After threatening to set league records (in the wrong way) for three-point shooting defense, the Phoenix Suns are lately enjoying a regression to the mean by their opponents.

Across the league, teams make an average of 35.8% of their three-point attempts in the 2012-13 season. After allowing a league-high 43% over the first 18 games of the season, the Suns have limited opponents to only 29% over the last six games (22 for 79).

Even against a Memphis team that screams for double-teaming in the post, Alvin Gentry was not about to allow the Grizzlies to rain down a bunch of threes.

"We still are going to try to stay away from freeing up 3-point shooters," he said before the game. "You got to pick your poison."

Memphis made only 2 of 10 three pointers in the game while also limiting Randolph's domination by mixing in a zone defense that the Suns had not sported much at all this season. During the game-turning run in the second quarter where the Suns fought back from an 11-point deficit, the Grizzlies scored on only 3 of 12 possessions for 7 points in the last 8 minutes of the second quarter.

"We played a zone some," Gentry said afterward. "But we just weren't gonna run around and spread our defense out where they could start making 3-point shots. We tried to limit the 3-point shooting by playing Zach straight up."

While the Suns three-point defense appears to have improved, it has had little if no impact on the bottom line. Their defensive efficiency has not moved an inch (109 points allowed per 100 possessions) and they lost the first four of those five games.

Tonight's opponent, the Utah Jazz, make nearly 38% of their threes on the season so this good trend by the Suns will be interesting to watch.


Some people loved them. Some hated them. Now that debate will be reignited as the Phoenix Suns announced Wednesday that the team will wear the all black retro uniforms from mid to late 90's for ten games this season.

One of seven NBA teams chosen to go retro for select games this season, the Suns chose the popular jerseys with the large, bright sunburst across the chest that were worn for occasional road games from 1994-2000.

Here's a link to a photo gallery on Suns.com showing some more pics of the players wearing black.

The dates for the retro uniforms include seven home games and three on the road:

Jan. 30: Suns vs. Lakers
Feb. 10: Suns vs. Thunder
Feb. 12: Suns @ Lakers
Feb. 22: Suns vs. Celtics
Feb. 24: Suns vs. Spurs
Feb. 27: Suns @ Spurs
March 13: Suns @ Rockets
March 18: Suns vs. Lakers
March 24: Suns vs. Nets
March 30: Suns vs. Pacers

I've seen fans over the years ask for this. Now it's happening and I'm guessing the reaction will be mixed. Let's vote and find out!


(photo Courtesy Suns.com)

Do you like these retro black Suns uniforms?

  304 votes | Results


As the inimitable Paul Coro puts it:

Suns defeat Grizzlies to end skid | Paul Coro | azcentral.com and Arizona Republic

Goran Dragic's inner fire stays lit, but it had been raging during a seven-game losing streak.

The Suns point guard said, "I feel like scum," after the streak started with the franchise's third-worst blowout ever in Detroit. The trip ended in Memphis with Dragic missing a possible game-cinching free throw and getting trapped on a potential game-winning play. And before the streak went to seven with Dragic watching in illness from home, he hit his tipping point when he missed an open layup to tie against Dallas.

When the mild-mannered point guard got to his locker after the Dallas loss last Thursday, he went Hulk and ripped his jersey off his body, splitting the "SU" from the "NS." Memphis did not like him when he was angry.

Gentry loved the defense, that Randolph did not score much in the game after getting 10 in the first few minutes after tipoff. It looked like a long night for the Suns, but they adjusted and Randolph only scored eight points the rest of the way.

The Suns even threw in some zone, which they had hardly used at all this season, and it was effective. The Grizzlies struggled to score in the final eight minutes of the first half (only 7 points after taking a 36-25 lead) with the Suns playing a lot of zone defense in that time.

Jared Dudley gave away a few secrets in his euphoria over the game.

"It was a big hack-fest out there. They weren't calling fouls for us, so we started fouling them."

Other notes from the win:

  • This was Goran Dragic's first ever game-winning shot. The shot came with .05 seconds left on the clock with Goran telling himself not to miss another gimme after juking Gasol out of his shoes on a drive to the basket.
  • Dudley (9), Brown (7), Dragic (5) and Beasley (6 in 10 minutes) combined for nearly as many rebounds by themselves as the Suns had in total on Sunday night against Orlando. They were active and aggressive on the boards against a really big team with Randolph and Gasol out there.
  • "They put a lot of pressure on us on our pick and roll. They started trapping on the sides and we weren't prepared to make the plays," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said after the game about the Suns swarming defensive effort.
  • The Suns overcame YET ANOTHER double digit deficit, marking their fifth win against 13 losses in those circumstances this season.
  • While this was the Suns first win against a team with a current winning record, it's the fourth victory this season over a team who had a winning record at the time of the game.
  • This was their third straight home win against the Grizzlies, each team winning on their home floor the last two seasons.
  • The Suns lead the league with SEVEN games decided by three points or less. They should be getting used to this by now.
  • Jared Dudley has scored 15+ points in consecutive games for the second time this season. Who says the Suns don't have a go-to scorer? LOL

Last but not least:

  • Speaking of Jared Dudley, he had a two-handed slam in the half court last night, knifing through defenders on the way to the hoop. I may be wrong, but I believe that's the first half-court dunk of his career. If anyone can find video of his dunk, post it here or email me with it.
PHOENIX — Things can change quickly in the NBA. Like the opening Goran Dragic thought he saw on the right side of the lane in the waning moments of Wednesday’s contest against the Memphis...

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Finally, the Suns made a game-winning shot. They'd missed time after time this young season, but FINALLY HIT ONE.

It was Goran Dragic making the dispy-do layup surrounded by three defenders.

"You know, the last time I missed the easy layup against Dallas so this time I told myself," Dragic said of the play. "You have to make that one."

YES! The seven game losing streak is OVER!

"Great win for us," Dragic said with relief after the game. "It feels great."

Alvin Gentry was relieved as well.

"It was a much-needed win, obviously for us," Gentry said postgame, with a smile on his face for the first time in weeks when talking about his team. "I thought our defense was really, really good."

The Suns forced 17 turnovers against the Grizzlies, good for 19 much-needed points. For the game, the Suns won the points-in-the-paint 42-38, 2nd chance points 16-12 and fast-break points 14-13. That effort negated a great Grizzlies defense that contributed to the Suns woeful shooting in the half-court.

In the critical last two minutes, the Suns had terrible offensive possession after terrible offensive possession while Rudy Gay made a huge, contested fallaway two-pointer to tie the game and then - somehow - missed the game winner under heavy defensive pressure.

With spirited defense and enlightened rebounding, the Suns had a 2-point win despite shooting only 38% on the night. Shannon Brown contributed heavily to that poor tally by making only 5 of 19 shots.

But the Grizzlies weren't doing much better.

"We were not running our plays," Grizzlies C Marc Gasol said after the game. "We are not moving the ball. There are a lot of reasons [we lost this game]."

Sound familiar?

Alvin Gentry talks constantly about ball movement. And when Shannon Brown went on one of this "frantic dribbling" runs, Gentry knew it was time to calm them down and run their sets.

But Brown wasn't all bad. He had 15 points and the Suns wing players showed up to rebound the ball tonight, a huge effort in a tight game. Dudley, Brown and Beasley combined for 22 rebounds, while Dragic grabbed 4 of his own.

Dudley scored 15 points to go along with his 9 hard-fought rebounds to be, in my opinion, the player of the game.

"It feels good, to be honest," Dudley said. "We lost every possible way you can: close games, blowouts, bad teams, good teams, different ways, different lineups, and sometimes you forget how to win."


"The way we lost to them in Memphis, to comeback, it shows you a little bit about the character of this team. For us, it's a good start."

Good start indeed. This the first Suns win of the season against a team currently sporting a winning record. And Memphis with a 14-4 record coming into tonight is definitely a good team to build confidence against.

The Suns started off the fourth quarter playing hard with the second unit but allowed the Grizzlies to score on more than half their possessions to keep the tenuous lead. Marc Gasol tried to play Zach Randolph but cooled off quickly. The Suns scrapped and clawed to keep the game within reach, trading 1-2 point leads through the first seven minutes of the fourth until most of the starters returned.

To start the second half, the Grizzly half-court defense came alive and forced the Suns into some ugly shots. But the Suns kept it close with good defense of their own resulting in THREE consecutive fast-break conversions (two by Dragic, one by Dudley) to take a 2-point lead after four minutes.

Dragic accounted for the first 11 Suns points of the second half to help the Suns take the 54-52 lead. But the game got to half-court again and the Suns offense struggled to find their footing. They scored only 2 points in the next 4 minutes. Combine that with a wake-up by Rudy Gay and you've got potential trouble. Even when they hustled and got second and third opportunities, the Suns could not convert.

But the Suns plugged away and played hard and kept the game within reach. With a minute left in the third, the Suns had made only 3 of 17 3-pointers - a low percentage even for them. Then Bassy hit a three to tie the game heading into the fourth.


First half notes:

It was not a good start for the Suns defense. Despite benching Michael Beasley and Markieff Morris, the Suns worst statistical defenders this season, the Suns only got one stop in the first 7 minutes of the game. By that time, the Grizzlies were up by 10 at 21-11. The Suns lacked energy, not something you'd expect in the opening minutes of a game trying to break a 7-game losing streak. Disheartening.

The Suns started to play a little better after that (or the Grizzlies lost some of their edge with the big lead and all) but still shot just 34% in the first quarter. It was fortunate they were only down 6 at 27-21, thanks to allowing only 6 more points to the Grizz in the last five minutes of the quarter.

Michael Beasley came in late in the first and missed just about everything from every distance. He took 11 shots in only ten minutes of play, making just two of them. But he played a bit of power forward for the first time all year, and pulled down 6 big rebounds in that span.

Maybe this is a sign of things to come? Frankly, if Beasley plays PF that means he is (a) guarding a bigger guy down low, (b) making Morris or Scola ride the bench. In this game, Morris came out totally flat so he wasn't missed in the minutes he wasn't on the court.

When the starters returned, for the most part, in the second quarter, they showed more hustle but did not have better results. Gortat got a big offensive rebound but then missed an open pick-and-roll layup. Dudley got a nice mismatch on Conley in the post but couldn't get the shot off before Conley fouled him. The Suns did not score. And when they finally got free throws, they missed.

But the Grizz had been lulled to sleep and the Suns kept themselves in the game by showing the hustle with which they should have started the game. Eventually, a couple layup and a three fell and the Suns found themselves within 3 points at halftime despite shooting 37% for the half.

(It could have only been a 1-point lead, but a missed fast-break layup, another Grizz offensive rebound on their own miss and then Dragic fouled the shooter with .3 left, who of course made both free throws. 4-point swing. Boom.)

Final - 12.12.2012 1 2 3 4 Total
Memphis Grizzlies 27 19 17 17 80
Phoenix Suns 21 22 20 19 82

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