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Well with a three day break at the beginning of a week just coming off of a Thanksgiving holiday, not having a Suns game to tune into at night has made returning to work as usual even that much more difficult.  

I don't know about you - but I'm tired of hearing all this jibber-jabber about trust/communication/defense/rebounding and gellin' like a felon.  The time for talk is over.  It's ‘go' time.  Time to put your money where your mouth is.  Put your ‘game-face' on and go to war.  Man-up and grow some -  you get the idea. 

Redunkulous clichés aside, we are all waiting eagerly to see the fruits of this recent abundance of extra focus on defense.   It's been written on the wall... about a bajillion times - defense and rebounding.  I could think of only a few better teams to put that to the test against besides the Golden State Warriors who we will face up tonight.

You wanna test your dribble penetration and avoid giving up a zillion AND 1's?  How about we bring in my boys Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry.  You wanna test your cajones on the glass homes?  Meet my little friends David Lee, Andris Biedrins and Looooouuuuu Amundson!  Okay, so Lou might be sidelined still and we're getting lucky since Brandan Wright is questionable for the game tonight, but for everything else I think you need to know about the game - jump it fools.

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So which defense will show up tonight?  Will be broken like it was Sunday night in Denver?  Where despite the season's best offensive performance with 133 points on 51% shooting outscoring the Nuggs 60-48 in the paint (whoduthunk), the Suns managed to crap out their worst defensive performance as well against a Carmelo-less squad.  How's that for bi-polarity?      

Now I'm done ranting about the disappointing D because you all know we've beat that horse to death, and in fact - you all know I'm still a big believer that this team will make the proper adjustments necessary to right the ship.  Let's move back to the bright side.

Match-ups

Now the official game notes still have Hedo in the starting line-up, and to be honest I've heard Hak will start again so let me know if anyone hears an official word out there.  Also - we'll see what happens with Grant Hill's infected toe, dude is a gladiator so I'm sure he'll play.

Nash v. Curry - Always a treat to watch Nash school one of the best young PG's in the game, conversely it's always a treat to watch Steph Curry period.

JRich v. Ellis - Two guys that know how to score in spectacular fashion.  I'm expecting Ellis to have AT LEAST 10 FTA tonight if not somewhere around 40,000.   But still Rich ‘the Man' and the team's leading scorer and despite a slow start on Sunday was still able to drop a 39 and 10 bomb on Denver's guards.  In the horribly mumbled and easy to ignore words of Scott Williams, "He is a man on fire - you know - like that Denzel Washington Movie..."  Cool Scott, yeah.

Hill v. Wright - Hill has been playing out of his mind as of late and has been doing a little bit of everything, especially the type of everything that includes guarding everyone.  Get it? Again tonight he'll start out guarding Wright who's hot and cold but in the Warriors last game was definitely hot (pause) and dropped 30 points.   I think it's safe to assume that if we are going to see anyone step up and take all the ‘defense' talk to heart it will be made manifest in a Grant Hill display of passion.  If his toe isn't a huge issue he might have 10 rebounds and have taken 3 charges by half-time. 

Warrick v. Lee and Frye v. Biedrins- This will be something to watch, even if Hedo starts - whoever plays against Lee and Biedrins will really need to keep their focus and find out where they are at all times.  Get physical - box out, use your rump - sell the foul, secure the rebound, MAKE SOMEONE BLEED.... Maybe that's taking it a little far.  I know for a fact that an easy way for Hak and Frye to get the upper hand on this duo of Warriors would be to attack them in the paint on the offensive end.   Lee and Biedrins aren't exactly the best defenders in their own right and can easily be taken out of their game if they get into quick foul trouble.

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Other Notes

I'm going to rip this off of Vince Kozar (the Suns' statistician extraordinaire) straight up - but I give him all the credit.  I know many have been moaning and groaning about the Suns record and how the team has been playing so far this year, but consider the following before we continue to slop on heavy the negativity:

  • Twelve of the Suns' 17 games have come against a playoff team from 2009-10
  • Phoenix has played 10 of 17 games against a 50-win team from a season ago
  • Phoenix was the ONLY NBA team to play its first four games against a 50-win team from 2009-10
  • The Suns' 17 games have included four meetings with Western Conference division leaders (LA twice, SA, UT) and six overall against a division leader (Orlando, Chicago)
  • Phoenix just completed a four-games-in-five-days stretch in the midst of an eight-games-in-13-days span. Phoenix had not had two-straight days off since Nov. 9-11.
  • The Suns' seven home games are tied for the fewest in the Western Conference, second-fewest in the NBA overall.

Now I'm not making excuses - but with the roster and chemistry experiments very much in full developmental stages to be right around .500 at this point isn't like the failures of some other local sports team who also lost some pretty good players and needed to make adjustments for this year... I'm just sayin'.

Another things to watch - TURNOVERS.   The Warriors are numero uno right now in Steals in the whole NBA, and with Steph Curry and Monta Ellis as your ridiculously fast and crafty backcourt there's no mystery as to why they are.   Let's hope the Suns can protect the ball.

Earl Barron - put up 7 boards in 10 minutes on Sunday and IMO had some pretty ‘enforcer-ish' fouls.  I liked what I saw.  Maybe we'll see a little more of @earldee tonight.

Planet Purple a.k.a. the Bench - Let's hope Hedo can once again provide better offense coming off the bench like he did for a short while in the Denver game and also lets hope that these guys collectively can pull it together.   Much has already been written about their struggles so we'll see if they can work out some more of the kinks - communicate better, and hopefully shoot a better percentage from the line... I'm talking to you Dragon.

Now for some linkage and here's to a positive win and getting back to .500.

Earl Barron Unplugged - SBNation Arizona

Phoenix suns Rotations Still Frustratingly in Flux - Seth Pollack

Phoenix Suns Practice Defense, They Certainly Preach it Enough - More Pollack

Suns Defensive Sieve Both Expected and Disappointing - Yet Again More Seth, (we love you [no homo])

Phoenix Suns Calling for Some Fire for Fixes - Paul Coro

Jared Dudley Finding his Impact - Paul Coro's Orange Slices

Warriors Practice Notes - IQofaWarrior at Golden State of Mind - Some sweet videos and Links all about the Warriors including a blurb or two on new Warrior Ekpe Udoh

Warriors, Post-Script Change from Spurs to Suns - Rusty Simmons, SF Chronicle - After losing to the Spurs last night, the Warriors will have to change the way to play against the atypical front line of the Phoenix Suns.

Suns vs Warriors coverage

Suns vs Warriors preview

Golden State Of Mind


Phoenix Suns 107, Golden State Warriors 101 Although the eyes of the nation will rightfully be fixed on “The LeBron Game,” only one of the most anticipated regular season matchups in...

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Earl Barron Unplugged

All you ever wanted to know about Earl Barron plus an extra 500 words (with pictures)


LeBron James: Sportsman of the Year

A Very Well Written piece by SB's Andrew Sharp About Why LeBron Was Shafted by SI


Defense, it's not always pretty. (AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez)

More photos » Barry Gutierrez - AP

Defense, it's not always pretty. (AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez)

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Anyone want to guess what Alvin Gentry wanted to talk about today? Here's a hint: it rhymes with "refence" and "debounding". 

"When you're not rebounding the basketball, what happened in Denver is going to happen, where you give up 52 free throws -- which is the most that's been shot in the NBA this year in a regulation game. If we're going to be a good team, we've got to get a lot better in those areas right there. We've got to defend dribble penetration and we've got to rebound the basketball."

Gentry sounds more like the coach of a 3-8 football team who has lost six in a row -- including two key home games to division rivals -- than the coach of a 8-9 team with 80% of its season remaining. The coach of said football team, however, continues to insist that everything is fine. Go figure.

Just to make sure his point was made, Gentry repeated the defense and rebounding mantra numerous times, even when asked about other things and Steve Nash is on the exact same page.

"I thought Alvin did a great job. He really stressed defense, rebounding, playing harder. This is a situation right now where we've just got to compete ... He's emphasizing the right things (defense and rebounding), he's holding us accountable," Nash said.

Rotations still in flux

What was slightly new today, was an admission from Gentry of his frustration in not having a better grasp on the rotations. He was asked specifically what he thought of having Josh Childress in playing the power forward position. Gentry said he hasn't seen it for enough minutes to say yet and then he went on to riff about the rotations in general.

"We have to continue to try and get better and put guys in a position where we're taking advantage of what they do best. And to be honest with you, we're still trying to figure that out. We move guys here and we move guys in and out of the starting lineup. I thought at this stage we might be able to figure out the best way to play guys and use them, but we're still searching. We're still trying to find the right combinations and the right rotations."

Injury update

Grant Hill has a little toe problem, per Alvin Gentry. Grant was seen by reporters (me and Paul Coro -- it was a light media day, thanks in large part to the Derek Anderson circus going on in Tempe at the same time) limping down the hallway after practice. He wasn't exactly in a cheery mood. 

Is he questionable for Thursday's game? "I don't think he's ever questionable, but we'll see. We'll see how it works out. He has a little bit of an infection there, I think," Gentry answered.

Robin Lopez is two weeks away at a minimum, but "he's not the cavalry," according to Gentry.

"He's another guy we can use because he's got good size, but that's not going to take care of all our problems. We have to start eliminating our problems now and when he comes back, that will be a good positive."

Lopez shot some free throws last week, but today was his first week back on the court doing the "gauntlet." He's just shooting near the basket right now. Robin would only say "I don't know, we'll see" when asked about the two week timeline. He was happy to be back out there even a little bit and said he's tired of watching.

Physically, Steve Nash still isn't feeling great. He continues to fight through it and calls the last four or fives games as "not that stable for me." It will be interesting to see if Nash cannot just battle back from this specific bout with his body, but sustain a high level of health through the entire season.

Random bags of poop

Channing Frye said he played like a "bag of poop" last game in Denver. He was talking mostly about getting into foul trouble. He did make this point that seems reasonable enough, assuming his numbers are correct.

"You know what, we have a lot of dribble penetration. If you figure 50 times somebody's driving at me and I get five fouls, that's one out of every ten times I'm fouling. I'm just trying to do the best I can and protect the rim and I think overall, including me, we need to do a better job not letting guys go to the middle and make sure we cut back dribble penetration."

The Suns dribble penetration defense will be tested Thursday by Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry. And who can forget the rebounding tandem of Andris Biedrins and David Lee? If you think the Warriors will be an easy game for the Suns, you've not been watching the Suns recently.

Here's a bit more from Nash:

Steve Nash Says Suns Need More Fire and Discipline To Fix Rebounding And Defense -  SB Nation Arizona
You can also take the old kick in the ass thing too far and Nash is one who's always seemed focused on having a good "spirit" and is more of carrot versus stick guys. But right now, he doesn't seem to have the patience for that.


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