Tonight, the story for the Suns wasn't the performance of one individual. Instead, this was a team win in the truest, corniest sense of the phrase. Every Sun was a positive tonight in some way. You can hand out game balls to Amare Stoudemire for pulling down 17 rebounds, Jason Richardson for 8-15 shooting and 7 rebounds, Louis Amundson for his 7 rebounds off the bench, and Jared Dudley and Channing Frye who combined for 8-14 shooting. Goran Dragic chipped in 2 three pointers, 5 assists, 2 rebounds, and 0 (zero) turnovers in 16 minutes off the bench. And there was Steve Nash too. 17 points, 10 assists, and 2 blocks. Yep, blocks.
The Suns took the lead with 8.59 left in the second quarter and never trailed again. The lead swelled to 22 points in the 4th, and eventually shrunk to 12, but the Suns continued their balanced play until the end. This was a great win.
- FG: Suns 49%, Nuggets 43%
- Rebounds: Suns 47, Nuggets 39
- 3 Point FG: Suns 9-18 (50%), Nuggets 4-14 (28%)
- Turnovers: Nuggets 8, Suns 11
I'm going to keep this short and sweet. The bottom line here is that the Suns are playing with confidence. They've gone out on the road, played winning teams, put all the trade rumor talk aside and simply played the way know how to play.
There was no reason for the Suns to lose tonight, just like there was no reason for them to lose in New Orleans. Some may mention Carmelo's absence tonight as a reason for the Suns success. OK, who cares? It's a another notch in the win column regardless of who plays. I'm taking it, because every W counts and injuries are a reality in the NBA.
It would be ignorant for me to not mention the recent play of Amare Stoudemire. He's put up double digit rebounding totals in the past three games (ever since his one rebound debacle in Dallas). We know Amare can score. But when he's scoring and rebounding one has to feel like your getting an added bonus. You could say he's happy to be away from PHX, you could mention that Alvin Gentry had a brief discussion with him about his need to hit the glass more. Or perhaps Amare is playing with new motivation, for either $'s, new scenery, both, or maybe neither, You just never know with Sun Tzu/Max/TAT. But the fact is he's bringing the gorilla game and it helps the team win. I'm overjoyed to see his play elevate. Let's hope it continues.
Robin Lopez has been a huge difference maker. Lopez has scored in double figures and picked up 5 boards or more in 8 of his last 11 games. I must admit his offensive game is a little more advanced than I thought it would be. He's coordinated, aggressive, and he takes the ball hard to the rim. He hung in with the Nugget bigs just fine.
- Every Suns player registered a + on the +/- scale.
- Every Suns player who played, scored at least 2 points
- The Suns bench outscored the Nuggets 35-32
- The Suns are 14-2 when Jason Richardson scores at least 20 points.
- The Suns have won 3 straight road games after losing 12 of their prior 13 away games.
More (In Chris Farley Talk Show Host Voice):
- Did you see Steve Nash's 30 foot three pointer with the 24 second clock running down? That was cool.
- Remember when Amare posterized Nene on that dunk? That was awesome.
- And that time Amare came out of nowhere to block Nene's shot out of bounds? That was really cool.
"As far as the class of team and quality of team, it's probably the best we've played on a stretch of road this year..."
"We're playing a little harder, we're a little grittier, the same characteristics I think you saw when we played well in November. We're just a little tougher, that's all. Coming up with a few more hustle plays, a few more loose balls, making a few more baskets just with determination. All together it lends to us winning some of these close games instead of losing."
"Just going after it. That's been the most important thing, just being aggressive...We've been playing great man on man defense. We've also been able to help out each other. That allows us to really stay scrappy, get the rebounds, force turnovers and score the ball. We can score better on defensive stops and that's what we've been doing. We were in a funk for a while. We're kind of uniting now through difficult times and it's helping. It's helping all of us."
So, have the Suns turned a corner? Are they returning to early December form? What's been the difference? Discuss.
Next up, @ the Kings, 2/5.