As was pointed out in the comments of the game recap, I've been pretty hard on this team. The reality is, I don't expect them to make a lot of noise this year and am not the least bit surprised that they are struggling early. Many of us said before the season that success will be measured more in progress than in W's and there's definitely nuggets of progress buried in the poop if you're willing to dig a bit.
Before praising the good, the two most disappointing things five games in have been the inconsistent effort and the ridiculously poor bench play.
- There's really no excuse for this team not to play hard for 48 minutes. They didn't do it in the home games to start the year. They certainly didn't do it in Orlando although I didn't get that "not trying hard enough" feeling from the Miami or Charlotte games.
- The second unit led by Sebastian Telfair and Shannon Brown finished the season strong last year. It baffles me why they've reverted so far back. Brown is a talented individual -- all these guys are -- but you will never convince me that those shots he's taking are best for the team unless he...well, just never.
- And I have no clue where Bassy's game went, but I hope he finds it because I'm not ready for Kendall Marshall to take the court in meaningful minutes and fail. I'd much rather protect and develop him for a least a few more months before throwing him to the wolves to be mauled and abused.
On the plus side, Marcin Gortat seems to have adjusted his defensive approach from taking charges to blocking shots. He's now blocking many shots. He's leading the NBA with 21 blocks while the number two guys (Roy Hibbert) has 15.
I like it. He's also playing more consistently over the last few games and looks sharp.
In other words, he's playing to his strengths and up to his potential.
Michael Beasley had his best game as a Sun against rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. I expect him to be inconsistent but totally agree with Gentry that he's this team's best hope both for later in the season and years to come. I'm willing to suffer through the bad games if he is willing to play consistently hard and continues to make progress. If the shots aren't falling, he needs to outwork his man on the glass and try hard on defense.
The rotations were much nicer in this game. The much-noted adjustment to put P.J. Tucker on B.J. Mullins in the fourth paid off big time. But even more fun was seeing fewer guys on the court in the first half and an abandonment of the hockey-line full sub rotations in the second and fourth quarters. We'll see if that was a matchup thing or if Gentry has changed his tune.
That was too many words from me. Here's what others are saying:
Despite having two of the most ridiculous goaltends I've ever seen, Byron Mullens has to be the player of the night for the Bobcats. He had a Kobe mindset tonight, even down to trying Bryant's jabstep move at one point. Mullens took no prisoners and apologized for nothing.
Gortat already entered the game as the NBA leader in blocks and now has 21 in five games. "I promised myself that I’ve got to be a better rim protector," Gortat said. "With my athleticism, ability to move laterally and to jump, I’ve got to block more shots. I quit kind of taking those charges. Hopefully, I get more blocks. That’s what we need."
The Suns’ defensive plan was very clear from the outset: 1) Don’t respect Charlotte’s outside shooting. 2) Pack the defense in inside the arc. On paper, this seems like a solid plan.
Some are taking great pleasure in the Suns being ahead of the Lakers in the standings and I'm certainly not going to look the gift horse that is the stuggles in L.A. in the mouth, but at the same time we all know they are going to turn it around. Enjoy it now or dread their improvement to come. That's entirely on your disposition and my amount of sleep and exercise.
2012 NBA standings: Suns tied for third in Pacific Division - SB Nation Arizona
The Los Angeles Lakers are shockingly in last place in the Pacific Division at 1-4 after falling to the Utah Jazz.
Are bad shots that go in still bad shots? Not for Shannon Brown who went unconscious in the fourth quarter and rained down six threes without a miss. The early ones were contested, selfish, disgusting attempts that found the bottom of the net anyway. The sixth and final bomb fell on the Bobcats after they wisely left Shannon wide open behind the arc and the ball swung to him on the weak side. Kaboom goes the dynamite.
Overall, this wasn't exactly a text book game for either team. Sure, Marcin Gortat had seven blocks (along with 23 points and 10 rebounds) which is a very nice line against a very bad team. But the Suns managed to turn a 16-point lead into a four-point lead in the final 4:30 of the third quarter. Only the Charlotte ineptitude allowed Phoenix to walk away with the win.
It was more a brawl between two really pissed off drunks than a prize fight between well trained killers.
But whatever. It's a win. Move on and let us all pray together that in a month this team won't look this bad because ugly basketball is UGLY.
Also, the Phoenix bench right now has no clue how to play together which is probably why Coach Alvin Gentry is letting them play together so much. In a season where success won't be measured by wins and losses, you have to take your lumps to make oatmeal into wine pudding.
The Bobcats shot 55% in the second half. This new era of Suns basketball looks a hell of a lot like the old era (minus the scoring and wins and stuff).
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Oh, and Michael Beasley had a very nice all around game. 21 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists. That was definitely Good Beaz.
The Phoenix Suns improved to 2-3 on the season with a road win over the Charlotte Bobcats (1-2). The Suns gave up a big third quarter lead but pulled away late thanks to Shannon Brown's hot hand. The final score was 117-110.
Fun fact: there are three American cities that carry the nickname "Queen City". Charlotte might be the most well known for wearing the moniker, but Cincinnati has more than chili farts to offer up to the debate and don't forget Burlington, VT where coats go to be born and Birkenstock sandals go to die a smelly death.
Also, since we've got some time to kill before this OH SO EXCITING GAME STARTS at 5:00 pm (7:00pm ET) on Fox Sports Arizona and League Pass, there are actual Queen Cities in Iowa, Texas and Missouri. Some would even call San Francisco the unofficial "Queen City" but my preference for that title goes to London, home of iconic band.
Shout out to you, Freddie Mercury! I've never been able to look at Fat Bottomed Girls the same way since 1978.
As for the game itself, there's not much to say. The Bobcats have rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and it will be fun to catch him this early in his NBA career. I'm sure he'll do something with his motor and hustle that will impress us all.
Gerald Henderson is out for the Bobcats with a foot sprain or something. Gerald Henderson injury news wouldn't normally be considered "news" but it's the Bobcats and he is a starter for them. And because I know some of you need the extra help, here's more about Henderson. Just kidding, here's a better link.
As for the Suns, once and if they start doing something vaguely interesting on the basketball court, we'll start writing vaguely interesting words about them. Until then, rest assured that my game coverage performances will mirror their actual game performances. In other words, I'm out.
But first, just because some of you kids have no idea what great music is:
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[Note by Seth Pollack, 11/07/12 1:57 PM EST ]
Sorry, Kendal Marshall fans. Looks like your dreams are on hold.
Kendall Marshall sprained an ankle during 3-on-3 play Tuesday and will not be available for tonight's #Suns game at Charlotte.— Paul Coro (@paulcoro) November 7, 2012