Time: 8 p.m. TV: FSAZ PHOENIX – Save the debate about the Phoenix Suns’ lack of a tank job for later. Soon enough, it might not be an issue at all. When the Suns fell 98-71 to the previously...

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20130123_pjc_ax5_253

Tonight's matchup faces two teams in a pivotal bout with playoff aspirations at stake. Both teams face a steep, uphill battle to secure one of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference. I know the Suns aren't bereft of hope, however, as competing for a playoff spot was one of their main goals coming into the season. Either team may very well have to run the table to have any chance, so tonight's game is of paramount importance. On the off chance that neither of these teams ends up competing for a playoff spot as the season reaches its inexorable end, this game will shift gears and become a struggle between two lottery bound teams with the loser gaining the laurels. In that case, a win for the Suns could be a pyrrhic victory as it would put the Kings three behind in the loss column.

Compelling basketball folks. If the Suns usurp the tyrannical autocrats, we cheer our revolting rebels (no, not that kind of revolting). If Sacramento plays the role of Helios, we get closer to becoming table tennis champions.

Win win.

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When: Friday, March 8, 2013, 8:00 PM local time (10:00 EST)

Where: Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, CA

Watch/Listen: TV: FSAZ, Radio: 620 KTAR

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Last Meeting:

The last meeting between the teams this season was in Sacramento on January 23, 2013 which featured coach Lindsey Hunters's debut as Phoenix's head coach. Hunter did not disappoint as the Suns used a 32-19 fourth quarter to secure the W by a final score of 106-96. Luis Scola led all scorers with 21 points. Phenom Michael Beasley chipped in with 19. The perpetually troubled DeMarcus Cousins led the Kings with 15 points and 15 rebounds.

The Suns have owned Sacramento to the tune of a 2-0 season edge and can clinch the season series by throttling the Kings at the ever energetic Sleep Train Arena.

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Team Bios:

Sacramento Kings: 21-42

Points per game: 98.5 (13th) Points allowed: 104.9 (30th)

Full Statistics

Unlike Midas, who had the transformative power to turn anything he touched to gold, pretty much everything the Kings touch turns to $#%^. The Kings are in year number seven of a brief rebuild and aspire to finish the season with 26 wins, which would be their highest total in five years.

Not all is doleful in Despotville, however, as the Kings were already successful in unloading the player they took fifth overall, Thomas Robinson, in last year's draft. The resulting reimbursement for that transaction was Patrick Patterson, who has averaged just under seven points since his arrival. The Kings are led by..... Let's go with DeMarcus Cousins since he leads the team in scoring (16.8) and rebounding (9.9) despite not being eminently qualified as a leader of men.

The Kings have won just two of their last eleven games and, like aforementioned, will need a near miraculous reversal of fortune to sneak into the backdoor of the playoffs. Teams they will need to pass include... everybody, since the Kings are dead last in the Western Conference. Maybe the rebuild isn't progressing at quite the frantic pace I just referred to....

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Phoenix Suns: 21-40

Points per game: 95.3 (20th) Points allowed: 99.6 (22nd)

Full Statistics

The team has been somewhat decimated by injuries (Marcin Gortat) and unfortunate circumstances (O'Neal - best wishes), but fortunately the Suns trade deadline acquisition of Hamed Haddadi makes the front office look like soothsaying sorcerers. Whether the Iranian Enforcer will play a major role in tonight's game remains to be seen, however, since he pretty much sucked in his first appearance.

Phoenix followed an impressive three game winning streak by suffering an impressive ass whipping at the hands of the Toronto Raptors (98-71). The game devolved into an Oklahoma City-like decimation, but the Suns still managed to cheat death and avoid a franchise record for fewest points in a game, much to the relief of the dozens of fans in attendance.

The Suns shouldn't be offensively challenged against the spaghetti strainer defense of the woeful Kings as they give up the most points in the association and have a tendency to look bad in doing so. On an actual positive note (I'm being serious here, pay attention) this game should give Suns faithful a chance to watch the young player get some burn. Young players who have actually been precocious in spurts recently.

So tune in... or else. Actually, that's a completely empty threat.

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What To Watch For:

The Wunderkinds: The kids are alright. You wanted to watch the Suns develop young players in a lost season? You got it.

DeMarcus Cousins: He has owned the Suns at times in this series, and with Gortat and O'Neal out he may have a huge game... even if the Suns counter with Haddadi.

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2013 Lottery Watch

The Suns are currently tied for 6th in the race for the #1 seed in the lottery. Currently, seeds 3-8 are only separated by two games. Instead of looking at the dregs of the league, today's lottery watch focuses on the Los Angeles Lakers and the Suns pursuit of their lottery pick.

Tonight's Games of Interest:

The Lakers (31-31) face the mighty Raptors tonight, those of the 27 point victory on Phoenix's home court, but the odds are that will be a win. Cheer for the Raptors anyway, despite the fact that they just humiliated us.

The Houston Rockets (33-29) visit the Golden St. Warriors (35-27). While both of these teams are still within the Lakers reach, cheer for Houston as a loss coupled with a Lakers win would put the Lakers within one game of the Rockets. Which, believe it or not, would mean the Lakers actually control their destiny against them by virtue of a season finale game and tiebreakers....

The Utah Jazz, as they venture into a declivitous descent, face the Bulls in Chicago. Root hard for the Jazz. Really hard. The Jazz have lost five of six and have the potential to venture into freefall with their upcoming schedule. A Jazz loss coupled with a Lakers win puts LA within a half game of the recently hapless Jazz....

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The Final Word(s):

Friday night basketball. In all seriousness, this should actually be a great night to follow the action. With 12 games on the slate there are plenty of contests with direct implications towards the Suns near future. We can't afford too many more nights like Wednesday. You know, nights that make you physically ill.

Plus, if you join the gamethread you'll get the pleasure of my company, which should be reason enough to... oh nevermind.

20130211_mjr_su5_155

With all the press the Los Angeles Lakers have gotten recently, you'd think they were destined for the Finals.

The Lakers drive to the playoffs are the talk of SportsCenter. The comeback against the Hornets dominated the internets and even garnered a late night talk show interview for the one and only Kobe Bryant.

"It's about time we started playing defense," Kobe Bryant said of the "season changing" comeback over the almost-worst-in-West Hornets on Wednesday night. The Lakers rallied from a 17-point fourth quarter deficit to win.

OMG! Really? Only a playoff-caliber team could do that!

Except that the Suns rallied from a 19-point deficit to beat the Hornets earlier this season. Let's not forget the Hornets are terrible this year.

Well, maybe the playoff-caliber statement is beating playoff-bound Atlanta at home last Sunday? The Lakers led most of the game and closed out a 1-point win at home.

OMG! Really? Atlanta is 10 games over .500! Only a playoff-caliber team could do that!

Except that the Suns had just put a pasting on the Hawks two nights earlier in Phoenix.

Let's step back and take a wider view.

It is ridiculous to compare the vaunted Los Angeles Lakers to the horrific Phoenix Suns who for much of this season trotted out a starting lineup of former BACKUPS to three guys in the Lakers' lineup (Dragic/Nash, Gortat/Howard, Brown/Bryant).

Surely the Lakers, boasting multiple league MVPs and future Hall of Famers, have been vastly more successful than the 21-40 Phoenix Suns.

Let's see here.

Games decided by 3 points or less:

  • Lakers 4-4
  • Suns 5-5

Games vs. West playoff teams (West top 8)

  • Lakers 6-17
  • Suns 6-15

Games vs. West top 5 (Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Grizzlies, Nuggets)

  • Lakers 2-13
  • Suns 5-9

And the Lakers are vastly better than the Suns how?

In fact, the Phoenix Suns just beat the Lakers a couple weeks ago in the nationally-covered "return of Nash" game, where the Suns executed what's apparently now called a "Laker-esque" 13-point fourth quarter rally.

The Phoenix Suns are 21-40 and fighting for the best draft position they can get.

The Los Angeles Lakers are 31-31 and fighting for the 7th or 8th seed in the West with an aging team destined to face a team they have no chance to beat. (Sounds like recent Suns seasons, right?)

Sucks to be both teams, no matter what Laker fans might want to believe. The Lakers are going nowhere, and those two unprotected first-round picks (2013 and 2015) are looking better and better.

If the Lakers miss out on the playoffs this season, the Suns get their lottery pick (likely #14 overall). If the Lakers squeak into the playoffs long enough to get swept, the Suns get Miami's first-round pick which is likely about #28 overall. Not a huge difference in a bland draft, but that's 14 more players off the board before the Suns get to pick from the barrel.

But the Suns never planned on getting lottery pick this season from the Lakers. Their best hope was always a really good pick in 2015.

Still, it's fun to watch the Lakers squirm.

Though it's getting old watching them preen after getting "signature" wins that don't even measure up to what the lowly Suns have accomplished so far.

20130211_mjr_su5_155

With all the press the Los Angeles Lakers have gotten recently, you'd think they were destined for the Finals.

The Lakers drive to the playoffs are the talk of SportsCenter. The comeback against the Hornets dominated the internets and even garnered a late night talk show interview for the one and only Kobe Bryant.

"It's about time we started playing defense," Kobe Bryant said of the "season changing" comeback over the almost-worst-in-West Hornets on Wednesday night. The Lakers rallied from a 17-point fourth quarter deficit to win.

OMG! Really? Only a playoff-caliber team could do that!

Except that the Suns rallied from a 19-point deficit to beat the Hornets earlier this season. Let's not forget the Hornets are terrible this year.

Well, maybe the playoff-caliber statement is beating playoff-bound Atlanta at home last Sunday? The Lakers led most of the game and closed out a 1-point win at home.

OMG! Really? Atlanta is 10 games over .500! Only a playoff-caliber team could do that!

Except that the Suns had just put a pasting on the Hawks two nights earlier in Phoenix.

Let's step back and take a wider view.

It is ridiculous to compare the vaunted Los Angeles Lakers to the horrific Phoenix Suns who, for much of this season, trotted out a starting lineup of former BACKUPS to three guys in the Lakers' lineup (Dragic/Nash, Gortat/Howard, Brown/Bryant).

Surely the Lakers, boasting multiple league MVPs and future Hall of Famers, have been vastly more successful than the 21-40 Phoenix Suns.

Let's see here.

Games decided by 3 points or less:

  • Lakers 4-4
  • Suns 5-5

Games vs. West playoff teams (West top 8)

  • Lakers 6-17
  • Suns 6-15

Games vs. West top 5 (Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Grizzlies, Nuggets)

  • Lakers 2-13
  • Suns 5-9

And the Lakers are vastly better than the Suns how?

In fact, the Phoenix Suns just beat the Lakers a couple weeks ago in the nationally-covered "return of Nash" game, where the Suns executed what's apparently now called a "Laker-esque" 13-point fourth quarter rally.

The Phoenix Suns are 21-40 and fighting for the best draft position they can get.

The Los Angeles Lakers are 31-31 and fighting for the 7th or 8th seed in the West with an aging team destined to face a team they have no chance to beat. (Sounds like recent Suns seasons, right?)

Sucks to be both teams, no matter what Laker fans might want to believe. The Lakers are going nowhere, and those two unprotected first-round picks (2013 and 2015) are looking better and better.

If the Lakers miss out on the playoffs this season, the Suns get their lottery pick (likely #14 overall). If the Lakers squeak into the playoffs long enough to get swept, the Suns get Miami's first-round pick which is likely about #28 overall. Not a huge difference in a bland draft, but that's 14 more players off the board before the Suns get to pick from the barrel.

But the Suns never planned on getting a lottery pick this season from the Lakers. Their best hope was always a really good pick in 2015.

Still, it's fun to watch the Lakers squirm.

Though it's getting old watching them preen after getting "signature" wins that don't even measure up to what the lowly Suns have accomplished so far.

The Suns’ youth movement was coming. For some, it came too slow. For Shannon Brown, it came fast and hard, sending him from his starting role and a career year all the way to the end of the...

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