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MAN OH MAN!  Did you guys catch the crrraazy action in the first 7 minutes of the game!?  Apparently the Suns had scored 20 and the W's 17 and Nash had 6 assists.... but It was seen only by our own PanamaSun on some special feed to select areas of Latin America, so maybe he can fill the gaps.  For the rest of us schmucks forced to watch TNT, our 2nd night of Hanukkah gift from that horrid network was an awful LeBron interview instead of a game that would actually be entertaining.  Did I mention I hate TNT?  

From the 85% of the game I was able to see I - I definitely saw the Suns walking some walk after talking a lot of talk.  It wasn't perfect, but definitely a sign of progress as the Suns were able to hold the offensively gifted Warriors to 101 points in their victory tonight. And get this, the Suns beat the W's in the rebound battle by +10 and neither Lee nor Biedrins pulled down double digits. Though the picture on the right is from last weeks blowout, I'm super creative and artistic - but not fruity - and I'm pretty sure it tastefully integrates both games seen (one more than the other...) on TNT tonight.  Thank you, I bring the aesthetics and profound beauty that makes you click refresh minute after minute.

But back to Ball.

Lets jump it foolios!

Let me get this out of the way - I think I'm developing a man-crush on Monta Ellis. It sucks to be on the other end of things, but wowzers that kid is fun to watch!  Despite a somewhat improvement defensively - Ellis was going to score when he wanted and he did just that dropping 38 points tonight.

The First Half - Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

It was a Half where Quarter 1 with Unit 1 the Suns Were Dr. Jekyll... then in Quarter 2 with Unit 2 they were mysterious Mr. Hyde.

With the continued improved play of Frye in the starting line-up, Barron's big man presence and energy at the 5, and the lead-by-example 'fire' of the Tri-Force (Nash, Hill, Richardson), the Suns starting 5 tonight started the game right as they usually have this year so far with a solid first and second quarters.  Hill's mystery injury (Was it an ankle? Was it an infected toe?  Was it a sprained foot gracias to Garret Siler?  We may never know) obviously didn't slow him down.  He came out shooting well and playing defense and making energy plays as usual.  Can't take him for granted, if Nash says he respects Grant Hill more than any other NBA player (via twitter) then we should really appreciate how lucky we are to have him on our side night in and night out.

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Jason Richardson also continued to light it up and our own Seth Pollack called it before the game... it's hidden in one of the trillion comments in the game thread (I'm too lazy to find it). 

After one quarter the Suns had an 11 point lead and it was 31-20 Suns.

Then the second quarter came in and we saw that lead slip and slide with a sort of discombobulated 2nd Unit.   Dragic lead the way with 3 fast turnovers.  He didn't look good and neither did the other bench guys, I'm guessing if anybody was still lacking some 'fire' it might of been Hakim Warrick.  Not only might that be the reason Earl Barron started this game but it also might be the reason he only played 9:12 minutes.  This is also about the time that the Monta Ellis show began.  He swooped, he skated, he slithered, he flew, and he drove the lane and hit from the perimeter with ease.  Mr. Hyde definitely showed his dark and crazy habits of sloppiness.   When Nash (with 11 assists in the first half) and the starters came in they brought the game back under control but the Warriors outscored the Suns 29-21 and our lead was whittled to 52-49 at the half.

Third Quarter - Mr. Hyde then Dr. Jekyll.

This time in the 3rd Quarter the 1st Unit came out and played the Mr. Hyde and the 2nd Unit followed with the Jekyll.  Switching the madness up.

Well it's a bad habit the Suns have developed.  Whether they have a lead or not, the 3rd quarter has been hard on the Suns this year, they seem to give up leads and let teams build dangerous confidence, making closing out the game a more difficult task. 

It was the 1st Unit this time that played the role of discombobulation to start the quarter out.  It was ugly, Ellis scored at will,  Earl Barron couldn't finish around the rim, and pretty soon the game was tied.

Then in came a more energized Goran Dragic and 2nd unit who went on a 10-0 run to push a lead to just that at one point.  But Ellis and some key 3-pointers from Dorell Wright brought the W's back to within a few possessions.  It was a crazy see-saw of ups and downs for the Suns through 3 quarters which set up the exciting finish in the 4th. It was 75-72 Suns after 3.

4th Quarter - "Referees Suck"

It was a back and forth affair with a number of very questionable calls from the officials which prompted me to chant along with the GS crowd on several occasions, "Referees Suck!  Referees Suck!"

There were definitely some questionable calls on both ends of the floor no doubt.  But when it came down to it - the Suns used their experience and the leadership from the Tri-Force to seal the deal against a very young and talented Warriors team.  It was Jason Richardson hitting step back turn-around fade-aways, Hedo draining a three, Nash cutting into the lane and floating his shots on San Fran rainbows, it was Grant Hill hill creating space for himself and sinking his mid-range jumpers.  Frye was blocking shots and I'm sure I'm leaving stuff out but ultimately the Warriors committed untimely fouls and the Suns hit their shots and played solid defense and secured their rebounds. 

Suns Win - 107-101.

Not a typical Golden State v. Phoenix game, but it was entertaining none-the-less and it was encouraging from Phoenix's standpoint.  We did see the fruits we were hoping to see before the game and throughout this week.  The lineup is still seeing some changes... but at least we saw an improvement in communication and penetration defense.  It was even so noteworthy that TNT even highlighted the good penetration defense and how the Suns were forcing the W's into taking outside shots by loading up on the penetrating players side.  It brought a tear to my eye, did it bring one to yours?

Now let's see if we can't figure out how to limit the peaks and valleys of in-game flux.   A little less topsy-turvey a little more consistent 'fire' and 'effort' for a complete 48 minutes.

Other Notes

  • Much like Paul Coro's blog post mentioned, Jared Dudley is definitely back to his "right time right place" self - very good to see.
  • Dragic made some kind of in game adjustment and turned his horrible 2nd quarter performance into one praised by TNT postgame analysts.
  • Again, Warrick only played 9:12...  Fire?
  • Steve Nash 13 and 16.
  • Frye still hot?  YES!  3 Blocks?!  OH SNAPS, BLOCK MACHINE.  
  • Hedo from the bench?!  BALL!
  • Back to .500?  YES!

If there's anything else you think I missed, or you disagree with something I filled your mind with - give it to us in detail down below! 

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Phoenix Suns Rack Up Solid Road Win Over Golden State Warriors, 107-101 - SB Nation Arizona
The defense might not have looked great at times, as Warriors guard Monta Ellis sliced his way past Suns defenders as if their feet were glued to the floor, but holding Golden State to right at their season average of 101 points has to be considered a step in the right direction. 

Rebounding was another success for the Suns as the surprise insertion of seven-foot Earl Barron into the starting lineup paid dividends. Barron played 25 minutes and recorded only two points and four rebounds, but he held his opponent, Andris Biedrins, to only three boards. The Suns combination of Channing Frye and Barron out-rebounded the glass-eating Warriors tandem of Biedrins and David Lee, 14-11. 

Steve Nash brings 'da FIRE! 

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(Barron and Nash photos by by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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PROBABLE STARTERS:

C BIEDRINS/BARRON
SF WRIGHT/HILL
PF LEE/FRYE
SG ELLIS/JRICH
PG CURRY/NASH

Game previews:

Suns Look to Showcase Improved Defense Against Golden State - Bright Side Of The Sun
I don't know about you - but I'm tired of hearing all this jibber-jabber about trust/communication/defense/rebounding and gellin' like a felon.  The time for talk is over.  It's ‘go' time.  Time to put your money where your mouth is.  Put your ‘game-face' on and go to war.  Man-up and grow some -  you get the idea. 

Phoenix Suns Hope To Find Defense Against Golden State Warriors - SB Nation Arizona
The Suns defense and rebounding will be tested by the Warriors (8-10), who feature a strong rebounding tandem of Lee and Biedrins and dangerous guards Ellis and Curry.

Phoenix @ Golden State GameThread, Dec 2, 2010 8:30 PM MST - Golden State Of Mind
All I can think about with this game is that the Suns will be without Amare Stoudemire. It's just Steve Nash and his gang of 2's, 3's and 4's, no real center or big man. No Amare. No Amare. No Amare. No Warrior demolisher.

 

And if you are so inclined, here's the thread for the early game between some guy and the team he used to play for...

Miami @ Cleveland GameThread, Dec 2, 2010 6:00 PM MST - Fear The Sword
LeBron James is not Benedict Arnold or American Taliban John Walker Lindh but he is the most famous "traitor" in sports, a reviled figure in the Forest City that returns to Cleveland tonight for the first time since "The Decision" as his rudderless Miami Heat face a plucky Cavaliers club that has not completely fallen apart without the services of basketball's chosen one.

Miami @ Cleveland GameThread, Dec 2, 2010 6:00 PM MST - Peninsula is Mightier
Open Game Thread: Heat @ Cavaliers


Not sure when or where Channing Frye made this, but it is as hilarious as it is utterly confusing. Just a little somethin' to hold you over until the Warriors game.


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Well with a three day break at the beginning of a week just coming off of a Thanksgiving holiday, not having a Suns game to tune into at night has made returning to work as usual even that much more difficult.  

I don't know about you - but I'm tired of hearing all this jibber-jabber about trust/communication/defense/rebounding and gellin' like a felon.  The time for talk is over.  It's ‘go' time.  Time to put your money where your mouth is.  Put your ‘game-face' on and go to war.  Man-up and grow some -  you get the idea. 

Redunkulous clichés aside, we are all waiting eagerly to see the fruits of this recent abundance of extra focus on defense.   It's been written on the wall... about a bajillion times - defense and rebounding.  I could think of only a few better teams to put that to the test against besides the Golden State Warriors who we will face up tonight.

You wanna test your dribble penetration and avoid giving up a zillion AND 1's?  How about we bring in my boys Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry.  You wanna test your cajones on the glass homes?  Meet my little friends David Lee, Andris Biedrins and Looooouuuuu Amundson!  Okay, so Lou might be sidelined still and we're getting lucky since Brandan Wright is questionable for the game tonight, but for everything else I think you need to know about the game - jump it fools.

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So which defense will show up tonight?  Will be broken like it was Sunday night in Denver?  Where despite the season's best offensive performance with 133 points on 51% shooting outscoring the Nuggs 60-48 in the paint (whoduthunk), the Suns managed to crap out their worst defensive performance as well against a Carmelo-less squad.  How's that for bi-polarity?      

Now I'm done ranting about the disappointing D because you all know we've beat that horse to death, and in fact - you all know I'm still a big believer that this team will make the proper adjustments necessary to right the ship.  Let's move back to the bright side.

Match-ups

Now the official game notes still have Hedo in the starting line-up, and to be honest I've heard Hak will start again so let me know if anyone hears an official word out there.  Also - we'll see what happens with Grant Hill's infected toe, dude is a gladiator so I'm sure he'll play.

Nash v. Curry - Always a treat to watch Nash school one of the best young PG's in the game, conversely it's always a treat to watch Steph Curry period.

JRich v. Ellis - Two guys that know how to score in spectacular fashion.  I'm expecting Ellis to have AT LEAST 10 FTA tonight if not somewhere around 40,000.   But still Rich ‘the Man' and the team's leading scorer and despite a slow start on Sunday was still able to drop a 39 and 10 bomb on Denver's guards.  In the horribly mumbled and easy to ignore words of Scott Williams, "He is a man on fire - you know - like that Denzel Washington Movie..."  Cool Scott, yeah.

Hill v. Wright - Hill has been playing out of his mind as of late and has been doing a little bit of everything, especially the type of everything that includes guarding everyone.  Get it? Again tonight he'll start out guarding Wright who's hot and cold but in the Warriors last game was definitely hot (pause) and dropped 30 points.   I think it's safe to assume that if we are going to see anyone step up and take all the ‘defense' talk to heart it will be made manifest in a Grant Hill display of passion.  If his toe isn't a huge issue he might have 10 rebounds and have taken 3 charges by half-time. 

Warrick v. Lee and Frye v. Biedrins- This will be something to watch, even if Hedo starts - whoever plays against Lee and Biedrins will really need to keep their focus and find out where they are at all times.  Get physical - box out, use your rump - sell the foul, secure the rebound, MAKE SOMEONE BLEED.... Maybe that's taking it a little far.  I know for a fact that an easy way for Hak and Frye to get the upper hand on this duo of Warriors would be to attack them in the paint on the offensive end.   Lee and Biedrins aren't exactly the best defenders in their own right and can easily be taken out of their game if they get into quick foul trouble.

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Other Notes

I'm going to rip this off of Vince Kozar (the Suns' statistician extraordinaire) straight up - but I give him all the credit.  I know many have been moaning and groaning about the Suns record and how the team has been playing so far this year, but consider the following before we continue to slop on heavy the negativity:

  • Twelve of the Suns' 17 games have come against a playoff team from 2009-10
  • Phoenix has played 10 of 17 games against a 50-win team from a season ago
  • Phoenix was the ONLY NBA team to play its first four games against a 50-win team from 2009-10
  • The Suns' 17 games have included four meetings with Western Conference division leaders (LA twice, SA, UT) and six overall against a division leader (Orlando, Chicago)
  • Phoenix just completed a four-games-in-five-days stretch in the midst of an eight-games-in-13-days span. Phoenix had not had two-straight days off since Nov. 9-11.
  • The Suns' seven home games are tied for the fewest in the Western Conference, second-fewest in the NBA overall.

Now I'm not making excuses - but with the roster and chemistry experiments very much in full developmental stages to be right around .500 at this point isn't like the failures of some other local sports team who also lost some pretty good players and needed to make adjustments for this year... I'm just sayin'.

Another things to watch - TURNOVERS.   The Warriors are numero uno right now in Steals in the whole NBA, and with Steph Curry and Monta Ellis as your ridiculously fast and crafty backcourt there's no mystery as to why they are.   Let's hope the Suns can protect the ball.

Earl Barron - put up 7 boards in 10 minutes on Sunday and IMO had some pretty ‘enforcer-ish' fouls.  I liked what I saw.  Maybe we'll see a little more of @earldee tonight.

Planet Purple a.k.a. the Bench - Let's hope Hedo can once again provide better offense coming off the bench like he did for a short while in the Denver game and also lets hope that these guys collectively can pull it together.   Much has already been written about their struggles so we'll see if they can work out some more of the kinks - communicate better, and hopefully shoot a better percentage from the line... I'm talking to you Dragon.

Now for some linkage and here's to a positive win and getting back to .500.

Earl Barron Unplugged - SBNation Arizona

Phoenix suns Rotations Still Frustratingly in Flux - Seth Pollack

Phoenix Suns Practice Defense, They Certainly Preach it Enough - More Pollack

Suns Defensive Sieve Both Expected and Disappointing - Yet Again More Seth, (we love you [no homo])

Phoenix Suns Calling for Some Fire for Fixes - Paul Coro

Jared Dudley Finding his Impact - Paul Coro's Orange Slices

Warriors Practice Notes - IQofaWarrior at Golden State of Mind - Some sweet videos and Links all about the Warriors including a blurb or two on new Warrior Ekpe Udoh

Warriors, Post-Script Change from Spurs to Suns - Rusty Simmons, SF Chronicle - After losing to the Spurs last night, the Warriors will have to change the way to play against the atypical front line of the Phoenix Suns.

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