Depending on your perspective, this game is really a win-win. If the Suns lose, they are rewarded with yet another ping pong ball to aid in their quest for the No. 1 draft pick (the Suns are currently last in the Western Conference and have the 5th worst record in the NBA). If the Suns win, they will still be last in the West, yet the Lakers will be one loss closer to missing the playoffs (they are currently 3.5 games behind Houston for the No. 8 seed) and therefore one loss closer to handing the Suns their draft pick. So when you really think about it, even if we lose we can't really lose.
All that being said, we're facing the Lakers. If you don't want the Suns to pound them into the hardwood then there is something wrong with you. So, GO SUNS! SMASH THEIR FACES IN! (Except for Steve Nash's, that is; he goes into god mode when you do that to him)
The Suns and Lakers are heading in opposite directions at the moment. The Lakers are 7-3 in their last 10 games, while the Suns are just 3-7. However, one of those three Laker losses came at the hands of our Suns (and on national TV no less, that was pretty sweet, huh?). Also, in even more recent history, both teams are coming off of a loss to one of the best teams in the NBA in their last game. Unfortunately, the Lakers looked pretty good and loss a tough battle with the Miami Heat after LeBron James and Dwyane Wade did what they do in the second half, while the Suns are coming off an embarrassingly bad beatdown at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder (which came just two days after another beatdown at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder).
There is no doubt that the Lakers are playing better than the Suns right now. However, let's throw all that out the window. I guarantee you that the Suns will come out with more fire and put up a fight.
This is one area of the games that the Suns have the edge. The Suns have a clean bill of health and everybody (other than 14th man Diante Garrett unfortunately) will be suiting up. Meanwhile, the Lakers will be without one of their big four as Pau Gasol is out for several weeks with a foot injury. Earl Clark has played well, but even so he's no Pau Gasol. The Lakers' other star big man, Dwight Howard, continues to struggle through a shoulder injury (one aggravated the last time these two teams faced off).
Come join us in the gamethread, and make sure to bring you best Lakers hate.
The win over the Grizzlies was nice while it lasted, but immediately after the Phoenix Suns dropped three straight in convincing fashion to fall to 17-34 on the year.
Records are meant to be broken and making history is normally a good thing, unless you are 17 games under .500 and teetering on the brink of breaking apart as they float around the bottom five of the NBA standings all season with no signs of change to come.
@ Memphis Grizzlies - W (96-90)
@ New Orleans Hornets - L (93-84)
@ Oklahoma City Thunder - L (127-96)
vs. Oklahoma City Thunder - L (97-69)
Can it get worse?
Offensively the Suns managed 86.25 points per game, which was the lowest for a four game stretch all season. Even worse than the forgettable seven game losing streak earlier in the season. They shot 43.3% from the field, 28% from three, and turned the ball over 75 times.
On the defensive end they fared well outside of running into the buzz-saw that are the Thunder.
As a unit the Suns defense gave up 91.5 points per game up to the Grizzlies and Hornets (PELICANS), but 112 per game to the Thunder. Those games count into the running total meaning that the defense, once again, was the primary issue allowing 101.75 PPG through four games.
Now it is time for a break.
After the Lakers game the team will likely disperse out to their homes and enjoy the week off. Time to get their minds right, rest up, and get themselves ready for the final stretch of 29 games to close the season.
The Suns are one of three teams without a representative in general at All-Star weekend.
The worst winning percentage in team history before the All-Star Break was 20% back in the teams inaugural season of 1968-1969. That was teams worst year ever in terms of wins and losses. Right now they are at 32.69%, the third worst in franchise history and are the worst Suns team in 25 years. Or since I was born.
A loss to the Lakers on Tuesday would bump the overall percentage to 32.07%, still good for third worst in the teams history.
Two points from Wesley Johnson. You heard me right, two points from Johnson were the unfortunate highlight of a week of basketball. In the waning moments of the the home version of the home and away split between the Thunder Johnson scored with seven seconds on the clock to avoid a franchise low (68) in points for a game.
In that same game the Suns scored a total of 50 points through 40 minutes of action. That is .8 points per minute and has to be in the running for the worst 40 minutes of basketball in team history.
The 50 points were on 22-76 shooting and were accompanied by 18 team turnovers. Break that down further and the team scored .53 points per possession
Lows that nobody wants to repeat or acknowledge, but the offensive ineptitude and futility was at an all-time low for the sport of basketball. The starters were a combined -19.3 in the controversial +/- statistic. It can only get better from here, right?
Analysis from practice can be found here
A look at three different players on the Suns for the week forming a good, bad, and a surprise either way each week.
Player of the Week:
Jermaine O'Neal - 10.0 PPG 5.3 RPG 1.3 APG 1.3 BLKS 75.0 FG%
Easily the most consistent player on the Suns roster this past week was the returning big man Jermaine O'Neal. He was a consistent scorer off of the bench as well as the anchor in the paint defensively. Coming into the season the addition of O'Neal was not earth-shattering, but he has shown game in and game out that he is one of the two or three most important players on the team.
This past week he reminded the team of his value off of the bench as a stabilizer.
Either O'Neal boosted his trade value this week for a contender looking for a veteran big man off of the bench, or, he solidified his value. If only the team could bottle what O'Neal does and serve it the the 22-27 year old talent that gets the lions share of the minutes.
Previewing the Week Ahead:
Tuesday, February 12th @ Los Angeles Lakers (24-27)