It was not pretty, but the Suns collected another win over a bad team, which is what good teams are supposed to do.

It is hard to describe the Rudy Gay Experience live, which is why I feel for the writers of the Toronto Raptors (6-12) and sense a collective sigh of relief from the Memphis media contingent.

Almost all by himself, Gay made this Phoenix Suns (11-9) come to life.

From his off-balance jumpers, to making every offensive possession harder than it needs to be, all the way to one, two, no count it, THREE missed easy shots at the rim. Lay-ups and dunks have to go down for athletes like Gay, right? They did not tonight. This season Gay has been particularly inefficient on the offensive end (coming into tonight) taking 320 field goals to score 333 points. Tonight he went 15 from the field for 17 points in the loss.

Markieff was doing it defensively, offensively he was giving it to us so we stayed with him -Coach Hornacek

However, this was not the story of the game. Rudy Gay was one player that played his consistently inefficient brand of basketball, but the game was won in the paint.

Before the game Coach Jeff Hornacek talked about the offensive rebounds and paint play not only as a key, but the key to the game. When the dust settled the Suns won the battle inside from offensive rebounds (+7), to second chance points (+5), and free-throw attempts (+7) against a team that thrives inside.

Everybody went for them," Coach Hornacek on the rebounding dominance. "P.J. from the three spot pulls down 13 boards because he went after them. We boxed out. Again we are not a long team. Especially when Channing Frye and Miles Plumlee are not in the game."

It was a team effort on the offensive glass with seven players with at least one offensive rebound for the game.

The Suns played well inside and maintained the pressure on the Raptors there all night. Markieff Morris was the catalyst for the interior play scoring 25 points (11-14 shooting) with 11 rebounds (6 off.) for the night.

Those marks were one off his season high in rebounding and three off his season high in points.

All night the point guards were just feeding Markieff inside with good passes leading to even easier looks. That is good old fashion basketball. The guards break it down and the bigs hammer it home.

P.J. Tucker finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds to add a second double-double for the Suns and Eric Bledsoe (16 points 7 assists) made a big play late finishing at the rim to close it out. Neither performance on the offensive glass was a career achievement for Tucker or Markieff, which goes to show that this is a style the team could conceivably play with consistently.

This was not the prettiest performance of the season and one that will not make the highlight package at the end of the year banquet, but it was a win that keeps the Suns in the conversation.

PHOENIX — Coming into Friday night’s contest, the Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors found themselves only a game out of the playoff race in their respective conferences. While not its...

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The preseason designation of the entire national TV schedule has resulted and will continue to result in some really bad games.

Last night was a glorious night in professional sports. Football fans tuned in for the always incredibly competitive and extremely well-played Thursday Night Football, featuring the Jacksonville Jaguars taking on the Houston Texans. For those that don't like oblong ball, there were some great match-ups on the roundball court as well, as TNT's first game of the night was an epic battle between the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets, with the night cap being a Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat face-off.

If you've been living under a rock, not a word of that lede was written with a straight face. Those were awful match-ups. I saw more competitive and competent play during the scrimmage at my eighth grade team's practice last night. There have been some truly awful games on national TV this year, and taking a look at the schedule, it doesn't look like it will get all that much better.

Look at the Christmas Day games. Chicago at Brooklyn? Oklahoma City at New York? Miami at the Lakers? Blech. The last two games (Houston at San Antonio, Clippers at Golden State) should be decent at least but the first three games are like three giant lumps of coal in all of our stockings.

The New York Knicks have 25 games left on national TV between the ESPN and Turner families of networks. The Brooklyn Nets have 20. The Los Angeles Lakers have 25. And even Chicago has 27. That doesn't even count the possible NBA TV Fan Night games on Tuesdays, which are usually dominated by teams like these because voters are dumb. Meanwhile, the young, fast and exciting Phoenix Suns have three games that can be seen by the masses.

The problem is that the TV schedule is set when the schedules are made: long before we actually learn who the good or at least entertaining teams are. Last year's success, expectations, the season's story lines and, most importantly (and unfortunately), market size are the determining factors for who gets to be seen on TV.

Judging by those factors, it makes sense why those four teams got as many TV games as they did. The Knicks were one of the top teams in the East last season, they feature a marquee player in Carmelo Anthony and they're in New York. The Nets were a playoff team last year and pulled off the biggest blockbuster trade of the summer, and they're in New York. The Bulls made the playoffs last year, without Derrick Rose, an this was supposed to be Rose's comeback tour. Finally, the Lakers are the stupid Lakers and are going to be put on TV no matter what.

However, here we are, more than a month into the season, and the four teams I mentioned above are a combined 26-45. Tyson Chandler has been hurt for the Knicks and the rest of the supporting cast around Anthony has sucked out loud. The Nets have been a complete disaster. Deron Williams has been hurt, Kevin Garnett appears to be done and Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson aren't too far behind him, and there is also the coaching dysfunction (great work Jason Kidd). The Lakers have been better than some expected and haven't been awful to watch, yet they're still only .500. For Chicago, Rose's return has been cut short and his season is over already, and the Bulls are one of the worst offensive teams in the league.

None of these teams are what we expected. Now, we're stuck watching them.

The NFL uses flex scheduling in the second half of their season. NBC can choose to flex out games in order to get a better match-up on their channel if one presents itself. That is how it should be in the NBA. I'm not even asking for very much more balance in terms of who makes the cut. There are plenty of bad teams that nobody wants to see. But the TV games should be awarded based on merit; not name. Schedules should be more flexible, with TV games being determined during the season.

The Suns were - rightfully - on the list of teams with minimal appearances. They were projected to be one of the worst teams in the league, and the initial roster looked to be a mess. But things have changed since then and the Suns are now plenty of fun to watch, scoring the most transition points in the league and featuring two dynamic point guards.

If the NBA wants to continue growing in popularity, it should put the best product forward for fans to enjoy. That means the best and most fun teams - not the biggest names - should be the ones on TV. Find the best match-ups and put them in prime time after we have a better feel for what those match-ups will be.

I'm choosing to ignore the logistics that go into scheduling TV games right now because, darn it, I'm a fan and I want good basketball. However, I doubt the only way to do things is to lock games in months ahead of when they will be played. There has to be a feasible way to include more flexibility in scheduling. I know a lot of these teams are chosen because of their name and market size, but frankly, I don't care. I'd rather not watch a mediocre Lakers or awful Knicks team 40 times this season just because they are in big cities. Let's go for quality over quantity here.

Give us the Thunder, the Warriors, the Clippers, the Heat and the Pacers. Give middle-of-the-pack-yet-young-and-entertaining squads like the Suns and a few others more of a chance to put on a show.

C'mon NBA. Give us good basketball.

The Dino's may be five games under .500 right now, but they have a young athletic team ready to pounce. After all, they are still in the playoff hunt out East....

Tonight the Phoenix Suns (10-9) put on their international hosting hats for the Toronto Raptors (6-11), our norther neighbors. This season the international hosting committee was gracious to the Polish with Polish Appreciation Night to open the season, five days before the season opener they traded their Polish star center.

Looking at the roster there does not seem to be any Canadian, or more specific Toronto natives to trade, so this one should go over a little smoother.

This is another cross conference game for the Suns, which they have had very few so far this season, but in the four games they are 2-2 early on. They have matched up well against the Eastern Conference beating quality opponents and hanging tough in losses.

The Raptors are a young athletic team with DeMarr DeRozan, and Jonas Valanciunas, as well as veterans in their prime with Kyle Lowry and Rudy Gay.

"I think it is just consistency," Coach Jeff Hornacek on DeRozan's leap this year. "I think in the past he was up-and-down, have some big nights, and then some not, but he seems to be pretty consistent with all his play. He can shoot the three now and when you can add something to your game it makes you a better player."

From a strength perspective the Raptors are tops in the league with 17.7 second chance points rebounding the ball on the offensive end and effectively scoring inside after. The Suns are 26th in that same category and give up the up the third most points to their opponents on second chance attempts.

"We are not a huge team," Coach Jeff Hornacek in pre-game on the teams play in the paint. "Especially if Miles (Plumlee) is not in the game you have Markieff  and Channing. He has the size (Channing), but he does not have the bulky size of a lot of the guys in this league."

Athletically this is not your typical Raptors team with the way they get up-and-down the floor trying to push the tempo. They, like the Suns, are going to try and run out to get easy buckets in transition.

We are undersized so we really have to fight for those rebounds, then we can get out in the open court -Coach Hornacek

So far this season the Suns have been the best fast-break team in the league averaging 20.0 points in transition. They are getting out early and often, while the Raptors, for all their athleticism are near the bottom of the league (28th overall) in transition points at 9.6 per game.

(Recent) History Lesson

These two have not tangled this season to date. This is the first of two match-ups with the final affair coming Sunday, March 16th in Toronto. On the season the Suns are 5-4 at home and the Raptors are 3-5 on the road.

Head-to-Head (past four seasons including Playoffs)

S: 101.2 PPG (4 wins)

R: 98.5 PPG (3 wins)

In recent years the teams have traded winning streaks with each other. The Suns won four in a row (109.5-98.0) before the Raptors took control as of late winning three in a row (99.3-88.0) muting the once potent offense. Right now the Suns are playing better, but the Raptors seem to have their number over the past few seasons.

Head-to-Head (This Season)

Rudy Gay: 20.1 PPG 5.6 RPG 1.6 APG 47.0 FG% (25 games)

P.J. Tucker: 4.0 PPG 3.5 RPG 1.5 SPG 57.1 FG% (2 games)

Gay is remarkable efficient against the Suns, by his standards, more on that in a moment. He has only played more games against the Houston Rockets and scores his fourth highest per game number in points against the Suns. His second and third highest individual scoring outbursts came against Phoenix (in Memphis) with 36 points on two separate occasions. He is also 9-16 career against the Suns...

On the other hand Tucker has had two humble games against the team that drafted him. That is largely irrelevant at this point with the new Tucker that is a much different role averaging 6.2 PPG 4.7 RPG in 31.2 minutes as a starter on a winning team.

Starting Line-Ups

PG - Goran Dragic v. Kyle Lowry

SG - Gerald Green v. DeMarr DeRozan

SF - P.J. Tucker v. Rudy Gay

PF - Channing Frye v. Amir Johnson

C - Miles Plumlee v. Jonas Valanciunas

Potential Suns Inactives: Alex Len (Left Ankle, Game-to-Game) and Emeka Okafor (Neck, Out Indefinitely)

Potential Raptors Inactives: N/A

Key Match-Up

Suns Bench vs. Raptors Bench

Statistically the Raptors have one of the least productive benches in the NBA, mainly because they play sparingly (15.5 minutes per game), but also because they just not effective. As a unit they are averaging 24.1 points per game (25th in the NBA), 40.1% shooting (25th), 30.4% from three (27th), and 3.9 assists per game (30th) making it one of the least impactful benches in the league.

On the other hand the Suns are Top 15 in points (17.2) and overall shooting (43.8%) in 17.2 minutes per game. They have brought the team back on numerous occasions with their shooting, energy, and scoring. Good be a game changing element.

Interesting Stat: 18.8

This season Rudy Gay is averaging 19.6 points per game. He is taking 18.8 field goal attempts per game to get there. At this point he is shooting more times a game than 80% of the Top 10 scorers in the NBA, takes the 5th most shots per game in the league, and he has only 13 more points than shot attempts on the season. Enjoy those...

Meaningless Stat: 2-2

The Suns are 2-2 against the Eastern Conference this year, but could/should be 3-1 (Nets OT debacle) and that means nothing. The entire Western Conference is something like 11,527-5 against the East this year...

Time: 7:00 pm MDT TV: FSAZ The Suns have blown away their critics this year with big wins over big teams like the Portland Trail Blazers (twice) and Houston Rockets. But the reason the Suns aren’t...

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