Last night the Suns played a superb half of basketball. It was what we all like to call "Suns Basketball," which is just a different way of saying these guys are playing up to their potential. The;Suns are 5-2 in their last 7 games. Why? We could dig into numbers or come up with some pretty fancy graphs. But we need not; we've been watching the games. It's pretty clear to see why the Suns have found some recent success.
The Suns recent run can be attributed to a combination of things:
2. Offense-in the last 5 games, Channing Frye has gone 40% from the field. In the prior 5, he shot 20%. Michael Redd has 3 straight double digit scoring efforts and has played the most minutes in his short tenure with the Suns. These guys are finding their legs. Period. Frye can shoot, we know it. It's not like he isn't trying to get back on track, and we also know that the Suns are a much better team with Frye producing. Redd is also getting in shape. He's healthy, so now its only a question of shaking the rust off. His shots last night were confident. Redd, back in his old stomping ground, was confident. Shooters need confidence plain and simple. And these guys seem to be gaining it.
3. Dudley and Frye Return to Starting Lineup. Dudley's numbers as a starter are always better than when he comes off the bench. Maybe because he gets starters minutes, maybe because Nash is on the floor to find him. Morris clearly wants to come off the bench. Wish granted. Refer to #2 above, add these two to the starting lineup and have them produce. Frye stretches the floor, makes his big defender come out to guard him, which allows Gortat and Co space down low to work for offensive rebounds.
4. Iffy competition. Some will no doubt point out that the last five victories should have a tiny little asterisk next to them. Atlanta without Horford, Milwaukee without Bogut, Charlotte sucks, New Orleans sucks, Memphis without Randolph. Ugly losses to top WC squads-Dallas (twice), Portland, and Houston. But guess what? I don't care. As Elvis plastered all over his airplane, you gotta "T.C.B." Take Care of Business. Against garbage foes and the best of the best.
5. Energy, Defense, and Focus. They all go hand in hand. Said Alvin Gentry before the Bobcat game:
"I am more concerned about the overall energy level as anything. To me that's the most important thing. We've just had too much of a discrepancy and that area right there is something we've got to get back and be consistent with, competing and playing hard night in and night out."
It is all good news for the moment. Winning does that. But the standings remain the same. The Suns are third in the Pacific and 12th in the WC. It will take a Herculian effort to turn it around and sustain this level of play for the remainder of the season. But maybe, just maybe...Anything can happen, right?
Latest piece featuring the junkyard dog Jared Dudley. Went a little gritty with this piece...well...because it's Jared Dudley.
As always, comments and recs are appreciated and you can find more here.
Happy Birthday, Steve Nash, you hit the game winner tonight on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Phoenix Suns were 35-5 against the Milwaukee Bucks since the '91-'92 season entering tonight's game. It looked as though they were in for their 36th W after two quarters of play when something typical happened. After scoring 67 points in the first half, the Suns suddenly lost momentum, putting up 40 in the final two quarters while giving up 55 to the Bucks.
In the first half the Suns were looking a bit like the 7SOL Suns. They ran, they made shots, they scored 67 points on 62% shooting. Michael Redd scored 12 while Nash went for 13 and 5. The Suns went 5-9 from beyond the arc and befuddled the Bucks for 24 minutes. Even the Suns' defense stepped up, limiting the Bucks to 20 second quarter points.
But in the 3rd quarter, the Suns gave up runs of 12-0, 8-0, and 6-0. The Suns' 17 point lead dwindled to 7 at the end of the third. In the fourth, the Bucks continued on a 17-2 run. The Suns helped the Bucks out by missing 9 of 10 field goal attempts in the first four minutes of the final stanza. Brandon Jennings took his second shot of the game, a 3, and promptly nailed it to give the Bucks a 3 point lead.
Of course it was Nashty to the rescue for the Phoenix Suns. After an incredible save off a Channing Frye block, Nash hit a running 3 to give the Suns a 2 point lead. After 2 Bucks free throws, the game was tied with 5 ticks left on the clock.
Enter the Nashty who drove to to the right side of the hoop for a running 6 footer. GAME OVER. A fitting climax to what must have been one of the happiest 38th birthdays in recent history. Thank you, Steve Nash
Thoughts, Opinions, Observations
It's never nice to lose a 19 point lead and have to eke out a W in the final seconds. But any win on the road is a good win. The Bucks were 7-3 on their home court, and even if Scott Skiles refused to let Brandon Jennings take a shot (to prove some insane point or what have you), a W in the W column is sweet especially on the second night of back to backs.
The good news for the Suns is Josh Childress is contributing in that Lou Amundson kind of way. Getting his mitts on rebounds, playing D, being the dirtworker the second unit needs. But wait, there's more good news! Channing Frye's shot is starting to fall. And as many of you posted yesterday, when Frye hits shots, the Suns transform into a much better team. OH WAIT, there's even more good news! Michael Freakin' Redd is starting to gain confidence and hit shots. He's 16-35 from the field in the last three games which is an incredible improvement. Even Robin Lopez is contributing without throwing any hissy fits.
Heck, if this continues, we might all start feeling a tad optimistic.
Enjoy, Suns fans, the Suns have won 3 in a row and return home with a score to settle against the Houston Rockets.
"It was a pretty formidable win under pretty formidable circumstances."
Quarter by Quarter Notes
Drew Gooden scoring at will
Gortat feeling it
Bucks start off 7-12
Nash aggressive on offensive end
Every Sun starter has scored
Michael Redd enters to applause. No SO. Just applause
Suns 11-2 run in 2 minute span
"They're cookin'" says Eddie Johnson, one of my personal idols.
Suns playing confident, with excellent pace
Redd cant play defense. no big surprise. Delfino makes him look like a statue
Morris and Chill enter. Flagrant on Gooden for being a dick. "meltdown effect," says EJ. Totally
Redd could be a hero tonight, feeling comfy with the floor and rims in MIL.
Really thought Nash would go bald. I wish I had his hair. Not gonna lie.
Illysova drops 35 footer to end quarter. Suns 34-30, shooting 64% from field.
Lopez and Bassy two man game pays off with Lopez hook
Redd clearly finding his stroke with smooth 2
Chill picking up all the loose balls. 5 boards in 5 minutes
More Redd with a 10 footer off the boards
More Redd with a 15 footer, Suns bench going nuts. Leading scoreers w 10
Bucks not making shots and not getting second chances.
More Redd, more Redd, MORE REDD! SUNS UP BY 12
Leander calls Stephen Jackson "salty," which is a really dumb way to say the guy is pissed. Anyway, the guy is acting like a dick which is no surprise.
Redd shooting at will bricks a 3. Slow it down Miachael.
Bucks look angry. Here comes the run.
Bucks on 10-2 run (see I called it!)
Starters back in.
Frye hits 3.
Leander points out Nash shares birthday with Ashton Kutcher. uh, who cares?
Nash hits, 6-7. 15-19 in two games thus far.
Gortat bucket, Suns have scored 60 in first half. A good sign
Bucks looking confused on D
I hate commercials
Frye's shot is very very close to being normal. This is good for the Suns
Dudley 2 brings Suns lead to 17
Frye insane tip in from about 10 ft away off Hill miss
Can Suns hit 70? 65 in the second with 28 ticks left
Suns 67-50 at half, shooting 62% from the field.
Gortat gathers Dudz miss for dunk, suns up by 19
More Gortat, lefty hook Suns by 21
8-0 run by Bucks
Suns respond with 6-0 run on Hill layup off Mil TO.
Bucks on 6-0 run, 86-73 Suns
Chill all over the boards. 10 mts, 10 boards
Bucks 12-0 run 88-81 Suns
Lots of sighs, here we go again.
31-21 Bucks in 3rd
Momentum shift, 17-2 run by Bucks going back to 3rd quarter
Dunleavy with 2nd 3, Suns up 90-89
Lopez 20 foot brick? Why?
Jackson 3, 92-90 Bucks 7+ mts left
Bucks can't miss now
Suns 1/10 from field in first 4 mts of 4th
J Chill is everywhere on the bright side
Anyone want an 11 year old cat?
Dudz 3 94-93 Mil
Suns cant hit a shot
Frye in at crunch time hits long 2.
Dudz 3, Suns up 98-96 with 4 mts left
Jennings second shot of the game a 3, 101-98 Bucks
Frye block Nash incredible save, Nash hits 3, 103-101 with 2 mt left
I hate my job
Gortat 2 Suns 105-103 1.21 left
Mil with 4 tries at a basket hit two FT's 105 all, 44.7 left
Hill miss, Suns off rebound. TO Suns 20.2 left
Nash hits driving layup 107-105 with 5 ticks left. HAPPY FREAKIN B-DAY!
Bucks cant get a shot off. GAME OVER MAN! SUNS WIN