Not a bad result for the Phoenix Suns. It was somewhat expected given the Rockets injury situation (missing two starters) and their tired legs after playing the night before in L.A. Sometimes the schedule is your friend and sometimes it's your enemy (see also, this week's back-to-back in Miami and Orlando and six games in nine nights for the Suns).
Here's what the guys had to say after the game. Note our first appearance in Bright Side of the Sun TV (subscribe here) of East Bay Ray. You can also see less important people like Steve Nash, Grant Hill and Michael Redd. You won't want to miss Nash's comment on Jared Dudley's "dunk".
Interviews and game highlights after the jump.
One of the advantages the Suns figured to have going into the season was team cohesion and chemistry. They returned the same starting five from the close of last year, and their teams in the Nash era have been known for their camaraderie. In a compressed season that would allow for little practice time, having players who were familiar with each other figured to give the Suns an edge.
After a slow start this season made the attempts at chemistry appear fruitless, the Suns stayed the course. No trades were made, there were no rash moves such as bringing in D-Leaguers. The one move the team did make was the low risk addition of former All-Star Michael Redd, a move that paid major dividends for the Suns against the Rockets as Redd scored a season-high 25 points.
Now, with the team having won 11 of 14 games, finally peaking over .500 and climbing the standings in the Western Conference, that dedication to building a real team as opposed to a collection of individuals is due some credit. The list of those who would have made major changes, both in the media and the fan community, is long but the Suns stuck through the rocky beginning of the season and have now turned the corner.
It can be debated whether chemistry leads to wins or the other way around, but the Suns have made a concerted effort to foster an environment in which players support each other and enjoy spending time together off the court as well as helping each other succeed on the court. Redd mentioned this in his postgame interview last night.
Said Redd of the Suns team chemistry: "It's phenomenal. Everybody genuinely likes each other. In fact, we got together last night at my house and had a team gathering and, you know, it's just been fun...everybody's been great. Steve and Grant obviously set the tone. It's been a great locker room."
Redd continued, "I think staying together is key, through good times, through bad times, and the team has stayed together. Off the court more importantly, we still go out to dinner; we hang out, we support each other. We genuinely want to see everybody succeed, so that's big."
Grant Hil echoed this sentiment in saying, "different guys step up different nights. It's not just one guy, it's sort of a complete effort."
Wanting to see others succeed is the key to a team, and the Suns have that. Sticking with each other through the bad times the Suns had earlier in the season leads to the good times they're experiencing now.
Last night, Redd delivered while Jared Dudley and Shannon Brown struggled through a combined 3-16 performance. Channing Frye scored 19 as Markieff Morris shot only 2-6. Last week, the bench came up big as Nash and Hill sat in the second game of a back to back to back, leading the Suns to a surprising win over the Clippers in LA.
In a shortened, condensed season like this one, it's unlikely players can bring it every game, so this type of balance will be key to success. A teammate's down, you pick him up. You're down, a teammate picks you up. That's the way it works, and it's working for the Suns now.
Phoenix holds the Rockets' to 86 points on 43% shooting as they gain a full game on the 8th seed and now stand only .5 game back of the playoff field. This is crazy. The Suns are now 23-22.
The Phoenix Suns extend their winning streak to a season high four games and move to one game above .500 for the first time in a long time. In the context of this season that is as weird for me to write as much as it is as weird for you to read - but watching this transformation recently looks nothing but natural for this Suns team. They are finally playing to their talent potential and everyone is contributing in some form or another and everyone has seemed to hit regular season form. Finally. Even one Michael Redd.
Are you kidding me? Redd caught fire shooting 10-13 for 25 points - a season high. I think our own Haremoor should be given some credit for Redd's performance tonight. It was his positive prediction in our Game Preview that Redd would go wild for 20+ and that good juju found its way to the arena! Haremoor - we salute you.
The Final scoop of this game is this - the Houston Rockets are an injury plagued team that is struggling right now and running a very thin roster with their two most potent scorers out. Goran Dragic has been playing well - but a one-man backcourt isn't going to get the job done against a hot Phoenix Suns team. The Suns took care of business tonight and notched a victory against a conference rival with whom they are battling for a playoff spot. A huge victory that also ended a 4-game losing streak to the Rockets.
- Pic thanks to atkammoh for finding/making or whatever. This is the best.