Time: 6 p.m. MST TV: FSAZ The Suns get enough reminders how far the franchise has fallen. Tonight’s visit to Oklahoma City, however, provides the first half of a potential double-slap reminder...

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When: Friday, February 8, 2013, 6:00 PM local time (8:00 EST)

Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK

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


Last Meeting:

The first meeting between the teams this season was in Oklahoma City on December 31, 2012. The Thunder rang in the New Year by ringing the Suns bell 114-96. Oklahoma City used a 30-18 fourth quarter to turn a fairly competitive game into a laugher. Even though the score was close through three quarters, though, it seemed that the Thunder were coasting and then turned on the afterburners.

Russell Westbrook went for 24 points, 7 rebounds, 9 assists and 8 stitches in the game and all-everything teammate Kevin Durant scored 30 points despite PJ Tucker's incessant defense. Luis Scola led the Suns with 24 points and Goran Dragic had 16 points and 8 assists, albeit alongside 5 turnovers.

Team Bios:

Oklahoma City: 37-12

Points per game: 106.2 (1st) Points allowed: 97.4 (15th) -- Full team statistics

The Thunder enter this game having gone just 5-4 over their last nine games, which, ironically enough, is only one game better than the Suns over that stretch. Oklahoma City's recent losses have all been away from the Energy Arena, however, where they are 22-3 on the season. Oklahoma City's last loss at home was on January 2nd against the Brooklyn Nets.

Kevin Durant is having an MVP season. He leads the league in scoring (29.3) and is pacing for a 50/40/90 season while doing so. Durant displays his versatility by also ranking second on the team in rebounds, assists and blocks. Russell Westbrook is Durant's fearless sidekick, ranking in the top 10 in the league in scoring (7th), assists (5th) and steals (4th). Westbook is the only player in the league in the top 10 in those three categories. The next closest is LeBron James, who is no lower than 13th in the same areas.

Durant and Westbrook are truly Thunder Buddies.

Besides the dynamic duo, OKC's roster is filled out with very good complementary players. Serge Ibaka is fourth on the team in scoring (13.8), first in rebounding (8.1) and first in blocks (2.9 - second in the NBA) and Kevin Martin supplies instant offense off the bench and is lights out from three.


Phoenix Suns: 17-33

Points per game: 95.3 (20th) Points allowed: 99.6 (22nd) -- Full team statistics

The Suns are still getting their bearings after a midseason coaching change. Head coach Lindsey Hunter (defense) and lead assistant Igor Kokoskov (offense) are working in concert to educate players on the nuances of new schemes and acclimate the team to rotational changes.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. After a 2-0 start to the "Lindsey Hunter era" of Suns basketball the team has lost five of their last seven games. The mercurial nature of the team is not unprecedented, as the Suns have had many come from behind victories this season. The simple truth is that role players tend to be inconsistent and the Suns consist completely of role players. To illustrate the erratic play, in six of the nine games during Hunter's early tenure the Suns have outscored their opponents by at least ten in the fourth quarter three times (wins) and been outscored in the fourth quarter by at least ten three times (losses). Fickle indeed.

The Suns have allowed 90 points per game in their four wins. In the losses they've allowed 106.6. It's been very hard to gauge which incarnation of the Suns will show up on any given night. What's become readily apparent, though, is that Hunter has made Michael Beasley and rookie Kendall Marshall part of the regular rotation. However, it remains to be seen whether this current trend will crystallize or more permutations are in store in the coming days.


What To Watch For:

The Evolution of Marshall: After playing his best game as a Sun against the Grizzlies, Kendall regressed in an underwhelming performance against the Hornets. That's to be expected for a rookie that's just now getting his first real burn of the season. It's nice to see that Marshall has finally been unleased, though, because if a team can't play their lottery pick during the course of a lost season... well, let's just say it's not good.

Russell Westbrook: For the Suns to have a chance in this game they will need to make Westbrook a volume scorer. If he gets 24 points on 21 shots, mission accomplished. If he gets 24 points on 15 shots it is hard to envision a scenario where the Suns win. The problem is that the Suns don't really appear to have anyone capable of guarding Westbrook in any effective capacity. If Westbrook flounders it may have more to do with Westbrook than the Suns defense.

Stepping Up: Durant and Westbrook have a very high likelihood of stepping up for the Thunder. Even some of their worst games are in line with better than average performances by Suns starters. But who will bring it for the Suns? Beasley and Dragic have been the main culprits lately, but it would be fortuitous for another member of the Suns to have a spectacular performance.


2013 Lottery Watch

The Suns are currently in 7th place (by virtue of holding the tie breaker against the Kings) in the race for the #1 seed in the lottery. Currently, seeds 4-9 are only separated by 2.5 games.

The Lakers are still on the outside looking in and trail the Rockets by 3.5 games after a 116-95 loss last night at Boston. The Lakers 13th pick would be transferred to the Suns if the season ended today.

Tonight's Games of Interest:

Nets (29-20) @ Wizards (13-35)

Lakers (23-27) @ Bobcats (11-37)

Raptors (17-32) @ Pacers (31-19)

Hornets (16-33) @ Hawks (27-21)

Spurs (39-11) @ Pistons (18-32)

Magic (14-35) @ Cavaliers (15-34)


The Final Word(s):

A win will easily be the Suns best victory of the season. A loss will improve lottery seeding. The game provides Suns fans the opportunity to see their team match up against two of the most salient stars in the NBA. The early start time allows locals to hit the town after the game. I'm doing game coverage.

What a perfect storm of perfectness. A storm where the Suns hope to bring the thunder.


Goran Dragic was having what can kindly be described as a forgettable game in Memphis on Tuesday. Through 3 quarters, Dragic had scored just two points. However, after a 17-point first half by Marcin Gortat, the Suns were still hanging around at the end of the third quarter, trailing 71-65.

The Suns started out well in the fourth quarter and cut the deficit in half at 77-74 with just under seven-and-a-half minutes remaining. At that point, the Dragon emerged, and much havoc did he wreak. The Suns' point guard scored or assisted on the next 20 points before a pair of Gortat free throws sealed a 96-90 victory. Let's take a look at how he pulled the run off.

7:15 Mark, 77-74 MEM

Dragic actually got himself going on the defensive end, stealing the ball and taking it all the way to the basket for the first of his three and-one plays.


Above you can see Dragic reading the pass and breaking on the ball. He gets a hand in there, knocks the ball away, tracks it down and takes it down the court.


Dragic gets all the way to the basket, goes up for the layup, gets hit by Jerryd Bayless and still manages to finish the play. He sinks the free throw, and it's a whole new ball game.

6:40 Mark, 77-77

This play didn't result in a bucket for the Suns, but it should have been an assist as Dragic created a wide-open look for Markieff Morris.

Kendall Marshall brings the ball down and passes it off to Morris near the top of the key. Morris gives it up to Dragic on the left wing, and he takes it to the rim, completely collapsing the defense. Dragic kicks it out to Morris for the wide-open 3-pointer, which unfortunately rims out.

Good play by Dragic, but the shot just didn't go down.

6:00 Mark, 79-77 MEM

Memphis scored to retake the lead, but Dragic answered with his second three-point play on another tough layup.

Marshall again brings the ball down the court as Dragic sets up on the baseline. Dragic runs off a down screen and flashes to the top of the key, receiving the ball from Marshall.


As soon as Dragic gets the ball, he looks to attack and runs off a screen by Morris.


Memphis hedges the screen, but Dragic gets around it, past two more defenders and all the way into the paint.


Dragic elevates and finishes through the contact, completing the 3-point play at the charity stripe and giving the Sun the lead.

5:20 Mark, 82-80 MEM

Dragic created another open 3-pointer on this play, only this time Marshall was able to connect.

Marshall brings the ball down before giving it up to Dragic. Dragic runs a pick-and-roll with Gortat, and Memphis looks to trap him hard with both Conley and Zach Randolph jumping at him.


Gortat rolls right down the middle of the lane, forcing the weak side wing, Bayless, to leave Marshall and rotate over to Gortat.


Dragic hits the wide-open Marshall on the wing, and he fires away before Bayless can recover and properly contest the shot. The ball goes down smooth as butter, and the Suns retake the lead.

4:50 Mark, 83-82 PHX

Following a stop, the Suns are able to add onto their lead with Dragic's third and final and-one of the quarter.

Marshall brings the ball down and hands it off to Dragic on the right wing, where Gortat comes up to set a screen.


Dragic attacks off the solid Gortat screen, forcing the switch.


Dragic takes it strong into the paint, and draws the reach-in by Tayshaun Prince and the bump by Darrell Arthur (foul charged to Prince).


Dragic bounces off the contact but is strong enough to maintain his balance and get a shot off, which he made. The continuation was awarded and he finished the play at the free-throw line.

4:25 Mark, 86-86 PHX

This play was a near miss, as Dragic beat his man but Marshall missed him.


Marshall runs a high pick-and-roll with Dragic in the strong side corner. Dragic steps toward the ball, then cuts backdoor, fooling his man and getting a step on him. Unfortunately, Randolph jumped at Marshall and he got a little excited, passing too soon and way off target for a turnover.

3:30 Mark, 86-86

Dragic loves the spin move, and he used it on this play masterfully to get Jermaine O'Neal an easy dunk.

Dragic pushed the ball up the court in transition as he is wont to do, and although he didn't have numbers he apparently didn't feel like he needed them and kept attacking the basket.


Arthur appears to cut off his path to the basket, but it takes more than that to stop a Dragon. He spins back to his left, splitting Arthur and Bayless.


Surrounded by three Grizzlies, Dragic makes the smart play and dumps it off for O'Neal, who is rolling down the lane.


And boom goes the the dynamite. A dazzling dime by Dragic.

2:25 Mark, 88-86 PHX

This was really the only time the Grizzlies stopped Dragic all quarter. He sets up a pick-and-roll, but this time Memphis is successful with the hedge. However, Dragic attacks anyway, looking for the foul, and puts up a terrible shot attempt. No call.

1:35 Mark, 88-88

This was the ridiculous play where Dragic used a series of pivots and fakes until Memphis stopped defending him.


Dragic takes the hand-off from Gortat at the high post and curls off him, using the big man to set a screen.


Dragic tries to drive, but Arthur steps in front of him and forces him to pick up his dribble. At this point, it looks like the play is dead and he has nowhere to go.


Instead of trying to pass it back out, Goran uses a pump fake to get Conley in the air. However, Arthur is still between him and the basket.


Conley recovers and Arthur is still there, so Goran fakes a pass out to the perimeter, tricking the Grizzlies into relaxing a bit.


Goran turns back towards the basket after the fake and finds himself wide open, as Conley is still above him and Arthur inexplicably decided Gortat in the corner was a bigger threat than Dragic was eight feet from the basket.


So with the big man no longer blocking his path, Dragic elevates and finishes for two.

This was an incredible display of balance and patience by Dragic. I think I may have even missed a fake or two (tough to screen cap every one). And he did in fact keep his pivot foot down the whole time, so no travel.

1:00 Mark, 90-88 PHX

On this trip down the court, Dragic used a couple screen and got knocked down as the big man tried to get out and hedge. The Suns were in the bonus, and Dragic knocked them both down.

0:45 Mark, 92-88 PHX

Dragic ended his run with a killer cross-over and pull-up jumper.


Dragic dribbles some time off the clock before getting into his move. He starts heading to his left hand, hesitates for a second, then...


He blows by Conley with a sick crossover.


Even better, after the crossover Dragic ran Conley off an O'Neal screen, completely freeing him to pull up for the open elbow jumper. Buckets.


That last jumper concluded a 15-point, 2 assist quarter for Dragic that I'm sure induced several flashbacks to the 2010 playoff series against San Antonio. It was a masterful performance by Dragic, one in which he did almost everything right. Marshall may have brought the ball down the court the majority of the time, but Dragic was the one running the point on offense and making things happen. Dragic was unstoppable on and off the ball, and he carried the Suns to victory.

It's unlikely that we're going to see anything like this again in the near future, but let's hope Dragic can carry some momentum over into this weekend (again, let's ignore that game against the Pelicans). We're going to need him to channel his inner Dragon all game long to have any shot in this home and home against Oklahoma City.


While we have a kick-ass writing staff here at BSotS, we have come to a point in the season that folks' real-life schedules are really getting in the way of covering mid week road games for the Suns.

Kris Habbas and I have the home games covered, but the roadies are up in the air. I know lots of you watch every minute of every game, even the road games on a weeknight, and it bothers me when we don't have good coverage on the site to give you a good place to go.

Ever wanted to see your name in big, bold italic font on the front page of BSotS?

Ever wanted your words to be read by hundreds, even thousands of Suns fans?

Well, your dream is about to come true!

We need help covering road games the rest of the season, especially those played on a weeknight.

Seth lives on the East Coast, so roadies are late for him. Jim Coughenour goes to night school, doesn't get home till 10pm during the week. Jacob is in college. Sean and Jason have full time jobs and family obligations. Kris has 15 other part-time jobs outside BSotS that take up nights the Suns aren't at home.

And me, I am too old to stay up so late every night unless I'm at the game itself. Plus, I've got a wife who gives me a dirty look if I'm buried in my computer while making her watch a Suns game too many nights in a row.

So who's with me?

We need you!

Who wants to sign up to write a preview, manage the gamethread and write a recap for a road game or two?


It's bad enough that not one Phoenix Suns player was invited to participate in All-Star weekend festivities. In fact, only one player on the current Suns roster has EVER been named to an All-Star team: 17th year backup center Jermaine O'Neal.

In two of the past three seasons, the Suns have not sent a single player to represent the team in any activity, this after 10 straight seasons of at least one invitation in some form.

The Suns current roster does boast 4 different 'Rising Stars' participants (Wesley Johnson, Markieff Morris, Michael Beasley, Luis Scola) in the last 5 years, selected for being one of the top first- or second-year players in the game that year.

Yet is it worse that none of the Suns' former players are All-Stars either? None of Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire, Joe Johnson or Shawn Marion were picked for the big game or any peripheral event either.

Here is the history of Phoenix Suns players participating in All-Star weekend (current Suns' past attendance in parentheses).




All-Star: Steve Nash

Rookie/Soph Star: Markieff Morris



*Rookie/Soph Star: Wesley Johnson (Minnesota)


All-Star: Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire

Skills Challenge: Steve Nash

3-Point Shootout: Channing Frye

*Rookie/Soph Star: Michael Beasley (Miami)


All-Star: Shaquille O'Neal, Amare Stoudemire

*Rookie/Soph Star: Michael Beasley (Miami), Luis Scola (Houston)


All-Star: Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire

3-Point Shootout: Steve Nash

*Rookie/Soph Star: Luis Scola (Houston)


All-Star: Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire, Shawn Marion

*All-Star: Jermaine O'Neal (Indiana)


All-Star: Steve Nash, Shawn Marion

*Rookie/Soph Star: Channing Frye (Knicks)

*All-Star: Jermaine O'Neal (Indiana)


All-Star: Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire, Shawn Marion

Shooting Star: Shawn Marion

Skills Challenge: Steve Nash

Slam Dunk: Amare Stoudemire

Rookie/Soph Star: Amare Stoudemire

3-Point Shootout: Quentin Richardson, Joe Johnson

*All-Star: Jermaine O'Neal (Indiana)


Rookie/Soph Star: Amare Stoudemire

*All-Star: Jermaine O'Neal (Indiana)


All-Star: Stephon Marbury, Shawn Marion

Slam Dunk: Amare Stoudemire

*All-Star: Jermaine O'Neal (Indiana)


Rookie/Soph Star: Joe Johnson

*All-Star: Jermaine O'Neal (Indiana)


All-Star Game: Jason Kidd

Rookie/Soph Star: Shawn Marion


All-Star Game: Jason Kidd

Rookie/Soph Star: Shawn Marion

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