Tonight is the rematch of the Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Clippers. You know, the Blake game.

Let's go behind enemy lines with FlybyNite blogger for our brother site ClipsNation to see "What up, what up!" with those crazy guys who've taken over LA in the void left behind by the Lakers.

----

1. How close is Blake Griffin to the teams trainers? If a Suns player grabbed one of our trainers like that during a game, I'd probably be offended on behalf of the guy unless I knew they were close and it was a "bro joke".

FlyByNite, ClipsNation: He has to be close to them. There was some laughing going on after it happened but the guy didn't seem that amused right away. I can't really blame him. I'm sure it all blew over shortly after or something. If he wasn't cool with the guy, then I really don't know what to say. It's certainly not something you'd like to see one of your star players doing on national television during a blowout. Would rather have the star player talking to the guys on the bench and all that stuff.

----

2. How is Austin Rivers working out since the trade? Do you see the talent in him - what kind of rotation player can he be this year? Or next?

FlyByNite, ClipsNation: He's been okay. I go with "okay" instead of most other word choices simply because he flashes defensive potential. Even when he was getting roasted by Kyrie Irving and LeBron James in his first game with the Clippers, it wasn't like he was playing poor defense. Great offense beats good defense sometimes. Especially with those guys. He's still learning how to gel with this bench and what he can and can't do with them. He understands his role, though. That's the important part with him. He knows he's here for defense and to go downhill towards the basket. Anything else is a plus. Austin moves his feet pretty well defensively so there is hope that he can at least turn into a rotational defensive player down the line going into next year if he's still here. It is a little worrisome, though, that a guy who was touted as a shooter coming out of both high school and college has trouble making shots and free throws. But maybe that comes later. Maybe.

----

3. Phoenix fans don't really like Blake Griffin because of the showboating and whining, and now because of that buzzer-beating three pointer. Is that the most improbable shot you've seen this season from the Clippers?

FlyByNite, ClipsNation: Dave, Dave, Dave, Dave. Come on. It wasn't even the most improbable shot of that GAME. Jared Cunningham hitting a running three-pointer to close the first half and getting fouled by Eric Bledsoe? That was the more improbable one, at least to me. I mean, it's Jared Cunningham. I expect Blake Griffin to do unbelievable things sometimes. But Jared Cunningham? I didn't expect him to even know which direction the right basket was. But in all seriousness, that shot by Blake was pretty unreal. The second it hit the rim, I just sat and accepted defeat. The minute it went in, I just laughed at the absurdity of the entire sequence. It was ridiculous. Everything was.

Ed note: Frankly, I prefer this image of Jared Cunningham.

----

4. The Clippers are still on track just like last year and the year before, but it seems that the national "shine" has worn off the team in favor of other cinderellas. Has that affected the team, not being the NBA darling?

FlyByNite, ClipsNation: In a weird way, I think it's a good thing that the shine has worn off. Ever since the media got down on them and started pointing out their flaws and lack of cohesion, they just trudged along and started playing better. It was almost as if they played better the second the spotlight got off of them and was placed elsewhere. They're 10-4 over their last 14 games and the losses aren't to bad teams -- minus that Miami game where Hassan Whiteside was possessed by the immortal soul of Wilt Chamberlain -- and the team has played well during that stretch. They're 3rd in Net Rating over the last 14 games and their Defensive Rating of 101.3 during that stretch isn't half bad. I think they're finally figuring out how good they can be. And in reality, they were pretty damn good to begin with. It's just that the bench was so bad that it undermined a lot of what the starters were doing. In my eyes, they're still the same team as last year. They're on the same pace, they're playing the same, and nothing has really changed. I do think it was good that the spotlight got off them, though.

----

5. What do you see happening with DeAndre Jordan this summer in free agency? Will the team keep him no matter what kind of offer comes his way?

FlyByNite, ClipsNation: Ultimately, I see DeAndre Jordan re-signing with the team. I don't think they can afford to let him go. I think they throw him close to a max contract. So something like the 4 years and $60 million that Brook Lopez got from Brooklyn a few years ago. Do I think that's too much? A little bit, yeah. But I think that's the going rate for a center with his production and impact. They matched the offer Golden State gave him a while back and I think he knows that they're pretty committed to him. He's best friends with Blake Griffin, loves the city, all the fans love him, and he's an integral part of the entire organization. I see him back next year. There has been some talk, though, of a possible year in limbo where they let DeAndre go, start Hawes, and make a play for Kevin Durant in 2016 but I can't see that happening. It'd be foolish to take that approach. He'll be back.

----

There you have it, Suns fans. Justin's a great follow on twitter (@FlybyNite) and I'm not even a Clippers fan. He's got the snark down to the science across all kinds of sporting events. If a big game is on, this guy's live tweeting it.

Also, check out my Q-n-A on Clips Nation, and feel free to check out our brother blog any time. But be respectful. Don't troll. Those are cool folks who love them some Clips, so clearly there's already a disconnect on who's bigger doofus between Tuck and Griffin. Don't make it worse.

The Phoenix Suns continue to cling to their spot at eighth in the Western Conference. Though they’ve won 14 of their last 19 games, they haven’t made a dent in the standings and the...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

The Suns are more encouraged than dismayed by close losses, having won or had a last-minute chance to win the past 20 games.

      
 
 

Taking a look at the Suns recent bad luck in losing on buzzer-beating shots this season.

After losing on a buzzer-beater  - defined as losing on the last shot taken in the game as the clock runs out - on Friday night against the Houston Rockets at home, the Phoenix Suns now have three such losses in just the last 47 days (23 games) alone.

Let's relive them for a moment.

First, the Beardt:

Then, the Blake:

And then the Middleton:

ALL IN THE LAST 23 GAMES!

Let's put this into perspective, thanks to the research skills of our own Jim Coughenour. In the entire NBA season, there have only been 13 such buzzer beating winners. That's out of 651 total losses (ie. games) this NBA season. Or a 1 in 50 chance, across the board.

If you take the Suns' three out of the mix, the average NBA team has only a 1 in 65 chance to lose on a buzzer beater this season. Since no one's even come close to playing 65 games yet, there's a really good chance your favorite team not named the Suns has NOT had to lose on a buzzer beater.

The Suns, by comparison, have 3 buzzer-beater losses in the last 23 games alone. Or, a 1 in 8 chance.

Is the Suns franchise snake-bit? It certainly seems like the Suns have a penchant for losing on buzzer beaters.

I distinctly remember Roger freaking Mason making a buzzer beater on Christmas Day in 2008, when Jason Richardson over-helped on a Tony Parker drive.

More recently, there's the Ron Ar---

No. I refuse to show that one.

Moving on.

Careful analysis by our resident data-miner Scott Howard, and verified by Jim Coughenour, reveals that prior to December 8 the Suns had only lost on a buzzer beater three times in the past four+ NBA seasons. That's a 3 in 349 chance, or 1 in 116 chance.

So no. Losing on a buzzer beater does not happen to the Suns very often.

Joe Johnson, last season (2013-14):

And then there was James Harden in 2012-13, but this time on a Jermaine O'Neal "assist".

Yep, Jermaine. O'Neal.

And then there was J.R. Smith, also that fateful, hated 2012-13 season.

That's it. None in 2011-12. None in 2010-11.

That's three in four+ seasons between the 2010 playoffs and December 8, 2014.

And then all of the sudden, the Suns have managed to lose on buzzer-beaters three times in the last 23 games alone.

How? How have the basketball gods decided to have so much fun with twisting and gashing the Suns' hearts?

Part of it is that the Suns have managed to put the other team into a buzzer-beating situation an incredible amount of times this past month or two.

  • Remember Kevin Durant missing a couple of potential game-winners in the last OKC game that the Suns ended up losing in Double-OT?
  • Or, the squeaked-out win over "no heart" KCP and the Pistons, when Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed a buzzer beater at the end of the Suns 88-86 win in Detroit?
  • Or, the squeaked-out win over Minnesota just two weeks ago at the start of the homestand, in which rookie Andrew Wiggins missed a wide-open three at the buzzer of that 113-111 win?

Come on, Suns.

Stop testing the basketball gods!

The Suns went 2-1 this past week, and Eric Bledsoe was phenomenal. Bledsoe averaged 25 points, 7.7 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 2 steals per game on 51% shooting from the field. He scored a career-high 33 points against the Blazers, and at this point has established himself as a nightly triple-double threat.

Isaiah Thomas may have just had his most productive week as a Sun to date. Thomas poured in 24, 22 and 27 points against the Lakers, Blazers and Rockets respectively, all while shooting an extraordinarily efficient 56 percent from the field, 52 percent from three-point range and 89 percent from the free-throw line.

However, Thomas is not the subject of this article, which should give you a clue about the insane type of week that Eric Bledsoe had.

Bledsoe averaged 25 points, 7.7 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 2.0 steals per game, with his best performance coming against the Portland Trailblazers. Not only did Bledsoe score a career-high 33 points to go along with 10 rebounds and 6 assists, but he also held star point guard Damian Lillard to just 6-22 shooting.

Just how great of a week was it for "Mini LeBron"? So great that he produced at the same level as the real LeBron, who averaged 25.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 7.3 assists against the Bulls, Jazz and Hornets.

Bledsoe's three-point shot still appears to be a weakness, as his 31% clip for the season is below the league average and well below what fellow guards Isaiah Thomas and Goran Dragic are shooting. But every day Bledsoe continues to prove that he doesn't need his shot to be effective. He consistently crashes the boards and plays above-average perimeter defense.

A more efficient long-range shot would be nice, but for now Bledsoe's slashing ability is something to be admired. According to NBA.com/stats, there are 12 starting NBA guards who have attempted at least 200 shots in the restricted area. Of those 12, Dragic ranks first in efficiency, shooting 71.2%. Bledsoe is tied with Jimmy Butler for 2nd, shooting 61.3%.

They don't call them the slash brothers for nothing.

It should also be pointed out that even Bledsoe's passing and decision making seems to be getting a bit better. By averaging slightly more assists per game this season and slightly fewer turnovers, Bledsoe has improved his assist-turnover ratio from 1.67 (in '13-14) to 2.0 (this season).

That still isn't great. In fact, it only ranks 34th out of 47 qualified point guards. But it's certainly better than last season, when he ranked 46th out of 47 point guards in that area.

Here are his highlights from the past month. Make sure to vote for your own player of the week!

Here are stats for the key players of the week:

Bledsoe averaged 25 points, 7.7 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 2.0 steals and 3.0 turnovers per game on 51/31/72 shooting.

Thomas averaged 24.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 3.3 turnovers on 56/52/89 shooting.

Dragic put up 14 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game on 54/25/40 shooting. He attempted only 5 free throws and also played only 29 minutes per night.

Markieff only played 27 minutes per night, and in that time put up an average of 14 points and 4 rebounds on 50/33/60 shooting.

Gerald Green played only 19.3 minutes per game, yet averaged 13.3 points and 3.3 rebounds on 42/40 shooting (no free throws). That equates to 24.8 points per 36 minutes.

Poll
Who is your player of the week?

  144 votes | Results

Page 9 of 1700

9

Sponsored Ads