I sat down to watch the Phoenix Suns play the Atlanta Hawks and told my dad, "Someone's going to need a monster game to beat them. The Hawks always seem to save their best for the Suns." But my prediction was that Shawn Marion would post the numbers. And with 21 points and 7 rebounds, that's not too shabby. Steve Nash, Shawn Marion, Raja Bell and Kurt Thomas (the other 4 starters) combined for 47 points (of course, Kurt didn't score and only played 5 minutes - more on that in a minute). Amare Stoudemire? He scored 43. He also had 16 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 blocks. And only 1 turnover. He also had another technical foul.
But without Amare, this game may have counted for another loss against the Hawks. It seemed like he was everywhere! If I had one complaint it is that he took too many shots. But it's hard to say that when the Hawks were giving him those shots every time down the court. What's he supposed to do? Pass it even when he's wide open? If Amare had no assists, I would wonder whether he forced some shots. But with 6 assists, he obviously was passing the ball around when there was someone more open than he.
It seemed like they decided to switch off of Amare to double-team Nash. I can understand doing that to a guy who shoots from the outside and doesn't have the power that Amare has, but it seems a little weird to switch off of Stoudemire when he's under the basket.
The thing about the Suns is no mater who you switch off of, that person can hurt you. Are you going to switch off of Marion to double Amare? Marion slashes to the basket and scores 40. Are you going to switch off of Raja to double Steve? Raja can shoot three's or shoot the mid-rang jump shot and score 30. Switch off of Steve? Nah, I don't think so. Decide not to double anyone? Steve can find the best matchups and destroy you that way.
And it's ok to get excited about this game even though it's against a bad team. Just don't think every game is going to be like this. Let's face it. The Hawks are a bad team. They are 12 games under .500. But a win is a win. And anytime one of your players can go for 43 and 16 rebounds - and get 6 assists in the process, it's a good thing.
I do wonder why Kurt Thomas didn't play very much last night. Was it that he got hurt again? That matchups weren't very good with him on the court? Pat Burke only played 5 minutes and Kurt Thomas only played 5 minutes. 6 other guys got the bulk of the minutes. I'm hoping that was just a coach's decision to not play Kurt and not that he got hurt. Anyone know?
The next game is against the Pacers on Tuesday.