The Suns Brought the D Tonight. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Tonight the Phoenix Suns clearly had their big boy pants on. They withstood the blood and hits and intimidation of the Sacramento Kings and won the bout of Western Conference light weights, 98-84.

The Suns put in an excellent defensive effort, limiting the Kings to 35% shooting on their home court. The defensive charge was led by Grant Hill, who made Tyreke Evans a non-factor, holding the 6-6 point guard to 4 points on 1-9 shooting.

Down in the trenches, Phoenix narrowly lost the overall rebounding battle 42-38, but 50% shooting and an excellent bench effort more than made up for it.

Jared Dudley led the Suns with 20 points and 10 rebounds, while a bloodied Steve Nash dished 15 assists. Channing Frye continued his improvement from the field, knocking down 6 of 12 for 17 points.

This is about as good as the Phoenix Suns can play in the year 2012. The Kings record isn't very good, but they have put together quality efforts against the WC elite winning against the likes of the Lakers, Thunder, Spurs, and Trailblazers. What is also impressive about this victory is the Suns began to pull away from the Kings early, opening up an 11 point 1st quarter lead, and held the lead without Steve Nash in the lineup for the second quarter. Ronnie Price and Sebastian Telfair put in quality appearances, with Price adding 6 points on 3-3 shooting while Telfair handed out 4 assists. Neither player turned the ball over. This was just one of the things that...WENT RIGHT!

And there were more:

  • Marcin Gortat had a rough assignment trying to contain DeMarcus Cousins. Gortat responded by limiting the big new insane guy in the NBA to 8-18 shooting while going 15, 7 and 4.
  • Markieff Morris picked up his first technical foul tonight while getting in the grill of Francisco Garcia. Kieff added 18 6 and 3 off the bench. He didn't back down to anyone tonight, and Alvin Gentry rewarded the youngster by keeping him on the floor down the stretch while Marcin Gortat watched from the bench.
  • Jared Dudley scrapped and clawed his way to a double-double including 10 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocked shots.
  • Steve Nash once again bled for the Phoenix Suns and their fans. At the end of the first quarter Nash was struck accidentally by Isiah Thomas, who was crushed by a Gortat screen. The hit was so hard, Thomas' arm spasdically extended, his hand catching Nash on the lip. Nash would later return after 4 stitches were sewn into his flesh.
  • The Suns bench stepped up, outscoring the Kings 35-27 and didn't lose the lead in the dangerous second quarter.

Next up, the Warriors, on Monday in NorCal.

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    Sactown Royalty








    Keep up the high intensity, Channing!

    The Sacramento Kings haven't had a winning season since 2005-06, when their team featured Mike Bibby, Peja Stojakovic and Ron Artest (AKA Metta World Whatever). This year's edition doesn't figure to reach .500 either, but the Kings do have some quality young talent in Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas, and have won 4 of their last 5 games, including a 106-101 win over the Thunder on Thursday night. They sit at 10-16 going into tonight's game against the Suns in Sacramento.

    Thursday night wasn't as good for the Suns, as they dropped a winnable game to the Rockets and played their starters a lot of minutes in the process due to woeful bench play. If the game against the Rockets was a measuring stick to see how far the Suns can rise, this game could be seen as a measuring stick for how far they can fall. Last season, the Kings beat the Suns in 3 of their 4 meetings despite the fact that, let's be honest here, the Kings had a terrible team.

    This year's version of the Kings looks to be slightly improved, as Evans and Cousins gain more experience and they're adjusting to new head coach Keith Smart, promoted from assistant after a 2-5 start and a near-mutiny under former Suns player and coach Paul Westphal.

    It's tempting to look at this game on the schedule and think the Suns "should" win, but these are fairly evenly matched teams.

    Read on for more........

    Is DeMarcus Cousins an emerging franchise big man or a selfish coach killer? The answer to that question is the key to the Kings hopes for the future. The #5 overall pick in the 2010 draft was suspended by former coach Paul Westphal for being, according to Westphal, "unwilling/unable to embrace traveling in the same direction as his team; it cannot be ignored indefinitely." Four days later, Westphal was fired, as the Kings decided it was easier to replace a middling head coach than a 21-year old tremendously athletic (almost) 7-footer.

    Cousins is a rebounding monster at 11.4 per game, 4.3 of them offensive rebounds. Marcin Gortat and Channing Frye will have their hands full, and Robin Lopez will have to see more action than he did Thursday when he sat out the entire second half. The good news is that the rest of the Kings bigs, Jason Thompson, J.J. Hickson and Chuck Hayes, are nothing special, and they're not an effective rebounding team overall.

    On the offensive end for the Kings, Cousins, Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton figure to carry the load. Thornton isn't shy about hoisting 3-pointers, taking over 6 of them a game. He hit two huge 3s late in their game against the Thunder to help seal the deal. Hey Suns, please do NOT leave him alone in the corner!


    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
    Tyreke Evans 26 36.5 6.3 15.2 41.5 0.5 2.3 23.3 4.2 5.5 76.9 1.1 3.8 5.0 5.1 3.0 1.6 0.4 2.3 17.4
    Marcus Thornton 19 35.4 5.9 15.2 39.2 2.1 6.2 33.9 3.2 3.7 85.9 1.3 2.2 3.4 2.0 2.2 1.4 0.2 2.5 17.2
    DeMarcus Cousins 25 29.2 5.8 13.0 44.6 0.0 0.1 0.0 3.8 5.3 72.7 4.3 7.1 11.4 0.8 2.7 1.1 1.4 4.2 15.4
    Jimmer Fredette 24 21.9 3.0 8.0 37.8 1.5 3.8 39.6 0.9 1.0 88.0 0.5 0.8 1.3 2.0 1.4 0.7 0.0 1.2 8.5
    Jason Thompson 26 22.6 3.4 6.2 54.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.3 2.4 54.0 2.3 3.4 5.8 0.9 1.0 0.5 0.4 2.0 8.2
    John Salmons 25 29.4 3.1 8.4 36.8 0.8 2.9 28.8 0.6 1.0 66.7 0.4 3.0 3.4 1.9 1.0 1.0 0.2 1.8 7.6
    Isaiah Thomas 25 17.0 2.2 6.0 37.6 0.9 2.8 33.3 1.6 1.9 83.0 0.5 1.2 1.7 2.4 1.2 0.6 0.1 1.3 7.0
    J.J. Hickson 26 20.5 2.2 5.6 39.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.3 2.1 63.0 2.2 3.4 5.6 0.5 1.4 0.5 0.5 1.4 5.7
    Donte Greene 20 13.9 2.1 5.1 40.6 0.5 2.2 20.9 1.1 1.4 78.6 0.4 2.3 2.7 0.7 0.6 0.4 0.4 1.3 5.7
    Chuck Hayes 15 22.7 1.7 4.3 38.5 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.7 1.0 66.7 2.1 4.1 6.1 1.2 0.9 0.7 0.3 2.5 4.0
    Francisco Garcia 20 14.4 1.3 3.8 33.3 0.6 2.2 27.3 0.8 1.0 75.0 0.2 1.4 1.6 0.6 0.5 0.7 0.5 1.0 3.9
    Travis Outlaw 18 10.7 1.0 3.9 25.7 0.2 1.3 12.5 0.8 1.2 63.6 0.4 0.9 1.4 0.1 0.4 0.3 0.3 0.7 2.9
    Tyler Honeycutt 3 2.3 0.3 0.7 50.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.7 1.0 66.7 0.3 0.3 0.7 0.0 0.0 0.7 0.0 0.0 1.3

    For the Suns, the obvious area for improvement is bench play after their train wreck of an effort Thursday. Michael Redd is becoming a solid contributor, a welcome addition to a team in frequent need of an offensive boost. But Sebastian Telfair, Josh Childress, Markieff Morris and Robin Lopez have been far from dependable.

    How long before Alvin Gentry goes back to Ronnie Price at backup PG? Or gives Zabian Dowdell a call? Or maybe tries to coax Frank Johnson or Elliot Perry out of retirement? I'm open for any of these possibilities because watching Telfair makes my head hurt.

    Channing Frye looks to finally be coming around as he's scored 19, 14 and 21 in the last three games, but his 3-point % is still only at 31%, well below his career average of 39%. If Frye would like to go on a tear right about now, that would give the Suns a huge lift. Some of the team's problems were to be expected, Frye's poor shooting was not.

    The Suns are currently #12 in the West, while the Kings are #14. A loss would drop the Suns to #13 so, let's try not to lose, huh?



    Notes

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    Phoenix Suns 98, Sacramento Kings 84 PHOENIX — Odd as it sounds, a three-game road trip might be just what the doctor ordered for the Phoenix Suns. With a better winning percentage on the road...

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    "NO RETREAT! NO SURRENDER! THIS IS SPARTA LAW! And by Spartan law, we will stand and fight... and die."

    "O-kay. We see where you're going with this. But hear us out. What if, like, instead of fighting to win, you like, lose some battles, so you're more effective later?"

    "WHO ARE YOU?!? Who are these Cretins? Why aren't you dressed in battle armor?"

    "Oh, we don't actually fight with you. We more like cheer from the sidelines. See those logs all tied up and webbed together beside the battlefield? We sit there and sort of tell you what you should do."

    "THE PERSIANS ARE ALREADY HERE! We've made a giant wall out of boulders and their bodies! Why do you want us to not fight our hardest?"

    "You see, there's some fine up and coming young fighters, and if you lose a lot, you would get first pick! So by strategically having some of your best warriors hide in that water tank over there part of the time, you could throw a few battles, BUT next year pick up some young stud who has a 7' wingspan!"

    "CAPTAIN! GET OVER HERE! These young gentle men wants us to throw some battles. What say you?"

    Captain gNash shakes the hair out of his eyes as he splits yet another giant warrior with his sword. He high 5's several comrades as he rushes to King Alvgentridas' side. "I say we fight on!" he cries as yet another foe's head is sent spinning free from its body.

    "LIEUTENANT! How say you?"

    Lieutenant Goretat raises his mighty hammer and shatters the shield of the enemy before him, He brings down his terrible beak upon the helm of his foeman, cracking the iron and sending shards into his brain. Spitting a piece of blood vessel from his mouth, Goretat exclaims, "We battle to the death!"

    "No, you don't get it. We really like our idea. If you just don't try so hard, you might get some real sharpshooter in the offseason."

    "HAVE YOU NO FIRE IN YOUR BELLY? What young fighter would wish to join our band if we were of the ilk who lay down their arms?"

    "Changeling was doing so well, missing shot after shot, his longbow always off target. And Chilldrax was way off with that wacky swing of his. But now he's slashing, and slicing and dicing! You'll do no better than middle of the road! That's just madness!"

    "MADNESS? THIS. IS. PHOENICIA!!! This is where we hold them! This is where we fight! This is where they die!"

    With a mighty crash of swords upon shields, the orange-clad knights followed their battle-hardened captain into the fray once again, to do or die trying, leaving a pile of young bucks, hawk feathers, cat skins, and bear limbs in the wake of their slaughter.

    The webbedloggers caught one look of the grim faces on the Sun-emblazoned fighters and skeedaddled over the hillside-- unless they, too, were ready to join the battle!


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