Hakim Warrick dropped a career-high 32 points in his debut as Channing Frye's replacement. While we don't expect that to be the nightly norm, there were some positive signs with some of the adjustments the Suns made to their sets.

Without Frye's spacing, the Suns took advantage of Warrick's athletic abilities but also did some things based on the passing abilities of both Warrick and Marcin Gortat

Here's some examples:

These first examples are typical Suns pick and rolls but with a Warrick twist. The Suns still ran pick and rolls on 46 of 108 offensive possessions but they did several things differently.

1) Here the Suns run a standard Nash/Gortat high pick and roll.

Spacing_1_medium

2) Warrick is posted in the corner and when his man leaves to cover Gortat's roll, Marcin finds the open Warrick. Standard stuff for the Suns.

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3) The difference here is Warrick doesn't hang out in the corner for an open three. Instead, he slashes in and takes the pass from Gortat and dunks it.

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1) Here's another similar example with a side pick and roll. Note Warrick posted at the high arc but since he's not a threat to shoot from there, his defender is sagged way off into the paint to cut off the roll from Gortat.

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2) But this time, Gortat floats out of the paint and Nash hits a slashing Warrick who had no intention of staying behind the arc. Hak slammed the ball here too with a dunk that started well outside the restricted circle...Helicopter style.

Spacing_5_medium

1) Here's an example of bad spacing. Nash and Lopez run a side pick and roll but Warrick is just hanging out at the elbow which allows his defender to easily cut off Lopez and Carter's man is able to cover both Warrick and still be close enough to Vince to recover if needed.

Spacing_bad_1_medium

1) This is an example of an old basketball staple - Horns High. Both bigs station themselves above the elbows as you see below. The guard can use either screen and in this case Nash (wisely) chooses to take the pick set by big Robin Lopez.

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2) Warrick's defender is forced to collapse on Lopez to prevent his roll so Nash immediately finds Hakim which was part of the plan all along. 

Horns_high_2_medium

3) Warrick is open for the jump shot but as Grant Hill's man rotates over, Hakim instead passes to Hill who hits an open corner three.

Horns_high_3_medium

1) High low passing between the big men is a great way to take advantage of Warrick's and Gortat's abilities. In this example below the ball starts at the far corner with Grant Hill's hands and then goes to Gortat in the high post as Warrick seals his man in the post. This all happens very early in the clock before the defense is fully set.

Hi_low_1_medium

2) After Gortat delivers the ball to Warrick in the post, the catch is bobbled a bit which allows the Rockets to collapse in the paint but that leaves Vince Carter wide open in the corner. Warrick somehow evades three defenders to get the ball to Carter who drains the shot.

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1) On this play Warrick initiates the offense from the high post. As he holds the ball on the elbow where he's a legit threat to score himself, Nash sets a cross screen on Hill's man. The Rockets switch the screen which lets Hill get to the low post with a point guard on his back.

Cross_screen_1_medium

2) Warrick delivers a strike to Hill in good post position and Grant goes to work abusing the smaller defender. Interestingly enough, they did credit Warrick with an assist on the play which was a bit...generous from the official stats guys.

Cross_screen_2_medium

There's one more example here where the Suns ran a beautiful baseline out of bounds play from Nash to Warrick for a lob dunk.

These are just a few examples of the Suns running basic basketball plays to take advantage of their personnel. Warrick and Gortat combined for six assists in the game. Well done.


PHOENIX — Hakim Warrick came to Phoenix for a chance to revitalize his career next to Steve Nash for a playoff-caliber team craving a pick-and-roll player at the power forward spot. Warrick...

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Ap-c8f0fc5fc4d14e16bff7d62d0d91538e_mediumWhat a game! I tell ya these Rockets always give the Suns a good fight; one of the best match ups in the league!

With no Channing, no Pietrus in a must win game someone had to step up. Hakim Warrick decided he'd be that guy. We knew this was a team he could dominate, but who could know he'd play this well? How many thought he'd have a career high of 32 points? I certainly wasn't expecting that. Warrick wasn't a lone though. There was another player who helped carry the Suns tonight and his name is Vince Carter aka Half-Man, Half-Amazing!

It was Vince who hit timely three after timely three to keep the Suns in the game and the pressure on the Rockets. It was his energy, passion and aggressiveness that brought the Suns back into the game after being down by 11 in the 2nd Quarter. Surprised? After the OKC game, perhaps not, but the fact that he was the one to put this team on his back, lead them out of a double digit deficit and take control in the clutch was at least surprising to me. He showed a lot of heart tonight and deserves much props for his amazing play. Thank you Carter and thank you Warrick!

The Breakdown

Suns got off to a sloppy start. They turned the ball over, couldn't make a jumper or control their emotions which led to a Pietrus ejection. Not the way any of us wanted it to begin. This was the Suns home-court and they should have came out strong and set the tone early on. Unfortunately, the Rockets made them pay and took an 11 point lead with just 2 minutes left in the 2nd quarter. Things looked liked they'd only get worse until Carter entered the court. Immediately he attacks the basket, misses, but follows it with a put-back after getting 3 rocket players in the air. You can tell with his body language that he wanted to win. His teammates could too and followed his example. It's amazing how one play can change a game, but that was the turning point. That one play led to two defensive stops on the other end followed by two 3-pointers from Grant Hill and Vince himself. Suns cut the lead to 48-50 going into halftime.

From there on the game went back and forth with neither team able to gain any separation. It could have gone either way, but like I said Carter took control and hit many key shots and the Suns eventually found themselves up by 5 with 23 seconds to go. Kyle Lowry knocked down a 3, Nash got fouled, missed a free throw and Brad Miller air-balled a three to give the Suns a 113-110 victory thanks to the defense of Jared Dudley which forced Lowry to give up the ball.

Looking back at those Match-ups

Nash vs. Lowry-  Nash had 9 and 14. Those are reasonable stats considering he's playing through injury, but Lowry really lit him up. 32 points on 11-18 shooting including 7-11 on threes. That guy is one tough dude, got to give him props.

Brooks vs. Dragic- Not the "Ultimate Showdown" I was hoping for. Neither got much playing time, but it's safe to say that Goran won it. Neither could buy a shot, but Dragic was more aggressive attacking the lane as he hit 6-8 free throws. I'm going to call this one a gimme on Brooks; 0-6 shooting? Yikes!

Gortat and Warrick vs. Hayes, Miller and Patterson-  Seriously, the Suns always seem to wake up somebody. Who the crap is Patrick Patterson? Well, he had 18 and 5 tonight on 9-12 shooting. He, Miller and Hayes combined for 32 and 23. Gortat and Warrick more than held their own against them though. Marcin picked up 16 boards and 13 points with Hakim Warrick putting in a career high 32 points including 8 rebounds. 45, 24, yup the Suns front line won this match-up.

Vince Carter and Grant Hill vs. Kevin Martin and Chase Budinger-  Vince finished with 32 points on 13-17 shooting including 5-7 from downtown. Grant was amazing himself though. It wasn't just his 19 points on 5-8 from the field, but his lock-down defense on Kevin Martin who scored 17 on 5-16 shooting. Suns won this one easily.

Conclusion

It was a really entertaining game. Wish I could have been there. The duo of Warrick and VC were really entertaining getting a lot of fans off there seats with all those dunks and threes and what not. They really stepped up and played like men tonight in place of Channing Frye and Mickael Pietrus. Gortat and Hill brought there A game as well and Nash did the best he could. This was a must win at home and probably the most important game of the season thus far and the Suns took care of business. Bring on Denver!

Links

The Dream Shake

Rockets vs Suns boxscore

Rockets vs Suns coverage

 

Phoenix Suns Blast Houston Rockets In Needed Home Win, 113-110 - SB Nation Arizona
...early second-quarter ejection of Mickael Pietrus who received a first technical foul after arguing a call. He continued to argue with the official and reportedly used foul language which got him tossed him from the game. His coach was not happy.

"I was a little bit disappointed in that. We're a little bit short-handed and obviously we need him. It's something that we'll talk about tomorrow," Gentry said about Pietrus' poor self-control.

 

Game Notes

1st Qtr

  • As expected, Grant Hill is defending Kevin Martin
  • Vince gets doubled in the post, makes a great pass to Warrick who can't extend his arm enough to catch it. Raise your arm, Hak!
  • Whoa...I think Warrick is still in the air
  • Robin looks like poo-poo again
  • Come on, Robin. Stop making me look silly by pumping you up all the time
  • 12-6, Rox. They're hitting three's.
  • Warrick with 6 of Suns 8. Hit two mid-range shots which is good. Gortat coming in after Robin's 2nd foul
  • Suns letting Vince create a little more these days thanks probably to Nash's "pelvic" injury
  • 10 for Hak. Steve finding him...but let's not forget that the Rockets are a poor defensive team
  • Lowry going right at Brooks. AB digging in on defense like Kyle is trying to steal his cookies
  • 26-24, Rockets. Warrick 14 points, 6 rebounds

2nd Qtr

  • Great big hand for Dragic as he comes in
  • Dragic gets the steal on Brooks and gets fouled...let's see if he can hit some FTs. 1-2
  • Chill coming in for Hak
  • MP tossed for arguing. Dumb ass...he got the first T and then wouldn't let it go
  • Goran getting the better of Brooks so far. Rox up 36-26, 8:54
  • Nash vs Goran...Goran steals the bounce pass and streaks down the court and has a nice behind the back pass to a trailer for a dunk. Sweet
  • Goran's a bit too aggressive w/ his shot but defended well and as always, was great in the open court
  • Nash trying to go for a tip dunk had to be the lol-est thing I've seen since...well, at least in the last hour
  • Nice work by Vince in the paint on that one. Showed some stones
  • Defense picking up a bit
  • Threes by Hill and Vince..some nice high/low passing from Gortat to Warrick
  • 50-48. Suns did well to stay in this thing....

3rd Qtr

  • 11 turnovers in the 1st half
  • OK, Robin. It would be a good time to get happy...or mad. Just play better.
  • Thank you
  • Grant Hill in the post = happy me
  • I feel like VC has been humbled a bit and now is starting to find a nice place on this team
  • Jordan Hill looks horrible. This guy was the 9th pick
  • Suns taking advantage of Rockets switch by running Nash/Hill pick and roll and then going to Hill in the post
  • Brad Miller can't defend Warrick. Go back to that again...and again
  • Gentry T'd by Ken Mauer. Pretty sure he was arguing for a non-call on Warrick's dunk attempt
  • Sarver was up during the time out yelling at the refs as well...then he walked off before he got T'd up too
  • Vince going into 1999 mode
  • And turns the ball over b/c it's not 1999
  • Nash back in early....so, Brooks???
  • Vince back in...quick rest for him
  • 95-92, 5:46. Should be interesting to see where Suns get points
  • 5th foul on Warrick...who is his back up?
  • 18 points for Patrick Patterson
  • 28 for Warrick
  • 101-98, 2:26
  • Vince again! He's getting it done...32 points
  • Inbound lob dunk to Warrick! Wow, that was sweet
  • 106-100. 1:30
  • Lowry scores, Warrick answers w/ a mid-range J
  • Big three from Lowry. He's a ballin
  • Huge steal by Grant after Gortat miss up 108-105. Nash fouled w/ 24 sec left...Nash passed up a shot himself to dish to Gortat for a 15ft J. That tells you all you need to know about Nash's health
  • Phew


Here's your postgame video from tonight's Suns win over the Rockets. Gentry's press conference followed by Carter, Dragic and Hill in the locker rooms.



Come on, Aaron. It's your first home game as a Sun - make it count!  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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