The Phoenix Suns are currently nestled in 12th place among Western Conference foes, 3.5 games behind the Denver Nuggets for the 8th seed. Amid the rest of the WC in between Phoenix and the playoffs are three other squads, Portland, Utah, and Minnesota. The chances of all 4 taking a dump while the Suns make a victorious run are slim to none. Nevertheless, two straight victories after the All-Star break may have given many of us a reason to watch tonight as the Kings come to town.
The men in purple and orange have sauntered out of the All-Star break knowing if they are to make any kind of improbable run to the playoffs, they must play full games in which they play defense, rebound, and shoot a respectable percentage from the field. Although it's only been two games, the Suns have shown that shutting down the opponents best player(s) is a great way to win games.
- Vs. The Wolves, the Suns held Minnesota's bigs in check, as Love/Williams/Beasley shot 11-40 and 16 boards in between the 3. Meanwhile every Suns starter picked up at least 5 boards, included Steve Nash, who grabbed 8, one more than Marcin Gortat. As a team, the Suns out-rebounded Minnie 44-37
- On the offensive end, every Sun starter scored in double figures, while every reserve scored at least 3 points and totalled a +10
- Vs. the Clips, the Suns were awful from the field, managing only one quarter above 18 points. But the Clippers starters totalled 18-56 from the field (-41 +/-), and won the rebounding battle 52-46. Grant Hill locked up Chris Paul, while Channing Frye pulled down 14 boards and made Blake Griffin's life hellish.
- The Suns starters totalled a robust +63, outscoring the Clippers first team 66-46. It's great to look at the box score and see Gortat with a "ho-hum" 18 and 14, including 5 offensive rebounds and 2 blocked shots.
- The Suns are looking to break the .500 mark at home tonight. They are currently 9-9 in the desert.
- 6th in the West in rebounding differential at +3.80
- 2nd in the West in scoring differential at +7.60
- 2nd in the West in opponent FG% allowed at 42%
- 4th in the West, in games scoring 100+ points, going 3-1
"We have got to take advantage of every situation as far as playing at home...If we are not going to shoot the ball well then the only thing that can keep us in the game is our defense..."
"We're not trading Steve Nash because he represents everything this franchise is and should stand for, he's an important part of the fabric of this team and the community...he's earned the right to stay here as long as he wants and as long as he's all in on this program...the value that he brings both on and off the floor is incalculable...To me, and I've been through this process on the other side...the most important thing in attracting other players here and retaining players is that we communicate the culture and the values that this franchise stands for...the most important value that you can stand for is treating people the right way and respectfully and honoring the service they have provided, and I think we are communicating that to Steve and the NBA community at large."
"I don't want to get into details. That's spilled milk. I just think there are opportunities to make moves. What was the identity? That's the biggest thing we struggled with. What was our identity going to be? When they went and got Shaq, they had a certain idea of what the identity was going to be. To try to implement that, you would have to change some roster spots."
"The conditions are different -- the Kings have no momentum on the court with two straight losses to the L.A. teams after beginning the second half with a home win over Utah. We also know the difference between the home Kings and road Kings, and must adjust accordingly. Phoenix isn't amazing at home (9-9, +1.3), but is better there than on the road (7-11, -5.3)."
CHECK FOR LIVE GAME TALK AT 5.30 MTN