That hammering sound you hear. That's not the window slamming shut again. That's the sound of work. As in work in progress.
Cliches tend to be overused (by definition) but in this case I am willing to give it a few more weeks.
But first, take a listen to Coach Porter and Matt Barnes reflecting on the team and game.
Audio provided by Sports 620 KTAR
1) Welcome Phoenix Bad Boys. For I don't know how long (at least since Chuckster was here) the Suns were a soft team. We got pushed around and as fans and players and coaches whined about it and played the victim. Last night Matt Barnes showed why we brought him here. A tough edge. He was pissed about something and pissed about getting beat and he laid out Rafer.
Yes, it was a cheap shot. But not a Bowen sneaky stick my foot under you or knee your balls cheap shot. It was a manly cheap shot. It was a clean hit in the course of play and he didn't run from it. He didn't act the punk wagging his finger or running his mouth. He didn't Melo-slap and run. He laid the wood and sent a message. Sometimes, that's what men need to do.
Nash showed again why he's the toughest Canadian in the NBA and Shaq of course is not going to let anyone push him around (he's just going to push everyone over).
2) Defense. We are not there yet. We have a BIG hole in the middle that can't move his feet very well and our point guard(s) aren't exactly lock down. There's a long way to go but a) the team is talking about it and b) the rebounding rates are up while the points in the paint against are down.
Ben's Phoenix Suns Blog and Yahoo's Kelly Dwyer break it down. I am in the middle. Progress has been made. More will come.
Yes, Rafer and Brooks shot the ball well in the first half and T-Mac in the second. But if those guys are going to make 15 foot floaters and hit everything rolling off screens you just sometimes tip your cap.
T-Mac presents match up problems for us at the 2 guard. In the past we covered him w/ a small forward but with Artest on the floor you can't do that. There's no way Bell or Barbosa can stay with him in the post. Then once he got hot....
The Rockets are good (when healthy) and they played well. It is not the end of the world. We are still a 6 or 7 seed that needs to be playing our best ball in the spring.
3) Scoring the ball. Despite what you might have seen last night, this team can score the ball. They can still shoot. They can still dunk. And occasionally they can even make open dunks (yes Robin, we did see you miss that dunk).
The offense is confused and the fella's are thinking too much. That is entirely understandable and it will improve. I said all along that this team will struggle early and guess what. They are struggling early. They are still beating the bad teams and they still have talent. But it is going to take time. Last night was a measuring stick and we learned that we don't yet measure up.
The ball movement isn't. Worse yet is the without the ball movement. There is no instinctive sense of where people are going to be and everyone is trying too hard.
But they are trying hard and the plan is a good one. I don't believe that anyone in that locker room is ready to quit even though a few of them (named Raja) should probably talk less and hit more open shots. Or some open shots even.
4) The Dirty. Really now, can any team that provides this kind of quality family entertainment be bad?
5) Better then expected. If you had asked any Suns fans how they would feel about a 6-3 start they would be happy.
So be happy. It could be a LOT worse.