Will the Suns have the energy to stay with the Nuggets tonight?

The second game of the Suns back to back to back this week takes them to Denver to face a banged-up Nuggets squad. George Karl's Nuggets are missing leading scorer Danilo Gallinari and leading rebounder Nene Hilario to injury, and have won only 2 of 6 games this month.

Steve Nash and the Suns will attempt to bounce back from cold long-range shooting against the Warriors in Oakland last night. Suns starters shot only 4-18 from behind the arc, and the offense again stagnated down the stretch as the Suns fell to 13th place in the Western Conference with a 102-96 loss.

As the Suns near the halfway point of the season (this will be their 29th game out of 66) and the trade deadline is only a month away, they don't have much time left to make a move in the standings before it's time to focus even more attention on next season, and possibly make more roster moves.

Will the Suns give us something to love in this game on Valentine's Day? Or will Suns fans take a walk down lonely street to Heartbreak Hotel?

The Nuggets are the league's highest scoring team at 103.9 points per game, and play with the fastest pace. Suns fans who have been watching their matchups with the Nuggets are well-acquainted with the Nuggets' fast, explosive offense. In the last three regular season games between the teams, the Nuggets put up 138, 132 and 116 points, then ran the Suns into the ground twice this pre-season for good measure.

Injuries to Gallinari and Nene will help the Suns cause, but the Nuggets are still a dangerous team. They just snapped a 5-game losing streak but those losses were to the Lakers, Blazers, Rockets, Mavs and Warriors, all of whom the Suns are looking up at in the standings.

Probable starters:


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
Danilo Gallinari 25 32.9 5.2 11.7 44.7 1.4 4.5 31.3 5.2 5.8 89.0 0.7 4.5 5.2 2.6 1.6 1.2 0.6 1.9 17.0
Ty Lawson 25 34.6 5.9 12.8 46.4 0.9 3.0 31.1 3.0 3.8 78.9 0.9 2.6 3.5 6.5 2.4 1.5 0.0 1.6 15.8
Al Harrington 28 26.9 5.6 11.9 47.6 1.5 4.6 32.3 1.9 2.7 71.1 1.1 4.8 5.9 1.3 2.0 1.1 0.3 2.8 14.7
Nene Hilario 23 30.6 5.2 10.0 52.0 0.0 0.1 0.0 3.0 4.8 63.6 1.6 6.2 7.8 2.0 2.6 1.2 0.8 2.2 13.4
Arron Afflalo 25 30.1 3.9 9.1 43.2 1.2 3.2 38.3 2.5 3.1 79.5 0.6 2.0 2.6 1.6 1.3 0.6 0.2 2.2 11.6
Andre Miller 28 29.5 4.1 8.7 47.1 0.4 1.4 30.0 2.0 2.7 76.0 0.8 3.0 3.8 6.6 2.3 1.2 0.2 1.7 10.7
Rudy Fernandez 24 24.5 3.3 7.5 44.2 1.3 4.2 32.0 1.1 1.6 71.1 0.3 2.0 2.4 2.6 1.4 1.0 0.1 1.4 9.1
Corey Brewer 21 17.0 3.1 6.2 49.6 0.6 1.4 43.3 1.7 2.5 66.0 0.8 2.0 2.8 0.7 1.0 1.0 0.4 1.5 8.5
Timofey Mozgov 21 17.3 2.4 4.5 53.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.9 1.4 63.3 0.9 3.6 4.5 0.7 1.3 0.2 1.2 2.2 5.7
Kenneth Faried 8 11.8 1.6 3.4 48.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.6 2.6 61.9 1.5 3.4 4.9 0.4 0.6 0.0 1.1 1.8 4.9
Chris Andersen 20 13.4 1.6 2.9 55.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.4 2.1 64.3 1.3 2.7 4.0 0.1 0.5 0.7 1.1 1.6 4.6
Kosta Koufos 21 14.3 1.8 3.3 55.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.9 1.3 67.9 1.6 3.0 4.6 0.2 1.0 0.4 0.6 1.8 4.5
Jordan Hamilton 4 5.0 1.3 2.8 45.5 0.8 1.5 50.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.5 0.5 1.0 0.5 0.8 0.3 0.0 0.3 3.3
Julyan Stone 8 9.9 0.9 1.9 46.7 0.1 0.8 16.7 0.1 0.3 50.0 0.6 1.4 2.0 1.6 0.6 0.4 0.4 0.9 2.0

This will be another game in which the Suns' best chance will be to keep the pace moderate and limit the turnovers that the Nuggets can convert to running opportunities. The Suns simply don't have the athletes to get into a track meet with the Nuggets, especially in the thin air of Denver and having played the previous night.



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Denver Nuggets 109, Phoenix Suns 92 They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. Well the Denver Nuggets should be quite fond of Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, and Nene when they host the Phoenix...

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Shhh, try not to talk about such things that might be depressing to the fan base.

No surprises here, the Phoenix Suns future is not so bright. According to a couple of ESPN "analysts" the Suns are 29th on their "Future Power Rankings". And just to be clear, that's on a scale of 1 to 30 so 29 is bad but not quite as bad as the Bobcats.

ESPN's NBA Future Power Rankings: 26-30 - ESPN
Besides Steve Nash, Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley, every other player on the roster who gets significant minutes has a PER below the league average.

At the end of the day, who really cares where these guys ranks the Suns on their fancy list. 29th. 27th. 23rd. That doesn't matter. What matters is the core truth exposed revealed reminded by this ranking.

This Suns team has a) a few questionable long-term contracts thanks to Robert Sarver's panic spending in the wake of Amare's departure b) only one real prospect on the roster (Markieff Morris) thanks to some questionable drafting (Earl Clark, Robin Lopez) and c) one fewer first round pick and one fewer young point guard thanks to a failed trade last year.

Oh, and Happy Valentines Day! Try not to let this "news" get you down. Try eating some chocolate, that's often helps.

Also try and remember that these things have a way of turning around sometimes.

Remember how bad things looked for the Diamondbacks in July 2010? Remember last week when the Knicks didn't have a point guard and Mike D'Antoni was about to get canned?

There's a couple of truths in life for situations like this: Things change in unexpected ways and ESPN Analysts aren't all-knowing gods.

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Just as the Phoenix Suns started clicking, another letdown lurked right around the corner. On Monday night that letdown materialized in the form of a 12-point blown lead in the second half, more...

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It was a war out there...

In the pantheon of Phoenix Suns losses, this one wasn't so bad. The game in Golden State was competitive, hard fought and a lot of fun to watch. The Warriors got the win at home thanks to some big shots from their bench guys in the second half and great hustle on the glass in the first.

The Suns got plenty of good looks but went cold from three going 5-25 (.200) with Frye and Dudley only a combined 2-13 after a couple of hot shooting nights. As we've said many times, when those two guys are hitting their threes, the Suns are hard to beat. Without those extra points, the Suns just couldn't generate enough offense late in the game. Again.

Defensively, the Warriors only shot 37% in the first half, but exploded for 33 points in the third quarter. David Lee gave Suns fans a peek at what a big man with post moves looks like and added some great energy and effort on the glass as well. He finished with 28 and 12.

Lil Nate Robinson was his feisty self, adding 11 off the bench and rookie Klay Thompson and second year big Ekpe Udoh were both big for the Warriors. Give their bench credit.

The Purple Boys built a 12-point lead through the six minutes of the third quarter but the wheels fell off the defense with Lee and Monta Ellis fueling a 25-10 run in a span of 6:46 to take the lead going into the fourth.

Both Robin Lopez and Sebastian Telfair were bad enough in their second quarter stretch that they weren't let off the bench in the fourth. Instead, Ronnie Price came in and gave the Suns some grit but not much else. Markieff Morris had all ten of his points in the fourth but was 4-11 on the game.

The Suns got down by 10 in the final quarter but battled back to 94-91 with just under two minutes to go. Gortat missed an open 15 footer and then Dudley missed an open three and it was game over from there. Big shots were missed on one side and made on the other. Ball game.

One thing I'd want to take a look at tomorrow is how the Suns reacted to the Warriors switching defense in the fourth quarter. It still seems they didn't do a good enough job recognizing and finding the mismatches in the post.

The Suns shot just 38% in the fourth....that's not going to get it done. They need to find another way to generate points in the paint when the threes aren't falling. Especially, if teams are going to switch a guard on to Gortat on the pick and roll.

"We did a terrible job finishing the game," Alvin Gentry said in his postgame comments.


Final - 2.13.2012 1 2 3 4 Total
Phoenix Suns 27 19 27 23 96
Golden State Warriors 20 23 33 26 102

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On to Denver for another one tomorrow. A blow out is entirely possible, especially if Nash and Hill get the night off as many expect.

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