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If the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors were movie characters, The Suns would be Louis Winthorpe III and the Warriors would be Billy Ray Valentine [Joe Lacob and Robert Sarver would be Randolph and Mortimer Duke].

For years, the Suns [Louis] were the crème of the crop. They had superstar point guard who made the game exciting, and all-star power forward who was a double-double machine, a supporting cast that could shoot the lights out, and were a team that would run their opponents into the ground [except for playoff time].

The Warriors [Billy Ray], on the other hand, were a hodgepodge of individualistic players, many of who had questionable character and were certainly disjointed and among the dregs of the league.

Now I am not saying that the owners of both teams somehow conspired to have each team swap places, but it is clearly evident that the Warriors and Suns fortunes have completely switched, and we are suffering the misfortunes of Louis Winthorpe III.

Oh, if only we could kidnap Mr. Beaks and steal that crop report. Anyhoo.

The Suns are coming off Tuesday night’s disappointing win against the Portland Trail Blazers. I use disappointing because they were aggressive, seemed to care and outplayed their opponent. Why is that disappointing? Because they seem to only play that way in every fifth game and they are only ruining their draft position.

Golden State is coming off another loss last night to the Utah Jazz, dropping their sixth in a row and moving them closer to the bubble in the playoff battle. Currently the six seed, the way the Warriors are playing, I cannot foresee them making much noise in the playoffs. Despite these doldrums, the Warriors have a lot to be happy about and are a franchise that is sitting is a relatively good spot, with a great point guard, a solid power forward, a very good center when healthy, and some young wing players that have great potential. Definitely the anti-Suns.

What: Phoenix Suns [18-36, 5th Lottery Standings] vs. Golden State Warriors [30-23, 6th WC]

When: Wednesday, February 20th, 2013, 8:30 PM local time

Where: Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA

Watch/Listen: TV: FSAZ, Radio: 620 KTAR

Head-to-Head: GSW [2] – PHX [GOOSE-EGG]

The first meeting between these two teams was the first game of the season for both, and it showed. Sloppy play and a disinterested Stephen Curry [5 pts, 3 ast, 4 to, 2-14] allowed the Suns to stay in the game and keep it very close until a last second terrible heave by Bassy sealed the deal. When it is the first game of the season and Sebastian Telfair is the go-to for a last second shot to win, you know your season is going to be a long and difficult journey.

Our second matchup with the Warriors was much better. Well, at least for the Warriors, as they coasted to a 113-93 win. Curry decided to show up for that game and it made all the difference in the world [29 pts, 8 ast on 11-20 and 6-10 from 3]. Harrison Barnes chipped in 21 and 8, Klay Thompson had 17, 7 and 7 and David Lee had a double-double with 16 & 12. Meanwhile, Michael Beasley dropped 24 on the Warriors, which would have been a nice game had he not shot 23 times.

Injury Report:

GSW: Brandon Rush (Out)

Phoenix: Channing Frye (Out), Shannon Brown’s Shot Selection [questionable], Michael Beasley’s Hair [Tangled]

What To Watch For:

LOTTERY BALLS:

The most significant thing to watch is the Suns lottery standing. Currently, the Suns sit with a precarious hold on the 5th slot, fighting off Sacramento. The Charlotte Bobcats hold a firm grip on the lead, followed by Washington, Orlando and Cleveland. The Suns need to focus and work hard in order to fend off any wins for the rest of February in order to de-improve [?] in the standings.

Sacramento, only a half-game behind the Suns, has four games remaining in the month with a possibility of picking up two wins. Unfortunately those wins would be against Orlando and the Pelicans, who are only one game in back of the Suns. Cleveland finishes the month of February with a chance to pick up three wins in their five games [against Pelicans, ORL and TOR]. Washington benefits from seeing TOR twice this month, as well as a winnable game against Detroit. Orlando plays six contests and might be able to squeeze out three wins against CLE, CHA and SAC. That CLE vs. ORL game is pivotal.

The Suns February schedule is a cakewalk. They can easily lose all five games, as they face SAN twice, BOS and MIN after tonight’s game. Hopefully they remain focused and take care of all five games. And by “taking care”, I mean losing. But spirited losing, not tanking. I am not an advocate of tanking. I am an advocate of trying really hard and being competitive, but sucking enough to lose. OK, I guess I am for tanking.

Andrew Bogut

Bogut has been handled with care since his return from injury over the past month. Last night was a particularly uneventful one for Bogut, as he played 15 minutes and was 0-4. The Warriors have held him out of back-to-back games and he has been limited to 26 minutes when he has played. However, in those minutes he has been relatively productive, putting up 8.5 points and 8.5 rebounds. This guy is due a big game and the Suns are a good team to have one against. While most would expect me to comment on Curry or Lee, I am predicting a big game out of Bogut.

Jarrett Jack

Jack is quietly putting together a career year [and a contract year at that]. Off the bench averaging about 29 minutes per game, Jack is putting up 13 points and 5.8 assists while shooting 47% from the field and 41% from three point land. Strangely, out best player isn’t doing much better than that [and shooting far worse]. Last night, Jack had 19 pts and 9 assists on 6-11 from the field.

Curry has been getting all the love, but Jack has proven to be probably the best backup point guard in the league [and probably one of the better starting point guards in the league if he started]. Can you say underrated free agent???

Carl Landry

This guy always seems to light us up. Expect no different.

KEY MATCHUP:

Goran Dragic vs. Marcin Gortat

Will Gortat finish a play? Will he bark at Dragic for not getting him the ball? Will Dragic get mad at Gortat for not calling out the picks? Will Dragic finally implode and try to destroy Gortat with a laser like pass to the head? Who knows, but watching these two play together is a joy. Not since Stephon Marbury and [fill in the blank] have I seen two teammates play so well together [with the exception of Kobe/Dwight – that tandem is #1 all-time].

Prediction:

Pain

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When the biggest names in the trade market are marginal stars making big dollars you'd expect the rumors to be both curious and contradictory. We've heard all about Josh Smith and before him Rudy Gay but now as the deadline gets closer it feels like the reality for Suns fan anxious for action is dwindling to a few minor moves unless you think the rumors involving Gortat to the OKC Thunder are worth anything.

Here's a report from ESPN repeating what the Arizona Republic said Tuesday about the Suns lack of interest in Josh Smith.

Atlanta Hawks unliklely to deal Josh Smith to Phoenix Suns - Sources - ESPN

The Phoenix Suns appear to be out of the Josh Smith sweepstakes. According to sources, a potential deal to send Smith from the Atlanta Hawks to the Suns prior to Thursday's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline, is unlikely.

The report goes on to talk about the Suns activity around moving Sebastian Telfair and Jermaine O'Neal. No surprise there. So basically, nothing new to see here.

Links:

- Phoenix Suns trade rumors: Clearing cap space and grabbing at Josh Smith - SBNation.com
The Suns would like to make a splash, and they're definitely active in making calls this trade season. But it will be difficult for them to pull off anything substantial with so few valuable pieces to trade and with the competition to acquire their wanted targets so great.

- Trade Rumors from around the NBA

Postgame video featuring Goran Dragic talking about his career night.
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This week's recording is dominated by discussion of the trades the Suns haven't made, the All-Star game they didn't attend and the games they didn't lose (hooray for time off!). The coming week should be more exciting for the Suns since they are now back to participating in the league in some capacity.

Phoenix Suns Podcast Episode 10

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Nothing more has been made of this rumor, so it may have already died on the vine.

I know that the Phoenix Suns are extremely averse to letting rumors fly of actual, live trade talk, so this may be no more than a one-way pipe dream. Yet this rumor appears heavily in favor of the Suns, despite Perkins having another year on his contract than Gortat while being a much inferior player at this point in their careers.

The Phoenix Suns have always liked rookie Jeremy Lamb, who was drafted one spot ahead of the Suns' #13 selection last June and later used by Houston (along with a guaranteed lottery pick and SG Kevin Martin) to acquire All-Star James Harden.

Lamb is buried on the bench of Finals contender, playing behind Thabo Sefolosha and Kevin Martin, so little is known of his actual NBA game at this point. But he did play well in summer league and preseason, so the promise is there.

Suns fans have begun to lose their love for the Polish Machine, Marcin Gortat, who has displayed inconsistent energy throughout the season to further exacerbate his offensive struggles with the loss of Steve Nash setting him up for easy scores.

But Gortat is one of only a handful of NBA players averaging at least 11 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks on the season and is only a season removed from averaging a double-double in his first season+ of starting in the NBA. Gortat's legs are fresher than his 28 years given that he only started playing basketball in his teens.

Yet Gortat's greatest long-term value to a team like the Thunder is that his contract is a bit cheaper and expires a full year earlier than Perkins, allowing the Thunder to better manage the dreaded luxury tax penalties that kick in soon.

To get the Suns to eat Perkins' contract, the Thunder would have to throw in assets, which Lamb and a future #1 pick would satisfy.

Such is the new world of the NBA. In droves, the "haves" are beginning to seek out teams with cap space, and are being forced to include assets to get another team to help them stay under the luxury tax threshold. The Thunder themselves were pioneers in this world, as Suns fans know all too well, so it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if the Suns got to reap some of those rewards right back.

Poll
Would you trade Gortat and Tucker for Perkins, Lamb and a future (lottery protected) pick?

  782 votes | Results

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