Robin Lopez #15 of the Phoenix Suns shoots the ball over Wilson Chandler #21 and Amar'e Stoudemire #1

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Robin Lopez #15 of the Phoenix Suns shoots the ball over Wilson Chandler #21 and Amar'e Stoudemire #1

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Tonight, the Phoenix Suns play game 2 of a 5 game East Coast road trip against the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers. And when I say lowly, I mean 8-32 lowly. I mean dead last in the East. I mean 13 game losing streak, lost to the Lakers by 55 and wait...This is the same Cavaliers squad that stretched the Suns for 40+ minutes several days ago. The same Manny Harris who hit for 27, the same J.J. Hickson who dominated the boards for 17 to accompany his 23 points.

See what I've done? I've turned this into a revenge match.

Indeed. The Phoenix Suns have won 3 straight games, have an excellent chance to finish this road trip 5-0 and return to the promised land of over .500 basketball. But as my esteemed colleague Mr. Laugan pointed out, the Suns inconsistency this season has been one of the few things we fans can count on. Much of that can be attributed to the disruption in personnel and injuries, the other piece of that has to do with intensity. So yeah, grudge match tonight. Torture the Cavs, destroy their will and that of the 150 or so fans that will attend this one in the CLE. 48 minutes of Suns basketball.


But what the crap is Suns basketball this season? We and our beloved have all been trying to figure it out. I think we may have discovered what this squad needs to do in order to win:

Robin Lopez dunks on Wilson Chandler 1-17-11 (via getbangedon)

 

And then some:

98648_suns_knicks_basketball_medium

and a little:

Vince Carter's baseline dunk vs. Knicks (January 17, 2011) (via NewNBAVideoGames2nd)

ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK.

FOR 48 MINUTES

D IT UP

STOMP SOME THROATS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE COURT

The Cavaliers are an injury depleted squad. Mo Williams is out. Anthony Parker, Christian Eyenga, Daniel Gibson, Anderson Varejao-all out for this one. Destruction is the only answer. A big win should be expected, is a necessity for the confidence of the squad and more importantly, will assist in sending the Suns up the WC rankings.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Has Vince Carter found his health and passion to score and win like his predecessor Jason Richardson did?
  • Has Robin Lopez found his groove after some debilitating injuries? When will he consistently dominate the boards like a big 7 footer with an attitude should?
  • Will the three-headed Center approach (Gortat/Lopez/Frye) continue to provide sufficient rebounding and interior defense?
  • Will Marcin Gortat consistently start take the ball to the rim as we've seen glimpses of? Or do we change his nickname from HAMMER to soft, fuzzy lil' teddy bear?
  • Will Steve Nash start taking more field goal attempts? And perhaps, less importantly, can he string together 48 straight successful FT's again this season?
  • Will HAK continue to bring energy every night and be that guy you want in the game come crunch time?
  • Can the Suns gain the chemistry, confidence, and ability to start pounding the dregs of the league? Are they no longer one of the dregs? Have they turned the corner?
We shall see.

It is no time to rest on our purple laurels. The Knicks win was big, but it ain't the end all be all. There is no more time to wait for answers. It's time to perform. And for us BSOTers...Let's get on the thread tonight and make it a partay, use our keyboards to influence a nice pounding of the Cavs. (And yeah Euts even though I said partay, you can still enjoy the game with a fresh squeezed glass of orange juice).

Game Day Links:

Phoenix Suns Must Crush The Cleveland Cavaliers, Ticket Sales Demand It (SB/Seth)

Phoenix Suns Using 3-headed Center: Paul Coro, AZ Republic

Phoenix Suns guard Vince Carter producing as comfort increases: Paul Coro, AZ Republic

Suns vs Cavaliers coverage

Suns vs Cavaliers preview

Fear The Sword

 

Poll
Will the Suns Need 50+ Wins to Make the Postseason?

  322 votes | Results


Phoenix Suns 106, Cleveland Cavaliers 98 The last time the Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers met, Steve Nash and company were soul searching, desperately in need of any type of win. They snuck...

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Mr. Consistency. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

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Mr. Consistency. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

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That's what you get from a team with 1 star and 12 fairly interchangeable rotation players. The only constant scoring threat, game in and game out, in the Phoenix Suns' lineup is PG Steve Nash. Everyone else is a wildcard.

Fairly talented wildcards, but wildcards nonetheless. Now that Gentry has settled into a 9-man rotation for the time being, he only has to read the tarot cards on 8 of them. Which ones will produce points tonight? Which ones won't?

Of the 8 guys in the rotation not named Steve Nash, only 1 of them can be counted on for a consistent point production. And on a team that can't play defense, a team that NEEDS 100+ points a night to compete, that's kinda scary.

Over the past 10 games, just one guy has delivered no fewer than 13 points in a game. For a coach that's probably getting ulcers trying to predict who will deliver each night, there's only one guy on this team non-Nash that he can count on.

Take a deep breath. In. Count 5 seconds. Breathe Out.

Last-10-by-player-0119_medium

That one guy is Vince Carter. Only Carter has delivered a predictable number of points each game. In his last 10 games with the Suns, his low water mark is 13 points with a high-water the other day of 29. And you wonder why Gentry gives this guy consistent minutes?

Look, I dislike the Carter persona too. He's got a tendency to be too lackadaisical. He can irritatingly joke around with players on the other team while they are blowing the doors off his own team.

But he scores. And when you know your team HAS to score 100+ points to win, that's a necessary evil. You play Vince Carter. Period.

The next most consistent point-producing non-Nash, non-Carter player? Jared Dudley. His low water mark is 7 points, with a high of 21. Not exactly punch-card material, but every other player in the rotation has laid at least 1 egg in the past 10 games. Dragic, Gortat and Warrick have at least 1 goose egg. Frye, Hill and Lopez have hardly been better, with at least one 2-point dog. And this is only in the past 10 games.

On the high end of the spectrum, every player except Warrick has scored at least 15 points in one of these last 10 games.

Imagine being Gentry right now. What am I gonna get tonight? And from whom? You can't count on season averages from these guys. Heck, you can't even count on their averages for the last 10 games.

Last-10-suns-0119_medium

(courtesy of basketball-reference.com)

Jared Dudley has averaged 12.8 points the last 10 games, with a low of 7 and a high of 21. Channing Frye gives you "11 a game" for the past 10 games, but only 3 of the past 10 games has he delivered a point total within 1 point of that average. Gortat, Lopez and Dragic are like rolling dice. No idea what's going to come out. Each has provided 15+ points in a game as well as a dog.

Good luck, Alvin!

Oh, and save yourself one more ulcer (at least during the game). Keep playing those old guys Nash and Carter their 30+ minutes apiece.


What a difference 10 days can make. The last time the Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks squared off for Amare Stoudemire’s homecoming, Mike D’Antoni’s squad dominated the Suns in every facet of the...

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Vince Carter became the 41st player in NBA history to surpass the 20,000 point mark. Congrats, Vince!  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Vince Carter became the 41st player in NBA history to surpass the 20,000 point mark. Congrats, Vince! (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Vince Carter needed 9 points to hit 20,000 points on his career. He hit that mark in the second quarter...and then kept on going.

In a game that caused a bit of grief for Suns fans everywhere, the boys in purple and orange pulled together what was one of their more impressive wins on the season. After outscoring the Knicks by 9 in the first quarter, everything seemed to be going the Suns way. The offense was clicking, the defense wasn't horrendous, and everyone just looked comfortable. That's when Mike D'Antoni decided he had seen enough.

The Knicks came out firing in the second quarter, eliminating the Suns lead and eventually taking a 3 point lead heading into halftime. For a Suns team that has been notoriously bad in the third quarter this season, it wasn't exactly the type of second quarter we wanted to see. The Suns then came out and shook off their third quarter rust, again outscoring the Knicks by 9. The fourth quarter saw a few runs coming from both teams, but ultimately, it was the Suns standing victorious when the final buzzers sounded.

I'll keep the rest of this relatively short, as being sick with bronchitis and other various maladies doesn't exactly lend itself well to clear thoughts or sentences that make sense. I'll do my best before I crash!

Notable Stats

  • Vince Carter hit his 20,000th and 20,001st points on two free throws in the second quarter. He went on to finish the game with 29 points, 12 rebounds and 4 assists, chipping in 5 3-pointers in the process.
  • Every Suns starter scored in double figures and finished the game with a positive +/-.
  • The Suns outrebounded the Knicks 48-38, grabbing 14 offensive rebounds to the Knicks 10.
  • Steve Nash is averaging 19.2 points, 14.8 assists and 6.0 rebounds per game over the last 5 games. The Suns are winners of 4 games of the last 5 as well.
  • Amar'e Stoudemire scored 41 points, but was limited to 6 rebounds and picked up 5 personal fouls.
  • Hakim Warrick, one of the unsung heroes of the fourth quarter, came off the bench to score 9 points and grab 6 rebounds. Most importantly, he did a great job defensively on Amar'e Stoudemire while still attacking him on the offensive end.

The Suns pulled out a victory in a big way in Madison Square Garden, matching their season high win streak of 3. Coming up next on the schedule are some very winnable games, with the next four of the road trip coming against Cleveland, Washington, Detroit and Philadelphia. Jared Dudley had said before the trip that he expected the team to win four of the five. Vince Carter then chimed in and said that he thinks the team could win all five. After today's win, it's looking more and more likely that if the team keeps up their current efforts, they could very well be on their way to winning all five.

Again, my apologies for not having more for the recap, but let's get this comments section rockin'! I shall be retiring to my bed, hopefully napping this nasty sickness off.

Next on the schedule: @ Cleveland Cavaliers (8-32) on Wednesday, January 19th.


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