Nash, Defense Spark Suns Victory in Miami

At Suns Media Day a couple months back, Steve Nash was asked how he felt. The 36 year old point guard looked down and thought for a moment, then replied with a smile: "joyous." The joyous Steve Nash led the Suns with 30 points in a hard fought come-from-behind victory against the Miami Heat tonight, 104-96. While going 4-5 from three-point range, Nash also became the Suns All-Time 3-point leader.

The Suns looked sloppy and fell behind early during a 17-1 Miami run in the first half but managed to keep things close until Nash caught fire and the defense tightened in the second half. While Amare Stoudemire, Jared Dudley, and Louis Amundson scrapped for rebounds and blocked shots, Grant Hill, Jason Richardson and company held Dwayne Wade to a meager 23 points. After the game, Stoudemire quipped, "the guys are really taking defense to heart." It is easy to believe Sun Tzu after his words followed a gutsy team performance. From a fan's perspective it doesn't get any more exciting than watching your team fight back from a deficit and show so much fire in doing so. Seeing Jared Dudley scream in delight after scoring a hard fought basket warms my heart and makes me want to be ORNG.

The bench played excellent tonight including Jarron Collins, whose box line doesn't do him justice. The guy played tough and didn't hurt us. The rest of the rotation played inspired, aggressive basketball:

  • Louis Amundson: 10 points, 5 rebounds and 3 blocks
  • Jared Dudley: 8 points and 3 boards
  • Goran Dragic was solid in 11 minutes of play with no (zero) turnovers and a nice take to the hoop

Grant Hill struggled from the field going 2-11, yet managed a double double with 10 points and 12 boards, nicely complimenting Stoudemire's 11 rebound, 3 blocked shot performance. While everyone contributed in this victory, it was Nash's 25 point second half that led the way to an improbable win. For a half the Suns looked destined to give this game to the Heat, shooting nearly 40% from the field and 50% from the free throw line. Dwayne Wade picked apart the defense while Jermaine O'Neal and an oddly athletic looking Quentin Richardson buoyed the Heat offense.

Some more items of Suns interest:

  • Grant Hill is leading the Suns in rebounds, averaging 10.3 per game
  • The Suns bench of Amundson, Dudley, Dragic and Collins shot a combined 10-18 from the field
  • Channing frye has made more three pointers in 4 games this season than in 63 games last year. In his prior three seasons in the league he made a total of 9.
  • Earl Clark registered his first DNP of the season tonight
  • The Orlando Magic are the Suns next opponent tomorrow in Orlando at 5 P.M. MST. The Magic are returning from an 85-80 loss in Detroit.

[Note by Phoenix Stan, 11/04/09 6:49 AM MST ]

The Suns in the fourth quarter of this game were simply amazing outscoring Miami 29 to 15 and holding the Heat to 22% shooting. 22%!!!

The quarter started with the Suns down 81 - 76 and Nash on the bench. The unit of Dragic, Richardson, Dudley, Collins and Stoudemire went on a 10 - 3 run so that when Nash and Frye came in at the 7:18 mark the Suns had taken a 2 point lead.

Catch that? The Suns took the lead with Nash on the bench. How huge is that?

Here's what Gentry said about the bench, "I thought our reserves did a good job. It's really tough to have Steve sitting over there especially when the games on the line and you want him in there all the time. I thought Goran [Dragic] did a really good job of coming up with a few baskets and just being aggressive and getting guys some open shots. Jarron [Collins] came in and it was the first time he played for us and I think he set some really good solid screens to open guys up for shots and did a good job defensively. We're happy with the win but like I said, we're not ready to crown ourselves yet."

Sure, it helped the Wade was on the bench as well but credit where credit is due and that goes to those bench guys for giving Steve the time to rest so that when he came back in he could score 8 points and 3 assists and zero missed field goals.

But Wade was back in the game when Dragic blew by his man on the wing and went hard to the rim. Wade, a fantastic defender, came over for the block but Goran was able to adjust in mid air and drop the ball into the front of the rim. It's not the kind of play that ends up on a poster - but it should.

The Suns used the zone defense with great effect as well as which Nash said worked well, "We haven’t really used it much or had much success. It really came out well for us tonight."

Amare was fantastic. Richardson and Dudley did great work on Wade. Nash is playing as well as he's had in at least two or three years.

To overcome a night in which the Suns missed 10 free throws and Frye's shot finally went cold (we knew it would eventually) was very impressive. This was a great win.

 

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