BOSTON — Talent vs. hard work is an age-old question, with new school answers. Malcom Gladwell, the moderator of the headline panel at this weekend’s Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, touts a...

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Data Proves Bill Kennedy "Issues" With Suns

Just as we suspected, Bill Kennedy has the greatest negative free throw differential for any NBA crew chief. One other NBA ref name pops up in the research as well.

Also, Scott Howard goes ballistic breaking down the Suns playoff stretch schedule.


The Phoenix Suns did nearly everything physically possible to leave Oklahoma City with their fifth victory in six games on Sunday night. Vince Carter rose from the dead with 29 points, Phoenix...

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Cater was en fuego all game.  (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

I have never, in all my years watching NBA basketball since the 80s, seen a younger team get SO MANY FOUL CALLS while shooting layups.

Unbelievable. I mean, they don't even have to fall down on the shot (like Wade) or yell out "And 1!" (like Amare) or flop like there's no tomorrow (like Manu). All they have to do is take the shot and the ref jumps in there like Uncle Diddles to protect the little shooter.

41 free throws for the Thunder (not including the 6 at the end when the Suns were fouling on purpose) vs. 3 "clean" blocks by the Suns.

11 free throws for the Suns (not including 3 on a 3-pointer) vs. 9 "clean" blocks for the Thunder.

Those Thunder, with the middling defense and laregly unaccomplished players, are AMAZING at getting clean blocks on one end and drawing just enough contact to make the shot and draw the foul on the other end. Kudos to the coaching. (oh, and how's the separated shoulder on that non-foul, Channing?)

That's the story of the game.

But of course, that's not the WHOLE story.

The Suns allowed exactly what I said they COULD NOT do, which was to allow more than 1 guy besides Durant and Westbrook to have career games.

James Harden is a really good player, but the Suns allowed him to have basically the game of his career tonight. 26 points, 6 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 steals. He was all over the court, and just might become the 3rd guy in the NBA's next Big Three. But did it have to start against the Suns?

And then there's Nick Collison. His stat line wasn't incredible (11 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal), but he made a big difference in this game in the middle. When I think of the second half near the basket, on either end, I think of Collison. He's one of those guy you absolutely hate unless he's on your own team.

And now for the Suns' players of the game:

Channing Frye had 15 rebounds before NOT being fouled by Durant while yanking his own shoulder out of its socket on a shot attempt. Nice defense, Kevin. Here's hoping he heals quickly, though I'm skeptical. Dammit. Again, thanks KD.

Steve Nash survived his "down there" pain long enough to tally 11 points and 14 assists. He was mugged on a turnover toward the end of regulation that the refs deemed solid upstanding gang-tackle defense by the Sooners (OKC ball!), but missed a couple gimmees that could have really helped in crunch time. Not bagging on Nash, but I do wish he was healthy.

And then of course there's Vince Carter. Despite his missed free throws at the end, the Suns ARE NO WHERE near that far in the game without Vince Carter hitting some sick, sick shots when the Suns really needed them. He just needed some big-shot help on the court with him and no one stepped up besides Dudley once.

That's enough for me.

Great game, sad finish. But still a 4-2 trip. Go Suns!


Final - 3.6.2011 1 2 3 4 OT 1 Total
Phoenix Suns 28 33 30 18 9 118
Oklahoma City Thunder 25 32 29 23 13 122

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Phoenix Suns' Steve Nash, left, and Grant Hill(33) react to Hill's three pointer against the Milwaukee Bucks in the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March, 4, 2011, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

Is it just me, or are the Thunder spending A LOT more time at the line than the Suns? Hmm?


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