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Another loss and another practice to try and get better. Before the Phoenix Suns (13-27) lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder (30-8) last night, their head coach Scott Brooks had an interesting observation about the state of the Suns and his respect for fellow head coach Alvin Gentry.

"It is almost impossible," stated Brooks about assimilating nine new players to a team. "I give coach Gentry a lot of respect, because when you have continuity like I have had and like our organization has had it makes it a lot smoother. It takes a lot of the stress of not knowing what to do. Our players know what to do. It makes it easier, I am not saying it is easy, but it makes it easier. This is a tough job."

That is one thing that feels appropriate to mention here as the Suns had a major overhaul with nine total new players including three current starters. Not many teams had that process happen, even the dregs of the league behind the Suns in the standings had some form of uniformity between last season and this current season.

What Did The Team Do?

Near the end of practice the team scrimmaged and then ran through sets that they will see Thursday night against the Milwaukee Bucks. They ran through a lot of ISO offense using Sebastian Telfair and Shannon Brown as their scout team quarterbacks of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. The concept of an ISO offense is tough to guard especially if the team has good shooters and finishers with spacing. The Bucks beat the Suns late in their first meeting of the season, here there is a chance at redemption.

Expect to see a lot of smaller line-ups from the Suns and for P.J. Tucker to get his share of minutes on Ellis.

It was good to see Tucker actively talking throughout practice. Since the start of the season to today the former Euro League star has become one of the leaders on the team. He and Telfair were the most vocal out there directing traffic.

Channing Frye came in to see the team and get some shots up and as Gentry stated is living it up, "playing golf everyday." He wasn't on the course today, instead he was at practice talking with coaches, helping the younger players, and adding a positive force that, in a tough season, is desperately needed.

Injury Update

Jermaine O'Neal sat most of practice due to continuing back spasms. He missed the teams last game with the same issue, which is part of the grind of an 82-game season heightened by being in the league for going on 17 years.

Jared Dudley was a light participant in practice as he continues to nurse his strained right wrist. In the scrimmages and the walk through he was active and should be ready to go on Thursday.

Goran Dragic has been hampered by a nagging right ankle injury that occurred on the road against the Boston Celtics a few nights ago. He stated he is feeling better, but was limited in practice and should be ready to play in the next game. This was part of the reason he has been less aggressive over the past handful of games, "every game is different, maybe it is because we are losing, I don't know if it is because of that," said Dragic about his ankle limiting his aggressiveness. "I didn't feel so quick, but I just have to push myself even harder to practice more."

Coach Gentry's Take on having more practice time over the next two weeks:

"We are looking at that big gap and maybe trying to do something practice wise. I wouldn't call it a mini-camp, but to do things along those lines. It gives you really quality practice days. It is like we are in a bowl game, but we are 35 days short (in terms of practice time). We are not in a very good bowl, we are in the Spam Treat Bowl."

On the team taking short cuts in practice:

"No, I don't, but what I think is over practice you have to make sure that you are stopping and correcting. I have been in the league over 25 years. It is just human nature without the fans in the stands guys have the tendency to short-cut it a little bit. That is true with every team I have been on and I have been associated with some great teams, some average teams, and some bad teams."

The 2013 NBA Draft Update

As of today the team is slotted in the 5th, 12th, and the 27th spots in the draft if it were to happen today. The 12th pick comes via the Los Angeles Lakers who are playing sub-playoff quality basketball hence the swap of the pick.

The Suns would also receive the Memphis Grizzlies pick (No. 27) today.

Here are the players they are taking in the current Mock Draft (The Mock does not reflect current standings):

At No. 5 - Shabazz Muhammad

At No. 12 - Dario Saric

At No. 27 - Willie Cauley-Stein

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There is hope for entertaining basketball in the Valley this year, but it comes in the form of the Harlem Globe Trotters as they bring their act into town. The game will be played at Casa Grande Union High School on February the 8th at 7 p.m.

Here is a Google Map to the school.

Ticket cost:

Courtside seats are $55

General Admission $23 (some at $17)

Or with a Magic Pass you can have the unique opportunity to meet the players before the game and get discounts on game tickets now, and in the future. The Magic Pass is $15 on top of the ticket cost, which is your ticket to a wealth of great memories!

Here is a direct link for ticket purchase

Contest

Special offer for our Bright Side readers is the chance to win some merchandise.

What would you do to fix the Phoenix Suns?

Here is a picture of the head and armbands that are awaiting your amazing comments! Come and get 'em! As Jim Coughenour would say, the most lucid and picturesque wins!


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This game was full of highlights and entertainment, unfortunately most of them came for the other side as the Westbrook and Durant Show took over in 11th gear.
PHOENIX — The NBA is a star’s league such that it often seems like a pair of studs can beat a lesser team 2-on-5. That wasn’t far from the truth tonight on the offensive end at least, as Kevin...

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For much of the game, the Oklahoma City Thunder appeared to just be toying with the Phoenix Suns and waiting for the double-digit win to happen.

But it didn't happen until Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant hit back-to-back threes and Durant scored 19 points in the 4th quarter alone (41 for the game).

Click the .gif to watch Durant put down the dunk of the year.

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via dailythunder.com


Gortat on the dunk: "We first of all, I was looking for my car keys under the basket. (chuckling). I mean, it happens. The funny thing is that when Perkins was standing under the basket he looked at me and said 'I know how it feels.' "

Funny guy.

By the end of his run, Durant was bent over and tugging his shorts like a weekend warrior after a good stretch in a YMCA game.

Westbrook (36 points) and Durant finished with 77 points combined - way too much for the Suns to handle.

Marcin Gortat had a good game (19 and 15), Shannon Brown had 21.

But Michael Beasley had his second good game in a row, this time a double-double - 14 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocked shots.

The Phoenix Suns would not go quietly

The fans might have (the arena was dead for most of the game), but the Suns fought hard against a superior team in terms of talent and execution.

The Suns entered the fourth quarter down only 4 points. After seeing meltdown after meltdown in recent games, could they play a full four quarters?

Kevin Durant barely played nearly the whole game, and started the fourth with 7 quick points to stretch the Thunder lead to 7 with 8:43 left (29 points at that point). Then Russell Westbrook returned (27 points through 3 quarters already) to help the Thunder put the game away.

But the Suns kept fighting. The Thunder's lead ranged between 4-7 points for half the quarter while the Suns scrapped for loose balls, blocked shots and got offensive rebounds to keep possessions alive.

Michael Beasley was part of the charge, with 8 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks by mid-4th. Markieff Morris played tough as well with 6 rebounds, 3 assists and a block. Marcin Gortat scored on a number of pick-and-rolls and lobs to the basket (easier with Nick Collison and Hasheem Thabeet replacing an injured Serge Ibaka).

Durant and Westbrook hit back-breaking threes

The Thunder got their needed separation with back-to-back threes by none other than Westbrook and Durant, building the lead to 11 with only 4 minutes left.

Durant walked slowly back to his team's huddle when the Suns called a timeout, a combination of strutting and exhaustion. He'd played all but 4 minutes in this game.

Game close after three

After three quarters, the Suns had cut the Thunder lead to only 4 points despite Kevin Durant playing 32 of the game's first 36 minutes (22 points on 7-17 shooting). Russell Westbrook scored with ease on midrange jumpers and an array of moves near the basket. He had 27 points after three quarters on 12-21 shooting.

The two Thunder stars dominated their team's offense as usual, scoring 49 of OKC's first 72 points. The Suns answered with Shannon Brown's 19 points and Marcin Gortat's 17 and 12. Goran Dragic also had 11.

Oh, the Thunder didn't sleepwalk through the game by any means. Rather they played just good enough to win cleanly.

Russell Westbrook could not be stopped on an array of drives, scoops and midrange jumpers. Kevin Durant could not be stopped with his own array of those same shots. Both Westbrook and Durant played 30 of the first 36 minutes to try to put the Suns away early. They finished the first thr

Sloppy first half

In the first half the Thunder had their offense when they wanted it, but the Suns could too-easily be stopped. To be more accurate, they could too easily stop themselves.

Three airballs in the first quarter that somehow ended with a 24-21 Suns lead. Four straight turnovers (three by Beasley) during a tough stretch in the second where the Thunder took a strong lead with a 15-2 run. Missing 7 of their first 11 free throws. And that was just the first half.

Yet the Suns only trailed 51-45 at halftime, thanks to a quiet double-double by Marcin Gortat (11 and 10 to that point) and the Suns making 4 of 9 threes (better than their free-throw percentage).

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