Well - we knew there could be some excuses. Trevor covered that in the preview,
No one will fault the Suns if they come out shooting flat, playing minimal defense and just generally lacking energy. Everyone understands that triple overtime games take awhile to recuperate from, especially when you're as old as Nash, Hill and Carter (37, 38, 34). However, even with the excuses already locked and loaded, the Suns need to try their best to win this game.
Well the first part was entirely true. Oh and there was an added bonus - Grant HIll - well he was out with the stomach flu - and oh yeah, Steve Nash? He was feeling under the weather too. (What did those putrid Los Angeleans feed our boys?) Oh and one more thing? Mickael Pietrus sprained his knee. But again I'll rehash what Trevor pointed out - at this point in our unpredictable season failure is not an option. Excuses only sugar-coat the inevitable at this point.
But you know what's great? The second half of Trevor's declaration was equally and entirely true. The Suns indeed tried their best to win this game and it was the behemoth-of-an-effort from the bench especially that willed this team to victory over a confident and a hot Toronto Raptors team. That statement is not to discredit the heart and energy that the starters exerted as well to pull out this victory coming off an epic triple-overtime loss under the... dim-lit roof of Los Angeles' Staples Center.
A few goodies for you after the jump! READ MORE!
The Suns certainly came out a little flat with shots falling a little short, turnovers happening at a quicker rate than they were yesterday, the defense was a lotta slow a lotta times.. and Suns fell into a hole giving up a 9 point run to the Raptors to start the game and ultimately going down by 6 after the first quarter allowing the Raptors to score 32.
But the story-line changed in the second quarter as the Suns showed tremendous heart and scrap and a lot of execution from the bench. They broke even in the 2nd quarter holding Toronto to 29 points and painting 29 on the scoreboard themselves. After the half there was no looking back... though the Raptors went on a few tense runs themselves, the Suns rallied and outscored the opponent in both the 3rd and 4th quarters to take a 114-106 victory.
I have two goodies for you. 1) Some random notes - ADD YOUR OWN IN THE COMMENTS FOR THOSE WHO DIDN'T SEE THE GAME. AND 2) a short yet powerful narrative for your amusement and/or arousal.
Random Notes -
- Surprise! Robin Lopez came out with a lot of energy! Oh, wait maybe it's because he only played 10 minutes last night while others played around 45 and 50... All in all - Robin Played a pretty good game, 15 minutes/ 8 points/ 6 rebounds/ 1 block.
- Alvin Gentry - "This was the best win of the year"
- 63. That's the number of points the bench scored in this game. UH-Mazing.
- Aaron Brooks finally did what Tom Chambers and Eddie Johnson have been microphone coaching him to do since he got here. Play his game. He is a score-first point guard and that is exactly what he did tonight. He attacked the rim... he jacked up 3's... he attacked the rim... and he shot some 3's some more and he was effective shooting 9-16 for 25 points, he had 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals and about 13 plays where he was constantly putting pressure on the officials to make foul calls on the Raptors. That's something we need more of.
- The Suns played all 3 points guards - for much of the second half Steve Nash and Aaron Brooks were on the floor together, I think it worked pretty well given that it was probably forced given the injuries and fatigue of the players normally in the rotation.
- The more I see of Z the more I like. Yeah - he's not an amazing shooter yet... but he's a rookie and he's not Earl Barron so there's a lot of hope for improvement in that area of his game. But what I think I like most about Z is his aura. Yeah I said aura. It's the way he goes about things - he's feisty, maybe even cocky. He's strong with the handle and unpredictable for defenses. Nobody knows what he's going to do.
- Channing Frye = ICMF. He hit key three's he played 40 minutes (after playing 1234 minutes yesterday), he didn't back down to the out-of-control Jerryd Bayless when said midget took exception to a Fyre screen and grabbed Channing by the neck and attempted to toss his frame of pure muscle and shooting-illness ("he's got a disease and the only cure is for more
cowbellICMF") only to be stopped dead in his tracks and stalked by a menacing 'fighter-Frye'. Jerryd pushed him in the chest and Frye didn't flinch. The end result was a Flagrant 1 for Bayless's Judo take-down attempt and double-techs for the reaction from both. That was kind of a turning point in the game because Jerryd sat down (He must have been disappointed and frustrated that Grant HIll wasn't playing so he could get his traditional "I got blocked by BAMF you-tube-style" moment) and Nash and co. took over the lead and never looked back.
- A little more on this - I'll give Frye all the credit in the world for the way he's improved his game both defensively and offensively since he's been with Phoenix. But here's where I'll be a spoiled fan and call him out - this offseason he could really work on his catch and finish on the roll... or on the move period. There's a reason Steve Nash turns to look to the other wing if he sees he's running the break with Channing.
- 43 points and 18 assists from the PG's... wowzers.
- Gortat. The end. 15 and 8. AND 5 BLOCKS. Beastly.
- Vince Carter was back! YEAH I said was... he started the game 4-5 and he had Gary Bender pulling the ol' "OH YOU KNOW VINCE CARTER CAN GO OFF FOR 30 POINTS ON ANY GIVEN NIGHT!" ... and then where did he go? He faded into the bench after continuing to go 0-6... it was Brooks who came in for Carter and light the stat sheets up. He did score 13 points and hit some good 3's to keep the game competitive in the 1st, but he pulled predictable and disappeared in the 2nd half. Again. #CTLVCOF 4 LIFE.
- Josh Childress saw a whole 9 minutes tonight - I would have liked to have seen him more given that Pietrus and Hill were out.. but we won so I won't complain too much. He had 2 field goals - both Marion-esque dunks - one flying between two defenders from the elbow for a 1-handed throw down and another of a beautiful alley-oop from Aaron Brooks out at the 3-point line. Good stuff and energy from Childress.
- Leandro Barbosa was playing pretty well his return to the valley. Word is he drove around the city to reminisce about 'good times'. He drove around the court tonight for 14 points. Good to see the beep beep.
And now for a little treat - as you can see I've tried to write a little something about everyone because like Alvin Gentry said in his post-game presser - it felt as if everyone who stepped on the floor tonight for the Suns did something to help the team earn this victory. Here's a tribute to one I've yet to mention.
A short narrative
There he was - a half step inside the three-point line on the right wing, poised and collected. His eyes shifted from the rim where out of the corner of his eye he caught a glimpse of the expiring shot and game clock to match up with Gortat's penetrating Polish eyes. For a moment, the crowd went quiet, the background noise seemingly faded as if the miniature unicorns controlling his mental sound board slowly turned the dials from +10 to level at 0. "JMZ baby" He said to himself and he sneakily began his motion. The play was set. The time was now.
Aaron Brooks darted from his defender to stack-up behind Gortat and set a firm screen, by this time Jared was gaining speed and with a slight of hand only found at a Chris Angel dark magic show at the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas the ball was transferred from the hands of the Polish Hammer to those of a now streaking Dudley. The integrity of the Toronto Raptors interior defense was broken, the lane was wide open. Before the weak side defender could turn and comprehend the movement of the enemy... HE WAS ALREADY AIRBORN.
It was as if he was floating, being supported by 16 small cherubim who were wearing Nike's with the words "High Flyers MJ?" embroidered on the tongues. Before the destruction was wrought upon the rim, an anxious and ecstatic Zabian Dowdell was already in airborne celebration on the Suns bench. Everything was surreal yet so comfortable for him... All in one moment, the rim was rattled, the basket was counted, and it was as if perfectly on cue the miniature unicorns all in unison cranked the background volume up to +20 - no gradual ascension - all at once Jared Dudley was invigorated with roaring sound of a loaded U.S. Airways arena... Number 7.
Great game - gritty win, still on track to survival. Let's now look ahead to our next game against the Hornets.
Check out the Raptors take at Raptors HQ.
Channing Frye's Journey To 'Clutchville' - SB Nation Arizona
Channing credits a new mental approach this season to his ability to make these big shots. He's a guy who Suns coach Alvin Gentry described as highly competitive but also very sensitive. For Channing that often manifested itself as an inability to relax and handle the pressure.
Frye - Bayless dust up: