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The Phoenix Suns went into Madison Square Garden and got blown out by the New York Knicks. It was hardly a surprise, but still a disappointment.

The easy part of the Suns 11-day road trip is over. They couldn't manage wins against Philly (10-7), Cleveland (4-13) or Toronto (4-13). So, what do you think the odds are the rag-tag Phoenix squad will leave Madison Square Garden (11-4) with anything other than a loss?

The odds are actually not posted yet (probably due to injury uncertainty with the Knicks...or more likely, a lack of betting interest in this Sunday game that's going up against the mighty NFL). now posted and have the Suns as an 11.5 point underdog.

The Knicks, in their first full season with Mike D'Antoni's replacement (Mike Woodsen), are playing fantastic basketball despite Amare Stoudemire's inability to yet take the floor (knee).

They are defending well (Def. Eff. 103.7, 13th) thanks to DPOY Tyson Chandler and a renewed commitment to play team defense.

With Carmelo Anthony playing the four, they are scoring the ball as well (Off. Eff. 112.7, 1st). The amazing stylings of J.R. Smith and Steve Novak help too. And Raymond Felton but down the pie and is playing solid PG ball (15 pts, 7 ast. per game).

In theory, it's a team the Suns might be able to beat in the paint with the power forward combo of Luis Scola and Markieff Morris if they are going to go small. But of course, do you really look forward to seeing either of those guys defending Melo?

Anyway, the Knicks seem like they will start with a traditional line up with Chandler, Kurt Thomas and Melo on the front line and Felton and Ronnie Brewer in the back. Jason Kidd (back spasms / old man) is listed as "doubtful".

In years past, Gentry would give Grant Hill that Melo assignment. I'm curious (only slightly) to see if Gentry goes small as well and uses P.J. Tucker on Melo and maybe even plays Morris or Scola at the five a bit.

- Start time: 10:00am local / 12:00pm ET

- TV: Fox Sports AZ / NBALP

- Knicks roster and stats

- Posting and Toasting

New theory, the balance bane

The Toronto game was interesting to me. The team looked like they were focused and determined coming off the Detroit Disaster, but I'm starting to think this roster's biggest problem (outside the lack of top flight talent, duh) is too many guys who are too good to bench but not good enough to dominate.

There are no clear roles. There are no clear patterns and predictable moves. There is no guy or guys who the team can look to on a consistent basis to deliver on either end (P.J. Tucker excluded). They are looking at their teammates and saying, "I'm the guy" instead of trusting and following each other.

As a result, Gentry seems to spend the first half the game spreading the ball around trying to find a hot hand and then the second half adjusting to what he thinks might work. The problem is that none of his "hot hands" are good enough to really dominate. No Suns player has scored over 30 this season. No one player has shown the ability to put the team on his back. As a result, everyone thinks they are good enough to do it and they all want the ball, but none of them are "the man".

It's been Gentry's M.O. early in the season to spread the minutes and the touches around and he's already "tightened" up to a ten-man rotation and benched Wes Johnson. Is it time to try cutting that back to eight?

Would it help to look at Michael Beasley and say, go get me 30 points, I don't care how many shots you take? Probably not.

The balance could be an advantage if teams don't know which Suns will bite them on a given night. But if none of them are good enough to do it, maybe there's another strategy to use.

Probably not.

This roster was always destined to be a sub-.500 team and early season struggles should come as no surprise -- we've seen it every year of Gentry's tenure including the 14-17 start to the 2010 WCF team.

One day at a time, folks. At least this game will be over early in the day.

157250862

The easy part of the Suns 11-day road trip is over. They couldn't manage wins against Philly (10-7), Cleveland (4-13) or Toronto (4-13). So, what do you think the odds are the rag-tag Phoenix squad will leave Madison Square Garden (11-4) with anything other than a loss?

The odds are actually not posted yet (probably due to injury uncertainty with the Knicks...or more likely, a lack of betting interest in this Sunday game that's going up against the mighty NFL). now posted and have the Suns as an 11.5 point underdog.

The Knicks, in their first full season with Mike D'Antoni's replacement (Mike Woodsen), are playing fantastic basketball despite Amare Stoudemire's inability to yet take the floor (knee).

They are defending well (Def. Eff. 103.7, 13th) thanks to DPOY Tyson Chandler and a renewed commitment to play team defense.

With Carmelo Anthony playing the four, they are scoring the ball as well (Off. Eff. 112.7, 1st). The amazing stylings of J.R. Smith and Steve Novak help too. And Raymond Felton but down the pie and is playing solid PG ball (15 pts, 7 ast. per game).

In theory, it's a team the Suns might be able to beat in the paint with the power forward combo of Luis Scola and Markieff Morris if they are going to go small. But of course, do you really look forward to seeing either of those guys defending Melo?

Anyway, the Knicks seem like they will start with a traditional line up with Chandler, Kurt Thomas and Melo on the front line and Felton and Ronnie Brewer in the back. Jason Kidd (back spasms / old man) is listed as "doubtful".

In years past, Gentry would give Grant Hill that Melo assignment. I'm curious (only slightly) to see if Gentry goes small as well and uses P.J. Tucker on Melo and maybe even plays Morris or Scola at the five a bit.

- Start time: 10:00am local / 12:00pm ET

- TV: Fox Sports AZ / NBALP

- Knicks roster and stats

- Posting and Toasting

New theory, the balance bane

The Toronto game was interesting to me. The team looked like they were focused and determined coming off the Detroit Disaster, but I'm starting to think this roster's biggest problem (outside the lack of top flight talent, duh) is too many guys who are too good to bench but not good enough to dominate.

There are no clear roles. There are no clear patterns and predictable moves. There is no guy or guys who the team can look to on a consistent basis to deliver on either end (P.J. Tucker excluded). They are looking at their teammates and saying, "I'm the guy" instead of trusting and following each other.

As a result, Gentry seems to spend the first half the game spreading the ball around trying to find a hot hand and then the second half adjusting to what he thinks might work. The problem is that none of his "hot hands" are good enough to really dominate. No Suns player has scored over 30 this season. No one player has shown the ability to put the team on his back. As a result, everyone thinks they are good enough to do it and they all want the ball, but none of them are "the man".

It's been Gentry's M.O. early in the season to spread the minutes and the touches around and he's already "tightened" up to a ten-man rotation and benched Wes Johnson. Is it time to try cutting that back to eight?

Would it help to look at Michael Beasley and say, go get me 30 points, I don't care how many shots you take? Probably not.

The balance could be an advantage if teams don't know which Suns will bite them on a given night. But if none of them are good enough to do it, maybe there's another strategy to use.

Probably not.

This roster was always destined to be a sub-.500 team and early season struggles should come as no surprise -- we've seen it every year of Gentry's tenure including the 14-17 start to the 2010 WCF team.

One day at a time, folks. At least this game will be over early in the day.

New York Knicks 106, Phoenix Suns 99 The Phoenix Suns have been embarrassed by 40 points against a team that started 0-8 and have dropped a nail biter to a squad that had lost six in a row and been...

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In last week's player rankings, the Phoenix Suns were coming off of a two-game winning streak and the team was feeling pretty good about themselves. Oh, how things have changed...

After going 1-3 over the last seven days, this week's rankings find the Suns struggling to find their identity, and their motivation to keep themselves from becoming one of the bottom feeders of the NBA.

Make no mistake about it...this week wasn't pretty. But still, some players were worse than others. I suppose that would be this week's theme more than anything.

1. Goran Dragic

Weekly Average: 13 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals in 27 minutes of play; +2

Dragic had a so-so week statistically, but the only reason he is #1 this week is because technically someone had to be there, even if nobody really earned it. This was just a bad week for the Suns all around, but Dragic was at least productive.

2.Michael Beasley

Weekly Average: 12.5 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists in 27 minutes of play; -3

Beasley is probably the only Suns player to have had a "good" week compared to the last one. Although Beasley missed that last lay-up that could have helped the Suns win the game against the 76ers, he was much more aggressive and a better facilitator this week as well...I'll take it. If Beasley can continue to improve in these areas, he could really help the Suns a lot this season

3. Jermaine O'Neal

Weekly Average: 7 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 Blocks in 19 minutes of play; +5

O'Neal didn't have a great week by the numbers, be he has been very solid in his minutes...especially defensively. His solid play even with a strained quad and his effort on both ends of the court is enough to earn him the third spot this week.

4. Marcin Gortat

Weekly Average: 11 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 blocks in 25 minutes of play; - 2

Gortat was on fire against the 76ers in the third quarter, only to be inexplicably snuffed out by Gentry in the fourth quarter when he opted to go with O'Neal instead. I'm not sure of the reasons, but Marcin seemed to take a good two games to recover from it...As he didn't play anywhere near his capabilities against Cleveland or Detroit. He seemed to snap out of his funk a little bit in the Toronto game, but he still needs to improve defensively as that may be the reason Gentry opts to go with O'Neal in crunch time over the Polish Machine.

5. Luis Scola

Weekly Average: 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists in 26 minutes of play; -1

Scola had a pretty good week coming off the bench, and was a big reason for the Suns' only victory of the past week. Luis seems to be adapting well to his role in coming off the bench, even outplaying his starting counter part over the past four games

6. Jared Dudley

Weekly Average: 10 points, 2 assists, and 2 rebounds in 22 minutes of play; +4

Dudley has continued to do much better in his role off the bench. He had another solid week overall, and is hopefully back on the right track toward returning to his normal self. However, I would like to see more of the snappiness from Dudley that earned him the "Junk Yard Dog" moniker from a couple of seasons ago.

7. Shannon Brown

Weekly Average: 8 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists in 27 minutes of play; -5

Shannon Brown's game continues to be schizophrenic at times...He can make a dazzling play that makes you say "OOOOOOHHHHH" and then make a terrible decision that makes you curse his name on the very next possession. Brown is at least giving the Suns some much needed athleticism in the starting unit, and if he can just cut down on the bone-headed shots and decisions, he could be a solid starter for this team.

8. Sebastian Telfair

Weekly Average: 6 points, 3 assists, and 2 rebounds in 17 minutes of play; -6

Bassy had kind of a down week. He struggled to run the second unit and defend with the type of energy and hustle that we've seen from him over the past few weeks. But as I said before, this was a bad week for the Suns altogether, so hopefully he'll get back to what he does best.

9. P.J. Tucker

Weekly Average: 1 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 assists in 16 minutes of play; -7

Tucker didn't necessarily have a bad week...He just wasn't nearly the same game-changer we had started to grow accustomed to. He still played solid defense for the most part, but did have more mistakes then usual. He also wasn't able to capitalize on his offensive touches and just wasn't around the ball quite as much. Hopefully Tucker can get back to what we saw from him last week...The Suns need him!

10. Markieff Morris

Weekly Average: 7 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assists, in 23 minutes of play; -8

After earning the top spot in the rankings last week, Markieff flipped the script completely this week and falls to the bottom. Last week I stated that the only question with Morris is whether or not he'd be able to keep up his stellar play and perform at that level consistently. Well, if this week is any indication it would seem the answer is a resounding "No". Prove me wrong Markieff...please.

So there you have it. Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments below!

ValleyoftheSuns is teaming up with Crowd Seats to offer a free ticket giveaway for the Dec. 6 nationally-televised matchup between the Phoenix Suns and the Dallas Mavericks in US Airways Center. To...

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