20130202_tjg_se9_564

Minutes after the final buzzer of a 113-86 loss to the Garnett-less, Rondo-less Boston Celtics, at home, hosting a team just 8-17 on the road and losers of two straight, Lindsey Hunter realized just how hard his job is going to be.

It smacked him in the face.

And it rained down on him from the stands, which happened to be full of Celtics fans on this night. By late in the fourth quarter, they were cheering louder than at most any time of this long, dreadful season. Except they were cheering for the Celtics, who hit everything they put up because it felt like a home game to them.

"That is totally unacceptable, coaching wise and player wise," he ranted. "The way we performed tonight, that cannot happen. I know people say all the time you cannot coach effort. I disagree because I am responsible and I feel like if I got to coach effort then that is what I have to do."

Teams often take on the persona of their coach, and Lindsey Hunter's career was defined by a defense-oriented moxie that wouldn't take any crap from anyone.

These Suns are nothing like that player, and that's why Hunter is here despite having no coaching experience.

"They had no respect for us," he continued. "I mean that is embarrassing. One of their Hall of Famers didn't play and they still come in here and smack you around like a punching bag and you are at home and there is no resistance.

"That is just not who I am and that is not who this team will be. "

"Whatever we have to do, whatever method, it will be done," he continued. "If guys [in the rotation] think they are entitled, then they won't play. If we have to pull guys out for not making rotations, then we will shuffle the deck until we find guys that are going to do what we have to do. Simple as that."

At this point in the season, making a fundamental change in the way a team plays the game of basketball is a tough thing to do. Games come fast and furious, and there's only two months left in the season.

But Hunter isn't buying any of those excuses.

"I guarantee you we will change or we will be practicing until they kick us out of the gym. Disrespectful, that's what I take that as. Just being disrespected.

"My father always told my always demand respect and while I am here we are going to work until we learn how to demand respect and I do not care how long it takes. I do not care how guys think we are going too hard or too long. Too bad."

From this point on, we will see what kind of coach Lindsey Hunter is. We will see if he can impose his will, his style on this team. In Hunter's mind, the Suns would scratch and claw from the opening tip to the final buzzer every single night.

That's what to watch for the rest of the season.

How much conviction and control does Lindsey Hunter have over his team? Does he really have the stones and latitude to bench some talented players for lack of effort? Can he really play Diante Garrett 30 minutes a night, while a high-paid guy watches the whole game from the bench?

Hunter is looking for effort. Consistent effort.

Let's see what he can do.

20130202_tjg_se9_564

Minutes after the final buzzer of a 113-86 loss to the Garnett-less, Rondo-less Boston Celtics, at home, hosting a team just 8-17 on the road and losers of two straight, Lindsey Hunter realized just how hard his job is going to be.

It smacked him in the face.

And it rained down on him from the stands, which happened to be full of Celtics fans on this night. By late in the fourth quarter, they were cheering louder than at most any time of this long, dreadful season. Except they were cheering for the Celtics, who hit everything they put up because it felt like a home game to them.

"That is totally unacceptable, coaching wise and player wise," he ranted. "The way we performed tonight, that cannot happen. I know people say all the time you cannot coach effort. I disagree because I am responsible and I feel like if I got to coach effort then that is what I have to do."

Teams often take on the persona of their coach, and Lindsey Hunter's career was defined by a defense-oriented moxie that wouldn't take any crap from anyone.

These Suns are nothing like that player, and that's why Hunter is here despite having no coaching experience.

"They had no respect for us," he continued. "I mean that is embarrassing. One of their Hall of Famers didn't play and they still come in here and smack you around like a punching bag and you are at home and there is no resistance.

"That is just not who I am and that is not who this team will be. "

"Whatever we have to do, whatever method, it will be done," he continued. "If guys [in the rotation] think they are entitled, then they won't play. If we have to pull guys out for not making rotations, then we will shuffle the deck until we find guys that are going to do what we have to do. Simple as that."

At this point in the season, making a fundamental change in the way a team plays the game of basketball is a tough thing to do. Games come fast and furious, and there's only two months left in the season.

But Hunter isn't buying any of those excuses.

"I guarantee you we will change or we will be practicing until they kick us out of the gym. Disrespectful, that's what I take that as. Just being disrespected.

"My father always told my always demand respect and while I am here we are going to work until we learn how to demand respect and I do not care how long it takes. I do not care how guys think we are going too hard or too long. Too bad."

From this point on, we will see what kind of coach Lindsey Hunter is. We will see if he can impose his will, his style on this team. In Hunter's mind, the Suns would scratch and claw from the opening tip to the final buzzer every single night.

That's what to watch for the rest of the season.

How much conviction and control does Lindsey Hunter have over his team? Does he really have the stones and latitude to bench some talented players for lack of effort? Can he really play Diante Garrett 30 minutes a night, while a high-paid guy watches the whole game from the bench?

Hunter is looking for effort. Consistent effort.

Let's see what he can do.

162395466

The first game after the trade deadline, I wondered if the Suns would come out breathing fire or ice. It was ice. While the small-ball Celtics took it to the Suns, and right past them to the basket for a layup, the Suns stood around as if they had all eaten turkey and were ready to take a nap.

Boston started the game with a dominating 13-0 run that included only one jumpshot - the rest were layups and a free throw - while driving to the rim every time. The Celtics, resting Kevin Garnett, started an entire small-ball lineup with the "stocky" 6'8" Brandon Bass and wafer-thin 6'9" Jeff Green as their biggest players.

In the old days, the Suns would have thrown out a big smile with Amare Stoudemire at C and Shawn Marion at PF and run these guys out of the gym. In fact, Rivers never would have gone with that lineup, instead trying to bully Amare with Chris Wilcox.

But these are the slower, plodding Suns who boast Luis Scola and Marcin Gortat as the bigs, and Boston was able to take advantage. Gortat looked out of place and spacy (let's call it unengaged) and Scola was just too slow no matter hard he tried. And to his credit, he was trying hard.

On the wing, Goran Dragic waited until it was 13-0 Boston before asserting himself at all, while P.J. Tucker hustled his usual hustle but couldn't carry the team (or make a basket) and Jared Dudley made a couple of bad plays.

"I am not a fan of small ball," Hunter said before the game, of maybe going without a center sometimes.

It didn't take him long. Gortat and Dudley, two of the most talked about tradeable players, were replaced by Markieff Morris and Wesley Johnson within three minutes of game time. They must have had deadline-party hangovers. Or maybe its the realization that their season is just 27 more meaningless games.

The Suns came back a bit and outscored Boston 20-15 after the opening run, but the Suns were still down by 8 heading into the second quarter. Not a good-looking night for the guys in black.

Through the whole first half, the Suns played a step slow. Transition defense was horrible. No one stopping the ballhandler, no staying with their man, just floating in no-mans-land.

Mid-second, the Suns went with a 2-PG lineup of Dragic and Marshall to pick up the ball movement, along with Beasley, Dudley and O'Neal. That worked for a couple minutes, until Beasley threw the ball away on a fast break.

With a 10-point deficit and only 33 points in 18 minutes of play, Hunter gave the starters one more chance at the 6-minute mark as the Celtics went back to their small ball starters.

The Suns kept it close this time, but the Celtics held the Suns at bay and led by 12 at halftime. The Suns team was just not in synch while Boston looked like they were running on all cylinders.

Gortat continued his deep funk. In eight February games, the Polish Hammer has produced just 9 points and 6 rebounds in 26 minutes per game. By contrast, Jermaine O'Neal has produced 11 points and 8.4 rebounds in only 22 minutes a night. Preseason, Gortat did warn people he might hit a wall at some point this year after playing year-round with the Suns and Poland for three years straight. Here we are. Hope the wall is a short one.

On the opening possession of the second half, Tucker fought for about three o-boards on one possession (on Gortat's missed 15-footer) while Gortat floated out to midcourt waiting for Boston to get the ball.

The Suns played with a little more heart in the third quarter, but a combination of Boston guard Avery Bradley's dynamo defense on Dragic and the Suns' frantic (and ultimately bad) defensive rotations on the other end, the Suns could not cut the lead for longer than a possession or two and third ended with the Suns trailing 81-67.

At least the Suns offense was better than it has been lately. Already 67 points in only 3 quarters!

Boston brought in newcomers Terrence Williams (from overseas) and Jordan Crawford (from the Bullets) and even those guys played well despite only being with the team on the road trip.

Diante Garrett finally got some playing time alongside Dragic and Marshall in a 3-PG lineup with Markieff Morris and Jermaine O'Neal. Garrett had two assists within seconds on consecutive fast breaks with Dragic and Marshall.

But then the Suns gave up consecutive three-pointers to Crawford and Williams. Did I mention those guys just joined the Celtics in the last two days? On a road trip? That's how loose and free this game was. For them. And the Suns.

Hunter called another timeout with their biggest deficit yet: 21 points. What to do in the last 7 minutes?

Keep Dragic in, of course. he's only 1 assist shy of a third consecutive double-double.

Finally, Hunter put Marcus Morris is the lineup and after a couple of miscues, Morris made his first shot as a Sun: a three-pointer. Let's hope there's a lot more of those.

Boston extended the lead because they just couldn't miss - ending the game by making almost 60% of their shots.

The game wound down with the Celtics fans drowing out the crowd with a "Let's Go Celtics" chant.

it was one of those nights.

Dragic finished with 17 and 10, along with 5 rebs, 2 steals, 2 blocks and 5 turnovers.

Marcus Morris got 7 points, 2 steals and a rebound in the last 6 minutes of the game.

No Josh Smith, no Al Jefferson and nothing too notable. The Phoenix Suns were pretty conservative in their moves before Thursday’s trade deadline, and that’s OK. It’s what most of...

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Gyi0064020276

Dear Boston Celtics,

This evening we shall partake in a contest between our two franchises. It shall be spirited and entertaining to all [or none], as both teams are looking to come back from thumpings they received on Wednesday night.

Our deliciously orange fellows were dispatched by the ironically named "Golden" State Warriors 108-98, despite the continuing efforts of Goran Dragic. His play is both inspiring and a complete waste. Save it for next season Goran.

Your gleefully green ball club was completely embarrassed by your long-time and bitter rivals, the Los Angeles Dysfunctionals 113-99. How you managed to allow Earl Clark to pull down 16 rebounds I am unsure. And while you have seemingly done the unseeming to win eight out of nine games after Rajon Rondo [your welcome for him by the way] went down with the ACL tear, your latest performances have truly been excruciatingly difficult to watch, especially losing to Charlotte. I mean, really? We can beat them.

But I am not here to disparage your good name. I am writing today to provide you with fair warning of what is to come. Now I know that statement sounds like trash talk, but I do not mean it to say that we are going to drub you into tomorrow with our mean pick and roll tandem of Dragic and Marcuskieff [Markieffcus?] Morris. While that may indeed happen [it shall not as Marcus will not be playing, according to our crack investigative reporter Kris Habbas – he is having his physical tonight – not Kris, Marcus], the game tonight will tell a different story.

It is a story of a once proud franchise with a tremendous amount of talent that stormed the league and turned heads. It is a tale of how that franchise rode those superstars for years, piling win upon win and even more smiles from the adoring fans. Yet like all good things, those smiles and wins came to an end.

You see, we once had superstars on our team, much like you have. And as the years went by, so did their ability to produce wins. Yet for quite a while, despite their advanced age, they still managed to beat teams on a regular basis. That is, until they could no more.

So I say to you, Mr. Celtic, as we engage in the back and forth that is the game of hoops, beware! Your aging stars may indeed pull out wins here and there, but if you don’t watch out, you will end up right where your opponent tonight sits – dejected about that fact that even though we kicked your butt, we somehow lost something in the victory – a spot higher in the draft lottery.

Good day and good luck to you. For even if you happen to win [and you shall not], you will soon know the misery of our situation.

Le meas,

Suns fans

What: Phoenix Suns [18-37, 5th Lottery Standings] vs. Boston Celtics [28-26, 7th EC]


When: Friday, February 22nd, 2013, 7:00 PM local time

Where: Soon to be American Airlines Arena [AAA], Phoenix, AZ

Watch/Listen: TV: FSAZ, Radio: 620 KTAR


Head-to-Head: Greenies [1] – Oranges [sour grapes]

The Suns and Celtics met in Boston on January 9th, resulting in a ten point loss for the Suns, 87-79. Apparently someone told someone else something about not scoring, or something like that. The two teams complied happily.

At the time of that game, there were quite a few rumors floating about the Suns trading various players and picks for other various Celtics player. Apparently Jared Sullinger was worried that the Celtics brass would see Marcin Gortat and decide to unload Sullinger for him, so he upped his effort to match Gortat in order to show Danny Ainge he is at the very least, equal to or better than Gortat. Sullinger equaled Gortat’s scoring outburst [as such a low game score would indicate, 12 points was an outburst by those standards]. However, his career high 16 rebounds were impressive, out-dueling Gortat’s 14 boards.


The Celtics bench took over the game behind Jason "He’s been in the league how long?"" Terry’s 13 points, and Jeff "You Can Come Back From Heart Problems Channing" Green’s 14.

Injury Report:

Boston: Rajon Rondo (Torn Derrick Rose); Leandro Barbosa [jettisoned]; Kevin Garnett [angry]

Phoenix: Channing Frye (Jeff Green’d); Sebastian Telfair [dispatched]; Wes Johnson [smiling]; Jermaine O’Neal [depressed]; Marcus Morris [turning his head and coughing];

What To Watch For:


Jordan Crawford:


When I heard the Celtics acquired Crawford for basically a bag of Funyuns [not that Funyuns aren’t the best chip asset you could have], I thought to myself, "self, why can’t we manage to trade our bag of wheat chex for the sixth man of the year?" Then I realized it was JORDAN Crawford and I went back to inventorying my bags of chips.

Needless to say, that deal was an even swap. You can probably tell what I think of Jordan Crawford. The best thing about his basketball game is the fact that when you talk about him, you mention his name in the same sentence as Michael Jordan. Now watch as he comes out and throws 36 on us.

Courtney Lee and Avery Bradley


As our fortunes have gone, it would be fitting if these two dominated us tonight since many here have pined for one, the other or both for some time. I would like to see Goran Dragic play these two jokers back to the NBDL. Come on, Goran! This is a challenge. You need to step up and send a message to the rest of the league that these two scrubs are not worth trading anything for. But please, do so by having a great game, holding them to embarrassing levels, but also manage to manufacture a loss. Lottery Balls!

KEY MATCHUP:

Garnett vs. Gortat


Byron "BJ" Mullens recently had a 25 point, 18 rebound game against Garnett. If Marcin Gortat cannot manage to get a double-double tonight, I am at a loss for words. In the last four games, Kevin Garnett and Company have allowed four opponents to have monster rebounding nights. Mullens had 18, followed by Noah’s 16, Faried’s 16 and EARL FRICKEN CLARK’S 16. Marcin, tonight is your night.

Impression of the Game:


I’m sorry, but I don’t do impressions.

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