten their wins with stellar defense (4th in DRtg in the NBA) and above average offense (12th in the NBA, a notch below the Suns).  Additionally, point guard John Wall is playing like a beast. He was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played December 8th-14th, during which he averaged 18.3 points, 11.8 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.3 blocks per game while shooting .542 from the field and .500 from three-point range.  So, the Wiz got that going for them.

The Suns

Everyone seems to know what's good for the Phoenix Suns except apparently, the Phoenix Suns.  "Give the ball to Dragi?!  Trade Isaiah Thomas for a big man!  Give more minutes to T.J. Warren!"  If Jeff Hornacek, Ryan McDonough, Lon Babby and the players (especially the players!) would just listen to our commenters, the Suns would be cruising (cruising, I tell you!) to a Pacific Division banner.

But since they are stubbornly sticking to their game plan, here's where we're at: Phoenix has won their last two consecutive games, but prior to that had dropped six in a row to some bad, bad competition.  Consistency has been a hobgoblin for this squad and they will need to find some tonight if they hope to get out of Washington with a win.

On paper, the Suns have a balanced attack with a "Big 5" of Bledsoe, Dragi?, Isaiah Thomas, Markieff Morris, and Gerald green all averaging between 14 and 16 points per game.  But that balance has yet to translate into a consistent offensive hallmark, and instead reflects each of those players vacillating between good and bad on any given night.

The Summary

In my eyes, the Washington Wizards are overwhelming favorites here.  Phoenix is playing on the second day of a back-to-back.  Their record is a putrid 1-6 when playing on zero days rest.  They are struggling against good teams and they are struggling against bad teams.  The Washington Wizards are a very, very good team and Phoenix will have to play a consistent 48 minutes to beat them and even that may not be enough.

I'm going with the Wizards here, 105-96.  Tell me why I'm wrong in the comments!

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