More photos » Christian Petersen - Getty Images
Yeah, we don't recognize our team either. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Did the Phoenix Suns even play a game tonight? I ask because I was at the arena, looking for them, and didn't see my favorite team play at all.
Oh sure, there was a basketball game going on. And there was a team in Suns uniforms. In fact, I'd even lay wager that the guy pretending to be Steve Nash could have won a lookalike contest.
I'll back off the sarcasm once this Suns team proves it wants to win more than the other team on a consistent basis.
Kudos to Portland for being the better team right now. The Blazers deserved to win all 3 games this season. The Suns deserve nothing.
Them's fightin' words, you say? I'm not worried. The Suns don't know how to fight back anyway. All I'll get in return is a shocked face and open palms as they walk back down to the other end of the court. No worried about hard fouls. Or any contact at all, really. So I'm good.
Need I go on?
OK, I will. That was a waste of my season ticket money - hard-earned, I might add. The moment I gave up on the game? How 'about that drive by Cunningham to the basket where NO SUNS PLAYER even attempted to provide help defense. I mean, that drive developed so slowly even I could have provided help defense if I wanted. Unfortunately, I reacted as fast as the Suns players did. You're welcome, Dante.
Officially, the Suns won the rebounding battle 39-36, but does anyone who watched that game REALLY think the Suns won on the boards? Me neither. Steve Nash was the Suns' leading rebounder with 7.
Officially, the Blazers shot only 49%, but they made 90% of the ones that mattered.
Officially, the Suns only lost by 7. But they were never in the game after the first 5 minutes.
This Suns team has no fire. No extra effort. They're all sleepwalking through the game, somehow letting balls slip through their fingers on offense and forgetting to check their man on defense.
|Final - 12.10.2010||1||2||3||4||Total|
|Portland Trail Blazers||28||33||26||14||101|
Post game audio:
Phoenix Suns Say They Need To Find The Missing Fun After Loss To Portland Trail Blazers - SB Nation Arizona
"The difference I think this year, is there are a lot of new guys so there's not a lot of continuity. The guys that have been here have to really try and make those new guys feel good and feel like they're important, that there's no pressure and just go out and play and have fun," Nash said.
[Note by Seth Pollack, 12/10/10 10:42 PM MST ]
Don Ryan - AP
Where have you been, Jason? (AP Photo/Don Ryan)
Let's get it on!
More photos » Otto Greule Jr - Getty Images
Let's take this one, guys! (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
No one is going to cheer harder than I will at the game tonight.
Unfortunately, the most that's going to accomplish until the fourth quarter (unless the Phoenix Suns reverse their trend of allowing 10+ point second-half leads to opponents at home) is garner derisive sideways glances from my fellow ticketholders from the Sun city or Gilbert area. One problem with expensive tickets is that the original fanbase who bought them 20-25 years ago are now much older than their prime.
But I digress.
We get Portland again. Fancy that. After tonight, the Suns will have played Portland 9 times in their last 40 meaningful games (playoffs and regular season), splitting the first 8 right down the middle. Seems like a lot, doesn't it? Will, it is.
I think each team knows what to expect from the other. And as usual, the winner will likely be the one with the most surprise performances from its supporting cast. Camby can get 20 rebounds, and Roy and Aldridge can fuddle their way to 25 points and the Suns will still win. But if Rudy and Matthews get 30+ between them, and another 1-2 rotation players make an outsized contribution, then the Suns will end the game with frustrated looks on their faces and a lot of heavy practices on the horizon.
Portland used their collective hard work and will to beat the Magic last night. I's a bad thing for the Suns that the Blazers' collective morale is sky high right now, but it's also a good thing for the Suns because Portland will have a hard time maintaining this inspired play.
Teams like Portland and Phoenix hover around .500 for a reason.
Portland's problem is offense. Phoenix's problem is defense. Both are one of the worst in the league.
Portland is 23rd in PPG (95.3), 28th in FG% (43.3%) and 24th in 3-pt% (33%). Yet, they are 16th in offensive efficiency because they are #1 in the league in offensive rebounding. Their entire offense is based on second-chance points. Ruh-Roh for the Suns on that stat.
For the Suns to win, they need to REBOUND THE BALL on Portland's misses. Duh, right? I know, I'm a genius.
Oh, and a certain SG needs to get his stroke back. Has their ever been a more extreme hot/cold player on the team the past decade than Jason Richardson? When he's hot, you think he'll never miss again. Until he does.
A little housekeeping:
I am out of town on business today without my laptop - using the hotel lobby computer right now - and will return to Phoenix just in time for the game tonight.
I'm writing this preview at 8am and pre-scheduling the first and second-half game threads for tonight. If there's big Suns news during the day today, this preview post will have no idea it happened. I'm hoping Seth or Wil or someone will make sure you are properly informed, though.
When I get home after the game I'll write a first-person recap of what will hopefully be an exhilirating win. Talk to you all then!
Lots of gameday stuff: Trail Blazers vs Suns coverage
And check out our friends over at Blazersedge
[Note by Seth Pollack, 12/10/10 3:31 PM MST ]
Safe travels, Alex!
Here's my game preview that not surprisingly focuses on the need for the Suns bench to play well.
Phoenix Suns Schedule Revenge Game Against Portland Trail Blazers - SB Nation Arizona
The Suns face the Blazers at home for the first time this season. They were in both games in Portland, but lost in the fourth quarter each time. The Suns will hope to take advantage of a tired opponent who played the late TNT game last night before traveling to Phoenix.
and then also some reaction to the Earl Clark trade rumors (that aren't likely to come true so don't get to excited/depressed)
Earl Clark For Solomon Jones Trade Rumor Analysis - SB Nation Arizona
There's a minor trade rumor reported by Hoops World that the Phoenix Suns are talking to the Indiana Pacers about trading Earl Clark for Solomon Jones. Clark and Jones are both 6-10 forwards, but they are very different players.