PHOENIX — Entering tonight’s game the Phoenix Suns seemed positioned for a run out of the West’s dungeon, at least so much as that can be the case for a squad sitting in 13th in its conference...

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Sometimes, a photo is worth 1,000 words.

The Suns began Wednesday nights game against the Warriors by attempting to gain victory without scoring many points and abstaining from any semblance of an effective defensive scheme. The result was not positive, as the Golden State Warriors jumped out to a 21-9 first quarter lead. David Lee led a balanced Golden State scoring attack with 13 points. The Warriors would end the quarter shooting over 60% from the field, and a season high 39 points. You read that correctly: 39 points, season high, Golden State Warriors (12-17).

The Suns bench players led a 12-5 run in the second to chip into the Warrior lead. But Golden State regrouped, while the Suns played in a lethargic, disinterested fashion. There were plenty of missed shots, turnovers, and poor defense to spread around. A late 7-0 run in the third by the starters lessened a brief 21 point deficit, and the Suns trailed 59-45 at the break.

Grant Hill led a third quarter charge as the Suns went on a 10-2 run. Channing Frye hit two straight 3's, and the Suns pulled within 7 with 3 minutes left. Another 7-2 run later and the Sun had awoken from their early game slumber, outscoring Golden State 34-24 in the third.

The Suns spent the first 8 minutes of the fourth quarter chipping away at the Warrior lead. A Gortat lay in with 4 minutes left forged a tie and a Jared Dudley finish off a Grant Hill inbound lob punctuated a 10-2 run which led to the first Suns lead of the game at 96-94.

After some back and forth that featured a spectacular Channing Frye offensive rebound/jam, the Suns had the ball down 104-102 with 19 ticks left. Grant Hill hit a driving layup to tie it up at 104 with 11 seconds left. On the ensuing play, Monta Ellis dribbled himself into what usually is Grant Hill defensive oblivion. As the clock ticked down, Ellis turned around and hit the game winner with Hill in his face.

And so ended the game, as did the first half of this season, in disappointing, heartbreaking fashion.

Bullets

  • Channing Frye played a nice game with 22 points and 9 rebounds, although he did miss what could have been the game winner. But it was a tough shot with a defender in his face. Reminds me of what Ellis did.
  • Marcin Gortat woke up from a first half slumber to register 21 points and 15 boards
  • Both Jared Dudley and Grant Hill played strong games on both sides of the court
  • Steve Nash wasn't himself tonight, yet still almost managed a triple double with 7 points, 9 assists and 5 rebounds.
  • The Suns gave away 9 turnovers in the first half and 1 in the second half
  • In the first half, the Warriors converted 9 Sun turnovers into 13 points.
  • The Suns shot 4-19 from beyond the arc
  • The Suns second unit players registered a +15
  • David Lee appeared headed for a monster game, but was essentially neutralized in the 2nd half. Yes he scored 22 but he only managed 4 rebounds.
  • Hats off to Nate Robinson, coming in for Stephen Curry and doing his Mugsy Bogues impersonation. 14 points, 5 assists, and some timely jumpers that killed the Suns.

Final Words

The starters came out flat, gave up 39 points. After that, the Suns won every quarter, but still couldn't seal the deal even after clawing back to a 104-104 tie with 11 seconds left. Normally a team can survive one bad quarter, but the first in this game was exceedingly bad for the Suns.

And what can we say about the final make by Ellis? Nothing more anyone could have done. Grant Hill is a great player, a great man, and a great freakin' NBA defender.

Enjoy the break people, perhaps we all need one.


Final - 2.22.2012 1 2 3 4 Total
Golden State Warriors 39 20 24 23 106
Phoenix Suns 22 23 34 25 104

Complete Coverage >


[Note by Seth Pollack, 02/22/12 10:25 PM MST ]

Alvin Gentry was as mad after this game as I've seen him before. Some choice quotes:

"The game was lost in the first ten minutes of the game. We got an opportunity to do something good and we come out like that is just ridiculous. It's unfair to the fans in the stands. The way we approached the game sucked...I am disgusted with the way we played and I'm disgusted with the fact that we got a chance to end the break on something upbeat and positive and instead we just walk though the first ten minutes of the game and that cost us."

"We have to decide what kind of team we want to be. Do we want to be a tease where we win a couple of games then we decide not to play the first ten minutes or are we going to be a team that bears down and tries to grind this thing out so we can get back into the playoff race. We have to decide that."

None of the players had any answer as to why things started off so badly. I can tell you that Gentry's sour mood wasn't completely reflected in the locker room.

Here's Alvin...and this doesn't include the first few cuts that include some F-bombs (I didn't get my camera set up in time to catch that).


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what would jeremy lin do?


NBA Draft 2012: Damian Lillard, Future Sun?

I have been a big fan of Lillard for the past few months as a player in potentially towards the end of the first round. For the first time, the nation’s leading scorer is being thought of as a possible lottery pick. With Lillard now considered the best Point Guard in the 2012 draft, the Suns may be one of the teams with most interest in the 6-2 guard from Weber State.

SEASON

GMS

MIN

PTS

REB

AST

TO

A/T

STL

BLK

PF

FG%

FT%

3P%

2011-12

26

33.8

24.5

5.3

3.9

2.2

1.76

1.4

0.2

1.9

.478

.887

.448

2010-11

10

28.5

17.7

3.8

3.3

2.8

1.18

1.4

0.2

2.3

.438

.857

.345

2009-10

31

34.3

19.9

4.0

3.6

2.4

1.51

1.1

0.1

1.9

.431

.853

.393

These are his stats from his first 3 years at Weber State (albeit in the Big Sky conference) and it is hard to find many faults with these besides the lack of assists. Compare these stats with those from Jimmer Fredette’s Senior numbers at BYU below.

Statistics

G

FG%

3P%

FT%

Tot.

Avg.

Asst

Bl

St

Tot.

Avg.

2010-2011

37

45.2

39.6

89.4

127

3.4

4.3

0.0

1.3

1068

28.9

More after the jump......

“NBA Comparison: Ramon Sessions/Eric Maynor

Strengths:
Late blooming 6’2 PG with ideal size and strength for the position … A standout scorer with the ability to knock down shots as well as strong penetration ability … Has a pretty pull up off the dribble and has range well past NBA 3 point ... Also has an effective catch and shoot … Excels at three point shooting: (39%) on a high volume of shots ... Quality ball handler ... Polished one on one skills … Nice quickness: Shows a strong ability to get by his man to the rim … Has the ability to use both hands on the drive … Also shows a developing floater in the lane when his drives get cut off by big men in the paint … Gets to the line well where he’s a quality free throw shooter (85%) … Shows a the ability to run a team and get his shots within the flow of the offense … Quality pick and roll player … Wants the ball at the end of games, and steps up to the challenge when the game is on the line …

Weaknesses: Very good from outside and driving to the rim, but needs to improve his midrange game … Solid athlete, though not extraordinary … Assist to turnover ratio is good but could stand to improve 1.5-to-1 … Gets a little careless with the ball at times … Playing at Weber State, he will have to go above and beyond to get the recognition and respect he deserves … It is also questionable how much development/improvement he can make playing against inferior competition on a regular basis … Struggled down the stretch of the season in big games with his decision making. Will need to show that he can be a steadying influence and has the ability to elevate his game in big games situations … Makes better decisions in the half court than full. Will need to become better on the break … “

Via nbadraft.net this was written in 2010 after his freshman year. I’m not sure how accurate those comparisons are, but Lillard called himself a more athletic Jimmer and I would tend to agree with that.

Obviously no one is sure where he will end up but I will list where a few sites have him going:

ESPN.com: 13(Top 100), 9(Mock Draft)

Nbadraft.net: 22

Draftexpress.com: 18

These guys know more than me but I would say he will be drafted in the 11-15 range.

At the moment, it looks like the Suns will be drafting in the 9-12 range. Lillard will almost certainly be on the board then (provided Utah don’t pick him with Golden States’ pick), but so will some of the Suns presumed targets such as Shooting Guards Brad Beal and Jeremy Lamb. A signing of Aaron Brooks will change the Suns willingness to draft a point guard however.

Lillard would appear to be NBA ready and looks as if he has the ability to defend NBA guards. He is a pure shooter, 48 FG%, 45 3P% and 88 FT% are close to Steve Nash numbers, those numbers won’t translate in his first few years in the league but he has certainly shown the potential to be a very good point guard someday. He is also very confident, mature and well spoken. If Lillard was to play 20 minutes a game for two years behind Nash and continue to improve, he could be a very good starting point guard once Nash decides to call it a day on his career.

Draftexpress have a great analysis of Lillard here: http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Damian-Lillard-6152/ , this is particularly impressive; “ he actually ranks #1 amongst all NCAA point guard prospects terms of turnovers per possession, coughing the ball up on just 10% of his possessions.” With all the problems our back up PG's have had turning the ball over, this would be a breath of fresh air.

Could Lillard be the heir to Steve Nash? It is possible, but if the Suns trade for a pick later in the draft they could target Kendall Marshall, Tony Wroten, Marquis Teague or Myack Kabongo. Free agency could be an option with DJ Augustin, Goran Dragic, Jerryd Bayless and Aaron Brooks available. But Lillard would appear to me to be the best long term option compared to all these guys.

Check out some of the Lillard's high school highlights here, some Weber State highlights here and an in depth interview here

Like I have said, Lillard won’t be the only guy on the Suns’ radar on draft night; Perry Jones out of Baylor is dropping down mock drafts lately with his inconsistent play. Brad Beal and Jeremy Lamb both have potential to be great scorers in the NBA and Meyers Leonard from Illinois could be a nice backup for Gortat.

The 2nd round – The Suns currently do not have a 2nd round draft pick after it was traded to Atlanta for Josh Childress, but if the Suns do manage to acquire a 2nd round pick there are few guys they may be interested in.

Scott Machado, PG, Iona – 6-1, 180: His lack of athleticism and pretty low ceiling has made him fall to the 2nd round but his incredible floor vision and passing which led to him leading the nation in assists (10.1) means he could contribute to a team straight away.

Robert Sacre, C, Gonzaga – 7-0, 247: A 7 footer who doesn’t rebound great (6.5rpg) may remind you of a certain someone already on the Suns roster but Sacre is a very solid post player and a solid shooter from 10-14 feet. He is also a pretty good defender and shot blocker, but like Machado he lacks athleticism and potential. With Lopez heading for Free agency, adding another big man can’t hurt.

Tu Holloway, PG, Xavier – 6-0, 185: The senior from Xavier is a very good all round point guard, averaging 17.3ppg and 5.6apg. He relies a bit too much on his average jumpshot so his offense may struggle at the next level. He is a good distributor and could very well be a rotation player straight away in the NBA.

Tomas Satoransky, PG/SG, Czech Republic – 6-7, 210: Satoransky is not defiantly entering the draft but if he does, he will probably be an early 2nd round pick. He has fantastic size and athleticism for a point guard but he is not a great shooter from deep (30 3PT%), and he has no real shot of the dribble. I’m not crazy about this guy, he probably isn’t NBA ready but has lots of potential. I would rather see us take Machado or Holloway.


Thanks for reading ;)

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