Robin Lopez is back!!!
Tonight, while the rest of the NBA world was focused on the Chris Paul trade that was finally approved, the Phoenix Suns took on the Phoenix Suns in an intra-squad scrimmage that was shown live on Suns.com.
The match-ups tonight included the Black Team (Steve Nash, Jared Dudley, Marcin Gortat, Channing Frye, Josh Childress, Marcus Landry, and Ronnie Price) verses the White Team (Grant Hill, Robin Lopez, Hakim Warrick, Shannon Brown, Sebastian Telfair, Garrett Siler, Dwight Buycks, and Jeremy Hazell).
The end result was a score of 68-61 (don't worry, it was only a 40 minute game) in which the black team won...but overall, we the fans were the real winners after finally getting to see our team back in live action again after a very long eight month hiatus!
Hit the jump for a breakdown of what took place during the game and what I noticed tonight.
Thanks to Paul Coro's Twitter feed...I have some stats to share with you:
Team Nash 68-61 (40-min running clock). Top scorers: Frye 17, Dudley 16, Brown 16, Lopez 12, Warrick 11, Gortat 11, Childress 10.— Paul Coro (@paulcoro) December 15, 2011
As you can see...this is by no means the full box score, but this at least gives you a good idea of who did the most out there tonight.
Here are some of the things I noticed tonight as well:
- Robin Lopez looked good...I mean 2009 good! He looked athletic and explosive again, not slow and clumsy like he did last season. We've heard some really good things over the first week of training camp about how well Robin is moving out there, and if tonight's performance is any indication, I'd say those reports are accurate! This is the quite possibly the most positive and exciting news we could have hoped for this year regarding the improvement of any of the players on our roster...and without jumping to any conclusions too soon, I'll just say that this could mean very good things for our team going forward if this ends up being the case.
- Jared Dudley looked lean, mean, and like a basketball playing machine! He looked like he lost even more weight over the off-season and he looks quicker and more athletic because of it. He was moving very well out there tonight and looked like he added some nice post moves to his game as well!
- Shannon Brown looked like his jump-shot was in mid-season form! However, his dunks were another story. Either way, Brown lit it up from beyond the arc and also had some nice plays around the basket. He could end up being a terrific addition to the Suns roster this season, and I'm sure those dunks will come back around once he gets back into basketball shape.
- Hakim Warrick added a nice jumper to his game! His shot looked much smoother and more natural than last season from what I saw. Not to mention he showed Shannon Brown that he's still the Suns' one-man highlight reel...at least for now...with a nice fast break behind-the-back jammy to please the crowd. Hakim had a really nice game out there tonight, and if he can show that he's improved at all defensively, then he may be another pleasant surprise for us this season.
- Channing Frye definitely hasn't lost his shooting touch. He looked comfortable stroking it from outside and also scored in the post as well.
- Dwight Buycks was noticeable. Almost every year there seems to be at least one guy that comes to training camp and plays his way onto the roster. Last season it was Matt Janning and then Dowdell...and who could forget LOOOUUUUU from a few years back. Well, this season Buycks is the guy who is currently looking like he has the best shot at making the roster. He made some nice shots and got to the rim a couple of times and showed some nice quickness and agility on the court. It's still entirely too early to know if he's got a real shot at making the team, but I'll be keeping my eye on him.
- Nash, Hill, Gortat, Price, Childress, and even Garrett Siler all played well tonight also. Nash looked terrific and made some nash-tastic plays out there to show everyone who's still boss. Hill didn't have much of an impact offensively, but I saw him moving well and playing good defense. Gortat looked strong and played some nice defense on Lopez who was no easy match-up tonight. Price hit some shots and also looked very good defensively. Siler showed a new leaner physique tonight and had a really nice and strong dunk in the game. And Childress actually made a three tonight proving that he actually can hit from outside!
- Sebastian Telfair was...ummm...underwhelming. I can't say for sure but I think he missed all but one of his shots, including two layups. This was only the first time he's played with the Suns and I refuse to make any long-term assessments off of one scrimmage. So, here's hoping Bassy will step it up in the coming weeks and find a way to use his talents to contribute to the team.
- Markeiff Morris did not play tonight because of soreness after banging knees with Ronnie Price yesterday. I don't believe it's anything serious, and Markeiff certainly doesn't have a history of being injury prone so I wouldn't worry too much about it. It was probably just a precautionary measure to keep him out of tonight's game, but I'm sure we'll finally get to see him play in live action against the Denver Nuggets on Dec. 20th.
- Mickael Pietrus didn't play tonight either, and nobody cared.
All in all I really enjoyed seeing the players out there again, and I thought they played better than I expected after such a short time getting back into shape and playing with each other. The team now has less than one week until their next match-up against the Nuggets on the 20th, and maybe we'll see even more improvement from some of the players and get a better feel for what to expect this season. As for right now, I like what I'm seeing and I look forward to seeing more!