Both the Phoenix Suns and the San Antonio Spurs are trying to go 4-1 with a a win on Wednesday night. Both just came off a big second-half comeback to win on Tuesday. And both are trying for that 4th win on the second night of a back to back.

But that's where the similarities end.

The opponent

The San Antonio Spurs came only a few seconds short of winning yet another title a few months ago, as opposed to the Suns who came only a few losses short of winning the lottery.

That title would have effectively bookended Tim Duncan's stellar career with 5 titles in 14 years as a Spur. But alas, Ray Allen made that miracle three-pointer to tie and send the game to overtime. Everything went downhill for the Spurs from there. We all saw it happen, and predicted it would go exactly as it did - with a Game 7 loss that was rarely in doubt. Now, the Spurs are still without a title since 2007.

This year, the Spurs enter the season yet another year older. At some point, they have to slow down right? At some point, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan will fracture a hip trying to run down the court on a fast break.

But that time is not now. And it may never come. The Spurs are just as strong as ever, playing exactly the way you'd think they play: hard, smart and just good enough to kick your butt before 48 minutes have passed.

The Suns

The Phoenix Suns, on the other hand, are decidedly NOT playing the way many thought they would play.

They come into the Spurs game having sported a top-6 ranked defense along with an offense buoyed by making 26 of their last 60 three-point attempts which further helps the dribble-drive efforts of young star Eric Bledsoe.

A year ago at this time, the Suns were 1-3 with a terrible offense and shaky defense. Clearly, this team is playing better than last year. That question is how much better, and for how long.

The stats


As you can see, the Suns are playing well. But their pace is just as confounding as the quality defense they play. Over the summer, the prevailing thought was that the Suns would try to run teams out of the gym while surrendering more points than they scored. Yet, their defense is better than average and their offense appears to be stuck in mud. 18th in pace? Really?

The Spurs, meanwhile, have built up similar stats to the Suns by beating the Memphis Grizzlies, LA Lakers and Denver Nuggets while losing to the Portland team the Suns beat.

The lineups


The takeaway

I love this, from's recap of last night's game.

NOT: One game removed from arguably his best all-around performance, Anthony Davis struggled from the field for much of the night against a scrappy Suns' frontcourt which kept him out of the paint and forced the athletic 6-foot-10 to settle for jumpers and contested everything at the rim. Davis made just 4-of-15 from the field and didn't even attempt a shot in his seven fourth-quarter minutes.

BAD MOVE: Davis was also neutralized defensively late in the game, by defending the perimeter for a handful of Phoenix's final possessions when the game was still within five points. Without the prolific shot blocker underneath the basket and a small Pelicans' lineup on the floor, Bledsoe had clear paths to the basket once he dribbled past the first layer of the defense.

Reminds me so much of the Suns of old - taking the bigs out of the paint with spacing, and opening up the lane for drives. A really, really great sign of the scheme that Jeff Hornacek brings to the table. Love it!

The nickname

We're spending a lot of time coming up with nicknames for each of the players in this exciting Suns lineup. How about this one to bring in a whole bunch of scrappy players together:

Icy Cold Flying Green Christmas Ish

Rolls off the tongue, don't it?

The key matchup

Since the Miles Plumlee vs. Tiago Splitter debate would rage on too long, let's settle for young Eric Bledsoe against Tony Parker.

On the season, Parker is putting up 19.5 points, 7.5 assists and 3.3 rebounds and 1 steal per game.

Bledsoe has produced 22.8 points (10.2 of those in the 4th quarter, on average), 7.8 assists, 5.8 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game.

Both players put up their stats in the context of a winning environment. Whoever wins Wednesday's matchup between these two will go a long way to deciding the game winner on the night.

The prediction

Suns win this game, or alternately: the Suns lose this game. Who the hell knows, right? The Suns certainly aren't following any preseason script, so whatever happens tonight will be what happens. But there's very little certainty with this team at this time.

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Eric Bledsoe stole the ball from Jrue Holiday seconds after the Pelicans controlled the tip and darted down the court for an easy layup.  Things didn't get much better for Holiday, as he picked up two fouls in just 2:09 and shuffled off to the bench for some much needed contemplation time.  The other four Pelicans shared the scoring load in his absence, though, and an early 11-2 run put New Orleans in early control of the game.  The Suns seemed overmatched inside in the early going by as they struggled to match the physicality of their opponent.  In the midst of this Eric Gordon entered "Pelican mode", scoring nine points over a four minute stretch that saw the NO lead stretch to 24-11.  Ball control continued to be an issue for the Suns as they committed seven turnovers in the opening period.  Bledsoe, responsible for two of those giveaways, also led the Suns in scoring (6), assists (2) and steals (2).  The rest of the Suns combined for basically nothing.  Even the defensive effort from the first two games seemed lacking as the Pelicans ran their offense without much opposition.  Score: NO 28, Suns 17

The Suns stopped the bleeding with a 7-2 run to start the second quarter.  Anthony Davis got in the mix with six points in just over a minute around the midway point to help his team maintain some separation, but it was three balls by the Suns that ultimately helped them whittle down the gap.  Four of them by four different players helped offset an offense that was anemic through much of the first half.  Phoenix pulled within four on a bucket by Miles Plumlee with 1:47 left in the half, but failed to capitalize on their last three possessions (including a pair of missed free throws by Plumlee) and couldn't get any closer against a NO team that went scoreless over the final 3:35.  The Suns recovered from a lackluster start on the defensive end and limited the Pelicans to just 17 points in the quarter.  Score: NO 45, Suns 41

I made the mistake of blinking at the start of the third quarter and the Suns were back down by double digits.  Just when things were beginning to deteriorate, though, Gerald Green had a great come-from-behind effort block as Gordon got sloppy with the ball and went up disinterestedly for a layup.  Channing Frye scored on the other end to pull the Suns back within eight.  Green continued to be the catalyst for a Phoenix resurgence as he proceeded to drain two more threes (giving him a total of five on the night) to incite a run that avalanched into a 28-9 end to the quarter.  Green's block really appeared to be the turning point here.  At one point the Suns actually connected on 12 of their last 13 shots.  The sweltering Suns hit seven threes in the quarter as they dropped 37 against the stunned Pelicans. Score: Suns 78, NO 69

The fourth quarter started off like a track meet with the Pelicans trying to gain traction after the Suns flurry.  Markieff Morris scored the Suns first six points as they maintained a narrow cushion for the first half of the period.  The Pelicans closed to within two on a three pointer by Anthony Morrow with 5:26 left, but on their ensuing possession P.J. Tucker came up with a steal that resulted in a fast break layup by Bledsoe.  Marcus Morris made two free throws to push the lead to six and NO never got back withing five points the rest of the game. In the final minutes Bledsoe continued to display his late game heroics by knifing through the opposing defense for two layups that sealed the victory.

Final score: Suns 104, NO 98


Player of the Game:

Gerald Green.  Green went 6-10 from three point range, and hit four in the game changing third quarter, to finish with 18 points.  The defining moment in the game, though, was a block by Green, who had three total, that I felt led to the Suns cataract of third quarter points.  After a turnover by the Suns at the 7:48 point, Eric Gordon fumbled the ball as he led a breakaway opportunity.  In addition to this he went up lackadaisically for a layup after recovering his handle.  Green didn't quit on the play and came from behind for a great hustle block (think Lebron James).  That bucket would have pushed the Pelicans lead to 12, but instead the Suns cut the deficit to eight on the other end.  Moments later the blitzkrieg ensued.


Comments of the Game:

****ing Pelicans with their poultry-geist mascot


I would trade the Morrii and Ish...

...for Pierre the Pelican.


You know what's funny about college basketball nowadays (cue old man voice)...

Anthony Davisis 20.  Archie Goodwin is 19.  They both went to Kentucky.  They never played a second together.


If one of you don't name your kid Archie

I'm going to be severely chuffed.


Every time Morris touches the ball I remember that

We could have selected Kawhi Leonard... Ugh


I'd trade this entire roster for Anthony Davis

And roll with a lineup of Davis and the Gorilla.


It feels like we should be down by 20, but we're hanging in there.


Gerald Green is just comically hot right now


The Morri: Usual tedious ugliness for the first half.

Then solid rotation player work, to be hailed as heroes.



It might not happen a lot, so let's enjoy it!

-        It seems to be happening a lot so far.


The Good:

Three Point Shooting.  12-25 is flat out getting the job done.  That stretch of six straight made over 5:30 during the third quarter explosion was pivotal in deciding the game's outcome.  I thought this team was supposed to struggle from outside?

The Morrii.  Over a period of eight minutes and 26 seconds (bridging the third and fourth quarters) the Morrii scored 19 of the Suns 25 points.  During this period the Suns went from down 63-60 to ahead 85-79.  Marcus and Markieff put the team on their shoulders.  Try to wrap your brain around that.  Markieff finished with 17 points and Marcus went for 16 points and nine rebounds.

Eric Bledsoe continues to impress.  25 points on 10-12 shooting.  Five assists, four rebounds and three steals.  He is also becoming the Suns very own version of Mr. Clutch.  He broke down the Pelicans defense, and made it look pathetically easy, on consecutive possessions at the end to seal the deal.  Dude is becoming a bona fide closer.


The Bad:

The first quarter did not bode well for what turned out to be a solid Suns effort.  Ball control (seven turnovers) was still an issue.  Shots weren't falling.  The Suns were getting pushed around inside by the more assertive and physical Pelicans.  The defense was more timid than tenacious.  But no worries.  The Suns shook it off.


The Ugly:

Pierre the Pelican will haunt my dreams until the day I die.  I'm literally terrified to fall asleep tonight.


Final Thoughts:

The Suns are 3-1 and all is right in the world.

A 37-point third quarter led by starting shooting guard Gerald Green pushed the Phoenix Suns past the New Orleans Pelicans Tuesday, and more solid defense led Jeff Hornacek’s team back into the...

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