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From a Phoenix Suns fan perspective, everything happened the way it needed to happen on Monday night. I know some Suns fans are worried about a win, but the Suns can do no worse than 4th overall and were unlikely to get the 3rd overall lotto seeding thanks to Cleveland's epic tanking efforts.

By beating Houston last night, the Suns forced Houston to play as hard as possible against LA on Wednesday to keep their #7 playoff seeding intact (to face hobbled San Antonio). If they lose to LA, they drop to the #8 seed to face OKC. No one wants that.

Now a hungry Houston team is the Suns' best chance to knock the Lakers out of the playoffs, and start their summer vacation on the same day as the Suns.

If the Lakers beat Houston to make the playoffs, the Suns will get the #30 pick (via the Miami Heat). But if the Lakers MISS the playoffs by losing to Houston (while the Jazz win), the Suns will get the #14 pick outright.

What happened last night

  • The Phoenix Suns beat the Houston Rockets, which makes the Rockets/Lakers game REALLY important for both teams. For either team, losing is tantamount to disaster. If the Lakers lose, they may be out of the playoffs. If the Rockets lose, they will drop to the 8th seed, facing OKC in the first round in a likely slaughter.
  • The Utah Jazz beat Minnesota by 16 points, keeping their hopes alive for that 8th seed. While Houston wants to avoid dropping to #8, the Jazz would be thrilled to rise up to it.
  • The Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets won, placing the Memphis Grizzlies (the Jazz' Wednesday opponent) firmly in the #5 playoff position with little chance for home court advantage, and little to play for in their last game.
  • Memphis can still get home court advantage (HCA) over the #4 seeded Clippers, even though they are seeded lower, but only if there record is better than the Clippers. Clippers get the #4 seed by virtue of winning their division, but are not guaranteed HCA. Head coach Lionel Hollins is so worried about HCA, though, he didn't play a single starter more than 24 minutes in Monday night 6-point win over Dallas that wasn't decided until late in the 4th quarter.

What still has to happen

  • The Clippers need to win out (Portland today, Sacramento on Wednesday)
  • The Jazz need to beat Memphis on Wednesday
  • The Rockets need to beat LA Lakers on Wednesday.

Scenarios

  • If the Clippers win tonight (hosting Portland) they will tie Memphis' win total with a game to play. The Clippers get the tiebreaker, so that diminishes the Grizzlies chance to get HCA. As long as the Clippers win out (at Sacramento on Wednesday), the Clips have HCA in round one.
  • But if the Clippers lose one of their last two games, the Grizzlies could get HCA by beating the Jazz on Wednesday. However, as pointed out above, the Grizz coach didn't play his starters much on Monday night with the same stakes in play.
  • If the Jazz win on Wednesday over the Grizzlies, they would have the same number of wins as the Lakers currently have (who play later that night), and would win any tiebreaker for a playoff spot. But the Lakers would still have a game to play later that night.
  • If the Jazz beat Memphis, the Lakers HAVE to win or they are out of the playoffs. Period.
  • If the Lakers beat Houston, they get the #7 seed to face the Spurs. Houston would drop to #8 thanks to losing to the Suns and Lakers in the final week.
  • If the Rockets win on Wednesday and the Jazz lose, the Lakers get the #8 seed while the Rockets get #7.
  • If the Rockets win on Wednesday and the Jazz win too, the Lakers are OUT OF THE PLAYOFFS.

Clear as mud?

Basically, Suns fans should cheer for the Clippers to win tonight and tomorrow (over Portland, Sacramento), the Jazz to win (over Memphis) and the Rockets to win (over LA).

That's a lot of IFs, but there is a solid chance they all happen. The Clippers want HCA, so they won't rest against easy opponents Portland or Sacramento.

Memphis is a wild card - will they fight for HCA, more than they did on Monday night?

And thanks to the Suns win last night, Houston now HAS to beat LA on Wednesday. If Houston had won last night, they might have not even shown up, having the #7 seed locked up already.

If these things happen, the Suns get a second lottery pick (#14 overall) while the Lakers start their summer vacation on the same day the Suns do.

GO CLIPS! GO JAZZ! GO ROCKETS!

PHOENIX – For once, it was only about basketball. Goran Dragic was relaxed in the locker room before a meeting against his former team, the Houston Rockets. He was already talking about his...

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The Phoenix Suns decided to go out on a high note for their fans. They played hard, they played fun and had the fans cheering more consistently than in most any game this season (besides the Laker wins maybe).

The Suns scored their most points since Lindsey Hunter took over, and second-most this whole season. A microcosm of their effort was a steal by Dragic and, on the next possession, a putback by Tucker.

The best part is that now Houston HAS to beat LA on Wednesday to definitely avoid OKC in round one. Thanks Houston!

After winning the game, the Suns players threw autographed basketballs and T-shirts into the crowd. Nice sendoff.

Way to leave a good taste on our pallets, Suns. Thank you.

Big nights:

  • Markieff Morris had 20 points, 7 rebounds, 6 blocks and 5 steals
  • Goran Dragic had 20 points, 14 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals
  • Luis Scola had 26 points and 15 huge rebounds
  • Kendall Marshall had 8 points, 4 assists, a block and a steal
  • All five starters had at least 12 points in this game

The Suns started off the game with a bang, going up 35-23 very quickly in the first quarter. Luis Scola was balling, as was Goran Dragic. it was like a big weight was lifted and the Suns were playing focused, despite missing their top two centers once again. Scola made a plethora of midrange jumpers to frustrate Rockets C Asik, and Dragic was slicing and dicing through the lane and racking up assists.

When Kevin McHale called timeout, it appeared he would right the Rockets focus but all he did was wake up James Harden's drive-and-draw game. The rest of the Rox still played like they were in quicksand.

By the end of the first, the Suns nursed a 39-28 lead. Once again, a good opening quarter - the latest trend from the Suns in the last couple of weeks. Dragic had 8 points and 9 assists, while Scola put up 14 and 5 against their former team. It was truly a two-man game. Scola proving himself one more time can improve his trade value over summer.

In the second quarter, the Rockets kept driving to the lane, drawing more fouls and getting them on demand. Jeremy Lin took Kendall Marshall to school on the court, and Marshall appeared to be in first grade.

Carlos Delfino always seems to play like an All-Star against the Suns, putting up 6 points, 3 rebounds and assist and a block in only 6 minutes of play as the Rockets outscored the Suns 24-11 to start the second quarter.

The good they were a-gone, just like the lead. Rockets up 52-50 with 6 mins left in half.

The Suns eventually righted the ship though, and took a lead back into halftime. Funnily enough, that coincided with Dragic coming back into the game.

Dragic finished the half with 12 points, 13 assists and 2 steals.

The Suns biggest problem in recent games has been the third quarter, giving up twice as many points as they've scored.

But tonight, the Suns came out to play the third like it was any other quarter. Even with Dragic going out a while (to stitch a cut), the Suns extended their lead to open the third, leading 80-71 with 5:38 remaining.

McHale once again tried to wake up his troops. The Rockets made a couple of threes, but the Suns found a way to keep scoring by hitting the paint hard themselves, especially P.J. Tucker.

Again, Delfino a Suns killer this season, hit two more threes in the third when the Rockets needed some scoring. 4-5 on threes. Ouch. Rockets cut the lead from 12 to 7 in the final seconds of the third.

But hey, it wasn't a bloodbath in the third! Woo hoo! Phoenix outscored Houston 23-22 without Dragic most of the quarter.

"Rocky" came back into the building in the 4th with a huge bandage over his eye. He made a quick three and had a nice assist right away to help the Suns push the lead back to 10.

Dragic and Scola were really carrying the load all night, trying to finish off the season right on their new home court against their old home court.

When the Rockets cut the lead to three, Markieff Morris (who already had 16 points, 6 rebounds, 5 blocks and 5 assists) came back into the game. Morris quickly scored inside on a putback of his own miss, and then another block soon after.

When Kendall Marshall scored on a nifty drive against defensive dynamo Patrick Beverly, McHale once again called timeout with an 8-point deficit. These Suns were not just going to fade away on this night.

Notes:

  • Per Julie Fie of the Suns PR dept, many of the players have already had their exit interviews, and will just be picking up their personal stuff on Thursday after the last game.
  • Lon Babby will not make any end-of-season address with media immediately after the season, preferring to wait until everything is "sorted out". Could that be a house-cleaning on tap? Probably not, but it's fun to wonder.
  • Goran Dragic said pregame that he thinks there has to be change on the roster to improve on their 24 wins next season. Not even an attempt at "guys will come back focused and better next year"
  • When asked what the Suns need, Dragic said another playmaker who can pass the ball, set up the offense along with him on floor. Much like Houston with Harden and Lin.
  • He also said the offense and defense need more shoring up. Basically, anything you can point out, the Suns need to improve on.
  • Toughest season of Dragic's career, by far.

Lottery pickins

  • Utah won, setting up a chance to tie the Lakers' win total on Wednesday if Lakers lose and Utah wins
  • Denver won, giving them the #3 seed for certain over the Grizzlies, leaving the Grizz locked into the #5 seed when they face off against those Jazz. Might Grizz rest players in meaningless game?
  • Rockets losing tonight means they HAVE to beat Lakers to avoid OKC in first round.
  • Worst-case scenario for Lakers.
PHOENIX — The Suns are about to tip off their final home game of the year, so of course the biggest news of the day was the Phoenix Mercury formally selecting Brittney Griner with the first...

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The Phoenix Mercury made it official Monday night: Baylor Bears senior center Brittney Griner is the teams newest member courtesy of the 2013 WNBA Draft. There was little doubt on this years No. 1 Overall pick was going to be used on Griner. She is a special player with the chance to be one of the best ever to play in the WNBA.

This is a Mercury team that, seemingly overnight, has become must watch television.

"Now that I can say her name, Brittney Griner, she is definitely a player that is going to change the game as we know it today," stated a very stoic and very elated Head Coach Corey Gaines.

At the Hotel Palomar in downtown Phoenix the Mercury welcomed hundreds of fans to come and view the the historic event live.

MC Kip Helt kicked off the festivities that included (at the time) the newest member of the Mercury Erin Thorn, last years No. 6 Overall pick Samantha Prahalis, Krystal Thomas, Bridget Pettis, Kayte Christensen, Amber Cox (via satellite), and Ann Meyers-Drysdale. The team rewarded the fans for being the fans.

Griner enters the fold with a litany of talent, all-stars, champions, and gold medal winners. She comes in as the rookie and looks like she has the humility and humbleness to make that transition with ease.

"I think in college, as you just saw her interview when she got drafted, she was saying how she wants to learn more things," Gaines on Griner's potential. "She is going to make Diana (Taurasi) better and Diana is going to make her better. I think pick-and-roll, moving around the lane will make her, offensively, better."

She comes in as the tallest player in the WNBA now officially at 6-8 locking down the center position for the Mercury for the future playing with the likes of Diana Taurasi, Penny Taylor, DeWanna Bonner, and Candice Dupree. This is a Mercury team that, seemingly overnight, has become must watch television.

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