The Summary

Commenter noonoo eloquently summed up this game at halftime:

Crap on a spatula. What was that.

What that was was winning by any means necessary.  I predicted in the preview that the Suns would win this one handily.  How wrong could I be?  As Steve Albert mentioned incessantly during the game, Denver had lost it's last 4 games by an average margin of 27.5 points.  This one was in the bag!

The Denver Nuggets and maybe the altitude had other ideas about what should go in the bag and how handily it should get there.  Credit P.J. Tucker, Gerald Green and Goran Dragi? for keeping the Suns in this one after a hot start chilled to nearly freezing.  Green carried the offensive load with 36 huge points, while Dragi? fed the fire with 14 assists to with 21 points of his own.  P.J. Tucker was simply everywhere.  He dove after loose balls, grabbed big rebounds and played every minute as if someone had a gun to his family's head.  His 13 points and 11 rebounds don't tell the story of his impact on the game.  Markieff Morris continued his solid play versus the Nuggets with 13 points and 12 boards, including a put-back to send the game into overtime.

After Dragi? carried the team in the first half, Green did the heavy lifting in the 4th quarter and overtime, scoring 18 of his points in the final 2 stanzas.  Given their foul trouble, Phoenix did a good job of playing through adversity.  By the time it was all said and done, both Miles Plumlee and Markieff Morris fouled out, while Channing Frye played part of the 4th quarter and OT with 5 fouls.  It was not a pretty win, but it counts just the same as the rest of them!

The Game

The game started promisingly enough for Phoenix who came out looking dialed in and primed to blow Denver off the court.  Phoenix jumped out to a 10-2 lead before Denver called a timeout to regroup.  It didn’t help.  3 minutes later  Phoenix had extended the lead to 21-7 behind a Gerald Green putback dunk and a pair of Goran Dragic one-man-fast-breaks that ended in 4 made free throws.  That was the highwater mark for the Suns.  The wheels started rattling off at this point.

Coach Jeff Hornacek, perhaps thinking his team had the game well in hand brought Ish Smith in for Dragi? with 5 minutes remaining in the first quarter and both the Suns' offense and defense promptly sputtered.  Denver went on a 16-6 run before back to back baskets by Leandro Barbosa and Marcus Morris slowed the bleeding and the Suns took a 31-25 lead into the second quarter.

Denver kicked off the 2nd quarter with an 8-2 run to tie the game at 33.  From that point on, the game was a relatively close affair whose outcome remained in doubt until the very end.  Foul trouble plagued the Suns as Denver attacked the basket repeatedly, challenging the Sun's big defense to make plays.  Instead, they made fouls.  By the end of the first half, Miles Plumlee had 4 fouls while Channing Frye, Gerald Green, Markieff Morris and Alex Len all collected 3 apiece.  Denver shot 14 free throws to the Suns' 2 in the 2nd quarter and Phoenix went into halftime nursing a 1-point lead.  It could have been worse, considering Denver shot a paltry 60% from the stripe for half.  Goran Dragi? and Kenneth Faried matched each other as leading scorers for their teams with 16 points each.

The third quarter was an up and down affair.  Phoenix got the lead back up to 11, only to see that margin evaporate as Denver closed the period with a 12-0 run.  Evan Fournier scored 8 of those points and looked all-world, finishing the quarter with 12 points on a perfect 4-4 from the field (including 2 3-pointers) and 2-2 from the line.  Nuggets led 77-76.

In the 4th quarter, it was Gerald Green's turn to score a handful of points, even if they were not in impressive fashion.  Despite going 2-8 from the floor, Green pumped in 10 crucial points to keep the Suns in the game.  8 of those came in a single minute from 8:05 to 7:05 including back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Suns an 87-86 lead.  It wasn't enough to keep Denver at bay. The Nuggets would keep fighting, eventually taking a 5-point lead with 50.5 seconds left in the game.  Channing Frye, who struggled with foul trouble on the way to 11 points and 8 rebounds nailed a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left in regulation.  After a missed Evan Fournier jumper, Phoenix called a timeout with 17.8 seconds left to gather their thoughts and draw up a game winner.

Channing Frye took a rushed 2-pointer and missed, but Marcus Morris was there for the offensive rebound to tie it up at 99 with 5.7 seconds left.  Wilson Chandler got a decent look as time expired, but he missed and we were off to overtime.

OT was more GG heroics.  After starting the party with a ferocious dunk, Green answered every Denver rally, and Goran Dragi? finally gave the Suns a lead they wouldn't reliquish with a fast-break dunk with 56.3 seconds left.  From there, it was a free throw contest and the Suns snuck out of Denver with a hard-earned win.

Gerald Green carried the Suns offense with a trio of thunderous dunks, and Markieff Morris made the go-ahead put-back. But Phoenix needed everything to go its way after blowing a 14-point first-half...

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Time: 7 p.m. MST TV: FSA So, is it a blessing or a curse that the Phoenix Suns begin their post All-Star break schedule in the high altitude of Denver, Colorado? Probably depends on how you look at...

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Has it really been over a week since the Phoenix Suns played an actual NBA game? How did we survive such a barren stretch of basketball action? Oh my god, let's do this!

The Suns kick off the unofficial second half of the season on the road against the Denver Nuggets. On paper, this looks to be a good match-up for Phoenix. The Suns have won all 3 games versus Denver so far this season, 2 of them by double digits. A win tonight and Phoenix adds yet another season sweep of an opponent to their list of accomplishments this season. But this is no gimme. Denver has played the Suns closely for most of those three games and Phoenix needed a 21 point comeback to beat them in December.

The Opponent - Denver Nuggets

Denver is in a tough spot. At 24-27, they are in the dreaded NBA no man's land between a good lottery pick and the playoffs. They are 6 games out of the 8 seed in a very competitive Western Conference and would need one or more of the teams ahead of them to fall off precipitously to sneak in. Either that, or play completely above the level they've been playing at for the last 51 games. A rash of injuries has not helped that cause. Neither seems likely, nor does playing so poorly as to secure a decent draft pick. Thanks, Leastern Conference!

Ty Lawson tends to give the Suns fits and went off for 29 points in their first meeting and 17 points and 14 assists in their last. However, he is doubtful for the Nuggets with a fractured rib, so Randy Foye will have his hands full trying to contain Goran Dragic. Denver's style matches up well with Phoenix as they are 4th in the NBA in pace, while the Suns are 6th. If the altitude doesn't slow Phoenix down, this should be a fast-paced high-scoring affair.

The Suns

The Suns for their part are in a virtual dead heat with Golden State for the 7th and 8th seeds in the playoffs with Memphis only a game and a half back in the 9 spot. There's a good chance it will take 50 wins to make the playoffs in the west. The Suns need every win they can get. After going into the break as the losers of 3 of 4, a win versus Denver would be an auspicious beginning for their playoff push.

Phoenix's power forwards have been the heroes every time against Denver this season. First it was Western Conference Player of the Week Markieff Morris unloading 28 points and 10 boards on the unsuspecting Nuggets in November. He followed that up in December with 25 points and 6 boards. Finally, in January, Channing Frye went an unbelievable 12-16 from the field to hang 30 on Denver. Does that mean it's Channing's turn or will The Barometer Rise again?

The Stats


Ty Lawson carries a lot of water for Denver, so his absence will be sorely missed. Otherwise, the Nuggets are a mediocre team on both ends of the floor. Advantage: Suns!

The Lineups


Phoenix will be without Emeka Okafor (neck) and Eric Bledsoe (knee). The Nuggets have caught a nasty case of the injury bug and are missing Ty Lawson (doubtful - rib), Danilo Gallinari (knee), JaVale McGee (tibia), and Nate Robinson (knee). The opportunity is ripe for the Suns to take care of the short-handed (and legged) Nuggets.

The Key Matchup

The Phoenix Suns vs. A Long Layoff - I don't mean to sell Denver short, but the Suns are their own worst enemy tonight. Phoenix is 5-9 with 2 or more days off this season. If they come out sluggish, this will be a game they will regret not winning. If you're looking for an on-the-court matchup, look no further than the Goran Dragi? vs. Randy Foye. The Dragon carries this team and if he can take advantage of the serviceable but unremarkable Foye, the Suns should beast. Also keep an eye on bench play. Denver has the 3rd highest scoring bench squad in the league, so Ish Smith, Leandro Barbosa, Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris will have to represent.

The Prediction

Jeff Hornacek will have his team fired up to take the second half of the season by storm. The Suns will look to score early and often against an under-manned Denver team. The Suns should win convincingly. 120-99, Phoenix.

The Phoenix Suns have a pure heart and loyal following but are feeling the pressure to sell their souls in order to join the league's elite.

Much like the fantastical series 'Game of Thrones', the Phoenix Suns find themselves in a tough position that could make or break House Suns in the coming the days.

General consensus amongst fans, front office folks and talent evaluators is that the Phoenix Suns will have to marry into some kind of royalty before they can hope to win the Iron Throne.

Recent rumors of making a play for Rajon Rondo (from House Baratheon Celtic, winner of 2008 NBA Championship) or Pau Gasol (House Lannister Laker, winner of 2009-10 NBA Championships) show that the rumor mill begins and ends with fascination over the future of the league's elite first and foremost.

Already, the upstart Brooklyn Nets have married into royalty by acquiring Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett (House Celtic) on the downside of their careers. And about 29 teams are salivating over the prospect of any or all of the Big Three fire-breathing dragons in House Targaryen HEAT (2012-13 NBA Championships) becoming available for the right sacrifice this summer.

But those moves do not guarantee success. Those moves are often born of desperation, while eschewing the method of simply fighting for your own bloodline to succeed like House Stark Thunder are doing at the moment. While they have considered pairings to speed their rise to the top, the Thunder are using a pure blood drafting method to hit the pinnacle.

The NBA trade deadling is Thursday. Currently, the wildlings Phoenix Suns sit in the 7th position in the West but swimming with many other proud franchises in an attempt to make the playoffs and win the right to fight for a championship.

If the Suns stay in their current form, the ride will be difficult. If they swap out players, the ride will still be difficult. The last deadline acquisition that resulted in a championship was Rasheed Wallace in 2004 (Pistons). More recently, Pau Gasol was a "gift from heaven" for the Lakers who helped them reach the 2008 NBA Finals in year 1 and then win 2 championships in successive years (2009-10).

That's it.

The Phoenix Suns could sell out to the pressure to improve their individual talent this season, but that is no guarantee of winning anything but the "trade grades" that mean next to nothing.

Will the Suns stay the wildlings? Or will they marry into the Lannister, Baratheon or Targaryen clans before the week is out?

The Bright Side staff took a stab today at suggesting the best trades for the Suns to execute this week in an attempt to join the league's elite and solidify a playoff position.

Jim Coughenour

Phoenix gets Kevin Love and J.J. Barea

Minnesota gets Emeka Okafor, Markieff Morris, Alex Len, 2014 1st round pick from Phoenix, 2014 1st round pick from Indiana

  • Jim's take: The only problem is that this could hurt our chances at bringing in LeBron this summer.
  • Dave King's take: Of course, I would do this trade. But most anyone outside Phoenix is skeptical that the Wolves will move Love any sooner than the summer. They would rather be buyers at the deadline, having already spent the past decade being the 'rebuilders' since trading Garnett.

Mike Lisboa

The Phoenix Suns send Emeka Okafor and Miles Plumlee to Philadelphia for Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes and the Wizards pick.

  • Mike's take: Philly gets mad cap space to chase a marquee free agent or two, a potential center of the future and a middle first round pick. In return the Suns get a young and versatile power forward who can plays well off the ball and will have a field day with point guards like Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe feeding him AND a starting quality big man with the range to slip out to the three-point line. This does nothing to help the Suns' defense, but this is the land of 120 point track meets, not 90 point slugfests.
  • Dave's take: Not a fan of trading Miles Plumlee for Spencer Hawes, though I'm okay with swapping Thad Young into Morrii minutes. Hawes is just a replica of Frye, meaning that the Suns will spend 48 minutes a game trying to outscore opponents while completely opening a layup line. And that's not to mention that Hawes is either gone in two months or at least 6 times more expensive than Plumlee next season and beyond.

Bryan Gibberman

Emeka Okafor, Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris for the Celtics' Kris Humphries & Brandon Bass

  • Bryan's take: I'm going outside the box.
  • Dave's take: Clearly, Bryan is trying to give the Suns more rebounding for the second half, swapping the mercurial Morrii for some beef. But he's forgetting that the Morrii, dollar for dollar, are more productive. And swapping two of eight rotation positions is more work than it's worth if you're not getting any kind of All-Star or player for the future.

Sean Sullivan

Suns get Pau Gasol in exchange for Emeka Okafor (likely in a three-way deal)

  • Sean's take: I hate to go the safe route, but I really do think the Gasol to Suns trade has some legs, and makes sense for both sides. My guess is that the Suns will work some kind of three-way deal to make it work, since LA doesn't seem content to trade Pau for the Okafor contract alone.
  • Dave's take: I agree that this trade has legs, but only if the Suns can get Gasol for nothing more than Okafor's contract. The only way the Suns include a pick is in a bigger trade that gets them more talent than just Gasol.

Dave King

Suns get Kris Humphries, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng or Pau Gasol for Emeka Okafor

  • Dave's take: The point here is that (a) only one player gets added and (b) the Suns add some rebounding if they're not going to get an All-Star caliber player. Gasol, Deng and Humphries are expiring, which cleans the slate this summer. Noah is not expiring, but he's really really good and would be a great playoff addition for the coming seasons, worthy of a pick to be added to Okafor.

If you bring in more than 1 new player, you're sacrificing the last soft spot in your schedule (lots of home games in next two weeks before 14 of 21 on the road) to incorporate new players, making a playoff push even harder.

Frankly, I'm only in the mindset to stand pat unless there's an All Star to acquire. Let's not forget the Suns will get a near All-Star back in Eric Bledsoe in the next 2-3 weeks. He's already progressed to light basketball activities.

Rumors update

Apparently, the Phoenix Suns are in talks to acquire nearly every player in the NBA that other teams want to dump. To give any credence to one rumor over another is an injustice to the other rumor-mongers out there.

Nothing has been given credence, and with the way the Suns front office works there won't be any smoke before the fire breaks out.

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