The Phoenix Suns front office is an enigmatic, easy to dislike group. They have been very quiet this season, and most of the public statements they've made haven't given us fans much to sink our teeth into as far as the direction of this franchise that has been in the process of rebuilding for um, heck when did rebuilding start? When D'Antoni left and was replaced by Porter? When Marion was traded for Shaq? When Kerr and Co. left? When Amare left?
The hallmark of any frugal sports franchise is the low risk-high reward signing. While it sounds kind of technical in a sense, it's pretty easy to identify. Take Michael Redd as an example. Once, a former NBA All-Star with the Milwaukee Bucks, Redd shredded his ACL and MCL not once but twice. After finishing up a 6 year $91 million dollar deal with the Bucks, Redd faced a very long road back to his former self. Once he was healthy enough to garner offers from various teams, he chose the Phoenix Suns.
Thanks to father time and the Aaron Nelson posse of medical magicians, Redd has prospered at the perfect stretch of the Suns season.
If anyone knows something about rebounding from injuries, it is Steve Nash, who spoke of Redd: "He's turning the corner...We're seeing more consistent basketball out of Mike because his body is getting better and better. I just feel excited for him. He feels better every night and he can do the things he's accustomed to doing."
The Suns have struggled for offense sporadically all season, especially in the second unit. Redd's resurgence has been unexpected and well-timed. If the Suns make the playoffs, it will be in part due to Redd getting healthy and producing at a down the stretch. Perhaps the suits upstairs deserve a pat on the back for this one.
Redd, 32, has scored at least 15 points in four consecutive games for the first time since January 2009, which was before his first ACL tear. He has averaged 18.3 points off the bench and become the bench's go-to player. The four games came over five nights, showing that his knee is holding up just fine 40 games later.
What is going on with the Dallas Mavericks? Suddenly they are just barely in the seventh spot and in real danger of falling out of the playoff race. They've lost four of their last six games and are just one game ahead of the Phoenix Suns in the loss column.
Are the Mavs really catch-able? It's hard to believe, but theoretically possible. Other teams the Suns are chasing are falling back as well except for those pesky Houston Rockets with their pesky little Slovenian Point Guard Who Shan't Be Named (because naming Goran Dragic just dredges up memories or a horrible, horrible trade which, as Paul Coro pointed out, also cost a chance at Jordan Hamilton).
On Sunday, the Rockets took care of the Kings and have Kyle Lowry back. The Jazz fell to the Spurs and get to play them again on Monday. Go Spurs! (ugh).
Last week, the Suns had a tough stretch. They went 3-1 and are seriously pissed they blew that game in Denver. This week is another tough one with the T-Wolves, Grizzlies, Rockets and Spurs. If they go 3-1 again, they will make the playoffs. Book it.
Also, major props to the Arizona Diamondbacks for starting their season with a SWEEP over the S.F. Giants, including another comeback win on Sunday when they battled back from a 6-0 deficit.
NBA Western Conference Standings via NBA.com
Houston Rockets (31-25, 6th) BEAT Sacramento Kings (19-38, Dead)
Lowry Returns, Rockets Stumble to Blowout Win In Sacramento - The Dream Shake
Let me repeat, Kyle Lowry is back. Never have I been happier to be wrong about a prognostication. I thought Lowry would miss the rest of the season, yet here he is. He lost 15-20 lbs while he was sick, yet he remains a badass. He looks too thin, though, not enough like an NFL safety. I suggest he visits Voodoo Donuts and orders a few maple and bacon specials when in Portland. It's near the hotel and open all night.
Jazz Vs. Spurs Post Game Thread: Maybe we can doo eet . . . tomorrow? - SLC Dunk
Blech. Where to start? The Spurs shot over 50 fg%, we shot barely 44 fg%. The Spurs shot 43 free throws, and missed only 5. We shot 26 and missed 10. Daniel Green had half as many blocks as our entire team. Tony Parker was too quick. Manu Ginobili was off of his shot, but still went to the line 15 times (that's a month for Al Jefferson). And well, Tim Duncan was still the old master with yet another double double, 3 block, and the win, night against the Jazz.
Stay tuned for Suns vs. Timberwolves tonight.
Living here in Warriors country and having several Warriors fan friends, I keep tabs on the team over at Golden State of Mind. Virtually every front page piece over there for the last few weeks has centered around the idea of tanking. While the Suns would stand to possibly gain a spot or two in the draft by losing more games down the stretch, the Warriors will lose their first rounder altogether if it falls outside of the top 7 after the draft lottery due to a disastrous trade for Marcus Williams in 2008.
It's easy to understand why their fans are enthusiastically embracing the tanking strategy. Would have been nice if they had been tanking when they played the Suns, as they beat us two out of three times after the Suns swept them last season, but at least the Warriors did us a solid by knocking off the Nuggets last night, and have a chance to help us more since they play them again tomorrow.
The Suns currently sit at one game behind the Nuggets' 8th spot, but the Nuggets would hold the tie-breaker since they have already beaten the Suns twice. The Mavericks slipped to 7th after their loss to the Grizzlies, and the Suns are only a game-and-a-half behind them.
On Continuing To Compete:
"I've been saying we are going to continue to play hard until the final game is over. We have a team that gets along well, a team that has great chemistry and we are going to continue to scrap. We are under-manned right now, we love to going out there and competing and we are going to continue to do that until the last game."
On Team's Balanced Scoring:
"They were helping out a lot on me especially in the second half. I don't think I attempted a shot in the third quarter. Guys picked it up for me. Klay (Thompson) hit some shots, (Brandon) Rush hit some shots and I think Dom (Dominic McGuire) played an unbelievable game tonight on both ends like usual. It was an all-around game tonight and I was really really happy with the way the team played."
(On the Standings) "We're now eighth or ninth [ed. note: actually 7th], so we've got to fight. We've got to battle and win some games."
(On the Mavs) "We've all got to play well, I think that’s obvious if we want to do something to make the playoffs or do some damage in the playoffs. We all have to play at a high level. That’s what we did last year, we picked up some momentum, had everybody play well, defense and rebound. On offense, everybody shared the ball and played well together.
(On how to work The Farm - Alltogethernow) "That’s the only way we’re going to be able to do it this year. It’s not going to be one guy, it’s not going to be two guys. If we want to win, ultimately we’ve go to do it together and have everyone play at a high level. That’s the only way."
(On Lamar Odom's perfomance) "I'm done talking about that."
The Portland Trail Blazers kept up with the high-scoring Bucks for a while, but ran out of energy when Milwaukee got defensive in the second half, eventually losing by a non-representative 22 points. As a fan, this is just one of those losses that you shrug and accept after a big win last night, and move on to the next game.