In the midst of a third quarter run that effectively killed the Wizards' hopes at a win, Eddie Johnson said, "And here I thought this was going to be a game decided in the fourth quarter." I thought the same thing, especially after a nearly-defense lacking first half that had the Suns leading 64-61. However, to start the second half, the Suns, would have none of that.
Orchestrated by the near-perfect Steve Nash, the Suns came out firing. Two lob feeds for dunks within the first two minutes of the quarter indicated that we may have been in store for a track meet. However, on the defensive end, the Suns tightened up. Players rotated defensively. They got their hands in the passing lanes. They contested every shot from the Wizards, and the defensive intensity led to a 27-13 run that allowed Nash to leave the game.
It wasn't until a stretch of sloppy play by the Suns reserves that prompted Alvin Gentry to call a time out and put the starters back in. Once that happened, it was game over. Adios. Sayonara, Washington. This was a quality win over a team the Suns should have beaten.
And there was this...
The Suns are finally looking like the team we know they could be. An unconventional, yet efficient team defensively, and a well oiled machine on the offensive end. Things aren't perfect. In fact, they're far from perfect. But improvement is improvement, and this is the first time the Suns have really taken a slumping team out back and given them an old fashioned beating.
Things That Impressed Me
- Two words: Steve Nash. I'll let his stats do some of the talking, which I'll post below. But even more than the gaudy and near-perfect stats, he was every bit of the leader we know him to be. He made perfect pass after perfect pass to set up the second half run. He stepped in front of players. Defended. Gave a pep talk to Dragic in between quarters. There are times when you see someone play and simply appreciate everything that they do. This was one of those games for me. Aside from the two turnovers, it doesn't get any better than that.
- Hakim Warrick's overall play. Yeah, I know he had the amazing dunk. I know he scored 26 points in 27 minutes off the bench. But aside from all the offense, it was the way Warrick conducted himself on the court. The lack of playing time given in the previous two games must have rung true with him. He came out energized, crashed the boards (he picked up 6 tonight) and looked more committed on the defensive end.
- Beating handily a team we should have beaten handily. The Wizards are slumping and John Wall is rusty since returning from an injured knee. Prior to the injection of defense, that wouldn't have meant anything to the Suns. The fact that this game ended like it did showed me that the team is stepping it up when they need to. They're developing that killer instinct. They're beginning to play as if the games mean something.
Major props go out to Alvin Gentry, who has always found a way to make it work. Since inputting the widely unknown and late signee Earl Barron
into the starting lineup, the Suns are 3-0. He has consistently shown that he is able to adjust on the fly and roll with the players that are succeeding. He has also shown the tenacity that it takes to coach an unlikely group of players into a successful, winning team. All in all, it was a great win for the team. These are the type of games that separate a bad team from a playoff team, and the Suns are beginning to play like they actually believe they deserve in the playoffs.
Now let us all shout in jubilee!
NEXT UP: PHOENIX SUNS at PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
TUESDAY, DEC. 7th @ 8PM AZT
[Note by Seth Pollack, 12/05/10 8:59 PM MST ]
Steve Nash Leads Phoenix Suns To Schooling Of John Wall's Washington Wizards, 125-108 - SB Nation Arizona
Nash's 17 assists and perfect shooting night was only the fifth time since the 1976 NBA-ABA merger that a player has accomplished that feat. Nash has done it twice now along with John Stockton (Feb. 1994), Mark Jackson (Mar. 1987), and Magic Johnson (Nov. 1983).
- Frye jumping the tip just a sign of how vertically challenged Earl Barron really is
- Suns testing their jumpers early. Frye miss, Hill miss
- Nash draws a foul on Wall, he does that to all the rookies
- JRich goes into the paint against Heinrich. Suns are going to abuse the Wiz guards in the paint
- It's really kind of difficult to describe how sneaky / crafty Nash is. He's just Nash-like in his Nashtyness
- And Earl Barron misses the dunk and tip-back. Once again, that's why he's Earl Barron and not LaMarcu Aldridge
- If the Wizards have a pick and roll defense strategy it is far beyond my ability to comprehend. Basically they are just hoping Nash will miss open shots. Good luck with that
- I need to bear down and force myself to pay more attention to the Wizards offense...but it's painful
- Oop, Wall just hot his revenge on Nash. Steve turned his head for a split second and Wall as in 12 feet past him
- I seriously think that's 8 shots Barron has missed from within 3 feet...It's kind of funny really
- Suns down 21-14, not so funny
- Warrick in for Barron, Gentry looking for some offense here
- Suns go w/ Warrick and Hedo together on the front line. Blatche goes right at Warrick in the paint and draws foul
- Gilbert hits a three, Nash responds w/ a pick and roll dunk for Warrick. Barron can't do that
- Hedo steal and leads the break, JRich three but Nash gets credit for the assist b/c of his quick swing pass. That should have been Hedo's assist
- Suns on a nice little run here to close the quarter. 31-28, Wiz
- Suns start w/ a Hedo/Warrick pick and roll. Warrick to the line
- Yi posting up Hedo, that's sad
- Earl Barron had 5 offensive rebounds and no second chance points
- Warrick looking fly
- Josh doing a good job staying in front of Arenas, not that Arenas is all that quick any more
- Suns not shooting the ball but there are at least getting into the paint and getting to the line. Fairly bleh game so far. Not the kind of game we are going to remember in two month...or tomorrow
- Fun to see Dragic try and attack Wall. Didn't work but still fun
- Nice steal from Hedo on McGee
- Suns production peeps trying so hard to get this "Heeeedooooo" thing to catch on after each of his threes. Not working
- Golden Grannies on the court. Time for me to make a little golden stream. Brb
- JaVale McGee found someone he can post up - Hakim Warrick. But Wiz can't stop Suns
- 49-48, 4:55. Nash back in. Very nice stretch for Dragic/Hedo/Warrick they are plus something
- Wow, that looked like an actual play from the Wizards. Highly unusual
- Nash uses various Wizards as screens to shake Wall and get an open shot
- Meanwhile, Wizards like Nick Young and Ji can't miss from outside. Defense!!
- Both sides scoring but I have to think the Suns are more sustainable..they are at least getting into the paint and getting to the line. Wiz just hitting from outside...open shots but still from outside
- OOOOOHHH Warrick Mega Slam end of half. Looks back at Suns bench like "Earl Barron who"
- 64-61, Suns
- Suns 20 FTAs. Wizards 5. Wiz 4-8 from three. Suns 2-6. Suns 22-19 TReb
- Nash to Frye lob dunk...wow. Frye has seriously increased his hops this year. Whatever exercise he's doing, Jared needs to do twice as many
- Time for the Suns to pull away, need some stops
- Even Earl Barron couldn't miss that wide open dunk Steve created for him
- 78-67, Suns
- For some reason JaVale McGee thought he could jump over Grant Hill. Who does he think he is, Blake Griffin?
- Those open outside shots the Wiz were hitting are no longer falling
- JRich / Barron pick and roll. That's new
- Suns crowd now groans when Frye misses a three b/c they expect him to make all of them
- And that's why Warrick can't rebound...he had position on Blatche and jumped straight up but couldn't secure the ball over the bigger dude. He at least tipped it out of bounds though
- Suns are now just toying with Wizards....lob passes galore. If Dudley gets a lob dunk the fans will much just storm the court
- 91-75, Suns
- Goran in, Nash out. 1:13 to go in the 3rd. Suns have 93 points. I think tacos will happen
- Warrick just leveled Nick Young with that screen...lol
- Suns won the 3rd qtr 31-17
- Hedo flies in for the tip-in. Both he and Warrick got the message that Gentry was sending
- Refs tired of sending Warrick to the line, but it doesn't matter -- he's just jumping into guys and still finishing
- Hedo is pissed that Ji jumped over him for a tip-in put back. That's good that he's pissed about it
- Sorry, I spaced out there a bit. Did I miss anything? I guess someone called Trevor Booker did something nice
- 102-85, 8:08 to go. Bench on the floor
- Arenas trying to go into hero mode, kind of working to be honest
- Hmmmm, wonder if the Wizards know who Goran Dragic is and that he can shoot if they leave him wide open?
- I wish there was something more profound to say about this game
- A couple of sloppy possessions for the Suns, lead down to 107-95. Gentry time out. 5:13 to go
- Starters back in except Warrick instead of Barron....and there's the reason why as Nash dumps the ball off to Hak and he explodes to the rim w/ a no-step jam
- And that fast, Suns back up by 20. Bench coming back in now with 3:00 to go
- Frye had a goal tend, can't imagine he's had many of those in his life
- Grant Hill with the double fist pump after taking the charge
- Siler in!!
- If Siler's in, I think we can call this one over. Later peeps
- Unlike Earl Barron, Siler can finish around the rim. Too bad his feet are made of concrete blocks