"When you play down to a weak team, bad things happen."
-The Wise and Infamous, Eddie Johnson
And life without Lopez tonight wasn't pretty. At all. To illustrate, Kevin Love and Al Jefferson teamed for 38 rebounds, which was only 3 less than the whole Suns team total of 41. Ugly. Even uglier was the Wolves pulling down 20 offensive rebounds, converting them into 30 second chance points. Ugly.
The Suns began the first quarter looking a bit disinterested, missing shots, committing unnecessary turnovers and fouls and otherwise looking like their December/January selves. After starting off 1-10 from the field, the Suns recovered to decency closing out the quarter clinging to a 26-25 lead.
In the second, the Suns woke up and gained some separation, outscoring the T-Wolves 40-19. Leandro Barbosa led a 12-2 run, scoring 10 straight points. Amare Stoudemire's dunk with 3 minutes left in the half put the Suns up 25 points, 60-35. That would be the largest lead the Suns would enjoy tonight.
The Suns began the third perhaps thinking of the comfy charter flight to Chicago, scoring 17, while allowing the Wolves 31. Al Jefferson, he of the 1 first half point, scored 8 and Kevin Love discovered he was a large man. Love, picked up 8 boards in the quarter en route to 22 for the game. The Wolves scored 5 straight points as the Suns went scoreless for the last 2 minutes of the third until Barbosa made a layup with .9 left, 83-75 Suns.
In the 4th, it was more of the same, as the Wolves couldn't miss, and the Suns couldn't defend. A Wayne Ellington basket cut the Suns lead to 89-88.
The Suns second unit held off the Wolves, bringing the lead back up to 5 as Goran Dragic hit a layup and the starters returned with 7 and change remaining. Amare Stoudemire scored 10 in the quarter, including a huge follow off of a Nash miss, to put the Wolves away with 43 seconds left.
"It bothered me because we've done a good job of starting games, taking care of rebounding and turnovers...I didn't think we had the energy at the start of the game that we used to have...we had to have Amar'e have another one of his great games to rescue us. We were fortunate to win."
Steve Nash (who was suffering from back spasms before the game and almost didn't play):
"I didn't know what I'd be able to provide...I thought I'd give it the best I could and try to see how it goes. This is an important game. If we lose this game, it could be disastrous."
Yes a win is a win and all that, but we've seen this before. That is, B.L. (Before Lopez). Get out to a huge lead, go cold from the field, let the opposing bigs hit the boards, forget to play defense, and well...You know how it ends. Perhaps I'm being dramatic. Perhaps the Suns need to adjust to life for two weeks without Lopez, and perhaps they can adjust, hold on through this road trip and waltz into the postseason, no big deal.
But a disc bulge is a tricky thing. I have one, many of you have one or more, but none of us are 7 -foot centers playing in the NBA trying to play with one. Even if Lopez is able to make it back to his mobile, aggressive, and oftentimes dominating self, this is the type of injury that will linger and or return for...let's just say a long time.
No, I'm not hitting the panic button yet, but I'm concerned. The Suns are not the same without Robin Lopez. Their postseason fate is tied to his speedy recovery and return to normal Fropez play. Get well soon Robin, let's pass around the card and send out some flowers or something.
- Max-30 and 17 on 11-19 shooting
- Frye-17/6, 5-10 from beyond the arc
- LB-16 points in 18 minutes. That's the LB we know, love, and will need down the stretch and into the postseason.
- Lou-7 points, 3 steals, and a +20
- Dragon-7 points, 6 assists, and 0 TO's in 15 minutes. His poise and confidence are solid right now. I think he could have finished the game with Nash on the bench.
- The Suns have won seven in a row for the first time since 2008
- The Nuggets lost to Orlando tonight, and as of this moment the Suns are a half game behind both Denver and Utah, who are tied for third in the WC.