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Besides the beautiful career high scoring performance by Channing Frye - this game was ugly.

After only committing 7 turnovers in their win at Utah on Friday - the Suns quickly racked up the miscues at nearly 3-times that rate for 19 on the night (14 in the first half).  It was a disappointing sight after having watched the Suns take care of the ball as of late... 

But nevertheless - the Suns jumped on the back of Channing Frye as his hot shooting kept them in the game and contributions from bench players like Mickael Pietrus and Marcin Gortat in the 4th quarter helped the Suns eek out a victory.  The Suns sweep the season series from the Utah Jazz for the first time since before I was born. Boom.

Props to Trevor Paxton for the witty headline - you win 20 internet dollars.  More on the game after the jump!

A Win is a Win

The Suns played a horrible game but found a way to win it - and you know what?  WE WILL TAKE IT.  At this point in the season wins are more crucial than ever, so the end result is ultimately more important than the mode of operation.

Steve Nash said after the game,

"The end result is great.  You know on a night where I know I was feeling like I just didn't have 'it', and I know other guys on the team are feeling a little tired - other guys stepped up and we manufactured a win"

Steve, you didn't have 'it'?  I guess sleepwalking for another double-double (20 points, 14 assists) wasn't having 'it'...

Well the guy who did have 'it' was undoubtedly Channing Frye. 

Channing Frye's Career Night

From the get-go Channing Frye took the offensive load of the team on his back.  Of the Suns 29 first quarter points, Channing Frye was a perfect 7 of 7 shooting for 19 of them.  He was doing it all.   He was shooting the 3, he was stepping in and hitting his mid-range J, he was posting up, he was playing defense and he was grabbing rebounds. 

You'll have to catch some highlights just to see what kind of feel he had during the entire game.  Unreal.

He ended up with a career high 31 points and also pulled down 11 rebounds.  Super high-five for Frye.  He was the hero of the game, because without him backpacking the team in the first half - the Suns might not have been in the position they were in the 4th to win the game.

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Vince Carter = Bad

So a lot was made before the game about how Vince is in a slump and playing the least amount of minutes and scoring the least amount of points of his career at the moment.  He also came in extra early and stayed after practice to work on his shot... that means he was going to come out and kill it right?  Put up another 25-30 point performance? 

Didn't happen.  The Suns ran the first two plays of the game for Vince, you know, to get him started.  What happened?  He takes a bad shot - miss.  He makes a bad move - travel. Then he hits some crazy circus shots... then he misses wide open ones... then he defers when he's wide open after Alvin Gentry specifically said he doesn't want Vince to defer... then he posts up for some good plays... then he posts up - knocks his defender over, and instead of going to the rim for an easy layup or dunk Vince inexplicably fades away and misses an extremely difficult jump shot.

He finished with 3 turnovers (though it seemed like 10), 10 points, 4 rebounds.  He had 3 assists - but they were all to Channing Frye and even Scott Howard could have racked up 3 assists throwing the ball to Channing from Section 106 tonight.

Vince is not doing what Vince needs to be doing. 

My hat is off to Alvin Gentry - because for the 2nd time, he sat Vince in the 4th quarter and gave Mickael Pietrus the opportunity to play.  It was an amazing choice because Pietrus was an absolute difference-maker in the clutch.  Whether it was his hard fouls on Jefferson - his good defense - his hot shooting, Pietrus ended up with 11 points and 4 rebounds and really was a reason we won that close game in the 4th quarter. I highly doubt Carter would have played with the aggressiveness and and hustle that Pietrus did.

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Robin Lopez = Bad

Such a disappointing game from Lopez today.  Man, I know bad games happen and I guess this was a bad game but dude... it seemed like Robin couldn't do anything right.  His first and only bucket came in the 3rd quarter.  

Let's all just close our eyes really tight and imagine this game never happened for Robin.  I think that's all we can do.

The Humbling Return of Dragic

Goran Dragic came into the game and looked energized... but to a fault.  He was out of control at times and in 5 minutes he went 1-3, had 2 turnovers and posted -8 on the +/-.  Most disappointing was his lack of ability to give Channing Frye the ball - Alvin Gentry specifically left Frye in with Dragic because Frye was in an unholy zone (a just blooming nasty zone, as if he had sold his soul to the devil).  Frye didn't get a single shot attempt in the second until he was again paired with Nash.  Alvin made mention of this mistake in his post game press conference.  Dragic did give Steve Nash his usual rest.. but the Suns bench was out-scored mightily in his time on the floor, hence the negative rating. 

Then in the 4th quarter when you'd assume Dragic would return, Gentry called Zabian Dowdell's number.  A surprise?  No - that's what we said would happen.  Was Dowdell a better floor general than Dragic was in the 2nd?  He also played nearly 5 minutes and went 1-1 (an And 1) had a turnover and he posted a -9 on the +/- scale.  Again the bench was outscored while Nash sat.  Nash came back in a little early and the offense immediately improved.

Make what you will of it - I'd like to see Dragic in a few more games as he settles down and get's back some rhythm. Here's the Captain Obvious kicker in my opinion - "ANY offense without Nash is not going to be as good as an offense with Nash." 

Al Jefferson Had 3 Days to Watch Tape

He made sweet use of his 3 days off between games against the Suns - he saw what he needed to do and did it.   He exploded for the game high 32 points and 10 rebounds and rebounded himself after a very sub-par game against the Suns on Friday. 

Good game for Jefferson. I'm clapping my imaginary hands, the ones that don't make any noise.

A Poem for Grant

Grant Hill was Grant Hill,

Deron Williams was not Deron Williams,

because Grant Hill was Grant Hill.  Boom.

So I watched - and the first 4 minutes of the game - Steve Nash was guarding Deron Williams who was passively trying to get his teammates involved and was doing an okay job of that.  But when the switch occured and Grant Hill began stalking Williams, there was an obvious sense of frustration on the face and in the game of Deron. 

Williams is the Jazz's best player and their leading scorer and against grant he went 2-11 from the field, with only 11 points and 6 count em' 6 turnovers. 

We love you Grant.

Conclusion

We needed this win and we found a way to win it despite the ugliness. That is all.  Let's do it again on Thursday.

Visit SLC Dunk for their side of the story - SLC Dunk


Final - 2.15.2011 1 2 3 4 Total
Utah Jazz 27 26 20 28 101
Phoenix Suns 29 21 26 26 102

Complete Coverage >



[Note by Seth Pollack, 02/15/11 10:42 PM MST ]

Phoenix Suns Hang On To Beat Utah Jazz And Sweep Season Series - SB Nation Arizona
It's fitting that the new-look Suns were led defensively by two of their three new players.

Marcin Gortat recorded 11 points and seven rebounds and had the biggest play of the game when he rotated on the baseline and forced Paul Millsap into a turnover with the Suns leading by just two points and seven seconds on the clock.

Mickael Pietrus was an even bigger factor for the Suns. Playing the entire fourth quarter in place of Vince Carter, he brought an aggression to the floor and hit big shots. Pietrus finished the game with 11 points, four rebounds, and four blocked shots in just 23 minutes of play.

 

Audio

Game Notes

1st Qtr

  • I am not going into details but Suns dancer with lover handles/muffin top
  • For purely selfish reasons, I am hoping for a nice boring game. I've written about 12 things today and don't know if I have a good story left in me. Back to back to back to back to back to back to back...etc...
  • Really good National Anthem tonight
  • Nash on Williams. Miles on Carter but Jazz switching a lot early
  • Once again, Robin gets stripped by a guard on a post move
  • 6-0 Jazz. 3 turnovers already for Suns...officially 2 TO's and the stripe on Lopez that they called a block
  • 3 sec violation on Lopez. They are trying to get him engaged and aggressive but so far it's not working
  • But that's ok, a three by Frye and all is forgiven
  • Another Suns turnover...and another
  • Gortat coming in early...Robin has been horrific. 9-12, Jazz
  • Ugly game. Sloppy, choppy and oh so crappy
  • For the record, I rarely buy songs from iTunes that I hear at Suns games but when I do, it's always b/c my daughter will love them
  • Jazz really have a very thin bench but the Suns haven't been able to get the pace up at all. Maybe when Goran comes in
  • Carter turnover
  • Nash turnover
  • Channing Frye (10 pts) has kept the Suns in this game. 17-19.
  • I expect the Suns to clean things up when Carter sits
  • Frye again! Give that man a contract
  • Vince manages to post up Earl Watson! Congrats!!
  • Earl Watson matching Frye shot for shot
  • Ditto Frye. 16 points for him now
  • 29-27

 

2nd Qtr

  • Goran out of control on his first drive. Settle...settle
  • Lady behind me saying "oh dear" every time something bad happens
  • This unit for the Jazz w/ Elson, Watson, etc...shouldn't be able to get much done
  • And guess what, another turnover
  • It's a good thing that Jazz aren't all that good b/c the Suns are sucking
  • Suns bench should not be getting killed by this Jazz bench but they are. 39-33. Gentry time out. Pisssed.
  • Nash back in, hits a three. 39-41
  • Suns are looking like warmed over muck...and are down 39-47. Hill and Frye coming back in
  • Nash can be having an off shooting night but if they go under the screen on him, he goes into eff you mode and makes it
  • Ho hum, Frye for three. 44-47
  • They are calling stupid shit on both teams. Slowing the game down which benefits Utah
  • Gentry is about one more complaint away from a T
  • Carter, 3 pts, missed both FTAs. Good to see him step up
  • 3rd carrying violation on D-Will....you won't see that called three times in a month of normal NBA watching
  • That was Vince's one nice move per game
  • 50-53...LUCKY!!!

3rd Qtr

  • This is another game that could go either way...The Suns only in it b/c of great shooting. But if they clean up turnovers they should pull away w/o the threes
  • Two quick buckets for Al Jeff. 18 for him
  • Remember when the Jazz offense was this beautiful thing w/ great ball movement and cuts and picks? Not so much any more
  • Robin's got his head in the clouds today
  • Nice post up by Frye on Hayward
  • And again w/ the Frye post up. Feed the beast!
  • Nash attacking D-Will. It's floppy hair vs. chin strap
  • Robin wisely passed up a shot. It was the best decision he's made all game
  • Nice run by the Suns. 66-63. Robin had a couple of nice plays but he's about to come out
  • Bongo cam!
  • Frye w/ the dribble step back. Sweet
  • 10 full points for VC! Pick up his option year!
  • 72-69, 3:21
  • Nice finish from Gortat. He's really improved his game over the past few weeks
  • Charge taken by Gorat! He's playing nicely
  • 0 turnovers this qtr. Also 0-5 from three
  • Turnover
  • Gortat passes up a clear path to the rim, kicks it out, gets it back, hits a turn around J. He really is Vince Carter's teammate
  • D Will can drive right by MP w/ no problem but Gortat ends qtr w/ 2 blks
  • 76-73

4th Qtr

  • Horrible shot by Gortat. You are not Al Jefferson
  • Miles gets into the lane for an and 1
  • Dowdell in for Dragic btw....but you know that already. Dragic didn't play well in the 2nd qtr but not sure I agree w/ benching him
  • Frye missed a three and blew a rotation that resulted in a dunk. What Frye giveth, Frye taketh away
  • 82-79, Jazz. 9-3 Jazz so far this qtr
  • Hill in for Frye at the 4. Nash about to come in. 87-81
  • MP's had a couple of sweat blocks
  • LADY GAGA IS COMING!!! Get your tickets NOW!!!!!
  • 89-81, 6:57
  • MP w/ a big three and then a layup after a Dudley steal. Suns D coming alive here. 86-89. 5:43. Timeout Jazz. Smart time out. That's what Jerry Sloan would do. WWJSD
  • Has anyone seen Vince Carter this quarter?
  • Poor pass by D Will to Al Jeff on the pick and roll
  • There's the three, Frye!!! 89-89. Probably was fouled on the shot as well by Watson
  • Great rebound by MP!! He's making sure we don't see any more VC
  • Nash three!!! 97-93, 2:21
  • Hill takes a charge!! Suns ball
  • 36-29 Jazz in rebounding. Only 2 OReb for Suns. 9 for Jazz
  • 97-95, Suns. 1:30. Nash 2. 99-95
  • Big 3 for D Will. Only 11 pts for him but that was big
  • MP misses open three
  • Suns get stop!
  • Nash takes too much time, shot clock blows up. 99-98, 16 sec. Jazz ball
  • D Will misses a pull up J. Frye w/ the big rebound. Free throw time. Still 10 sec.
  • And Frye goes 1-1 from the line...100-98. 8 sec. Jazz ball
  • Suns have got two stops here late...another one?
  • Great rotation by Gortat! Stopped
  • Nash at the line. Money. Game over.
Poll
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Intermission 1 2 3 4 Total
Utah Jazz 27 26 53
Phoenix Suns 29 21 50

Join the Game Thread



Man guys - this is a really really ugly game.  The one bright spot!?  CHANNING FRYE IS ON FYRE (Copyright The Alex Skinner)

Less turnovers... more Frye

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Happy Tuesday.

Keys from the Suns locker room:
  • Be ready for their physical play
  • Run a lot
  • Rebound
  • Put Al Jeff and Fresenko in pick and rolls
So, pretty much what any Suns fan would come up with. This game really isn't rocket science. 


After much hemming and hawing and tweaking and what not, here's the new logo!

Bsotsfinal_medium

I'd like to thank everyone who submitted their ideas and congratulations to Andrew Carleton (ajcarletonfor the winning design!

We will be going live with the new logo soon. 


Hak like Hawk.  mmm mmm good. (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart)

While the Suns have had a day to sit back and solemnly reflect on a tough loss, the Utah Jazz have had 3.  The last time the Jazz took the court it was against our same Phoenix suns on Friday who handed them a loss after overcoming a double-digit deficit in the second half. 

Sadly, the Suns experienced the same fate on Sunday night as they saw their own double-digit lead fail them as well in the second half as they were handed their second loss in a row to the Sacramento KingsPaul Westphal pwned Phoenix.

Paul Coro dejectedly tweeted - "The Suns have what no other team has - 2 losses to the Kings". 

A sad but true reality, while it seemed like we were taking huge steps forward after Friday's victory over the Jazz - Sunday's loss to the Kings has really felt like we're taking just as many backwards.  Square dancing won't get you anywhere in the NBA,  the Suns must finish these last two games before the All-Star break in winning fashion to avoid perpetual stagnation at .500 or even worse, a plunge back into the negative realm.

Winning this week out will be no easy task though.  We've got a rested, probably more organized and vengeance filled Utah team tonight - and then a hot Dirk-led Dallas Maverick squad ahead on Thursday.

Though the loss to Sacramento was a difficult one to swallow for both fans and players alike - there is a positive to be taken from it.  The collective 'feeling' and attitude in the locker room after the game was one of shock, not surrender.  Channing Frye best described the shift of perspective

"The good thing we can take away from this is surprisingly when they were making all those those shots at the end, we were very uncomfortable," Frye said. "It wasn't like, 'OK, oh well.' It was like, 'We're not used to this. This is not how we play.' We made a lot of mistakes. We had a lead and we needed to continue to keep that lead and continue on the throttle. We let up a little bit and then they got some confidence."

Let's take a closer look at today's match-up.  Jump it fools!

The Suns held a hard practice yesterday, everyone was suited up - even Goran Dragic, who went through a full practice including a scrimmage for the first time since his injury.  Afterward he said he felt good physically and that he was surprised that his 'wind' was good too - when asked if he would play tonight he explained that it would be up to Aaron Nelson and Coach Gentry.  My guess is that he will play, but there was a curious tweet from Paul Coro from practice concerning the same -

Paulcorotweet02

Read it like it is, but you can take it two ways - either he means Gentry is concerned that Dragic won't have his game-face and conditioning back quite yet after missing a few weeks and 7 games...  or it means that Dragic really has some serious competition for his back-up spot.   Whatever it means, Dowdell has been a great addition and a pleasant surprise for us over our last 10 games and I don't see anything wrong with putting a little pressure on the Dragon to bring his 'A' game to the table as he returns and hopes to help the team find a way to scratch themselves into the playoffs.  Gortat has inspired Robin, why can't Dowdell inspire Goran?

MATCHUPS

Steve Nash -  Derron Williams

Vince Carter - Raja Bell* [Gordon Hayward]

Grant Hill - CJ Miles

Channing Frye - Paul Millsap

Robin Lopez - Al Jefferson

*Raja Bell is listed as a game-time decision as well as Ronnie Price for the Jazz.  Andrei Kirilenko will sit out due to a sprained ankle he suffered in Friday night's game.  Memet Okur is also still out with back issues.

I'm interested to see if Raja Bell will play - if not, I'm not 100% sure who would get the start off the bench since CJ Miles is already projected to be in the line-up with Kirilenko out.   If I had to guess I would say that rookie Gordon Haywood would get the nod since he seemed to play well on Friday against the Suns.

If Bell does play - I'm hoping we get to see what we were hoping to see on Friday, Grant Hill guarding Derron Williams.  We tried to make this work on Friday but with Hill on Williams and CJ miles in for the injured Raja Bell, Steve Nash was having an incredibly hard time covering the much bigger and more physical Miles.  He picked up 2 early fouls within the first 2 minutes of play and the Suns were forced to move Hill back to Miles and Nash back to Williams.   It all could work if Raja Bell is playing - Steve can effectively stand out on the perimeter with him... there isn't really a threat of Bell posting up Nash so let's all hope that for our defense's sake Raja can be cleared to play his former team tonight.

Even if our ideal match-ups don't line up, I'm sure the Suns will be able to find the schemes and coverages to make it work like they did after the first quarter of Friday night's game.


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
Deron Williams 51 37.8 7.1 15.3 46.3 1.7 4.9 34.8 5.7 6.7 85.0 0.6 3.1 3.8 9.6 3.5 1.2 0.2 2.9 21.6
Paul Millsap 54 34.0 6.9 13.0 53.2 0.1 0.2 36.4 3.2 4.2 75.5 2.1 5.8 7.8 2.4 1.8 1.4 0.9 3.5 17.1
Al Jefferson 55 35.1 7.1 14.8 48.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.8 3.6 76.9 2.6 6.4 9.0 1.5 1.3 0.6 1.9 3.0 17.0
C.J. Miles 52 23.4 4.5 11.0 41.0 1.5 4.5 33.6 1.6 2.0 77.9 0.7 2.5 3.2 1.6 1.0 1.0 0.5 2.8 12.1
Andrei Kirilenko 50 32.2 3.8 8.4 45.7 0.6 1.6 37.0 3.4 4.3 78.5 1.6 4.0 5.6 2.9 1.8 1.3 1.3 1.8 11.6
Raja Bell 50 30.7 3.1 7.1 43.1 1.0 2.9 36.1 1.2 1.4 87.3 0.5 2.0 2.5 1.6 0.8 0.8 0.2 2.5 8.4
Mehmet Okur 13 12.9 1.7 4.8 35.5 0.4 1.2 31.3 1.2 1.5 75.0 0.7 1.6 2.3 1.5 0.5 0.3 0.3 1.4 4.9
Gordon Hayward 47 12.0 1.3 2.7 46.1 0.2 0.6 37.0 0.8 1.0 73.5 0.6 1.0 1.6 0.7 0.6 0.2 0.2 1.2 3.5
Earl Watson 53 16.0 1.3 3.1 41.4 0.3 0.9 30.6 0.6 1.0 62.7 0.6 1.4 2.1 3.0 1.1 0.7 0.2 1.6 3.4
Ronnie Price 53 11.3 1.2 3.3 36.7 0.3 1.1 28.6 0.4 0.5 77.8 0.3 0.6 0.9 0.8 0.8 0.6 0.1 1.7 3.2
Jeremy Evans 29 6.4 1.3 1.9 72.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.4 0.6 66.7 0.4 0.8 1.2 0.3 0.3 0.2 0.3 0.7 3.1
Kyrylo Fesenko 40 8.9 1.0 2.2 44.8 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.4 1.1 35.7 0.8 1.5 2.3 0.4 0.5 0.1 0.3 1.9 2.3
Francisco Elson 50 10.3 0.9 1.9 47.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.5 0.6 83.9 0.6 1.3 1.9 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.2 1.4 2.3

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Besides anxiously waiting to see how the team as a whole will respond to the bad loss on Sunday, and besides looking for the return of the Dragon, here are a few other things I'll be watching for.

Vince Carter - Everyday I step closer and closer to joining Scott Howard's CTLVCOF (Coalition to Light Vince Carter on Fire), his shot selection, his phobia of contact, his sloppy fourth-quarter play, his jovial attitude with EVERY SINGLE opposing team/player... it all gets on my nerves.  I want to light him on fire.  I keep thinking... man - if it's true and Vince is gonzo after this year, let's just bench the fool and play more Josh Childress.  

But even like my hatred for Boris Diaw, as long as he's a member of the Suns I'll root for him and give him a new opportunity to improve my opinion of him on a game-to-game basis.  I heard him in an interview after practice yesterday say that he was aware of his struggles and let-downs to the team in the 4th quarter and throughout games, and he said he took a vow after Sunday's game to get back to "being Vince"... whatever that means, I hope it means that he'll play well.  That's all we can do is hope.   Alvin Gentry commented as well about Vince, he said something to the effect of, "well when we traded Jason Richardson it was understood that Vince would be our scorer like JRich was, I need to trust him more and give him the opportunity to be that guy".   Please don't Alvin.

For more on Vince Carter check out SBNationAZ and their post on him today.

Hakim Warrick - Dude loves to play against the Jazz. He's averageing 17 PPG against the Jazz this year.  Let's see some more Hak like Hawk, as in Connie Hawkins like we saw on Friday.

Jared Dudley - Will he dunk tonight?  I sure hope so - it seems like with every dunk (2) he's getting more and more confidence and more and more adrenaline goes into each so much that his last dunk was really impressive in the way he elevated and threw it down with one hand.  What I liked the most was that he didn't laugh or immediately look to the Suns bench.  He roared and looked angry - intense.  It was a look like, "Get that Mutha$&#$%%$ monkey off my back - I can dunk".

What will you be looking for?

VALENTINES DAY ADVICE

For your amusement and in case you missed Mickael Pietrus' Twitter advice for Valentines day yesterday... here's the recap so you can take notes and try it out next year.

(I will not correct any spelling/grammar so you can fully take in the Pietrus experience)

"Here are my Top 10 tips for Valentines Days... ya ready?"

  1. Save moeny : Take her out during Happy hour everything Half Price
  2. If you short on cash, don't make a reservation, chances are the restaurant will already be booked.
  3. Make sure you put the right name on the right card lol lol lol
  4. if you have more than 1 valentine please make sure you check your phone in the bathroom
  5. When your getting your Valentine day Gifts, make sure to purchase the same gift so you don't forget what you gave who. Lol lol
  6. Good Tips - Hey Fellas there will be a lot of beautiful women tomorrow night, please keep your eyes on YOURS lol lol lol
  7. Put a note on the light switch saying "turn me on instead I will light you up"
  8. Have a plan B in case plan A goes South lol lol lol (you know what I'm talking about) lol
  9. make sure to go to her house so you can leave when you choose lol lol (thinking about plan B)
  10. If 1 tru 9 didn't work please don't feel bad, it didn't work for me either... Happy Valentines day everyone!!! MP

Gotta love it.


Here's to handing new head coach Tyrone Corbin his second straight loss.  Welcome to the job coach.

LINKS

SBNationAZ - The Dark Seth Coverage

Jazz vs Suns coverage

Jazz vs Suns preview

SLC Dunk


26 - 26

10

Lost 1

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[Note by Eutychus, 02/15/11 10:26 AM PST ]

Official word is that Goran Dragic WILL PLAY and Raja Bell is out.  Jazz are down to pretty much 9 active players.

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