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Suns drive over Pistons in final three quarters, hold on to 92-89 win behind Dragic and Brown

When: Tonight, 7:00 PST

Where: US Airways Center, Phoenix AZ

Watch: Locally: FSNAZ; Outside AZ: NBA League Pass (Free Trial)

After losing what should have been a nice comeback victory against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night, the Phoenix Suns are now faced with either continuing their lackluster start against another inferior opponent tonight in the Detroit Pistons, or proving that they are better than their initial display of inconsistency and missed jump shots.

The Suns will be at home once more tonight before embarking on a three-game road trip against the Orlando Magic, Miami Heat, and Charlotte Bobcats. So if they intend on gaining some momentum and establishing some rhythm to their offense, tonight is their best chance to do so.

The Detroit Pistons are coming off a 105-96 Wednesday night loss to James Harden and the Houston Rockets after being up 11 points in the 4th quarter. The Suns can expect the Pistons to be hungry for their first win just like they are, with both teams looking to prove they are better than they played in the first game.

Key Match-ups:

Goran Dragic vs. Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey - Although both Stuckey and Knight are starters at the guard position, they can both run the offense and switch between roles depending on what look is more beneficial. It's difficult to predict which player will see the bulk of time matched up against Dragic, but either way Dragic should still have the upper hand.

Marcin Gortat vs. Greg Monroe: This should be the best match-up of the game from an outside perspective. Both Gortat and Monroe are productive, skilled, and effective centers who each have certain advantages over the other. Greg Monroe is better at using his body to get into position to score and secure rebounds, and his passing is incredible. Gortat is probably a tad more agile, and probably has a little more outside range. Both players have a nice mid-range game, good footwork, and can run the floor very well; but Monroe has already proven he can be the first option on offense when need be, something Gortat has yet to prove without Nash.

Luis Scola and Michael Beasley vs. Tayshaun Prince and Jason Maxiell: Both forward positions is by and large the Suns biggest match-up advantage against Detroit. There's no reason the Suns shouldn't look to exploit these match-ups early and often. However, will the Suns get the 29 point 10 rebound version of Beasley that they saw in the preseason, or the 2-9 shooting defensive sieve they saw against the Warriors who was benched for PJ Tucker?

Suns Bench vs. Pistons Bench: While the Suns bench has been a bit of a concern thus far, the Pistons' bench is loaded with talented young players, some of whom many Pistons' fans believe should be starting. Andre Drummond, Jonas Jerebko, Kim English, Kyle Singler, and Will Bynum are likely to give the Suns' reserves all they can handle tonight. Will the Suns' bench be ready to step up to the challenge?

The Bottom Line:

This is gut check time for the Suns. Regardless of the individual match-ups they face tonight, the Suns biggest obstacle is probably themselves. Can they regain the offensive flow they demonstrated in the preseason? Or, will they continue to make poor decisions and jack-up long range shots even when they aren't falling? Are they going to pull themselves together after a gut-wrenching loss and handle their business at home? Or, will they continue to under perform? All we have are questions right now...Hopefully we start getting the answers we're looking for tonight.


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Rule Changes:

  • During the last two minutes of the game and in overtime goal tending, basket interference and restricted area fouls are reviewable. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The reviews will be subject to the same "incontrovertible evidence" to overturn the call on the floor, so referees maybe more likely to call a goaltend in order to make it reviewable, but then if it's a really close play it makes it harder to overturn. Since there is the possibility of something like this happening at a pivotal moment, I guarantee this exact situation will occur during game seven of the NBA Finals.
  • Each team has 90 seconds to take the court for the jump ball after the horn sounds. If a team is not ready they will be charged a delay of game penalty, which forfeits their one freebie before technical free throws are assigned.
  • Fine for flopping. Since the opprobrious nature of this infraction is paralleled by the ridiculousness of the implication that this rule will in any way deter the action... I don't have much to say about this.

Points of Enofrcement (P.O.E.'s for those of us in the know.....). These are the areas of increased emphasis for referees this season:

  • There will be a heightened sensitivity to actions that restrict freedom of movement (F.O.M. - these guys seem to be enamored with acronyms... OMG) such as screens and touching. The league wants to encourage the ability of the athletes to move without restriction or impedance in order to aggrandize the phenomenal athleticism of its players.
  • Illegal screens will be monitored more closely including arriving late and movement including extending arms, hips and knees. The screen needs to be set within the envelope of the shoulders. I have already noticed instances where I think they are more cognizant of these issues.
  • Touching will also receive more scrutiny. This includes touching with two hands, body checks and grabs. A momentary touch is allowed in the lower box below the free throw line. This includes watching for defenders stepping under or making low touches on shooter taking jump shots. Conversely, they will be looking for leg kickouts by the offensive player. The jump shooter needs to be going up and down (as opposed to side to side) when attempting to draw contact from a defender who has left his feet.
  • Delay of games and technicals will be assigned to coaches stepping on the court. I'm sure this will be enforced and discourage this type of action (rolling eyes).
  • Intention plays into ruling on flagrant fouls, but they can still be assigned based on the result of the play disrespective of the intent.
  • The ruling on charges is that the tie goes to the runner (offensive player). I'm not expecting to see much improvement here as it seems like the league has incentivized defensive players running to a point, not being set or allowing the offensive player time to alter course, and still being rewarded with the call every time (think Miami Heat). A player will, supposedly, not receive a defensive foul for jumping straight up and down with arms extended above the head.
  • Discontinued dribbles (fancy name for carry) will be hahahaha... I can't finish this...
  • Referee's will also be watching for "spliiting the feet" where a player.... hahahaha - I still can't get over that joke about them calling carries. Next thing you know they'll be saying a player only gets two steps... lifts his pivot foot prior to initiating his dribble. This rule actually does get called. Sometimes multiple times in a game and sometimes erroneously.
  • Overt reactions (air punching, throwing the ball down and away) will result in technicals.
  • Fake shots after fouls will not be rewarded with free throws. The referees aren't stupid (insert obligatory joke here).
  • If a player receives the ball in the lower defensive box it eliminates the restricted area rules governing charges and some forms of contact.

Additional Notes:

  • The hardest call is out of bounds. Think about it. The game is rushing by at a breakneck pace and suddenly, in a flash, the ball is out of bounds. Who touched it last? Makes sense.
  • The referee's mantra is to focus on the defender first, then secondarily on the offensive player.
  • The crews working games this year consist completely of returning referees. The veteran experience should lend itself to well officiated games.
Hopefully this helps anyone that isn't already up to speed. We have a pretty erudite following here so I'm sure you will want to be informed and keep an eye on some of these issues.

A full copy of the official rules for the 2012-13 NBA season is available online for the true masochist fan.




This post is sponsored by Jack in the Box.


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When: Tonight, 7:00 PST

Where: US Airways Center, Phoenix AZ

Watch: Locally: FSNAZ; Outside AZ: NBA League Pass (Free Trial)

After losing what should have been a nice comeback victory against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night, the Phoenix Suns are now faced with either continuing their lackluster start against another inferior opponent tonight in the Detroit Pistons, or proving that they are better than their initial display of inconsistency and missed jump shots.

The Suns will be at home once more tonight before embarking on a three-game road trip against the Orlando Magic, Miami Heat, and Charlotte Bobcats. So if they intend on gaining some momentum and establishing some rhythm to their offense, tonight is their best chance to do so.

The Detroit Pistons are coming off a 105-96 Wednesday night loss to James Harden and the Houston Rockets after being up 11 points in the 4th quarter. The Suns can expect the Pistons to be hungry for their first win just like they are, with both teams looking to prove they are better than they played in the first game.

Key Match-ups:

Goran Dragic vs. Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey - Although both Stuckey and Knight are starters at the guard position, they can both run the offense and switch between roles depending on what look is more beneficial. It's difficult to predict which player will see the bulk of time matched up against Dragic, but either way Dragic should still have the upper hand.

Marcin Gortat vs. Greg Monroe: This should be the best match-up of the game from an outside perspective. Both Gortat and Monroe are productive, skilled, and effective centers who each have certain advantages over the other. Greg Monroe is better at using his body to get into position to score and secure rebounds, and his passing is incredible. Gortat is probably a tad more agile, and probably has a little more outside range. Both players have a nice mid-range game, good footwork, and can run the floor very well; but Monroe has already proven he can be the first option on offense when need be, something Gortat has yet to prove without Nash.

Luis Scola and Michael Beasley vs. Tayshaun Prince and Jason Maxiell: Both forward positions is by and large the Suns biggest match-up advantage against Detroit. There's no reason the Suns shouldn't look to exploit these match-ups early and often. However, will the Suns get the 29 point 10 rebound version of Beasley that they saw in the preseason, or the 2-9 shooting defensive sieve they saw against the Warriors who was benched for PJ Tucker?

Suns Bench vs. Pistons Bench: While the Suns bench has been a bit of a concern thus far, the Pistons' bench is loaded with talented young players, some of whom many Pistons' fans believe should be starting. Andre Drummond, Jonas Jerebko, Kim English, Kyle Singler, and Will Bynum are likely to give the Suns' reserves all they can handle tonight. Will the Suns' bench be ready to step up to the challenge?

The Bottom Line:

This is gut check time for the Suns. Regardless of the individual match-ups they face tonight, the Suns biggest obstacle is probably themselves. Can they regain the offensive flow they demonstrated in the preseason? Or, will they continue to make poor decisions and jack-up long range shots even when they aren't falling? Are they going to pull themselves together after a gut-wrenching loss and handle their business at home? Or, will they continue to under perform? All we have are questions right now...Hopefully we start getting the answers we're looking for tonight.


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Michael Beasley is a talented basketball player. He can get his shot off in a lot of different ways and he has a healthy knack for finding the bottom of the net. Over his five-year career, however, he only gets to the line for an average of 3.1 free throw attempts per game.

Carmelo Anthony, a guy Beasley should be compared to in both body type and raw scoring ability, has averaged 7.8 free throw attempts per game in his career. Melo gets treated (and paid) like a superstar despite a well-deserved reputation for being a disinterested defender because he puts so much pressure on the other team on offense.

That seems to the mold Alvin Gentry and the Suns are seeking for the hybrid forward.

According to Paul Coro in the Arizona Republic, the coaching staff held a film session with Beasley to demonstrate how Anthony gets to the line. Michael explained his lesson:

Expectations are high for Phoenix Suns’ Michael Beasley
"That’s what I think about when I drive now," Beasley said. "Melo is quick but Melo doesn’t always beat his guy on the first step. He’ll drive and then he’ll hit you with the shoulder. You’ve got to foul him or it’s going to be a wide-open layup."

Beasley's set a goal for himself of 7 to 8 free throws per game which certainly would be a great help to his team which needs a great deal of help in finding easy points.

Michael reportedly accepted his benching in the opener against the Warriors in favor of the more active and defensively intense P.J. Tucker.

"I just have to be aggressive at both ends of the floor," Beasley said. "I feel I have the talent level and stamina and also the mental stability to play 30-plus minutes a game. You've just got to stay aggressive. You can't really flow in and out of games."

As Alvin Gentry told the media, that's what he's looking for from the newly signed free agent.

"He's got to be on the floor for us and he's got to be a star player for us," Gentry said of Beasley while also citing the phrase, "To whom much is given, much is expected" in regard to entrusting Beasley. "The expectations that we have for him are big."

So to recap: Better effort defensively. consistent focus, more aggressive driving to the rim and getting to the line. In other words, the book on Beasley from his five years in the NBA played out exactly to the letter in his first game with the Suns.

As long as everyone is saying the right things, we have no choice but to be patient. We'll know if Gentry's given up on him (like Rick Adelman eventually did in Minnesota) and we're a long ways from that point.

As they say in the Army, to make a man you have to first break him down so you can building him back the way you want. I assume we're early in that process for Drill Sergeant / Father Gentry.


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