This game was a perfect sequel to the Phoenix Suns' victory over the New Orleans Pelicans two nights ago. After scrapping out a win in a game inwhich none of their shots were going in, Phoenix couldn't miss for the first 3 quarters against the Rockets. With the exception of a brief lull to start the second quarter, Phoenix scorched the nets.
Eric Bledsoe led all scorers with 34 points, all of which came as the Suns filled the buckets to the tune of 99 points in the first 3 quarters. P.J. Tucker did work at both ends, locking up James Harden (16 points, 5/19 FG, a game worst -27) and adding 19 points on a hella efficient 8-12 shooting night.
Even when the offense stagnated in the 4th quarter, the Suns never rattled. Despite managing a paltry SIX POINTS in NINE MINUTES, the Suns' lead never got below 5. There was nothing not to like about Phoenix's effort in this game. They straight out-hustled and out-executed the Rockets. All this lead to a 117-102 victory against one of the league's best teams.
Great win for the Suns. Next up are the Mavericks tomorrow night.
Other quick notes:
* The Morris twins were terrific, chipping in 17 points apiece while Marcus had another big rebounding night, snaring 10 boards.
* Alex Len showed a LOT of rust coming back from his ankle injury. He made 2 of his 10 field goal attemtps. Meanwhile, Brandan Wright is going to make a great starter for someone next season. His 8 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks don't convey the energy he brings at both ends.
* The Suns look active, if not efficient, to start the game.
* Hopefully this holds: Harden flops like a trout on a drive, refs don't bite.
* Rough night for the Suns' centers so far: both Alex Len and Brand Wright missed dunks on their first possessions.
* Rockets' center Joey Dorsey picks up his second foul only 5 minutes into the first quarter. With Dwight Howard out, that could open up some opportunities in the paint for Phoenix!
* Eric Bledsoe and P.J. Tucker hit back-to-back 3s to pull within 2 points. Also, the Suns made 2 3-pointers!
* Welp, the Suns get a case of the dropsies. 2 turnovers later, Phoenix is down by 7 again.
*PJ to TJ fastbreak! Archie PUJIT! The kids are all right!
* The good news: Phoenix scored 33 points in the first quarter. The bad news: Houston scored 37. But hey, shots are falling!
* The Suns' offense stalls with A.J. Price at the helm. Suns go scoreless for first 2 and half minutes while Houston runs the lead up to 10. Bledsoe stops the bleeding with a pair of free throws.
* Suns start second quarter by scoring 3 points in 4 minutes, then score 6 in the next 60 seconds. More of the latter please.
* Turnovers + Transition = Points. Suns rattle of 12 points in a row to get back within 1.
* Phoenix is doing some strong work on the boards. Have had sizeable rebounding margin throughout the game.
* So much to like about this game so far. Eric Bledsoe is beasting. Phoenix is playing a fantastic all around game, winning the battle of the glass, not fouling, and holding Harden to 10 points on 4-12 shooting. All of that gives Phoenix a 1-point lead, 62-61, going into the second half.
* Also helping the cause: the Suns had 18 free throw attempts to 7 by the Rockets. Attacking the basket and not fouling are reaping big rewards for the Suns so far.
* Not a lot of defense from either team to start the 3rd. Teams combine for 16 points in the first 2 minutes. Everyone is making everything.
* Suns offense suddenly goes bananas, scoring on TEN consecutive possessions to run the lead up 9. 84-75, Phoenix.
* So much defense. Suns getting pretty points on turnovers. All your leak-outs are belong to us.
* Two minutes left in the 3rd quarter. Suns have a 12 point lead and oodles of momentum. Time to sweep the leg, Johnny.
* Archie Goodwin fast break dunks are very very fun. So are Brandan Wright put-back dunks. Suns by 13.
* After scoring 74 points in their last whole game, Phoenix has 99 and a 13 point lead after 3 quarters tonight.
* Rough start to the 4th. After making their first bucket, Suns give up 7 in a row to see their lead dwindle to 8 in the first 2 minutes.
* Suns go to a 3 guard line-up: Price, Bledsoe, Goodwin, Markieff Morris and Brandan Wright.
* 3 guard line-up brings no offense. Suns only manage to score 6 points in the first 7 minutes of the 4th quarter. Yet somehow still lead by 5 points.
* THANK YOU, BASED TUCKER. After a horrendous 9 minute, 6 point offensive stretch, PJ Tucker buries a 3 pointer to put the Suns back up by 8.
I heard someone once say there comes a day when they tell us all that we can't play anymore. We're not good enough. Surplus to requirements. Too slow, maybe. When you're a teenager with outsized dreams and a growing obsession, and someone tells you this ain't gonna last forever, it's scary. I never forgot it.
Mike D'Antoni changed the game of basketball. There's not many people you can say that about. No wonder I had my best years playing for him. His intelligence guided him to never over-coach, complicate or hide behind the game's traditions. He deserves a championship.
When I dribbled by our bench as a rookie on the Suns, Danny Ainge would say, "Take him!" with intensity and contempt in his voice. That was a huge vote of confidence for a rookie.
Alvin Gentry coached the heck out of our teams. Underrated and sharp, he found the elusive line between coach, friend and disciplinarian. It was a pleasure to play for him.
What do they say about men with big hands? They have quick feet? A'mare Stoudemire had both — and he made me look like an artist at times. Thanks, big man.
It will always hurt that Phoenix Suns fans didn't get the championship they deserved during our run. Yes, we had some bad luck but I always look back at it and think, I could've made one more shot, or not forced a turnover, or made a better pass. But I don't regret anything. The arena was always sold out and rocking. It was the time of my life.
Read the whole article, written by Steve, at the link above.
And here's a statement from the Phoenix Suns, who really really need to put Steve Nash into the Ring of Honor like tomorrow. Dallas will be in town, so it would be perfect for the Suns to honor him when SOMEONE he's played with is on the court.
The Phoenix Suns congratulate two-time MVP Steve Nash on an incredibly successful NBA career. During his time in Phoenix, Steve epitomized what it means to be a winner. His leadership, work ethic and commitment to excellence set an example for those around him. Steve's success on the court was matched by his philanthropic efforts off of it, which have left a lasting impact on our great fans and city. Congratulations, Steve. We are proud to call you a Phoenix Sun!
I re-ignited my love of basketball when Steve Nash came to the Suns to drive the hyper-athletic car that had been built just prior to his arrival. Amare (no apostrophe) Stoudemire was just a kid. Shawn Marion was already approaching annual 20/10s as a 6'7" dynamo. Joe Johnson had untapped potential. There were a lot of kids on that 29-53 team in 2003-04 but my fandom was growing again anyway.
Then Steve came home and the Suns began the season on a huge roll that no one in the NBA saw coming. Their 31-4 start was Sun-believable!
Then Joe Johnson wanted to be the man and Amare Stoudemire lost his leg for a while, and STILL Nash led the Suns to the playoffs and the Conference Finals. Only Raja Bell's torn achilles in game 1 against Dallas put the nail in the coffin of the season.
Those were my favorite seasons. Not 2007. Not 2010. My faves were 2005 and 2006.
We will miss you, Steve.
And I for one am REALLY glad you didn't reach new heights in LA, and that your pinnacle as an NBA player was in a Phoenix Suns uniform.
Thank you. For everything.