More photos » Paul Connors - AP
No foul on the play right? Right. Whatever. (AP Photo/Paul Connors)
The missing Phoenix Suns team that you've been seeing on your milk carton for the past few months returned home for 48 minutes tonight. They played the brand of basketball that purple and orange fans have taken for granted for years. I almost couldn't remember the last time I felt this engaged watching a game... it seems like forever. To see the Suns compete like they did tonight was a refreshing gorge of water for this fan's parched confidence.
The comeback and overtime win in New Jersey undoubtedly elevated the squashed confidence and unity of this team and the result was a full 48 minutes of solid effort, grit, and heart from every member of the team who stepped on the court tonight in a critical game.
I called this the Suns toughest game in their '2 week season' - Seth called it an important game, and with playoff indications in the back of everyone's mind the Suns came together and pulled off a huge, emotional win against the Portland Trail Blazers. With so they effectively avoided the season series sweep (1-3) from the Blazers and have now won consecutive games for the first time since the first week of December. This could be exactly what this team needs to put together a good run as they eye a favorable schedule and get ready to head out on an extended road trip.
Let's check out some of the goodies from the game - Jump it fools!
|Final - 1.14.2011||1||2||3||4||Total|
|Portland Trail Blazers||36||23||27||25||111|
Let's do the Eutychus evaluation. I'm not one to praise myself.... wait yeah I am. Let's see how I did with the preview, here are my focus points.
I said this would be a tough game - our toughest game in the petri-dish window and wow it was a nail-biter. We can all take confidence away from this win. We're now 2-1, and in the post-game interview Vince Carter was asked, "what do you expect this team to do on your up-coming road trip?", Vince - "Shoot - Win em' all, why not!? ... this is a confidence booster going on the road ... we're playing better basketball." Preach Vince. Preach. I think the Suns can win them all, especially if they continue to build on this momentum and remember the effort they put on the table tonight.
Wes Mathews is no exception - he's averaging 17.6 points against the Suns this season and is a huge reason the Blazers have scored over 100 points in their 3 meetings so far against us (when the team averages only 95 ppg otherwise). Here's the part where I would say - look for him to have a big game because he's due, especially since he's gone cold shooting over the past 6 games and only hit 2 of 12 from behind the arc. It would seem only fitting that he'd wake up and shake the slump against the Suns right?
He played 40 minutes and scored a game high 26 points, and netted 5 of 10 three point shots... The Suns-Killer Rule was definitely in effect because he was on fire from the opening tip. Man you called it Eutychus.
So.... was he injured? It sure as heck didn't look like it.. Nic Batum also had an above average game as he usually does against us - and Andre Miller was hitting shots that he doesn't make anywhere else except when he's playing against the orange and purple.
I said he would be out and he was definitely out. Bam. I'm good.
LaMarcus Aldridge will be that guy that the Suns will need to lock down tonight. He has been on absolute fire for the past two weeks. The Blazers are coming off of back-to-back home losses coming into tonight's game... but Aldridge is riding a 6 game double-double streak and is averaging 26.4 ppg over the last 7.
Well hot dang - He put up 25 points on 9 of 15 shooting and 7-9 from the line - he was the go-to play for the Blazers. They went to him on the first play of the game and he scored on Channing Frye, in fact in the first half he was seemingly unstoppable and seemed like he was hitting everything he threw at the rim (along with EVERYONE in a Blazer's uniform)... but when they went to him in the second half and in crunch time - Channing's D, and effective double-teams prevailed. And guess what? LMA only had 4 rebounds. Suck it dude. Hope you enjoyed your 6 game double-double streak because IT. IS. OVER. Bam. More points for me.
Dude had 18 rebounds against us last game... he's always a problem for the Suns. Here's to hoping he doesn't do that again.
Camby's rebounding total? ... Drumroll please ... 15! yeeeeessss. Right again Eutychus. It sure wasn't 18! In all seriousness - you're not going to stop Camby from getting his rebounds really. The guy has a reputation as being a defender and a rebound machine and so the refs let him get away with going over the back and tipping and poking the ball up to himself, all the time. But the really impressive part of the Suns game today? The Suns actually out-rebounded the Blazers. Let that soak in.
Most of all, from the Suns we need 48 minutes of effort. We're all tired of the hot and cold spell roller-coaster games ... All I really want to see is effort. Let's do this.
With the exception of a short run at the start of the 2nd quarter where the Suns found themselves down by 10, this happened. The Suns played a full effort-riddled 48 minutes of basketball.
On a sour note, I said this in the thread to the preview:
foul trouble could be big – we’ll see how the refs are calling the game. They always seem to give credit to Portland (meaning calls go their way) when things get physical because of their rep… hopefully some home court cookin’ is in effect
Yeah that happened too - everything except the home cookin'. This was probably the worst officiated game I've watched all season. We've seen the Suns get down in the dumps when the refs affect the game before - but tonight they stayed mentally tough, even though Steve Nash and Goran Dragic picked up technical fouls in the first half and Nash was pissed off early and often by the officiating they continued to work hard and hustle.
After Nash was whistled for his tech (he kicked the ball in frustration after a stop in play) he was all over the camera screaming livid profanity at someone - maybe the ref, maybe a Blazer, but after that you could see a spark in everyone on the Suns' eyes. Even Zabian Dowdell who played only 34 seconds at the end of the first half impacted the game with his hustle as he stole the ball in the backcourt and was hacked and fouled on his way to the rim... but of course there was no foul called. It was a 'clean strip'. I don't enjoy criticizing the officiating but it definitely affected the game tonight and luckily the Suns were able to battle through it and players rose to the challenge and pulled out a victory despite the obstacle.
All in all I will sleep a happy man tonight. I look forward to watching the next games.
Check out what the Bedgers have to say,
[Note by Seth Pollack, 01/15/11 12:49 AM MST ]
That was kind of fun to see the Suns actually play well and beat a team with a winning (barely) record.
Phoenix Suns Battle Back To Get Much Needed Win Over Trail Blazers, 115-111 - SB Nation Arizona
"I thought Hak (Hakim Warrick) did a great job. I thought he had energy, he came in with energy. Came up with a couple of big plays for us, made a couple of good passes and that's the kind of play we would like to have consistently from him off the bench. If he can do that for us night in and night out, I think we'll be in good good shape," Gentry said.
Audio: Gentry postgame 011411
Audio: Hill postgame 011411
Let's get this party started.
[Note by Seth Pollack, 01/14/11 8:06 PM MST ]
Both Wes Matthews and Grant Hill will start.
I tweeted after watching Wes try and warm up that I didn't think he would go. He was taking some mid-range shots and would only land on his left foot. He was favoring that sprained right ankle a lot. I didn't think he would go but I forgot that it's the Blazers and you have to be dead not to play.
Both coaches answered questions about the importance of this game in the standings. Nate used the "one game at a time" cliche and said "every game is important". Gentry said he's just looking for his team to find some consistency and defend home court.