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Well, Lindsey Hunter, it seems that the Suns ascent to being on the same level as the Spurs (seriously, why on Earth would he say this?) might take just a tad bit longer than you imagined. Also, it turns out, that a bad team playing their fourth game in five nights, on the road against a team who's season is on the bubble might not end well. Go figure.

Oh, and that improved defense you've been talking about? We've been hearing about that for like five years now, so don't worry about delivering. We're used to ignoring all that talk.

The Suns started the game well enough. The ball was moving. Goran Dragic had four assists in the first six minutes. But things fell apart really fast when the bench came in.

A 16-16 tie game at about the five minute mark of the 1st was quickly turned into a rout thanks to a Mavericks 22-5 run over the next seven. It started when Michael Beasley came in the game and wasn't helped at all by five uneventful minutes from Kendall Marshall. (An air-balled three is not considered an event, right?)

Shawn Marion, playing in his 1,000th NBA game, reminded us what a mistake it was for the Suns to trade him. This guy is a special player and can still impact the game with his energy, hustle and crazy ability to find net with his array of "shots".

Lindsey Hunter's Phoenix Suns cut the lead to six in the third and were down "just" nine going into the fourth. But once again, the bench was horrible and Michael Beasley was Badsley. The Mavs used a 14-5 run to put things to bed.

Goran Dragic was the best player on the court. He finished with 18 points and 8 assists along with some blocks and rebounds and stuff. Everyone else was pretty forgettable except KENDALL MARSHALL HIT A THREE!!!! TWICE!!!!! WOOHOO!!! Get that kid signed up for the Shooting Stars Contest!

I except to see a Lindsey Hunter quote telling us how it's not long now before he's in the All-Star Game. That's how it works, right?

Vince Carter lit the Suns on fire with 15 points on 5-8 shooting. At least Dragic managed to kick him in the balls at one point. That was fun.

The Suns head home and get a couple of days off before welcoming Steve Nash back to Phoenix on Wednesday. Will/would you boo Steve? (Expect to hear that question asked a few thousand times between now and Wednesday.)

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Same old Suns get down big, fight back a little, and come up short in the fourth quarter. Phoenix dropped their second game of the Texas trip in a loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

What have we learned so far about the Lindsey Hunter Suns? Not much. The rotations have been tighter with nine guys seeing action. The youth movement some were expecting hasn't materialized. The team is playing hard, but they (mostly) did that before. They are better defensively according to the stats but small sample size.

Oh, and Michael Beasley has had two decent games after being freed from Gentry's dog house where he somehow managed to piss off the old coach with some undisclosed off-court antics.

Q&A: Phoenix Coach Alvin Gentry on the Suns' Struggles and Michael Beasley - The Triangle Blog - Grantland
It can mean almost anything when coaches point to "off-court" problems. Can you elaborate at all?

I can’t elaborate on it. I think Michael has a good idea, and most of us have a good idea of some areas he has to work on. But we keep that in-house.

Many of us had hope that Beasley would gel with Gentry and the young and immature talent would blossom into some kind of consistent basketball player. That obviously didn't happen and there's little doubt that Michael was one of the few players happy to see the coaching change.

Three games, however, isn't much and if Hunter intends to live up to his accountability mantra, it seems like the clock is ticking before we see Beasley benched due to poor defensive effort. That has to be the mostly likely outcome at this point.

But you just never know what might click with a guy like Beasley. If Lindsey can manage to turn the Beas into a productive and CONSISTENT player, then forget about giving him a long-term contract, the Suns should just put him directly into the Ring of Honor.

Mavericks

Shawn Marion (the only Suns player who's jersey I own) will appear in his 1,000th game on Sunday. Fittingly, the milestone comes against the team where he logged 660 of those games. Trix will be only the 107th player in NBA history to achieve this mark. Well done, Shawn.

The Mavericks are seven games under .500 but have won five of their last seven and might just be rounding into form. According to our friends at Mavs Moneyball, they are in that classic part of the season leading up to the trade deadline next month. If they can continue to play well, they might be buyers at the deadline or at least stand pat and make a run. If not, they might dump some players in return for "future assets".

You certainly get a sense that their season is at a tipping point.

Dirk is back at the helm after missing the first two month's of the season. In his 16 games back from knee surgery, he's shooting just 40.9 percent and has yet to score more than 20 points in a game.

The biggest offensive threat for the Mavs remains O.J. Mayo (18 ppg, .456 FG%).

The Mavericks rank 19th with an Off Rtg of 104 and 22nd with 106.9 Def Rtg. The Suns are 23rd and 25th respectively.

Game tips at 5:30pm in Phoenix and is on Fox Sports Arizona.

Bonus: Goran Dragic getting some praise:

Phoenix Suns’ Goran Dragic building confidence in leadership role
"I feel like his confidence is at another level," (Spurs coach) Budenholzer said of Dragic since becoming a starter midseason in Houston last year. "He really looks like he believes in himself and has control of the team. We feel like he’s the key. He’s surprisingly athletic in his length and his explosion. He uses some on the defense end also. He’s grown and matured over the years."

Mavs:


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
O.J. Mayo 41 35.8 6.4 14.0 45.7 2.1 5.0 42.5 3.3 3.8 85.9 0.6 3.1 3.8 4.1 2.8 1.3 0.3 2.5 18.2
Dirk Nowitzki 14 29.1 5.1 12.4 41.0 1.1 3.1 37.2 2.7 3.5 77.6 0.6 4.9 5.5 2.2 1.3 0.4 0.5 1.4 14.0
Darren Collison 40 31.3 4.6 9.6 48.1 0.6 1.6 35.9 3.1 3.6 88.0 0.2 2.6 2.8 5.1 2.3 1.5 0.0 1.8 13.0
Chris Kaman 39 24.3 5.6 11.1 50.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.4 1.7 79.4 1.6 4.7 6.3 0.9 1.7 0.3 0.9 2.3 12.6
Vince Carter 41 24.8 4.2 10.1 41.8 1.8 4.9 36.8 2.0 2.4 81.8 0.6 3.4 4.0 1.9 1.2 0.9 0.6 2.8 12.3
Shawn Marion 34 29.8 4.4 9.2 48.2 0.3 0.9 32.3 1.2 1.4 83.3 2.2 5.9 8.1 2.6 1.6 0.8 0.6 1.7 10.4
Elton Brand 37 21.8 3.2 6.6 47.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.1 1.4 80.4 1.9 4.5 6.4 1.0 0.8 0.5 1.3 2.8 7.4
Brandan Wright 26 15.9 3.3 5.2 63.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.8 1.3 60.0 1.0 2.0 2.9 0.7 0.5 0.4 1.0 0.8 7.4
Jae Crowder 37 17.5 2.0 5.2 37.6 0.9 2.8 31.7 0.8 1.4 60.0 0.5 1.9 2.4 1.2 0.6 0.9 0.1 1.8 5.6
Dominique Jones 24 12.8 1.4 4.1 34.3 0.0 0.4 11.1 1.3 1.9 65.2 0.7 1.0 1.8 3.3 1.5 0.6 0.0 1.2 4.1
Dahntay Jones 41 13.6 1.0 3.0 35.5 0.2 0.8 24.2 1.3 1.7 78.3 0.3 1.2 1.5 0.5 0.4 0.2 0.1 1.6 3.6
Bernard James 21 10.9 1.3 2.7 49.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.8 1.1 66.7 1.3 2.0 3.3 0.0 0.4 0.2 0.9 1.1 3.4
Mike James 6 10.5 1.2 3.8 30.4 0.3 1.3 25.0 0.3 0.7 50.0 0.0 0.7 0.7 1.2 0.7 0.2 0.0 1.3 3.0
Rodrigue Beaubois 30 11.7 1.1 3.5 31.1 0.3 1.4 23.8 0.4 0.6 76.5 0.2 0.9 1.1 1.8 0.6 0.4 0.1 1.2 3.0
Jared Cunningham 8 3.1 0.8 1.8 42.9 0.3 0.4 66.7 0.3 0.3 100.0 0.1 0.3 0.4 0.1 0.3 0.1 0.0 0.4 2.0


20130123_kkt_an4_318

What have we learned so far about the Lindsey Hunter Suns? Not much. The rotations have been tighter with nine guys seeing action. The youth movement some were expecting hasn't materialized. The team is playing hard, but they (mostly) did that before. They are better defensively according to the stats but small sample size.

Oh, and Michael Beasley has had two decent games after being freed from Gentry's dog house where he somehow managed to piss off the old coach with some undisclosed off-court antics.

Q&A: Phoenix Coach Alvin Gentry on the Suns' Struggles and Michael Beasley - The Triangle Blog - Grantland
It can mean almost anything when coaches point to "off-court" problems. Can you elaborate at all?

I can’t elaborate on it. I think Michael has a good idea, and most of us have a good idea of some areas he has to work on. But we keep that in-house.

Many of us had hope that Beasley would gel with Gentry and the young and immature talent would blossom into some kind of consistent basketball player. That obviously didn't happen and there's little doubt that Michael was one of the few players happy to see the coaching change.

Three games, however, isn't much and if Hunter intends to live up to his accountability mantra, it seems like the clock is ticking before we see Beasley benched due to poor defensive effort. That has to be the mostly likely outcome at this point.

But you just never know what might click with a guy like Beasley. If Lindsey can manage to turn the Beas into a productive and CONSISTENT player, then forget about giving him a long-term contract, the Suns should just put him directly into the Ring of Honor.

Mavericks

Shawn Marion (the only Suns player who's jersey I own) will appear in his 1,000th game on Sunday. Fittingly, the milestone comes against the team where he logged 660 of those games. Trix will be only the 107th player in NBA history to achieve this mark. Well done, Shawn.

The Mavericks are seven games under .500 but have won five of their last seven and might just be rounding into form. According to our friends at Mavs Moneyball, they are in that classic part of the season leading up to the trade deadline next month. If they can continue to play well, they might be buyers at the deadline or at least stand pat and make a run. If not, they might dump some players in return for "future assets".

You certainly get a sense that their season is at a tipping point.

Dirk is back at the helm after missing the first two month's of the season. In his 16 games back from knee surgery, he's shooting just 40.9 percent and has yet to score more than 20 points in a game.

The biggest offensive threat for the Mavs remains O.J. Mayo (18 ppg, .456 FG%).

The Mavericks rank 19th with an Off Rtg of 104 and 22nd with 106.9 Def Rtg. The Suns are 23rd and 25th respectively.

Game tips at 5:30pm in Phoenix and is on Fox Sports Arizona.

Bonus: Goran Dragic getting some praise:

Phoenix Suns’ Goran Dragic building confidence in leadership role
"I feel like his confidence is at another level," (Spurs coach) Budenholzer said of Dragic since becoming a starter midseason in Houston last year. "He really looks like he believes in himself and has control of the team. We feel like he’s the key. He’s surprisingly athletic in his length and his explosion. He uses some on the defense end also. He’s grown and matured over the years."

Mavs:


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
O.J. Mayo 41 35.8 6.4 14.0 45.7 2.1 5.0 42.5 3.3 3.8 85.9 0.6 3.1 3.8 4.1 2.8 1.3 0.3 2.5 18.2
Dirk Nowitzki 14 29.1 5.1 12.4 41.0 1.1 3.1 37.2 2.7 3.5 77.6 0.6 4.9 5.5 2.2 1.3 0.4 0.5 1.4 14.0
Darren Collison 40 31.3 4.6 9.6 48.1 0.6 1.6 35.9 3.1 3.6 88.0 0.2 2.6 2.8 5.1 2.3 1.5 0.0 1.8 13.0
Chris Kaman 39 24.3 5.6 11.1 50.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.4 1.7 79.4 1.6 4.7 6.3 0.9 1.7 0.3 0.9 2.3 12.6
Vince Carter 41 24.8 4.2 10.1 41.8 1.8 4.9 36.8 2.0 2.4 81.8 0.6 3.4 4.0 1.9 1.2 0.9 0.6 2.8 12.3
Shawn Marion 34 29.8 4.4 9.2 48.2 0.3 0.9 32.3 1.2 1.4 83.3 2.2 5.9 8.1 2.6 1.6 0.8 0.6 1.7 10.4
Elton Brand 37 21.8 3.2 6.6 47.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.1 1.4 80.4 1.9 4.5 6.4 1.0 0.8 0.5 1.3 2.8 7.4
Brandan Wright 26 15.9 3.3 5.2 63.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.8 1.3 60.0 1.0 2.0 2.9 0.7 0.5 0.4 1.0 0.8 7.4
Jae Crowder 37 17.5 2.0 5.2 37.6 0.9 2.8 31.7 0.8 1.4 60.0 0.5 1.9 2.4 1.2 0.6 0.9 0.1 1.8 5.6
Dominique Jones 24 12.8 1.4 4.1 34.3 0.0 0.4 11.1 1.3 1.9 65.2 0.7 1.0 1.8 3.3 1.5 0.6 0.0 1.2 4.1
Dahntay Jones 41 13.6 1.0 3.0 35.5 0.2 0.8 24.2 1.3 1.7 78.3 0.3 1.2 1.5 0.5 0.4 0.2 0.1 1.6 3.6
Bernard James 21 10.9 1.3 2.7 49.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.8 1.1 66.7 1.3 2.0 3.3 0.0 0.4 0.2 0.9 1.1 3.4
Mike James 6 10.5 1.2 3.8 30.4 0.3 1.3 25.0 0.3 0.7 50.0 0.0 0.7 0.7 1.2 0.7 0.2 0.0 1.3 3.0
Rodrigue Beaubois 30 11.7 1.1 3.5 31.1 0.3 1.4 23.8 0.4 0.6 76.5 0.2 0.9 1.1 1.8 0.6 0.4 0.1 1.2 3.0
Jared Cunningham 8 3.1 0.8 1.8 42.9 0.3 0.4 66.7 0.3 0.3 100.0 0.1 0.3 0.4 0.1 0.3 0.1 0.0 0.4 2.0


20130124_mjr_su5_310
1. Goran Dragic

Weekly Average: 13 points, 10 assists, 2 rebounds in 33 minutes of play

Nobody had a better week for the Suns than Goran Dragic. Not only was his scoring up over the past few weeks, the most noticeable difference was his assists...averaging 10 per game for the week. This is the type of play Suns fans have been expecting from Goran on a more consistent basis.

2. Marcin Gortat

Weekly Average: 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 1 block in 33 minutes of play

Gortat had another very productive week for the Suns, and has become a very consistent player over the last couple of months. Marcin seemed like he was on a roller-coaster with his up-and-down play and production early in the season, but he seems to have found a nice balance and is giving the Suns quality play in the low post.

3. Michael Beasley

Weekly Average: 17 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists in 23 minutes of play

Beasley gets the nod for most improved player this week, and did so well he not only jumped out of the bottom of the rankings, but leaped to a very strong third place overall. Nobody has seemed to benefit more from the change in coaching than Beasley, who has earned more minutes and been much more productive. Beasley has been a different player over the past couple of weeks, and is starting to finally live up to some of the expectations the team and fan base had for him when he was signed. But can he keep it up?

4. Luis Scola

Weekly Average: 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assist in 32 minutes of play

Scola is the most consistent player on the roster. I rarely have to change his stat line from week to week by more than one or two digits in each category. We all know what we can expect from Scola game after game...Solid play, veteran savvy, and one of the best ground games in the league.

5. Jared Dudley

Weekly Average: 11 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists in 27 minutes of play

Dudley came back to Earth a little bit this week after stringing together a long list of impressive games. Dudley had his best game against the Spurs last night scoring 23 points, grabbing 5 boards, and dishing 5 assists. But he only scored 3 points against the Clippers and only 8 against the Kings which brought down his totals for the week.

6. Markieff Morris

Weekly Average: 11 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist in 24 minutes of play

Morris continues to improve each and every week, and is quietly becoming one of the best all-around big men on the team. He is developing some very nice offensive moves to complement his rebounding and defense, and is earning more minutes in the process.

7. P.J. Tucker

Weekly Average: 7 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists in 30 minutes of play

Tucker's minutes increased quite a bit this week but his overall production went up only marginally. As always, you can't really judge Tucker's impact by the stats alone, and his defensive contributions are what keeps him on the floor. Still, with 30 minutes of playing time, I would like to see a little more production.

8. Shannon Brown

Weekly Average: 8 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist in 20 minutes of play

Brown capped off a bad week with a flagrant-2 ejection last night vs. the Spurs. Shannon's minutes have been on the decline over the last three games, and you wonder if Hunter's style of coaching and his focus on defense is a part of that. We'll see if Brown can bounce back this week.

9. Sebastian Telfair

Weekly Average: 4 points, 3 assists in 15 minutes of play

Telfair has kept his job as the back-up point guard thus far, but for how much longer? Speculation over Hunter's plans to play Kendall Marshall more have so far been wrong, but with Telfair doing little to keep his job as the number two, you have to wonder if Marshall will get his shot soon.

10. Wesley Johnson

Weekly Average: 0 points, 2 rebounds in 7 minutes of play

Jermaine O'Neal didn't play at all this week, and the only other player that even registered a stat was Wesley Johnson who played a grand total of 7 minutes against the Kings and grabbed two rebounds during his time on the floor. Johnson gets the last spot by default not because of bad play, but based on his impact for the Suns this week, which by little fault of his own wasn't much at all.

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

Mavericks 110, Suns 95 TV: FSNA My how the mighty have fallen. Unlike Saturday night’s contest against the San Antonio Spurs, the Phoenix Suns’ final stop on their Texas two-step down...

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