The good news was the squads trailing the Suns all lost. Meanwhile the WC leaders held steady with the Rockets gaining ground and the Jazz temporarily falling out of the playoff mix. But the Suns lost a half game from the 7th and 8th spots with both Denver and Houston winning.

Denver Nuggets (8) 99 Charlotte Bobcats 88

Denver Stiffs:

But give the Nuggets credit in two key areas tonight: rebounding and ball distribution. The Nuggets pulled down 49 rebounds, 5.5 above their average, and dished out 29 assists, also 5.5 above their average. And all this despite not breaking the century mark in scoring. Comparatively, the Bobcats grabbed just 34 team rebounds and dished out 26 assists.

The Nuggets must find whatever mojo they had in Chicago and recreate it soon, or we'll be resorting to rooting for Western Conference teams to lose just to get Denver into the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season.


Dallas Mavericks (5) 100 Orlando Magic 98

From Mavs Moneyball: DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK

DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK Delonte West DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK

DIRK DIRK Jason Terry DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK DIRK


Houston Rockets (7) 99 Memphis Grizzlies (6) 89

Goran Dragic scored a season-high 25 points and dished out seven assists, Courtney Lee poured in 17 points and Marcus Camby grabbed 16 rebounds and blocked a season-best six shots as the Rockets used a sizzling 52.1-percent shooting effort to defeat the Grizzlies 98-89


Boston Celtics 100 Minnesota Timberwolves (10) 79

The Celtics were led by none other than Kevin Garnett, who played his first 12 seasons in Minnesota before moving to Boston. He scored 24 points against his former team while Paul Pierce added 21. Avery Bradley chipped in 17 while Brandon Bass added 12. The Timberwolves were led by Kevin Love, who scored 22 points while Luke Ridnour added 15 and Derrick williams chipped in 14.

The Timberwolves have now lost two of their last three games, giving them a record of 25-28, which puts them in 11th place in the Western Conference and in fourth place in the North West Division.


Sacramento Kings 104 Utah Jazz (9) 103

NBA.COM: DeMarcus Cousins was unstoppable, scoring 27 points while collecting 14 rebounds. Marcus Thornton complemented him nicely from the outside, scoring 26 points and draining three 3-pointers.

The Jazz shot 52 free throws and had an 81.1 percentage in foul shots through three quarters. But they missed too many during the crucial fourth quarter, going 8-for-15 from the free-throw line in the final period. Jefferson had three of the seven misses.


LA Clippers (4) 98 Portland Trailblazers (11) 97

BLAZERSEDGE: Without All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, the Portland Trail Blazers had no fear against the Los Angeles Clippers tonight. On ESPN, the Blazers gave the Clips all they could handle. This was an A+ game in terms of entertainment value, everything ESPN dreams of.

The Blazers were led by a nearly-shocking JJ Hickson, finishing with 29 points and 13 rebounds. He was supported by Nicolas Batum (18 points, 6 rebounds), Wesley Matthews (12 points), Jamal Crawford (14 points, 3 assists) and Raymond "I need a new contract!" Felton (9 points, 8 assists).

Screen_shot_2012-03-31_at_6


PHOENIX — Steve Nash created quite the national stir yesterday, when a Dove Men’s Care promotional media blitz ended in what appeared to be a bold statement to the Phoenix Suns’...

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PHOENIX — Phoenix Suns forward Grant Hill successfully underwent right knee surgery on Friday morning, repairing what the team called a “medial meniscus tear” that was discovered...

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If you want to know what Steve Nash is thinking about his future, I highly advise watching him talk about it here. The national media was quick to take a few things out of context and there was even a sketchy rumor in the NY Post about him being "steamed" about the Suns decision not to pursue Boris Diaw.

Here's Nash:


Do you think anything he's said over the last few days changed anything?

Here's Alvin talking (mostly) about the loss of Grant Hill:



Is this the last we will see of Grant Hill this season? Mandatory Credit: David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

Aaaaannd, there's the first bump in the road. After three seasons in which Grant Hill missed a grand total of three games to become the Suns' relative iron man, his run at health has ended.

A torn meniscus in his knee will require minor surgery today, according to Suns' beat writer Paul Coro of azcentral.com, knocking him out until at least mid-April if not the whole remainder of the season. That's quite a blow to a Suns team that just a few days ago tasted the playoffs on the tips of their tongues and started pushing off summer plans.

"He's our glue guy," Suns guard Jared Dudley said after the Suns lost to the Clippers without [Hill] Wednesday night (as posted in the azcentral article linked above). "He calms us defensively. He's the best defensive player. He's the one who guarded Chris Paul at home and slowed him down. Offensively, he is efficient and gets out on the break and that makes other people guard him and open up 3-pointers. He posts up and makes the extra pass."

After blowing out Cleveland last Sunday, the Suns were back on a roll that saw them win 11 of 15 games to get over .500 for only the second time all year. Then Grant Hill's knee didn't recover from a hard hit, one that didn't compare to the one he absorbed from LeBron James only a week before. Then, in a tight loss to the Spurs, Nash's back started to act up. And now the Suns must be asking themselves, what next?

Well, the Suns do have options.

The loss of Grant Hill is bigger than you would think by looking at his stats. Hill averaged 10.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists this season in just under 30 minutes a game. Those numbers can be reproduced by many a player in 30 minutes a game, including the Suns' own Shannon Brown.

But we all know his biggest contribution was guarding the other team's best perimeter player, whether it be a wing or a point guard. This role is vitally important to any team with Nash in the lineup so that 2-time can take the lesser offensive threat while biding his time for the next offensive possession. With Hill in the lineup, the Suns can be assured that their opponent's best offensive player will have to work especially hard for their points without needing to provide double-team help.

So what can the Suns do without Hill?

Option 1: Move Jared Dudley to starting SF, play Shannon Brown, Michael Redd and Ronnie Price more minutes at SG

As the Suns did on Tuesday and Wednesday with limited (little to no) success, they could bring Brown's scoring to the starting lineup. The problem is that leaves Michael Redd and Ronnie Price to team with Sebastian Telfair in the second unit. That second unit failed miserably in the Clipper game, and doesn't engender a lot of confidence in Suns fans going forward.

Those problems were compounded, though, by the loss of Markieff Morris to the flu bug which moved Hakim Warrick off the bench and into the second-unit rotation with Michael Redd. There are very few defensive pairings in the NBA that are a worse option than a Redd/Warrick one. I mean, that is just ridiculous. With Warrick and Redd out there against San Antonio in the fourth quarter on Tuesday night, the second unit allowed the Spurs to start the fourth on a 17-4 run. Ouch.

Option 2: Dust off Josh Childress to take at least half of Hill's minutes

The Suns have what used to be a helpful NBA rotation player in Josh Childress gathering dust on their bench. He seemed to lose a lot of his game in Greece, though, and now appears to be out of sync most of the time and unproductive even more often than that.

But if given a role for the rest of the season, it is possible that Childress could find his game again, which happens to look a lot like Grant Hill's except for the jump shot.

Option 3: Sign Aaron Brooks for the rest of the season

We talked about this before and we know it's best to keep Brooks' rights this summer, which wouldn't happen if the Suns sign him now. If the Suns give him a prorated one-year contract for a month, he would be unrestricted this summer.

However, Brooks would represent a nice scoring option off the bench as a shooting guard. Sure his defense would be deplorable, especially at the SG position next to even-littler Sebastian Telfair, but we could probably count on 12-15 much-needed points per game.

Is he better than Michael Redd? Yes.

Option 4: Sign free agent SF Rasual Butler to play Grant's minutes

Butler was waived by Toronto last week, but scored 11.9 and 11.2 points in 32-33 minutes a game the two previous years with the Clippers as their starting small forward. He is a career 36% shooter on 3-pointers (better than Michael Redd), with his best year coming in 2009-2010 at 39%. He has a quick trigger on 3s, averaging 4.4 and 5.3 attempts per game in 2009-10 and 2010-11.

Given this Suns team's need to make open 3-pointers and relative inability to do so (Butler's .358 career average is higher than all but three Suns are shooting this season), he could be a welcome surprise. Add in that Butler does have a reputation of being a passable defender, and just maybe it could work out.

However, Butler has been horribly inefficient on offense in his career, with a career PER of 10 (average NBA player PER is 15) and not even approaching that since the 2009-10 season.

None of these are sure-fire options, and none as good as having Grant Hill in the lineup.

Pray for a quick recovery!

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What to do in the wake of losing Grant Hill?

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