Last night the Suns played a superb half of basketball. It was what we all like to call "Suns Basketball," which is just a different way of saying these guys are playing up to their potential. The;Suns are 5-2 in their last 7 games. Why? We could dig into numbers or come up with some pretty fancy graphs. But we need not; we've been watching the games. It's pretty clear to see why the Suns have found some recent success.
The Suns recent run can be attributed to a combination of things:
1. Solidification of the Rotation-Brown and Warrick sit, Price's court time diminishes, Redd plays and he's hitting shots, Chill plays and is rebounding and defending. Frye is hitting shots. The key here is SCORING. Price is a defensive specialist, not a big threat from the wing. Sebastian Telfair has an established role, and isn't an awful stop-gap for when Nash needs to rest. Warrick has had flashes, but he's the odd man out against two larger, more physical players in Frye and and Morris.
2. Offense-in the last 5 games, Channing Frye has gone 40% from the field. In the prior 5, he shot 20%. Michael Redd has 3 straight double digit scoring efforts and has played the most minutes in his short tenure with the Suns. These guys are finding their legs. Period. Frye can shoot, we know it. It's not like he isn't trying to get back on track, and we also know that the Suns are a much better team with Frye producing. Redd is also getting in shape. He's healthy, so now its only a question of shaking the rust off. His shots last night were confident. Redd, back in his old stomping ground, was confident. Shooters need confidence plain and simple. And these guys seem to be gaining it.
3. Dudley and Frye Return to Starting Lineup. Dudley's numbers as a starter are always better than when he comes off the bench. Maybe because he gets starters minutes, maybe because Nash is on the floor to find him. Morris clearly wants to come off the bench. Wish granted. Refer to #2 above, add these two to the starting lineup and have them produce. Frye stretches the floor, makes his big defender come out to guard him, which allows Gortat and Co space down low to work for offensive rebounds.
4. Iffy competition. Some will no doubt point out that the last five victories should have a tiny little asterisk next to them. Atlanta without Horford, Milwaukee without Bogut, Charlotte sucks, New Orleans sucks, Memphis without Randolph. Ugly losses to top WC squads-Dallas (twice), Portland, and Houston. But guess what? I don't care. As Elvis plastered all over his airplane, you gotta "T.C.B." Take Care of Business. Against garbage foes and the best of the best.
5. Energy, Defense, and Focus. They all go hand in hand. Said Alvin Gentry before the Bobcat game:
"I am more concerned about the overall energy level as anything. To me that's the most important thing. We've just had too much of a discrepancy and that area right there is something we've got to get back and be consistent with, competing and playing hard night in and night out."
It is all good news for the moment. Winning does that. But the standings remain the same. The Suns are third in the Pacific and 12th in the WC. It will take a Herculian effort to turn it around and sustain this level of play for the remainder of the season. But maybe, just maybe...Anything can happen, right?
Happy Birthday, Steve Nash, you hit the game winner tonight on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Phoenix Suns were 35-5 against the Milwaukee Bucks since the '91-'92 season entering tonight's game. It looked as though they were in for their 36th W after two quarters of play when something typical happened. After scoring 67 points in the first half, the Suns suddenly lost momentum, putting up 40 in the final two quarters while giving up 55 to the Bucks.
What should have been an easy road win turned out to be a nailbiter for the Phoenix Suns. But none of that matters when it's Steve Nash's birthday.
In the first half the Suns were looking a bit like the 7SOL Suns. They ran, they made shots, they scored 67 points on 62% shooting. Michael Redd scored 12 while Nash went for 13 and 5. The Suns went 5-9 from beyond the arc and befuddled the Bucks for 24 minutes. Even the Suns' defense stepped up, limiting the Bucks to 20 second quarter points.
But in the 3rd quarter, the Suns gave up runs of 12-0, 8-0, and 6-0. The Suns' 17 point lead dwindled to 7 at the end of the third. In the fourth, the Bucks continued on a 17-2 run. The Suns helped the Bucks out by missing 9 of 10 field goal attempts in the first four minutes of the final stanza. Brandon Jennings took his second shot of the game, a 3, and promptly nailed it to give the Bucks a 3 point lead.
Of course it was Nashty to the rescue for the Phoenix Suns. After an incredible save off a Channing Frye block, Nash hit a running 3 to give the Suns a 2 point lead. After 2 Bucks free throws, the game was tied with 5 ticks left on the clock.
Enter the Nashty who drove to to the right side of the hoop for a running 6 footer. GAME OVER. A fitting climax to what must have been one of the happiest 38th birthdays in recent history. Thank you, Steve Nash
Josh Childress: 12 rebounds, 3 assists in 16 minutes. Just watch the guy. He's everywhere, a pest with a nose for the ball. We may just get our money's worth out of this guy. Hopefully
Jared Dudley: 7-9 from the field, 19 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
Michael Redd: 14 points, 4 rebounds on 7-14 shooting in 20 minutes of play.
Phoenix Suns: 48 points in the paint against 22 Buck points in the paint
Thoughts, Opinions, Observations
It's never nice to lose a 19 point lead and have to eke out a W in the final seconds. But any win on the road is a good win. The Bucks were 7-3 on their home court, and even if Scott Skiles refused to let Brandon Jennings take a shot (to prove some insane point or what have you), a W in the W column is sweet especially on the second night of back to backs.
The good news for the Suns is Josh Childress is contributing in that Lou Amundson kind of way. Getting his mitts on rebounds, playing D, being the dirtworker the second unit needs. But wait, there's more good news! Channing Frye's shot is starting to fall. And as many of you posted yesterday, when Frye hits shots, the Suns transform into a much better team. OH WAIT, there's even more good news! Michael Freakin' Redd is starting to gain confidence and hit shots. He's 16-35 from the field in the last three games which is an incredible improvement. Even Robin Lopez is contributing without throwing any hissy fits.
Heck, if this continues, we might all start feeling a tad optimistic.
Enjoy, Suns fans, the Suns have won 3 in a row and return home with a score to settle against the Houston Rockets.
"It was a pretty formidable win under pretty formidable circumstances."