With no Channing, no Pietrus in a must win game someone had to step up. Hakim Warrick decided he'd be that guy. We knew this was a team he could dominate, but who could know he'd play this well? How many thought he'd have a career high of 32 points? I certainly wasn't expecting that. Warrick wasn't a lone though. There was another player who helped carry the Suns tonight and his name is Vince Carter aka Half-Man, Half-Amazing!
It was Vince who hit timely three after timely three to keep the Suns in the game and the pressure on the Rockets. It was his energy, passion and aggressiveness that brought the Suns back into the game after being down by 11 in the 2nd Quarter. Surprised? After the OKC game, perhaps not, but the fact that he was the one to put this team on his back, lead them out of a double digit deficit and take control in the clutch was at least surprising to me. He showed a lot of heart tonight and deserves much props for his amazing play. Thank you Carter and thank you Warrick!
Suns got off to a sloppy start. They turned the ball over, couldn't make a jumper or control their emotions which led to a Pietrus ejection. Not the way any of us wanted it to begin. This was the Suns home-court and they should have came out strong and set the tone early on. Unfortunately, the Rockets made them pay and took an 11 point lead with just 2 minutes left in the 2nd quarter. Things looked liked they'd only get worse until Carter entered the court. Immediately he attacks the basket, misses, but follows it with a put-back after getting 3 rocket players in the air. You can tell with his body language that he wanted to win. His teammates could too and followed his example. It's amazing how one play can change a game, but that was the turning point. That one play led to two defensive stops on the other end followed by two 3-pointers from Grant Hill and Vince himself. Suns cut the lead to 48-50 going into halftime.
From there on the game went back and forth with neither team able to gain any separation. It could have gone either way, but like I said Carter took control and hit many key shots and the Suns eventually found themselves up by 5 with 23 seconds to go. Kyle Lowry knocked down a 3, Nash got fouled, missed a free throw and Brad Miller air-balled a three to give the Suns a 113-110 victory thanks to the defense of Jared Dudley which forced Lowry to give up the ball.
Nash vs. Lowry- Nash had 9 and 14. Those are reasonable stats considering he's playing through injury, but Lowry really lit him up. 32 points on 11-18 shooting including 7-11 on threes. That guy is one tough dude, got to give him props.
Brooks vs. Dragic- Not the "Ultimate Showdown" I was hoping for. Neither got much playing time, but it's safe to say that Goran won it. Neither could buy a shot, but Dragic was more aggressive attacking the lane as he hit 6-8 free throws. I'm going to call this one a gimme on Brooks; 0-6 shooting? Yikes!
Gortat and Warrick vs. Hayes, Miller and Patterson- Seriously, the Suns always seem to wake up somebody. Who the crap is Patrick Patterson? Well, he had 18 and 5 tonight on 9-12 shooting. He, Miller and Hayes combined for 32 and 23. Gortat and Warrick more than held their own against them though. Marcin picked up 16 boards and 13 points with Hakim Warrick putting in a career high 32 points including 8 rebounds. 45, 24, yup the Suns front line won this match-up.
Vince Carter and Grant Hill vs. Kevin Martin and Chase Budinger- Vince finished with 32 points on 13-17 shooting including 5-7 from downtown. Grant was amazing himself though. It wasn't just his 19 points on 5-8 from the field, but his lock-down defense on Kevin Martin who scored 17 on 5-16 shooting. Suns won this one easily.
It was a really entertaining game. Wish I could have been there. The duo of Warrick and VC were really entertaining getting a lot of fans off there seats with all those dunks and threes and what not. They really stepped up and played like men tonight in place of Channing Frye and Mickael Pietrus. Gortat and Hill brought there A game as well and Nash did the best he could. This was a must win at home and probably the most important game of the season thus far and the Suns took care of business. Bring on Denver!
Phoenix Suns Blast Houston Rockets In Needed Home Win, 113-110 - SB Nation Arizona
...early second-quarter ejection of Mickael Pietrus who received a first technical foul after arguing a call. He continued to argue with the official and reportedly used foul language which got him tossed him from the game. His coach was not happy.
"I was a little bit disappointed in that. We're a little bit short-handed and obviously we need him. It's something that we'll talk about tomorrow," Gentry said about Pietrus' poor self-control.
Dear David Stern:
I demand you provide us with a new Channing, since it was your refs that sucked so bad on Sunday.
[Note by Seth Pollack, 03/08/11 6:44 PM MST ]
Return of the Dragon
For his part, Goran is only looking forward, "I don't look backward at what happened. If you look back then you just get frustrated -- why they did that, why they did this. But I would never change nothing in my past and I'm just looking forward and try to play basketball."