Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) gets a shot off and is fouled by Phoenix Suns' Jared Dudley (3) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011. (AP Photo/Thearon Henderson)

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7 days ago: Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) gets a shot off and is fouled by Phoenix Suns' Jared Dudley (3) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011. (AP Photo/Thearon Henderson)

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Coming into the game it was the Sacramento Kings who had the reputation of being a young team who has trouble closing out games in the final 5 minutes.  But tonight, to start out the new year - the Suns decided to trade places with the Kings and mount a collapse of monumental proportions.

Defense?  Yeah they played pretty good defense for about 3 quarters - and yes the Suns held the Kings to under 99 points, but I think if I go to Jack in the Box to get my free tacos, I might very well barf them up after what I saw tonight.

So what happened?  DeMarcus Cousins happened.  Poo-Jeter Happened. Kings rebounding happened.  Suns sucking happened.  If you really want to torture yourself and relive this game with me... Jump it fools.

Ride this Roller-Coaster with Me.

1st Quarter

The Suns defense was really good in the first quarter.   The Suns for the second game in a row held an opponent to under 20 points (14 to Detroit, then only 17 to Sacramento).   Everyone was active, rotating quickly, communicating, and filling the lanes with flailing arms and sliding bodies.  The one negative was the foul disparity.  After one quarter, the Suns had 4 guys with 2 fouls each.  The whistle was being blown loud and often.  Both Robin, Hill, Carter got into early foul trouble - then Dudley came in and picked up 2 quick ones - which lead Alvin to put Childress in for some PT (see it's not a horrible problem to have too many wings, especially when the Sacramento freaking Kings are being treated like the Los Angeles Lakers by the Refs).  The Suns led 27-17 after 12 minutes of play - things were looking really good.

2nd Quarter

And then the 2nd quarter and the 2nd unit happened.  The Kings started the 2nd quarter on a 18-4 run, and the defense didn't look so good.  As much as the defense was looking lost - the Suns offense looked worse.  They started 1 for 10, the only bucket coming from Vince Carter who was sent back in by Alvin Gentry after a frustration time-out.  The whistles continued to blow.  I guess since there was extra air in the arena (a lot of empty seats) the refs where still feeling the holiday spirit and wanted to gift the Kings some free-throws.  Half-way through the quarter it looked like I was going to have a mood swing and start to hate life and having to write this recap.  But then guess what - Nash, Hill and Pietrus came back into the line-up and immediately the defense and offense picked up.  As Paul Coro put it,


OUCH.  Oh the ups-and-downs of inconsistency.  After having a great game against the Pistons and playing extended minutes, the heart of the bench mob (Goran, Frye, Dudley) couldn't make a first half appearance.  We've talked about it before, especially with Goran and Channing - they are pretty emotional players, when they get rattled it shows.  With that being said I don't doubt some of their 1st half 'no-show' stems from their frustration with the ticky-tacky fouls they were being called for left and right.  Add to that Frye is a streaky shooter by nature and clanked 0-4 and his confidence just wasn't there.

On the positive - Nash was your first half MVP - he totaled 10 points and 8 assists and was the obvious reason the Suns were able to counter the early 2nd quarter run by the Kings.  The timing, spacing and chemistry between Gortat and Nash is improving rapidly - they ran the pick and roll with ease to end the half and quickly Gortat had 11 points and added yet another double-digit scoring effort to his Suns resume.

Despite a short scare to start the 2nd, the Suns regained the lead, the command of the game, held the Kings to under 30% shooting and overall had a good defensive showing.


So I was all like, aight - aight we got this.  Feeling good about the Nash and Gortat Pick and Roll and about the Suns defense, I was enjoying the game thread and reading my Suns Twitter feed when all of a sudden I saw this pop up,


I was confused.  Hey Scott - there's a Suns game on FYI.  Hey Scott, keep the football Twit-fodder to a minimum during the basketball game. kthxbye.

3rd Quarter

Here we go again - I feel like I've written this kind of recap before.  Deja vu? This time it was the starters turn to take a break on defense.  Take a break they did indeed.  The Kings came out of the Half-time tea-party with fire and cut deeply into the lead while the Suns struggled to score.  The same pick and roll that Nash was having success with to end the first half came up empty time after time again. Why?  Because his roll partner was Robin Lopez.  And?  Robin Lopez forgot how to roll.  He settled for rise-up jump shots and fade-aways and he couldn't hit anything. 

So wait, you're telling me that when Nash and Gortat run the pick and roll,  Gortat actually rolls to the basket - gets the ball and either gets fouled or scores?

Yeah man.  That's how the pick and roll usually works. Earth to Robin - if you're not gonna roll you better make sure you're hitting that jumper, cause if not - you're going to get yanked quick.  Again (which happened).  On another Robin note - he played the first half with naked legs, then coming into the 3rd quarter he all of a sudden had a brace on his left knee.   That kind of evidences our health suspicion with him - maybe he really is feeling hurt and that's why he's not rolling hard to the basket and elevating for nasty dunks.

Needless to say - with Gortat in, the Kings defense was forced to collapse (or foul) which opened the floor for everyone and the Suns once again took control of the game.

Goran never returned in the 3rd and through 3 Nash had already logged 30 minutes of playing time.  THAT = NO BUENO.  But hey, Nash played limited minutes in the last game right? Or maybe like Tom Leander suggested, he was showing off for his girls?


REALITY CHECK - no, the answer is no - Goran needs to play better.  The Bench needs to play better. 

4th Quarter

Goran Dragic: "Hey Eutychus, you want for me to play the ball better?  No problem."

Bam, ask and ye shall receive.   

The Suns came out in the fourth quarter with a line-up of:

Dragic - Carter - Dudley - Frye - Gortat

Their defensive intensity was high and they forced 2 quick turnovers but only scored once off those TO's on a Double D's fast break (Dragic to Dudley).  The spacing was improved and Goran and Gortat were able to run the pick and roll for what seems like the first time for minimum success. Nothing too flashy or impressive from Dragic - but definitely an improvement from the first half.

Nash returned with a 10 point lead and Alvin Gentry wanted the team to go for the jugular. The 'hit-team' was basically all the starters minus Robin Lopez, add Marcin Gortat.

Tony 'Two-time' :  "So uh, Euty - how'd it go eh?  You know?  The job? Did they wack 'em good"

Um, well you see Tony... not really.  Actually the Kings went on a huge run after Paul Westphal went against reason and benched the reigning Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans and inserted the high powered suppository and offensive laxative in poo-Jeter.  He pushed the pace and eventually the Kings destroyed the lead.  All of a sudden - it looked like it was the Suns who had the reputation of not being able to finish the game in the last 5 minutes (that was the Kings' scouting report). Here's how it went down...


With 25 seconds to go - the game still tied, Dragic_is_Magic's 2nd tier love aura entered into her TV - traveled through the inter-time-space-continuum - catapulted through an electrical outlet in the ARCO arena in Sacramento and filled the flowing hair of one Omri Casspi who cold-bloodedly nailed a three-pointer.  Kings up 3.  The arena exploded with energy and suddenly the 54 fans who were in attendance sounded like a super-bowl stadium.  The Kings defensive energy intensified.  The Suns looked like they were in shock.   We had a shot though - all we needed was a sure-fire bucket or last resort, a good look at a three to tie it up.  Commence the in-bound... Witness the FAIL.

The Suns shamefully collapsed.  The Kings 4th quarter resurgence and intensified crowd participation launched the confidence of the young squad through the roof.  Behind DeMarcus Cousins' 28 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists, the Kings mounted a 19-2 run to end the game.   I'm figuratively crying as I write this.  I can't think of anything Bright-side-ish to spin the end of this game with... maybe give me some time and I'll conjure up some sort of excuse. 

It will be impossible for the Suns to win a game if we can't get consistent production from role players and if we let the opposing team pretty much DOUBLE our rebounding total.  The Kings ended the game with 60 rebounds, while the Suns only tallied 32.  And 40% from the field... a Phoenix Suns team?  That's pretty pathetic for a team that usually totes the league's best offense.  Not tonight.  

While I might have been able to shoot my pretend finger-guns at the referees and blame them for some of the discombobulation in the first half - there is no excuse for how the Suns defensive and offensive lapses in the 2nd half cost them the game. It was a pressure, or a 'clutch-time' failure.   We should have won this game. #realtalk.

I hate you poo-Jeter.

Since I was planning on releasing the 2nd edition of the Eutychus weekly recap rap tomorrow - I think I might delay it's release by a couple days (don't worry - it will come), because all I want to do right now is hop on my XBOX, pop in some Call of Duty and shoot as many people in the face as I can until my eyes are heavy and sleep is the only other option for my frazzled brain.

PHX vs. SAC Overflow Thread


Jim Urquhart - AP

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Yo Cronies!  Let's get this party started!

Here's to pouncing on the worst team in the league tonight. Cheers.  (Kings - 6-24)


Garret Siler Assigned To D-League Iowa Energy By Suns - SB Nation Arizona
The Phoenix Suns have been working hard with Garret Siler to improve his fitness and overall game play. It is next to impossible however, for Siler to show any of that in live NBA action now that the Suns have a healthy Robin Lopez and Marcin Gortat on the roster.

Kings 94, Suns 89 As long as Kings point guard Tyreke Evans isn’t hitting half court shots, the Suns should be able to make it two straight wins Sunday night. It literally doesn’t get...

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Goran Dragic and Kings' Beno Udrih, Slovenians UNITE!  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

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Goran Dragic and Kings' Beno Udrih, Slovenians UNITE! (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

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2011 eh?  So let's start over.  The calendar says so.  Besides that, we've had a lot of excuses so far as to why our 2010 Western Conference Finals-worthy team is only 14-17 after 31 games this season.  We lost Amare Stoudemire, we lost Lou Amundson, Robin Lopez got injured, we had a ton of new guys learning our system to start the year... then we traded Jason Richardson... and then we had more new guys that needed to fit in - and I'm already tired of just remembering all these excuses.  So let's just start over. There is plenty of time left in the season to right the ship - win games, peak our team performance and make a playoff run. 

You could say (and I will) that the Suns were thinking exactly along those lines judging by the way they finished 2010.  They punked the Detroit Pistons with actual defense and much anticipated bench production AND broke a 4 game losing streak with a 92-75 win. The Suns as a franchise are now 62-0 when they hold an opponent below 80 points... I'm just sayin', more "D" please.  Read more about that game here and here. Do it.

Now the Suns are in Sacramento to face the Kings and Tyreke Evans and start 2011 off the right way.  With a "W".  But still there are questions: Who will Gentry start since Sacramento is a bigger team than Detroit?  Why are Warrick and Childress not playing?  How are the new additions fitting in so far?   What does Vince Carter eat on the team plane?  I will have the amazing answers to all of those questions - all you have to do is JUMP IT FOOLS!

So Eutychus, who will Alvin Gentry start since the Kings are a bigger and better team than the Pistons - certainly we can't have Pietrus at the PF?

Per Paul Coro, again Alvin Gentry and the Suns will start Pietrus at the PF.  If something works - why fix it.... Then again it might have something to do with the small line-up the Kings have been using lately.

Starting Matchups:

Steve Nash - - - - - - - Beno Udrih

Vince Carter - - - - - - Tyreke Evans

Grant Hill - - - - - - - - Fransisco Garcia

Mickael Pietrus - - - - Carl Landry / Jason Thompson

Robin Lopez - - - - - - DeMarcus Cousins

Bam.  You got Questions?  I've got answers.

Okay, but Eutychus - can you tell me why exactly Hakim Warrick and Josh Childress aren't playing?

I'm glad you asked, because I was bringing in the new year on Twitter and my good friend Paul Coro again came through big with some intel.


Warrick - as has been obvious to most readers, is having a tough time keeping his energy high on the defensive end of things.  Maybe in practice as well but I can't say with certainty because I don't know.  We all know he can keep the energy on offense, but that's not hard when you're spoon fed like an infant a la Steve Nash.

Childress - Who's minutes are you going to cut to get him in?   Let's see...

Grant HIll?  You mean, the guy who's about to appear in his 900th career game tonight in Sacramento? The guy who is currently 1 of only 5 NBA players in history to average 14 or more points at the age of 38 or older, joining the likes of Kareem, MJ, Karl Malone, Reggie Miller and Robert Parrish?  The man who is undoubtedly as much the heart and soul of this team as Steve Nash is?  The dude that without question will guard anyone in the league AND do a good job at it?  I don't think so.

Okay, how about Jared Dudley?  You mean, the guy who's been basically the team's leading scorer off the bench since Jason Richardson left?  He's had 7 scoring games of 19 or more points his entire career, THREE IN THE LAST 11 DAYS.  The same Dudley who's found his World's Most Athletic Hands from 2009-10 again?  I don't think so - "MAN ON FIRE" [slurping Scott Williams voice]

Equally - Vince Carter and Mickael Pietrus are playing very well, and like Coro mentions - Alvin said he would be shortening the rotations.   Does that mean Warrick and Childress will be logging Earl Clark bench time?  HECK NO. Again like Gentry has said,  a lot will depend on which teams we are playing and who's style fits better.  For example - I am expecting to see Hakim Warrick play some quality minutes against the Kings - for one, because the last time we played the Kings Hak went off for 18 in minimal minutes and had a field day flying high above the likes of Landry, Greene and Casspi. Also, the last time Hakim played - he really did show some improved effort on the defensive end IMO.

Wow Eutychus, great answers... But I'm still wondering how our new additions are fitting in after a week and a half of 'gel-time'?

That's a wonderful question with a wonderful answer.  Wonderful.  The new additions are pretty much fitting right in exactly as we had planned.  :)  Vince Carter has scored 18 or more in both of his games as a member of the Suns and indeed is providing some of the offense we were missing after losing Jason Richardson.  Pietrus has scored 10 points or more in the last 3 games and his defense is very much a noticeable improvement on the perimeter and chasing shooters on rotations.  Gortat, despite being posterized and abused by Blake Griffin has also shown great defensive ability and agility as well as posting 2 double-digit scoring efforts in 4 games as a Sun (he had only 2 of those in 23 games as a member of the Magic)

Alright Euty, you think you know everything huh?  Well I bet you can't tell me what Vince Carter snacks on during poker games on the team plane?  Heh?  Try that one on for size tough guy!

Too easy.  The fool eats Mrs. Fields cookies and enjoys them with a tall glass of 2% Milk.


Okay, so I don't know about the milk... but I do know about the cookies thanks to @JaredDudley619 on Twitter.  The caption was this,


So maybe the real question is this.  Is Vince Carter all talk?  Because I remember without a doubt that during his press conference he said he was going to find out what Grant Hill was doing and do the same.  Well guess what Vince?  Grant Hill doesn't eat cookies.  And Grant Hill would be very disappointed.  We'll keep close tabs on this new developing cookie drama.

FINE.  You DO know everything.  Well, tell me who's going to win tonight - the Kings or the Suns?

Tricky Tricky. I say the team who plays the better defense and scores the most points. Will Hill defend Tyreke Evans again or can Vince hold his own against the young buck?  Either way I'm excited to see that Grant has some defensive help from both Pietrus and Carter.  Will Landry have his usual way with the Suns (which is almost always a double-double with 7654 frustrating offensive rebounds) now that we can have Lopez or Gortat guarding the rim and pulling down rebounds all game long?  We'll see. 

I'm just looking forward to hearing Scott Williams say Poo-Jeter.  No doubt he's been writing some awesome one liners he'll lather into the broadcast.

Also - keep an eye on DeMarcus Cousins.  The rookie has shown some great promise... but also he's shown some explosive character issues.  It could always get interesting with his temper.  You never know - Grant Hill has been getting under some skin lately with his awesomeness, it's (his awesomeness) just been so big and bumping into everyone lately.

Anyways - here's to another Suns win and continued improvement. Remember - it's still going to take some time. Just like your New Years resolution to lose 20 pounds - it all won't happen at once.  Happy New Years guys!

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