The Slash Brothers led the Phoenix Suns back into playoff position with a big win over the Washington Wizards, winning their 3rd straight on the road, 5th straight overall and 7 of 8 since Eric Bledsoe rejoined the starting lineup.
With the win, 99-93 over Washington, the Phoenix Suns have retaken the 8th spot in the playoff chase thanks to a conference-record tie breaker over Dallas.
Gerald Green continued his hot play off the bench with 18 points on 50% shooting, including three important foul shots to close the game for the Suns.
The Wizards pulled to within three with a minute left (93-90), but Eric Bledsoe nailed a long three pointer to put the nail in the coffin before Green's free throws.
Point guard John Wall did everything he could to keep Washington in the game with 29 points and 6 assists but the Suns were too much.
The first quarter was a back and forth affair with 10 lead changes, but after that the Suns led the entire game. The lead got as big as 25 points (75-51) before the Wizards recovered enough to make it a game.
In the middle quarters, the Suns offense was as crisp as its been in months, with great picks thrown by the big guys on the pick-and-roll, and the Suns properly swinging the ball to the open player. It was a Bledsoe and Dragic show - the Slash Brothers - for a while there playing off each other with threes and layups.
On the defensive end, the Suns appreciated a lot of poor offensive execution on the part of the Wizards as they built the 25 point lead.
But then the Suns appeared to shut down after getting the huge lead. They are used to being the team that has to come back, not the one holding the fat lead.
The Wizards went on a 24-6 run to cut the lead to 4 in the fourth at 83-79 at one point. But then the Suns scored 8 straight to put the lead back to 12 with 5:30 to go and they never looked back.
The Slash Brothers really earned this win. Eric Bledsoe had his fourth straight 20+ point game, and Goran Dragic contributed 25 of his own.
The Phoenix Suns have now won 5 straight games and 7 of 8 since Eric Bledsoe returned to the starting lineup. They retook 8th place in the West, tied with Dallas at 43-29 a season high 14 games over .500.
Some postgame quotes from COLD D.C.
-- "We got tentative. When they went to the small lineup we were running the pick and roll and they were switching it and we weren't attacking. We were letting the clock run down and then trying to pump fake the big into drawing a foul and now all of a sudden we're stuck and had some bad opportunities to score."
-- "At least defensively, John Wall, he's tough to deal with when he starts driving like that. Guys don't want to foul him and it's tough to stay in front, but we made enough stops to survive."
-- "Heck no, we were nervous. I think like I said, we've been around the NBA long enough to see that over 82 games you have some of those where you lose them, some of them you win them...It's a lesson in this league, even up 25, nothing's safe. Hopefully, we learn that."
-- [On 19 turnovers] "We've got to keep that turnover number down, especially if we're gonna be a fast-breaking team. You shouldn't have turnovers if you're running and you're hitting the open guys. A lot of times the running teams have less turnovers than the half court teams."
-- "Well, first off, these guys are hungry. They (Suns) bring it every night. They compete every night. They know what they are playing for. They have character, a lot of will to win the game. They play together, they have fun running the system the right way."
-- "Then were were up like 25 points and they made that huge run...but I'm glad we didn't panic. When we need to stop their offense we did and then we hit some easy basket in transition."
-- On his big three last in the game "Honestly, I can't tell you how it went in. I pretty much been in those type of situations all year with the ball in my hand, it always find me in those type of situations, and I just made it happen. There was no hesitation. I was pretty much shooting the ball good all night just thought, why not. And the shot clock was running down so I had to put it up."
-- "It's just pride. I think we went smaller, matched up with them and switched pick and rolls, got ourselves back into the game."
Enjoy this...again and again and again
We just love giving free stuff away.
The next edition in the series of random Bright Side of the Sun giveaways is a Phoenix Suns "Domo."
What's a Domo, you ask?
Domo is a force of nature and it turns out he's also a basketball fan. In case you're not familiar with Domo, he is the reigning poster child for personalized, user-generated content, finding a home as a pop culture icon within the online viral community with hundreds of thousands of fan-made images, websites and videos posted to YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Flickr, among others. Now more than a decade later, the lovable fuzzy brown character's cult status continues to grow with product flying off retail shelves!
How can you win a Phoenix Suns Domo, you ask?
2. Tweet @sreekyshooter with your prediction for the final score of the Suns-Wizards game, who the leading game scorer will be and how many points he'll have. You also have to use the following hashtag: #BrightSideDomo
The person who properly tweets the closest final score prediction (with the leading scorer and points being the tiebreakers, if needed) will win. Remember, you have to be following BOTH Twitter accounts AND you muse use the #BrightSideDomo hashtag.
Get your predictions in by game-time (4pm PT). Win a stuffed toy. You're welcome.
So much rancor for a fanbase of a team that's won 4 in a row and 6 of 7. So much discord among a bunch of fans whose team is peaking at the right time of the year.
Can't we all just get along?
It seems like for the last week, it's impossible for any post on this site to go more than 10 comments before it somehow devolves into a shouting match between Channing Frye and Markieff Morris supporters. I have good news for both sides: you're both right.
Undeniably, Markieff Morris has been playing at a higher level than Channing Frye since at least January 1. The numbers, quoted ad nauseum by the Morris camp, bear this out. Also undeniably, Phoenix plays much better with Channing Frye on the floor (see below).
What's getting totally lost in this conversation is that the Phoenix Suns are a better team this season for having both players at their disposal. In fact, the Suns are at their best when 'Kieff and Channing join forces.
Stats from 82games.com
This chart shows the Suns' top 20 5-man units in order by minutes played. The "Off" and "Def" stats are the points per possession each unit scores and allows on the floor together. Every line-up configuration but 1 that includes Channing Frye outscores the opponents, for whatever reason, while line-up configurations with 'Kieff aren't as successful (Disclaimer: dat sample size). But more germaine to this particular conversation, the line-up configurations that contain both Markieff Morris and Channing Frye are among the Suns' best with one notable exception: the five-man unit comprised of Ish Smith, Archie Goodwin, Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris and Channing Frye. I'll let y'all figure out why maybe that's not the Suns' best unit (hint: lack of consistent penetration, shot creation and passing skills at the guard positions).
If you click around on the 82games.com site, you'll also see that the Suns are indeed better with Morris on the floor instead of Frye at the end of close games. I'm not sure what the problem with this is. I'm sure if you asked Goran Dragi? or Eric Bledsoe who their favorite power forward is, the answer would be, "The one that's on the court with me."
Let's maybe stop looking at Frye and Morris as competitors for the same job and instead as complements in a rotation, like pitchers. The Phoenix Suns have a starter and a closer. Both are fresh and effective for the parts of the game that the coach is asking them to play. Why must this be an either/or conversation when it is clearly a win-win for both players and the team? The only ones who seem to be losing in this equation are us as fans.
So can we all please agree, here and now, to declare a cease-fire in the Morris-Frye Conflict until the end of the season? This is the team we have. These are the line-ups Jeff Hornacek has decided upon. Markieff Morris and Channing Frye are both playing their guts out for the purple and orange. We are in the thick of a playoff battle. While I am a huge fan of dissent in the service of a stronger union, I believe the time has come for both sides to lay down their arms and unite in the face of not only a common foe (the rest of the Western Conference), but a common cause: the glorification and veneration of a magical Phoenix Suns squad.
Prior to this season, neither of these players looked to be playing a critical role on a playoff team: one due to life-threatening heart condition, the other due to 2 seasons plagued with inconsistency and inexperience. Now both are thriving and integral parts of what is easily the most fun Suns' team since the Western Conference Finals squad of 2010. They are both OUR guys. Let's cherish them as such. Save the debate for the off-season, which both of these dudes are doing their best to ensure comes as late as possible.
Recapping the NBA action affecting the Suns race for the playoffs.
Some of you may remember a few years back in the days when the Suns didn't stop their season and go on vacation after 82 games when the esteemed Wil Cantrell and I used to write daily recaps of the Western Conference playoff race. Apparently Dave was looking to do something like that again and since he hates you guys almost as much as he loves being dense he's asked me to pitch in and since the Brooklyn Nine-Nine season just ended I need an outlet to vent my many feelings.
This will be pretty simple. I'll give you a quick recap of the relevant games from the previous night, the current standings, and the relevant games for that night. I'll show you the standings for the entire Western Conference but for our purposes I consider key or relevant games to be only those involving the Suns, Mavericks, Blazers, Grizzlies, and Warriors. It will all be heavily biased.
Tuesday March 25th Key Western Conference Results:
Orlando Magic 95 Portland Trail Blazers 85 (Recap) - Coming into last night's action the Magicians had lost an impressive 9 consecutive games. Included in those 9 were losses to the Bucks, Jazz, and Lakers - which is basically the Bermuda Triangle of NBA defeats. Despite all that, Orlando got huge performances from both Nikola Vucevic (22 points, 10 rebounds on 10/18 shooting) and Tobias Harris (25 points, 11 rebounds, 10/15 shooting) while the LaMarcus Aldridge-less Blazers shot a paltry 37.2% from the field - all that was a recipe for a terrible Portland loss. The defeat put Portland just 2.5 games clear of missing the playoffs entirely - impressive considering their 24-5 start to the season. I would not be opposed to Portland continuing their 1964 Phillies-esque collapse.
Dallas Mavericks 128 Oklahoma City Thunder 119 (Recap) - Honestly Oklahoma City, you guys are a just a bunch of jerks. For the second time in 9 days the NBA's deans of sneering and preening dropped a game to the Suns closest playoff competition. In this episode they got 43 points from Kevin Durant but it wasn't enough to overcome 15 threes from the Mavericks - including 6 from Jose Calderon. Dirk Nowitzki (who I try to hate but can't) put up a line of 32 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 steals to lead the Mavs. I'm still mad that Oklahoma City failed to pull down a rebound up 3 with 29 seconds left. Fortunately the Mavs and Thunder do not play each other for the remainder of the season because if they did I assume Scott Brooks would give us 48 minutes of Perry Jones while giving Kevin Durant a 2 hour nap. I hate the Thunder.
Current Western Conference Standings:
|2. Oklahoma City
|3. LA Clippers
|4. Houston||48||22||.686||6||7-3||WON 4|
|6. Golden State
Wednesday March 26th Western Conference Games of Significance:
Suns @ Wizards - Ordinarily going 2-1 on a road trip would be considered a really good thing. Ordinarily you don't need to win 50 games to make the playoffs. Shut Marcin Gortat up.
Grizzlies @ Jazz - Utah is in last place in the Western Conference and playing without their second leading scorer in Alec Burks. Best we can probably hope for here is divine intervention.