JSun Richardson. Stan's earlier post speaks volumes. He beat me to the punch mainly because some genius decided to cut off Jefferson downtown. I guess they thought it was too easy to get out of downtown.
Besides JRich, what was there to like?
How about beating the Magic on the boards? I know Howard went out, but the Suns were leading the battle at halftime without Shaq. While I don't expect STAT to out-rebound Howard, I do expect him to outrebound the Howard-less Magic. He did that.
How about 13 turnovers? Two were caused by JRich being out of position for a Nash pass, one was caused when Sweet Lou forgot to put his hands out for a JRich pass and another was caused by someone (I forget who) passing to Sweet Lou on the elbow for a drive resulting in an offensive foul. Unfortuneately, I think the Magic scored close to 20 off the turnovers.
Amare Stoudemire the playmaker? The only thing better than the pass was the play-action stutter-step from Hill as Nash came over.
More after the jump.
Great Magic blog coverage at 3rd Qtr Collapse
I want to talk about this "issue" with JSun Richardson taking too many shots. Amare went to the line 5 times (11 attempts as one was from an "and 1"), so he really took 19 shots. JRich went to the line 3 times, so he took 19 shots. The only gut to take more "non-free throw" shots was Nash at 18. Also, JRich clanked his first four and still shot 50% while Amare was below .500 for the first time in a year.
What does this mean?
Amare is getting his touches. Nash steps in when he has to. JRich is efficient. It means I hope that Shaq's ego doesn't screw this up.
Before I go further -- I'm going to need to get the internet on the phone thingy or something. I was really confused about Howard's absence. I was considering calling Stan (again) for an update. Maybe throw me a bone and send a text message or something when something obvisouly wrong happens?
Someone tell me what happened. I heard about the knee. Was it on that play in the 2nd period where Forpez sumo-wrestled Howard to the ground?
With Howard out, things were looking good. Then, some guy that looked like Pat Burke with sideburns scrambled up to the scorer's table. The dude went on to dominate the Suns like Pat Burke dominated St. Catherine's varsity squad:
Thank goodness that didn't last too long. M. Gortat (that's how he's listed on nba.com) was at a point-a-minute rate when he first came in. That dude made all of Poland proud. When I kept referring to "M. Gortat" as Pat Burke (because I didn't know his name), the gregarious fellow sitting next to me commented that he was happy to see Pat Burke on another NBA team. That's what you get sometimes ...
Did anyone notice that JRich's two highlight reel alley-oop dunks came off feeds from Barbosa? I guess anyone can be a good playmaker when they're feeding JSun Richardson.
There was also that sequence at the end of the second period where Barnes got called for an offensive fould while shouting a fadeaway three-pointer with the shot clock expiring. He very nearly took off the ref's head. Then, he was t'ed up for "delay of game" for not leaving fast enough when he was subbed out? Really? Either give the guy a tech or don't, but don't take the wussy way out. After the game, as I was sitting in the car trying to get out of the parking garage, I was reading the program. Apparently, after his mom passed he was leading the league in flagrant fouls until he got counseling. Good for him. I couldn't imagine how I'd deal with losing my mom (who is 12 years older than his mom when she died) in a matter of three weeks. In this instance, it probably saved the life, or at least the head, of that zebra.
I want to talk about the coaching.
Hedo hits clutch shots. He did it last year and seems to be sinking a game-winner about once a week this year. He put the Magic up with 9.9 seconds to go. (As a sidenote, the Polish Pat Burke made a good play when he fouled Nash off the pick-n-roll, turning a very good opportunity to score into a side-out with 6 seconds left). Let's address Ron Jeremy's failure first (even though it happened second in real time). With 2.7 seconds left, Hedo was throwing it in. He wasn't available as a scoring option as there wouldn't have been enough time to get him the ball back. He wasn't able to even be a decoy at that point. That dude hits tought shots. Instead, he's relegated to the role of "pass to the guy who is going to 'create'."
On the other hand, Porter gave the ball to STAT. The guy who wants to be "the man." He then ran Nash over and Hill (the passer) toward the hoop. STAT had the option of making a play with Nash, taking it himself or hitting the cutter. The thing that was so great about the play was that Nash came over, drawing attention and giving Hill the room for the back-cut. Perhaps most impressive was STAT's recognition of how the play developed. From the stands, when I saw the ball go into STAT and I saw the pause I was freaked out that he was going to try at 20-foot fadeaway jumper. My disgust with Porter turned to joy when I saw Hill cutting to the hoop.
What have we learned?
The Suns beat another good team. Stoudemire and JRich took the same number of shot attempts but Nash was the real ball-hog. Stoudemire can, when necessary, pass. Barbosa can send lob feeds to JRich (although I could probably do that). Fropez is pretty good at putting a Gillooly on star players; I would normally argue that he needs to get more than 1 rebound in 20 minutes but he kept Howard off the offensive glass -- Howard's two put-backs when Fropez was not in the game.