Not one Suns player off their feet. All five just watching the ball. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

More photos » Christian Petersen - Getty Images

Not one Suns player off their feet. All five just watching the ball. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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No words to describe what has happened to the spirit of this team.

[Note by Seth Pollack, 01/07/11 11:57 PM MST ]

"We will have to line it up, we'll have to get out and we'll have to try to do a hell of a lot better than we did tonight. That's the bottom line. As I said, I've got to do a better job, the players have to do a better job, we all have to do a better job."

Pretty hard to disagree with Gentry right there. Here's the full audio so you can appreciate his tone and hear the answer about the lineups (hint: don't expect much of an answer).

Audio: Gentry post game 010710

Audio: Nash postgame 010711

Audio: Frye postgame 010711

As for Amare...

"I had on objective and that was to dominate from the start. That was my main goal was to dominate from the get go. I got it going early then in the second half they went to a zone and my teammates got it going."

Suns Embarrassed By Knicks In Amare Stoudemire's Return To Phoenix, 121-96 - SB Nation Arizona
The Phoenix Suns are an incredibly bad basketball team right now. To make matters worse, they started the game with the 11th different lineup this season. The unit that started looked like they'd never played together, which is understandable since they hadn't.


Steve Nash Fears 'Dark Hole' For Suns While Marcin Gortat Apologizes To Fans -SB Nation Arizona

"We're on that slippery slope where we can get in a dark hole if we don't really hold our ground and fight and be passionate about overcoming it," Steve Nash said after the game.

The Suns cancelled practice for the players tomorrow. The coaches will come in for meetings.


Game Notes

1st Qtr

  • Holy shit, is this the 6-10 and under league?
  • Amare hitting jump shots...we know what that means
  • 8-2, Knicks
  • Not sure if this is an NBA game or a pickup game at the Y w/ really good players
  • Amare drives left on Hill, draws help and still finishes. He's soooo good. On other end Vince Carter tries to post up and misses. He's sooooo not Amare
  • Frye in now for Childress. He's a giant out there
  • Nash and Frye double Amare, Nash draws charge
  • I am not even sure Gentry wants to win this game as much as give his old pals a W
  • Vince with a beautiful spin move in the lane...and a missed layup
  • Remember when we used to say that if Amare's jump shot is working he's impossible to guard? Yup...
  • Guessing Robin will get the DNP-CD tonight
  • 30-22...what a joke

2nd Qtr

  • Knicks 5-10 from three, Suns 1-6
  • Gortat picks up two quick offensive fouls trying to set screens
  • Tons of cheap whistles...guess that helps the Suns b/c they are deeper
  • Knicks can't score...Amare coming back in. Still 30-24, NYK
  • Hill back in for Gortat to guard Amare
  • Dragic going hard at the rim and picking up fouls. That's 2 on Amare
  • GORAN..steal and layup. But Amare hushes the crowd w/ put dunk
  • Goran surveys the court, sees Vince open, takes/makes the three
  • 3rd foul on Ronny T thanks to Goran's drive
  • Grant's in a real shooting slump right now
  • Oregon Ducks cheerleaders on the do I put this...hmm...moooo
  • Oh, and Suns getting their asses kicked. 43-31, 5:23. 31 points
  • Warrick and Nash in
  • Hey, Vince did something good!!!
  • Knicks switched so Nash swings to Vince he had the clear entry pass to Warrick w/ Felton on his back so Vince skip passes across the court to Dudley. UGGHHH!!!!!
  • 18 for Amare so far btw
  • Warrick with a couple buckets. He's always torched Amare
  • Nash was in position to take a charge on Felton but backed up...sign of the times
  • Vince with the and-1 which gives him two FTAs as a Sun. Actually he took a tech foul FT so that's 3
  • 55-45, Knicks. 29-16 Knicks rebounding

3rd Qtr

  • Amare 19/6. Felton 14/6
  • Warrick starts the 2nd half...should have started the 1st half too
  • Suns baiting Knicks into up-tempo game...they are falling for it!!!
  • Except they are better at it and go up 69-54
  • Heather Cox wears VERY high heals
  • Pietrus takes a loooong time to get his three point shot off
  • Well, good news is the Cavs are coming to town on Sunday and they know what it's like to lose a good player
  • Yup...that bad. 75-54
  • Vince Carter with a couple of threes. He always comes through in the clutch
  • Grant is pissed, he's just going to hit people. If you can't beat ‘em, beat ‘em
  • Gortat getting boo'd..just missed his 2nd open layup. Not his fault really. I mean missing the layups is his fault but the boos are out of general frustration
  • 84-62, Knicks
  • They changed a Vince three to a two. I could make a snide remark, but why bother?
  • Suns getting some buckets but can't get stops. Shocking, I know

4th Qtr

  • 93-71, Knicks
  • Game recap written. Knicks hitting a three every time I looked up
  • Amare coming back in with the Knicks up 106-77 with 7:30. Why?
  • Robin in, Amare out. Mike knows how crazy Lopez is
  • Mozgov got ejected for an elbow. I didn't see it but I like the way Pietrus went after him about it
  • Saw the replay, he hit Robin after a little tussle. Not a big deal

New York Knicks' Amare Stoudemire, right, gets a hug from Phoenix Suns' Steve Nash prior to the start of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 7, 2011, in Phoenix.  Stoudemire is back in Phoenix with his new team after leaving the Sun for the Knicks.  Stoudemire is back in Phoenix with his new team after leaving the Suns after last season. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

More photos » Ross D. Franklin - AP

7 days ago: New York Knicks' Amare Stoudemire, right, gets a hug from Phoenix Suns' Steve Nash prior to the start of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 7, 2011, in Phoenix. Stoudemire is back in Phoenix with his new team after leaving the Sun for the Knicks. Stoudemire is back in Phoenix with his new team after leaving the Suns after last season. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

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Lordy, please make the second half more fun for Suns fans.

The future's so bright, we gotta wear shades! (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Ross D. Franklin - AP

The future's so bright, we gotta wear shades! (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

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PHOENIX — Tonight’s matchup between the New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns is more than just another game for Amare Stoudemire — it’s a chance to make a statement. Amare said on...

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STAT Man! Enjoy your new role as leader of the basketball mecca. But tonight's game won't be decided by you. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

More photos » Kathy Willens - AP

STAT Man! Enjoy your new role as leader of the basketball mecca. But tonight's game won't be decided by you. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

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I've thought this through and through.

Amare will get his. Nash will get his. Neither of them, alone, will win this game despite all the talk and hoopla before and during play.

What will decide the game is 3-point plays. This promises to be a very exciting, fan-oriented shoot-out. The Suns have no Power Forward. The Knicks have no real Center. While the teams play marginal (Suns) to passable (Knicks) defense, each team's calling card is offense.

Suns are 3rd overall in offensive efficiency (108.7 points per 100 possessions), despite the whining and moaning about how hard it's been this year to score. The Knicks are right behind them at 4th overall (108.5 p/p).

On the other hand, the Knicks are 1st in overall scoring per game (107.8 per game), ahead of the 3rd-place Suns (106.1). Why? Because the Knicks play faster than the Suns. Just a couple ticks faster, but faster nonetheless.

On the defensive side, both teams are in the league's bottom third in defense, no matter how you slice it. The Suns are worst, of course, but getting better lately. The Knicks are better, but getting worse lately. So its effectively a wash.

The difference will be 3-point plays.

The Suns need to limit, or match somehow, the Knicks' "and-1s". Amare will get his (>8 free throws/gm this season), but no other Knick averages more than 4 free throws per game. The Knicks as a team average only 1 more free throw per game than the Suns.

The other type of 3-pt play? The old-fashioned 23+ footer, of course. The Knicks get 9 a game on 36% shooting (24.4 attempts). The Suns get 8.6 a game on 37% shooting (22.8 per game).

Overall, these teams are surprisingly (or not suprisingly?) even steven. On offense. On defense. Shooting. Scoring efficiency.


Amare and Steve

Amare Stoudemire, barring major foul trouble, is going to finish this game with somewhere around 40 points and 10-15 rebounds. The Suns just don't have a good solution to defend this guy at all. Frye, Lopez or Gortat? Too slow afoot. Warrick? snigger. Hill? Maybe in spurts, to stop the initial burst in isolation, but once Amare gets moving there's no way Grant Hill can stop it. He doesn't have the length. So, 40+ points and, if he's really interested in responding to specific criticisms during his time here, 10-15 rebounds. I'm thinking he's really interested.

"(Suns analyst) Tom Chambers and Gambo and Ash (KTAR-AM hosts John Gambadoro and Mark Asher) did a great job of talking bad about me while I was there", Amare said to Paul Coro, of the Arizona Republic yesterday.

Read more:

Steve Nash, for his part, has done a lot of talking already too. He misses Amare. He admits have no semblance of a PF in his absence. But he also is committed to making this work.

If Nash "goes off" tonight, it will be in assists. We all know Amare is not a good pick-n-roll defender. Felton is a good defender at PG, but Nash has played and beaten good defensive PGs over and over and over.

Nash will get his.

The question is everyone else. Will Nash's cohorts outplay Amare's cohorts?

Here's the Knicks rotation. Note the big minutes by a few, then the huge dropoff to the rest of the team. Look familiar? Gallinari is out tonight, so D'Antoni will likely start Turiaf. Then it's up to in-game adjustments to see if the lineups trend big or small from that point forward.

Amare Stoudemire 34 37.6 10.0 19.2 52.1 0.2 0.3 54.5 6.3 8.1 77.2 2.5 6.5 9.0 2.5 3.8 1.0 2.3 3.6 26.4
Raymond Felton 34 38.9 6.6 14.7 44.9 1.7 5.0 34.7 3.2 3.7 86.6 0.9 2.8 3.7 8.7 3.4 1.9 0.2 2.2 18.2
Wilson Chandler 34 34.7 6.8 13.9 48.9 1.9 4.9 38.6 2.3 2.8 82.3 1.4 5.1 6.5 1.8 1.4 0.6 1.5 3.3 17.9
Danilo Gallinari 33 34.7 4.3 10.3 41.6 1.8 5.0 37.0 4.8 5.5 87.9 0.9 3.6 4.5 1.8 1.0 0.7 0.4 2.2 15.3
Landry Fields 34 31.7 3.8 7.5 51.0 0.9 2.6 35.6 1.5 2.0 73.9 1.8 5.6 7.4 1.9 1.3 1.1 0.3 1.6 10.1
Toney Douglas 33 23.1 3.3 8.4 39.2 1.5 4.3 34.3 1.3 1.5 84.0 0.7 2.2 2.8 2.0 1.1 1.3 0.1 2.4 9.4
Shawne Williams 17 14.2 2.2 4.1 55.1 1.2 2.1 60.0 0.2 0.2 100.0 0.6 1.6 2.3 0.6 0.7 0.2 0.5 2.1 5.9
Ronny Turiaf 27 18.6 1.5 2.5 61.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 1.7 59.6 1.0 1.9 2.9 1.9 0.8 0.6 1.4 2.8 4.1
Bill Walker 25 11.6 1.3 3.1 41.0 0.6 1.8 32.6 0.2 0.3 57.1 0.3 1.0 1.3 0.6 0.6 0.1 0.0 0.9 3.3
Timofey Mozgov 24 10.5 0.8 2.3 36.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.7 1.1 65.4 0.7 1.4 2.0 0.5 1.1 0.5 0.6 2.1 2.4
Anthony Randolph 13 8.1 0.8 2.7 28.6 0.0 0.2 0.0 0.5 0.8 60.0 0.6 1.8 2.5 0.5 0.7 0.2 0.5 1.0 2.0
Andy Rautins 2 5.0 0.5 1.5 33.3 0.5 1.0 50.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.5 1.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.5
Roger Mason Jr. 8 7.6 0.1 1.6 7.7 0.0 0.5 0.0 0.1 0.4 33.3 0.1 1.4 1.5 0.4 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.6 0.4


The front lines

Will Gortat, Dudley, Hill, Lopez, Frye and Warrick (yes, Warrick! I predict a Warrick sighting!) collectively outplay the Knicks front line of Amare (biggest chunk), Turiaf, Chandler and Shawn Williams?

Collectively, probably not. Amare will tip the scales in the Knicks favor. But the comparison will likely be very close at the end of the night. The Suns will throw more fresh bodies into the mix as the situation warrants.

Oh yeah, the Hakim Warrick sighting. I predict more minutes for Hakim Warrick than Robin Lopez, and maybe even as many as Frye. The Knicks will go small (they play Wilson Chandler regularly at PF and sometimes at C in smaller lineups). Warrick will have space to move, and that's all he needs to get to the rim. And Nash will want to dish a couple bunnies to a roller. 


The back courts

Will Nash, Carter, Pietrus and Dragic collectively outplay Felton, Fields, Douglas and (to a lesser extent) Bill Walker? 

The answer here is yes, at least in points and assists. Rebounding and steals might be tighter. Landry Fields, at the SG spot, is averaging 7.4 rebounds per game all by himself, and this group gets 4.3 steals a game collectively. The Suns need to protect the ball, and they haven't done so very well this year.



As I mentioned above, the teams are astonishingly close in 3-point attempts and makes this season. 8.6 makes a game at 37.5% shooting for the Suns. 9 a game at 36% shooting for the Knicks.

I'm thinking that, given the sheer volume of 3-pointers likely to be hoisted tonight, that one stat will tell the tale of the game.

More makes = a big win.


In summary

It's a toss-up.

The teams are evenly matched, despite the difference in their records.

But Alex, the Knicks are 20-14 while the Suns are 14-19. How is that "evenly matched"?

Why thanks for asking. I'll tell you why. I've already shown above that they are nearly even in every single statistical category.

The difference is in the opponents.

The Knicks have played the league's 6th easiest schedule to date (guess who's had the easiest??? hint: they play in an arena named after an office supply chain). The Suns, on the other hand, have played the 4th toughest schedule to date. That's no lie, despite the recent laying of eggs against bottom feeders.

Check it here, and sort by the column called SOS

The Knicks have all the positive mojo, while the Suns have home court.

This game can go either way.

I predict 115-110 Suns.



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