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THIS GAME STARTS AT 12:30 PM ARIZONA TIME!  CONSIDER THIS POST YOUR GAME THREAD HOMIES!

The Final Countdown

We are coming down to the wire here this season - we only have 15 games left and we are currently a game behind Memphis for the final playoff spot in the West. Only 15 games left... That doesn't seem like much but we can at least look for playoff hopes in the fact that 15 games is the most games that any team has left to play in the Western Conference.  Maybe I should have worded that with a little more positivity, like Paul Coro did in his game preview,

[Having 15 games still] is fortuitous, now that they are sitting outside the NBA playoffs club because the bouncer does not deem them worthy yet.

The Suns probably need to pile up wins like they never have this season. That makes having more games to play than any other team in the playoff race a good thing, especially when they have to pass three teams to get in the postseason door. Phoenix's best run this season was an 11-3 stretch.

There is a strong chance that 11-4, which would put the Suns at 45-37, would not be good enough, but they can at least look at Friday night's win against Golden State and feel as if they resemble that type of team. With forward Channing Frye back in the lineup and point guard Steve Nash back to form, their hopes at getting hot down the stretch gained traction.

That's all the positivity I can give you guys.  Well, and the knowledge that Channing Frye is back for his 2nd game after recovering from injury (he looked darn good in his first) and Steve Nash looked better shooting the ball and moving around... he says he feels better as well, buy you can never believe anything Nash says about how he feels - he's got a great poker-face.

So the final countdown eh?  Yeah, maybe in more ways than one does this song apply to the tail end of our season.  I mean if you believe in such things like me as 'the end of the world' we're definitely seeing some of the foreseen signs; earthquakes, volcanoes, sunami's, nuclear meltdowns, more wars, youtube videos like this one, and now knife wielding intruders at NBA basketball games.  Yup - that just happened yesterday.  At the Staples Center, before the Clippers game.  Here's how it went down,

An armed intruder stormed onto the Staples Center court just over an hour before Saturday's matinee matchup between the Los Angeles Clippers and Cleveland Cavaliers. Though authorities don't know what the man's intentions or motivations were, he was brandishing a knife, and was eventually brought down after a hail of rubber bullet fire from security guards and police officers after a 20-minute standoff and led into custody. No fans, authorities, or members of either organization were hurt or seriously threatened.

WTF.

Matchups

Steve Nash - Mo Williams
Vince Carter - Eric Gordon
Grant Hill - Ryan Gomes
Channing Frye - Blake Griffin
Robin Lopez - DeAndre Jordan


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
Eric Gordon 44 37.3 8.0 17.2 46.5 2.0 5.3 37.0 5.8 7.1 82.4 0.8 2.2 3.0 4.4 2.6 1.2 0.3 2.1 23.8
Blake Griffin 70 37.8 8.3 16.6 50.3 0.1 0.3 35.0 5.5 8.6 64.5 3.4 8.7 12.1 3.6 2.7 0.7 0.5 3.0 22.3
Mo Williams 46 30.4 5.1 13.0 39.0 1.2 3.9 30.2 2.6 3.2 82.8 0.4 2.2 2.6 6.8 3.0 1.0 0.2 2.6 13.9
Chris Kaman 25 24.2 5.2 11.4 45.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.1 1.4 77.1 1.4 5.0 6.4 1.4 1.6 0.4 1.2 2.4 11.4
Randy Foye 51 24.5 3.3 8.5 38.5 1.1 3.5 33.0 2.3 2.5 91.5 0.1 1.3 1.5 2.7 1.6 0.7 0.3 1.8 10.0
Ryan Gomes 70 28.8 2.9 6.9 41.6 1.0 2.9 34.3 0.9 1.2 71.8 0.8 2.7 3.5 1.6 0.7 0.9 0.2 2.2 7.6
Eric Bledsoe 70 24.0 2.7 6.4 42.4 0.4 1.5 27.8 1.3 1.7 75.4 0.9 2.1 3.0 3.8 2.5 1.1 0.3 1.6 7.2
DeAndre Jordan 70 25.9 2.9 4.3 68.8 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.1 2.6 43.2 2.5 4.6 7.1 0.5 1.2 0.5 1.7 3.2 7.0
Ike Diogu 31 14.0 2.4 4.4 55.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.2 1.7 71.7 1.3 2.2 3.5 0.1 0.7 0.1 0.1 2.1 6.1
Al-Farouq Aminu 69 18.3 2.1 5.3 39.3 0.6 2.0 32.6 1.2 1.6 77.1 0.9 2.5 3.4 0.7 1.3 0.8 0.3 1.5 6.0
Craig Smith 36 11.8 2.1 3.7 57.5 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.9 1.3 70.8 0.9 1.5 2.4 0.7 0.8 0.3 0.1 1.7 5.2
Brian Cook 36 11.5 1.8 4.3 40.4 0.9 2.1 41.9 0.4 0.6 63.6 0.4 1.9 2.4 0.4 0.6 0.2 0.3 2.0 4.8
Jamario Moon 49 17.9 1.8 4.3 41.0 0.7 2.2 30.8 0.2 0.3 84.6 0.3 2.4 2.7 1.0 0.4 0.6 0.6 1.0 4.4
Willie Warren 19 7.0 0.7 1.8 37.1 0.3 0.8 33.3 0.3 0.4 75.0 0.1 0.6 0.6 1.4 0.4 0.3 0.0 0.8 1.9


Eric Gordon is back from an injury to his wrist and scored 20-something in their game last night, I think he's fine and we'll need to deal with him.. as well as figuring out a way to limit Blake Griffin's top 10 plays-nominee dunks that he'll produce today.  Will we stick with Channing on him?  Will we see a rematch of Griffin v. Grant Hill (I hope so - last game things got chippy between them and Grant really was able to get under the rook's skin)?  Who am I kidding... I don't think it matters who anyone puts on him - the kid will spin, jump, spin-again, dribble, fly, pose, and then dunk the ball on any and everything in his way.

 

Euty-Keys to the Game

I'm going to give a shot at making cheesy keys here like the guys on t.v. do. Here they are,

Lunch Pail - no Breakfast Buffet

Bench Marks the Spot

Flatulation Suppressimavation

But what do they mean Eutychus!?!?!?

I'm glad you asked.

Lunch Pail - no Breakfast Buffet - Though it's an early start (12:30 AZ Time) game... it's late enough to be lunch time not breakfast time so let's limit the turnovers (Captain Obvious assumes turnovers of a wide variety such as cherry, apple, boysenberry, raspberry, pinnapple, etc., are served in a breakfast buffet) and lets play hard and smart basketball for 48 minutes.  Get it?  Bring your lunch pail = hard work?

Bench Marks the Spot - You know when you are on your buddy's clipper boat, and he leans over to you and is like, "Yo man I got this treasure map you want to look for the treasure that is marked on this treasure map by a big X?"  Yeah this key to the game is kind of like that.  Except we're going to be riding dirty all over the L.A. Clippers and our bench in is going to be the 'X' that marks the treasure that is a win.  It all starts with Aaron Brooks who needs to play better and he knows it - the Clippers will be a good team for him to light up, hopefully he can lead our squad - and I agree with what Eddie Johnson and Tom Chambers were saying during Friday's game.  They said Brooks is trying to hard to be like Nash - and needs to be the score-first PG that he is,  it's like he's having an identity crisis now that he's with Steve... I think we've seen this before.  Hopefully he can snap out of it.

So I just wrote this whole thing about A.B. needing to have a great game and this pops up on my twitter,

4skh_medium

With that news... this key becomes even more important - but now it will be up to Dr.Z and March G to make the wheels on the short-bus go round and round.  Jared Dudley always brings his 'A' game -  let's hope this 2nd unit can band together and make up for the loss of Brooks today.  Dang.

Flatulation Suppressimavation - Don't stink Suns.  That's all I ask.

Okay so I suck at these horrible cliche-dripping 'keys to the game' things... I'll never do this again. (*fingers probably crossed)

Let's get er' done.  After all - "It's the Final Countdown!" [Europe voice].

Consider this your game thread as well.

Euty.  Out.

Check out Seth's take over at SBNationAZ -

The Los Angeles Clippers are a dangerous team, far more so then their reputation and record (27-43) would indicate. The Phoenix Suns found that out once already this season when they went into Staples Center and got beat by Blake Griffin's fresh new team on December 26.

Suns vs Clippers coverage

Suns vs Clippers preview

Clips Nation

Eric Gordon returned to the Clippers lineup yesterday, and they won the game. Coincidence? Well, not really. Of the past 44 games, Gordon has missed 24. In the 20 he's played, the Clippers are 15-5 - in the 24 he's missed, they're 7-17. That's 10 games over .500 with him, 10 under .500 without him. It's hard to explain why Gordon has such a massive impact on the team. He's their leading scorer of course, and far and away their biggest perimeter threat. He also happens to be the team's best perimeter defender, so he's helping on both sides of the ball. But still, it doesn't seem to explain the numbers. One thing that is difficult to quantify is the virtuous cycle with Gordon on the floor (or conversely the vicious cycle without him). Defenses have to worry about another top scorer, and not just key on Blake Griffin. Gordon is the best deep threat, which opens up more space for Griffin. With more space and more freedom, Griffin is better with Gordon. And as Griffin gets better, Gordon gets more open looks. Against the lowly Cavs yesterday, Gordon and Griffin did it almost all alone - they scored 59 of the team's 100 points. Against the Suns, who are still fighting for a playoff spot, they're going to need more help. Chris Kaman is a likely candidate to step up - he's been awful the last two games, but was looking really solid before that.


Brooks throwing the ball at the official in Friday's game:






Phoenix Suns 108, Los Angeles Clippers 99 Just 15 games remain between the Suns and either an extra long off-season or an improbable playoff run. 15 games to make or break the entire season. Friday...

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Here's your postgame video from tonight's Suns win over the Warriors. The audio and other technical stuff is coming together nicely. Note that I don't have the skill (or time/patience) to do any fancy editing so what you get is what I see. 

Tonight we have Alvin Gentry's postgame press conference. He was happy with the win but still talked about the lack of a consistent 48-minute effort. He answered my question about Brooks as well.

Steve Nash talked about his health, the return of Channing Frye, and the impact of all the roster moves on the second unit.

Channing Frye talked about his favorite movies and plans for the weekend his return to the floor and how he felt.

Marcin Gortat discussed the game and the mass of Polish fans you came to his first even NBA Polish Night to see him receive an award from his country.

 

 

Game Notes

1st Qtr

  • Vince is smiling, so everything should be good
  • Frye passed up his first chance to shoot...he knew he should have shot it
  • Took his second look, missed it but it wasn't horrible
  • Curry looks taller to me...did he grow?
  • Quick T for Steve...he said some things he shouldn't have
  • They are doubling Grant in the post, but Suns haven't made them pay yet
  • Impressive block from Udoh. Robin had that ball in the rim with two hands
  • Robin's skill-level might be lacking but he's bringing the energy at least
  • Energy is high on the court and in the building
  • 19-9 Suns. Sweet....if only they had played with this kind of desperation all season long
  • Lou did a Lou thing and it was awesome
  • The entire country of Poland is up cheering as Gortat goes full court slam after a steal
  • Gortat out-Lou'd Lou for that ball
  • 27-20, Suns after being down 7-2 to start. Pretty good D

2nd Qtr

  • Brooks time...
  • MP passed up two contested looks and ended up driving and dumping off to Gortat for a dunk...hmmm
  • Al Thorton and Hakim Warrick on the court, the overall IQ of the game just dropped 10 points
  • Dan Crawford likes to call offensive fouls. That's five on the Warriors so far. Several could have gone the other way
  • Suns running a lot of offense through Warrick at the elbow
  • Weird timeout from Gentry in the middle of the play with 7 sec left on the shot clock. Gortat had the ball in the block with a double team
  • I locked my keys in my car before the game. Thanks to the Phoenix PD community assist guy for the assist breaking in
  • No dunk on that Dudley dunk attempt. Close though. Guessing he will claim it as a dunk number 7
  • There you go, Brooks drove and dumped it off to Warrick
  • Brooks came off that screen and was so wide open he had to shoot...he made the three
  • Starters back in. 39-30, Suns
  • Mr. Smile is about to check back in. He's 0-6 so far
  • Dudley was so open on that shot he missed it. I totally understand that. It happens to me when I play tennis. A soft shot comes over and you have too much time to set up and think about it and then hit it long or into the net
  • Yes, I just compared Dudley to me but I think he's earned it
  • Carter now 0-8 after missing a layup and a break away dunk off a steal
  • Floor crew wiping up tire marks with towels...tire marks left by a Gorilla drive-by in a mini-hummer
  • Vince is having an off night shooting but at least he's doing other things (1 reb, 1 ast)
  • I was chatting w/ Grant before the game about how it sucks to get old. Mentioned my sore knees. He just looked at me and said, "no, it's all up here" and pointed to his head. I felt like a wuss.
  • 50-40 (or 38, depending on the review of that last put back dunk from D. Wright) Suns

3rd Qtr

  • 50-38
  • Gortat starting the 2nd half again
  • I have a bit of popcorn stuck in my teeth, hate that
  • The days of high scoring Suns/Warriors games are gone. Now the Suns just lock them up. 38% shooting for GSW
  • Funny thing, since Warrick isn't starting the Suns haven't made one bad in bounds pass for a turnover. Weird
  • Vince!! Now 1-10
  • Keep shooting Vince! 1-11
  • Got it btw...the popcorn bit
  • Gentry pissed at Gortat for not setting a screen, came out to half court and yelled at him and said, "Last time I'm telling you. Last time."
  • Ekpe Udoh has VERY long arms. I bet he can dust the blades on the ceiling fan without the use of a step stool
  • Vince is not smiling any more
  • Warrick in for Frye...Channing has played well on D
  • Vince getting some mojo back by posting up Ellis
  • Playing the Hammer Time thing w/ Gortat's head on MC Hammer's body dancing. The 300 Poles goes nuts
  • Suns go ultra-small to match the Warriors. Warrick playing C for Suns, Lou for Warriors. Don Nelson is thrilled
  • Lou!!! Behind the back dribble and then pass to Thorton for a dunk
  • 84-65

4th Qtr

  • Josh Childress talking to Warrick about that blown rotation. Good luck, Josh
  • 84-68. Too soon to start the recap? 10:50 left
  • Keith Smart giving his team the bidness after that blown transition defense. Dorrell Wright and Acie Law taking the brunt.
  • Hey Brooks fans, how long are you going to stick with your guy?
  • 88-73, 8:53 to go. Recap?
  • Ooops, my bad. Starters having to come back in as lead shrunk to 10 with 7:45 to go.
  • Make that eight
  • 96-85 with 5:52
  • Channing Frye, not a roll man
  • Frye has played very well though
  • 102-91, 4:00
  • With Ellis on the bench, the Warriors are defending better and moving without the ball. He can have a Melo-like effect
  • Ellis coming back in...I think that helps the Suns. 104-93, 3:04
  • It's nothing personal towards Brooks, he just hasn't given the Suns what they needed when they gave up so much to get him
  • Dudley goes 0-2 at the line
  • Wright w/ the three...104-97, 50 sec
  • Warriors defended that high screen and roll well. Ball ended up in Nash's hands with just a few seconds on the clock. Nash drove and Curry fouled him
  • 106-97, 43 sec


Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, left, guards Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash, right, as Nash attempts to drive to the basket in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 18, 2011, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Paul Connors)

My last comment on the game preview today was to predict a final score of 105-97 in favor of the Suns.

That wasn't really a stretch. In the three previous matchups this season, the Phoenix Suns won all 3 by an average of 14 points. The Warriors had scored only 101, 92 and 88 points, while the Suns had scored 107, 104 and 112 points.

Tonight's actual score? 108-97, Suns.

Why have the Suns swept the Warriors this season? BAMF.

Monta Ellis is Golden State's alpha dog, and Grant Hill is one of the few in the league who knows how to frustrate him. Ellis averages 24.8 points per game this season, but against Grant Hill and the Suns he only scored 8 points tonight. In fact, Hill has been Ellis' nemesis all season.

Of course, I have to give the biggest credit to Channing Frye and Steve Nash. The Suns lost both games without them, and 5 of 6 overall without Frye. With them back in the lineup, the Suns ship is righted. Their rotation is settled. And the whole flow of the team is cleaner.

Big time players for the Suns tonight:

  • Channing Frye - 17 and 9 in his return from a separated shoulder
  • Marcin Gortat - 18 and 8, with 4 assists, a steal and a block, after calling out the Suns' terrible practice
  • BAMF Hill - 17, 7 and 3, plus lockdown defense on Monta Ellis
  • 2Time Steve Nash - 17, 6, and 10, with 3 big "old time Nash" 3s on the move. He looked good tonight. 
The Warriors stayed close thanks mainly to Dorell Wright, who scored 30 points ALL IN THE SECOND HALF. Wow. But then I'm sure Warriors fans are wondering where his scoring was in the first half.

Lou Amundson had a nice steal and fast break (including a behind-the-back dribble and pass to a streaking Wright).

Otherwise, Golden State had a forgettable game except for that little 4th quarter run to cut it to 7 before free throws closed it out.





PHOENIX — What a difference health makes. A game after getting Steve Nash back, the Suns’ Channing Frye made his return to the court in a big way Friday night, helping Phoenix snap a...

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