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Michael Redd was always a long shot to help the Phoenix Suns this season. He's been out of the game a long time and to walk on to a team already dealing with questions about roles and rotations is quite the challenge even for a guy as nice and pious as Redd.

Michael has gone 1-12 after his first game and we know how misleading first games back can be. Redd didn't even play on the second of a back-to-back in New York on a night that saw Steve Nash and Grant Hill each play 38 minutes.

Giving Redd more time to adjust and get in game shape is only the right thing to do. Frankly, it's the only thing to do.

But it's no surprise at all to hear him talk about his struggles adjusting to playing with the Suns. We've heard it all before. Players, particularly shooting guards who are used to having the ball in their hands, find themselves relegated to spotting up in the corner while Steve Nash runs the show.

This sound at all familiar?

Phoenix Suns shake up staring lineup vs. New York Knicks
"The more I play, the more I'll get used to playing," Redd said. "It just hasn't happened. I've got to get adjusted to the system. Coach and I talked about other ways to get me the ball when I come in the game. I'm used to having the ball in my hands and doing things. It's an adjustment."

Why Michael Redd wasn't signed sooner and at least able to participate in the limited training camp with the Suns is a question I've yet to find an answer to. (Then again, I've not really had a chance yet to ask the right people.) (And besides, does it really matter?) (Probably, it matters some since Redd would have had an additional three weeks or so.) (But maybe the Suns didn't want his rehab period to interfere with camp.) (Or maybe Redd was exploring other options.) (Probably, I shouldn't deal in idle speculation couched in mysterious parentheses). (Ok, I'll stop now.)

In other news, Gentry shook up the starting lineup to get Dudley on the bench where he can help the second unit flow a bit better and put Shannon Brown with Steve Nash where he won't feel the need to emulate his buddy, Kobe Bean Bryant.

Of course, Brown didn't start with Nash. Ronnie Price started with Nash for reasons that aren't all that clear but it doesn't matter since Price played just 15 minutes on Wednesday and Brown was on the court in crunch time pinballing in a three from the corner.

The other change to the lineup, Markieff Morris for Channing Frye, makes even more sense.

It's a shame that Morris couldn't play more due to stomach flu (aka puking his guts out) but I'm looking forward to seeing Morris and Gortat on the floor together more. They are a good fit (if a bit undersized) and should help with the rebounding and give the Suns a low post option (if Nash is willing to use it).

What lineup do you like? Does it really matter?

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Enjoying NYC, Amar'e?(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Many fans were clamoring for a change in the starting lineup during a 5-game Suns losing streak. Turns out Alvin Gentry agreed:

"We went back and looked and right now we're Number 27 in the NBA in second-quarter points. We've got to get that unit to the point where we're at least playing even and not playing from behind."

Wednesday night in New York, Gentry teamed Ronnie Price with Steve Nash to begin the game. Although Price's line was a -5 coupled with zero points, the Suns won, and reserve Shannon Brown hit a decisive shot to ice the game. Price is a defensive specialist, so the lack of offense isn't much of a surprise. Bolstering the second unit with Dudley, Frye, and Brown adds (in theory) the offense to sustain the squad while Nash rests. Sebastian Telfair filled in at the point as Nash rested, playing 10 minutes with a bucket and -1. While Telfair is limited in many aspects, he can be a play maker and has the quickness to take it to the hole. If there was a loser in this reconfiguration, it may have been Jared Dudley, who while playing 17 minutes, missed all four of his shots.

On the front line, Markieff Morris started in place of Channing Frye. Morris had a stomach ailment which limited his court time, but there is no clear drop off starting the rookie in place of Frye, who may just be best coming off the bench as evident by his 3-4 performance to go with 4 rebounds and 4 blocked shots.

If Morris can provide an offensive punch to make up for Price's lack of offensive prowess, just maybe everything equals out. Jared Dudley has always sparked the bench, and while moving him out of the starting 5 may seem personally like a negative thing, Gentry says the lineup changes were not demotions.

Josh Childress said it best when describing his own situation: "Coach is just trying to figure out lineups and what works..."

Michael Redd was signed by the Suns and debuted with a 12 point performance after not playing since the 2010 season. He followed that performance by draining one out of his next 12 shot attempts. There was no doubt Redd would be rusty. He didn't play versus the Knicks last night. He admits he isn't ready: "I'm not in a rhythm at all. It's my movement on the court that's better. I'm starting to pick up the offense more. Other than that, I feel good." The good news is he isn't hurt. The bad news is the proverbial "I need to learn the system." We've heard that before now haven't we? Some guys pick it up while others never will. It would be wonderful if Shannon Brown could make us forget that Michael Redd is even on the roster, but I won't hold my breath.



For more, check out: Coro/AZ Central: Suns Shake up Starting Lineup

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Steve Nash outdueled ex-teammate Amare Stoudemire and the Phoenix Suns got a hard-fought victory Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. Nash scored 26 points, dished out 11 assists, and hit 6 free...

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Steve Nash outdueled ex-teammate Amare Stoudemire and the Phoenix Suns got a hard-fought victory Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, 91-88. Nash scored 26 points, dished out 11 assists, and hit...

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Fun, faith, and you know, funk. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Steve Nash went for 26/11 and 5 and Shannon Brown hit a crucial 3 to lead the Phoenix Suns to a rare road win against the New York Knicks, thus snapping a 5 game losing streak.

The game of basketball is funny in the sense that the numbers tell a false version of the final score sometimes.

The Suns were outrebounded 54-38, with Tyson Chandler wiping the glass clean to the tune of 17. In a game that saw one of the Suns stars Jared Dudley play nearly 20 minutes with a goose egg to show for his efforts, the Suns let Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire toss up brick after brick en route to victory.

This is a sweet win for the Suns. While the game itself could be described as uglier than your girlfriend's sister, the Suns shot 45% from the field and 58% beyond the arc. Apart from an amazing performance from Nash on a back to back, his pals kicked in to help him out:

  • Marcin Gortat went for 11 and 12
  • Grant Hill dropped in 14 points, his highest point total in 6 games
  • Shannon Brown went 6-12 to go with 2-3 from down town with 2 rebounds and 2 steals. You can start talking about starting the guy again.
  • Channing Frye hit for 3 3-pointers coupled with 4 rebounds and 4 blocks. Is he coming around?! Yes?!
  • Alvin Gentry mixed up the starting lineup by adding Ronnie Price and Markieff Morris to the mix. Clearly he read my preview and took my advice.

It's never easy to win on the road, after losing 5 straight, in front of your ex-coach and arguably best player in recent memory. But the Suns withstood an ugly rebounding deficit, limiting the Knickerbockers to 37% shooting while hitting on 58% of their 3's to get back on the winning track in the daunting Madison Square Garden full of raucous, delusional fans. Hand it to our boys, they won't let us quit on them. And while we all shake our heads when considering whether this team should mail it in this season or search for an inevitable solution, we have no answers as to how such a mediocre team can gel and make it to the Spring show.

Alvin Gentry had even less to contribute:

"That's pretty ironic you know, because obviously most of the things we do is what Mike did when he was there...there's a few things that we've changed, but it's kind of a mystery to me. I can't put my finger on the fact that we're struggling to get to 100 every game. I thought that would be one of the areas where we'd have the least worries and it's become just the opposite."


Final Thoughts:

How Steve Nash can still stand is beyond me. A night after playing 30 something minutes, the guy comes out, plays 38, and shoots 9-12 to go with 11 assists and 5 rebounds. It is a testament to the drive and motivation and faith this guy has to win. He knows the fans want a winner, and he's single-handedly attempting to get the Phoenix Suns back to the promised land. And further, the most difficult part of being a Suns fan this season is not knowing if and when this team is going to decide to show up. Alvin Gentry is at a point where trying nearly any rotation is justified, and he has the stones to do it. I liked the idea of Morris starting. On paper it looked like garbage, but to see a Suns squad start a rook, or when it's feasible to start rook is a minor miracle.

Let's be honest here, when Carmelo Anthony takes 22 shots and misses 17 of them while Stoudemire takes an equal amount and only cashes in on two more, you have a good chance at winning. This Knicks squad reminds me a lot of some of the Suns squad with D'Antoni at the helm. "Shoot through it, you'll eventually start draining them..." Well on some nights, yeah, on others, you flat lose because you can't get it going. Shumpert is a great talent, but he hasn't gotten it yet. The Knicks may prove better with Baron Davis running the show. As long as he doesn't take 22 shots a game.

ENJOY THIS ONE, SUNS FANS. VICTORIES LIKE THIS
ARE FEW AND FAR BETWEEN.

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