Phoenix Suns 104, Washington Wizards 88 PHOENIX — Fresh off a convincing win over the Lakers, the Suns continue their home month with a contest against the lowly Washington Wizards...

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(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

After a much needed win against the Los Angeles Lakers last night, the Phoenix Suns will play the second game of a back-to-back at home tonight against John Wall and the Washington Wizards at 7:00 p.m. MST.

The Suns have lost five of their last nine home games, and had lost four games in a row prior to last night's impressive win. But just when you start to think the Suns are finished, they surprise you with a quality win against a tough opponent. The Suns have shown that they can play well together at times, but so far that has proven to be more the exception than the rule; making it difficult to say whether or not the effort and energy the Suns played with at home against the Lakers will be something they can carry forward to tonight.

One thing's for sure though, the 7-24 Wizards have been playing even worse than the 13-19 Suns. However, the Wizards have also shown they can compete with anyone when they are playing well together, as evidenced by their surprise wins against the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Portland Trail Blazers. If Phoenix wants to keep their hopes of landing a playoff spot alive, they need to play with more energy and intensity at home and secure wins against lesser opponents like Washington.

Read on for a look at tonight's game against the lowly Wizards, and what the Suns need to do to continue the success they enjoyed against the Lakers last night.

Here are the Wizards:


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Nick Young 31 31.3 6.3 15.1 41.5 1.8 4.7 38.4 3.2 3.6 88.4 0.5 2.0 2.5 1.2 1.4 0.7 0.3 2.4 17.5
John Wall 31 36.8 5.8 13.7 42.5 0.1 0.6 11.1 5.2 6.5 80.6 0.9 4.0 4.9 7.5 4.1 1.3 1.0 2.3 16.9
JaVale McGee 31 28.6 5.3 10.1 52.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.5 2.9 50.0 3.1 5.7 8.8 0.5 1.7 0.7 2.7 3.0 12.1
Jordan Crawford 31 23.7 4.3 11.5 37.3 0.9 3.4 26.7 2.1 2.7 76.2 0.7 1.7 2.4 2.9 2.0 0.7 0.1 1.5 11.5
Andray Blatche 17 28.5 4.3 11.3 38.0 0.1 0.4 28.6 1.6 2.3 69.2 1.9 5.2 7.1 1.2 1.8 1.1 0.7 2.4 10.3
Rashard Lewis 26 25.7 3.2 8.0 39.4 0.6 2.4 25.8 1.0 1.2 87.1 1.2 2.7 3.9 0.9 1.1 0.8 0.3 1.6 8.0
Trevor Booker 31 22.2 3.2 5.6 56.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.8 1.5 55.3 1.8 3.5 5.3 0.6 0.9 1.1 0.9 2.7 7.2
Chris Singleton 31 19.1 1.5 4.0 37.6 0.5 1.5 31.9 0.3 0.5 66.7 0.5 2.4 2.9 0.6 0.5 1.1 0.4 2.5 3.8
Shelvin Mack 29 10.7 1.4 3.2 42.6 0.3 0.9 37.0 0.3 0.5 60.0 0.2 1.2 1.4 1.5 0.6 0.3 0.0 0.6 3.4
Jan Vesely 24 16.3 1.4 2.8 50.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.7 41.2 1.3 1.8 3.2 0.7 1.1 0.7 0.5 3.0 3.1
Kevin Seraphin 24 12.7 1.3 3.0 41.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.6 1.0 65.2 1.1 2.5 3.5 0.3 0.7 0.3 1.1 1.7 3.1
Maurice Evans 8 9.5 0.9 3.3 26.9 0.3 1.5 16.7 0.4 0.5 75.0 0.1 0.4 0.5 0.3 0.4 0.1 0.0 1.1 2.4
Roger Mason Jr. 23 6.7 0.7 2.3 27.8 0.2 1.2 18.5 0.2 0.2 100.0 0.0 0.5 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.1 0.0 0.2 1.7
Ronny Turiaf 4 14.3 0.8 0.8 100.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 2.8 3.0 1.3 1.5 1.5 0.8 1.8 1.5


Looking at the stats it's pretty easy to see that John Wall and Nick Young are the driving force of the Washington Wizards, but they do have other substantial contributors in Javale McGee, Jordan Crawford, and Andre Blatche who are all averaging over 10 points a game, along with Rashard Lewis and Trevor Booker who average just under that. And what happened to Roger Mason?

Key Match-Ups

  • Steve Nash vs. John Wall - John Wall is one of the most talented young point guards in the league who simply doesn't get much media attention due to playing on the Wizards. Sure, he still makes bad decisions like many other young players, but he's pretty darn good and also happens to be lighting fast and can score the ball with the best of them. His averages of 18.9 points and 7.5 assists a game is up there with the best of them..Well, except for THE best of them, our very own Steve Nash who is averaging 14.5 points and a league best 10.9 assists per game. Wall has the athleticism and the quickness but Steve is still the gold standard for point guards (Advantage Suns)
  • Grant Hill vs. Nick Young - Nick Young is the Wizards go-to scorer, and therefor will likely face the wrath of our own Grant Hill. Young is a very capable shooter who can score from anywhere on the court, but at times he's struggled with consistency. If Hill can shut down Young or at least hold him to under his average then Phoenix should have no trouble beating the Wizards. But how will Hill respond after playing heavy minutes guarding Kobe Bryant last night? Will he also continue to score efficiently even with tired legs? Because of those questions I have to give a slight edge to Nick Young on this match-up, but that could certainly change if Grant comes out hot. (Advantage Wiz)
  • Marcin Gortat vs. Javale McGee - Although Javale McGee's name is often mentioned for all the wrong reasons, the guy is a formidable opponent and a problem for opposing big men to deal with, especially at the basket where his 7'0" frame and 7'6" wingspan come in handy for grabbing rebounds and blocking shots. McGee is kind of an air-head at times, and his offensive skills (while improving) still seem fairly raw. However, his physical attributes alone have made him one of the best shot blockers in the league and a good rebounder as well, and this will make it difficult for Gortat to be as effective as he's used to around the rim. Still what Marcin lacks for in size and length he more than makes up for with skill and agility as well as a fluid offensive game and a semi-reliable jumper. Gortat is averaging more points and rebounds than McGee, and I expect him to have the edge tonight as long as he isn't too tired from playing over 40 minutes last night. (Advantage Suns)
  • Suns' Bench vs. Wizards' Bench - This is one of the tougher match-ups to analyze because the bench play of the Suns has been so inconsistent. Rookie Markieff Morris is probably the most consistent player off the bench for the Suns followed by Michael Redd and then Shannon Brown. The Wizards on the other hand have the talented 6th man Jordan Crawford (whom some of you may remember from the tape of him dunking on Lebron when he was a sophomore at Xavier), as well as Rashard Lewis and Andray Blatche. The bottom line is the Wizards get more production from their back-ups on a consistent basis, so they get the edge here. (Advantage Wiz)

So other than the match-ups, what else can the Suns do to help them win this game? What worked so well for them last night in their surprising win over the Lakers?

I believe the answer to this question is scoring from the wings.

Last night Jared Dudley went off for 25 points, his highest total of the season thus far. Not only that, but in addition to guarding Kobe Bryant, Grant Hill also pumped in 15 points offensively as well. These offensive contributions from our wings were the difference in the game in my opinion, and it is one of the aspects of the game the Suns have been lacking in this season compared to past seasons where they have had more success. We know the Suns can expect consistent production from their starting point guard and center, but they need consistent production from their starting wings to knock down open shots and also open up the lane for the pick and roll, which is still the bread and butter of the offense. If the Suns can get additional scoring from Michael Redd and Shannon Brown off the bench as well, then that will help them even more, but they must continue to get consistent scoring from their starting wings in order to win games.

The Suns were determined to get a win at home last night against one of their biggest rivals; not only to keep the fans interested but also to help with the players' confidence and overall team morale. Let's hope they can ride that wave of momentum back into the arena tonight and take care of business again against a team they should beat.

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This is getting ridiculous. I was scrolling down the home page of a big-time sports site and couldn't help but see this headline. My blood pressure rose a bit, and I hit the link with disdain.

Nash-story_medium

No matter what Phoenix Suns starting PG and future Hall of Famer says to the media, they can't stop concocting hair-brained stories about him going this way or that way! Argh!

Deadline Debate: Who's Getting Nash?

Three...sources told ESPN.com this past week that the deal would have to include three to five assets. A look at the options out there:

...

Who the heck is this Pierre LeBrun guy, anyway? What, now the mothership is hiring anyone off the street to write speculative stories on Nash?

Hit the link for the details. I think you might be as shocked as I was.


PHOENIX — Close your eyes and you could almost imagine being transported back to 2010, a better time for this franchise when a home game against the Lakers meant a battle between...

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Enjoy this one, guys!

Well, that was fun, wasn't it? The Suns broke a four-game losing streak by taking out their frustrations on a Lakers team which had thumped them Friday night, building a 27-point lead before Kobe Bryant and the Lakers clawed back to within 10 in the second half, and the Suns had to sweat it out in the end before securing the 102-90 win.

Marcin Gortat was both a workhorse and a show pony, playing 42 minutes, producing 21 points and 15 rebounds and again outperforming acclaimed Lakers big men Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. When the Suns went to their bench, Gortat was the player they kept in the game to provide stability. Bench play was still a white knuckle affair, but the Suns held their lead through more disjointed play from their second unit.

Jared Dudley played an outstanding game as well, leading the Suns with 25 points on 9-15 shooting and making some clutch shots down the stretch when the Lakers were threatening.

The Lakers were led by Kobe Bryant's 32 points, but Bryant also committed 10 turnovers as he attempted to carry his team on his back. He pouted on the bench in the final minute as the Suns wrapped it up.

This is a rough season for the Suns and their fans, but taking the Lakers out back behind the woodshed for a whupping? That's always a welcome sight.

Read on for more on the Suns best performance of the season.....

This game started out with the Suns executing crisply on both ends of the floor and the Lakers looking lackadaisical. Gortat almost had a double-double in the first quarter, Grant Hill out-dueled Kobe 9-4 in the quarter and the Suns committed only 2 turnovers to the Lakers 7 as the Suns took a 35-19 lead.

Second quarter woes? Pssh. The Suns bench was hardly great tonight but rookie Markieff Morris carried the load with 10 points and 6 boards and the Suns extended their lead to 63-40 going into the half. Morris plays with a swagger that can't be taught. He only shot 2-11 tonight but he showed flashes of his potential and played a key role as the Suns pulled away tonight.

It certainly helped that Lakers starters Derek Fisher and Metta World Peace combined for 0 points in the half (2 in the game) and the Lakers made 0 3-pointers. The Suns also took it to the hole hard, drawing fouls and making 18-19 FTs.

Of course the Lakers were going to make a run, and it started in the middle of the 3rd. Kobe tried to take over the game, as the rest of his team was impotent, and scored 9 in a 15-4 Lakers run to close the quarter. But the Suns defense swarmed him and his turnovers persisted. If Kobe hates the Suns and uses that as motivation, it looked to have turned right back on him tonight.

At 88-77 with 7:22 remaining, Alvin Gentry put Nash, Dudley, Hill and Frye back in the game. The Suns immediately went to Frye inside coming out of the timeout and Frye converted an and 1. Due to the Suns lead-blowing ways, it wasn't exactly sealed then, but they were able to take the air out of the ball a bit and let Kobe try to play Superman on the other end to hold on for their first win over the Lakers since 2010.

Keys to the Win

  • Suns 11 turnovers, Lakers 18
  • Suns 7-20 from 3, Lakers 3-18
  • All Suns starters scored in double figures except for Steve Nash; he's such a slacker. But he did dish 14 assists.
  • Gortat 21 points and 15 rebounds, Andrew Bynum 16 and 10, and Bynum sat down the stretch for some reason.
  • Derek Fisher had 0 points, 1 assist and 1 turnover in his 18 minutes. He's merely an ornamental PG at this point in his career.
  • Metta World Peace has plummeted from being an effective player who's a little crazy to now being a terrible NBA starter. He looks as if he doesn't know his role and is disengaged. He's not long for a starting job.
  • Jared Dudley was a man on a mission tonight. As he grows into a team leader, it's important that his play rights the ship when things are going wrong, and tonight he did exactly that.

This was an enjoyable win. Can the Suns build off of it, or was it a one-time deal? Regardless, beating the Lakers any time, anywhere, in any condition is something to celebrate.

Update 2/19/12 10:20PM MST: Kobe was pouting for real at the end of the game and he threw a tantrum in the locker room. Per Bob Baum of Yahoo Sports:

Afterward, Bryant lashed out at the Lakers’ front office over the issue of whether teammate Pau Gasol will be traded. Bryant used a couple of profanities and said it’s not fair to Gasol to try to play while wondering where he will be the following day.

Bryant said he doesn’t want Gasol to be traded but “if they’re going to do something I wish they would just … do it. If they’re not going to do it, come out and say you’re not going to do it.”

Kobe genuinely hates losing to the Suns.

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