The Suns came away from Memphis with a rare win over a good team, a rare win on the road, and at 17-32 for the season perhaps just a rare win. With no rest but only a short flight, the Suns are back in action in New Orleans against the 15-33 Hornets on Wednesday night.
Can we just take a moment and talk (more) about that Grizzlies game? Jermaine O'Neal, Marcin Gortat, P. J. Tucker, Kendall Marshall and Goran Dragic the closing line up? Yeah, that was cool...especially since they went on a 6-0 run to close out the game. But more important was the 14-5 run that started when THE DRAGON ENTERED.
Goran was clearly frustrated early in the game. He was mad about being in foul trouble but being the fierce competitor that we know he is, came in and took it out with an old fashion Bear Stomp. Fun stuff.
As for the Marshall / Dragic combo, it worked primarily because Goran was able to be super aggressive and didn't have possessions ruined by Shannon Brown or Michael Beasley and also b/c the Grizz played two PGs together as well. You can call Kendall the point guard if you want -- he did bring the ball up the floor -- but it was Goran who made everything happen.
Does playing with a non-scorer like Marshall free up Dragic to be more aggressive or was this just one game against a team that really didn't play very well and a Slovenian who was angry and turned into a ancient flying reptile of destruction? We'll have to see what happens next time these two are on the court together. I'm all for seeing more because why not.
And props to Kendall for being a confident, efficient shooter. I'm not convinced he can be consistent with those mechanics but it is definitely good to seem him play with moxie.
On to the Hornets...
You will kindly recall that the Suns beat the Hornets in Phoenix on the 16th of November. Those were good times...
Gortat and the boys fell behind 19 points in the second half but battled back to take the game to OT and earned a 111-108 win.
For Wednesday's game, the key will be for the Suns to carry over their energy and DOMINATING WILL demonstrated in Memphis. The Grizzlies made a ton of mistakes and were a "step slow" as Brevin Knight noted on the broadcast, and the Suns took advantage. This was similar to their win over the Lakers who also were flat in the fourth.
Taking advantage of other teams playing poorly is a good sign. Beating teams playing on a more equal footing will be a nice next step.
Last 10 Games
Over their last ten games, the Suns have flipped the script and are ranked 25th on offense (98.1 ORtg) and 15th on defense (102.7 DRtg). They are scoring 95.7 points per game on 44.3 percent shooting and giving up 100 ppg on 46.1 FG% and are 4-6 in the stretch.
The Hornets (3-7) are giving up 103.1 ppg on 48.9% shooting and scoring 98 ppg on 46.0 FG%. New Orleans is ranked 14th on offense (103.1 ORtg) and 28th on defense (110.1 DRtg).
So basically, a mediocre defensive/poor offensive team (Suns) vs. a mediocre offensive/poor defensive team (Hornets). Get your popcorn!
New Orleans is led offensively by Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordan, both with 16.9 points per game. With Anderson's ability to stretch the floor and his activity and mobility around the glass, I'd expect to see more Markieff Morris. Guys like Anderson give Scola fits.
Robin Lopez vs Marcin Gortat
Presented without comment:
Gortat: PER 16.5; PPG 11.7; RPG 8.9; TS% .555; MPG 32
Lopez: PER 20.1; PPG 11.3; PRG 5.4; TS% .592; MPG 26
Looking at Robin's Synergy stats are interesting. The Hornets post him up a lot (152 times this season, 30% of his possessions) but he's only converting 43.6% of his attempts for .796 points per possession which is ranked "Average".
Where Robin excels offensively is the same places he did in 2010 with the Suns -- on the move. He's considered "Excellent" on both Cuts (1.383) and as the Roll Man on pick and roll (1.118). He moves well off the ball and finishes when moving towards the rim.
Gortat, ironically, also has 152 post up possessions and is slightly more efficient with .882 PPP. On the move, Marcin is slightly worse than Lopez with Cuts (1.133) and as the Roll Man (1.084).
Lopez also excels at offensive put-backs with 117 points (1.345 PPP) vs 74 points (1.156) for Gortat.
This should be a fun battle to watch, but the guy who will probably be the key is the sneaky-good point guard, Greivis Vasquez (13.8 ppg, 9.3 apg).
GAME TIME: 6:00pm Arizona, 8:00pm ET on Fox Sports AZ and League Pass.
BONUS FUN READ!
Big Screen Dream Team: the 10 best ballers in film history - SBNation.com
It's award season, which means it's the perfect time of year for Dan Grunfeld to announce his all-time squad of basketball players from movies. GIFs have graciously been provided for each selection, so their greatness is most properly understood.