Robin Lopez impressed in his season debut tonight. It wasn't part of the plan, but Robin Lopez checked into the game just over 6 minutes into the first quarter when both Amar'e Stoudemire and Lou Amundson both picked up 2 quick fouls. His impact was immediate.
49 seconds after checking in, Lopez scored his first points on a lay-in off a Steve Nash assist. 17 seconds later, Robin picked up his first rebound on the defensive end. 7 seconds after that he grabbed another board at the offensive end. It took him 6 more seconds to bust out a nifty spin move to hit a hook shot in the lane. 8 minutes later he had tallied 9 points, 6 boards and a block. Not too shabby for a guy who hadn't played in 6 weeks, eh?
When he checked out of the game after that whirlwind performance, the announcers noted he looked very winded, so it might be a while before we see him in extended main game minutes. After his solid first half, Robin didn't check back in until the end of the 3rd quarter when the Suns were up by 30.
Overall, the Timberwolves simply had no answer for the Suns offense. Phoenix scored early and often with Steve Nash weaving in and out of the lane willy-nilly. Jason Richardson was the big gun for the Suns with 22 points. Grant Hill followed with 17, which should have been 19, but the ageless wonder provided some levity when lifting off a little too early for a wide open dunk and rimming it out just before halftime, making him the subject of some good-natured ribbing in the locker room. The Suns led by as 36 before the final buzzer sounded for a final of 120-95.
In terms of the rest of the re-cap, here's what you need to know:
- The Suns came out aggressive and never let up. Up 10 after 1 quarter and 21 at the half, this game was never in doubt.
- Minnesota was putrid offensively, managing a paltry 41% from the field and going 2-14 from downtown. Tex Winter should really file a cease and desist preventing the Timberwolves from calling their scheme the triangle.
- The Suns offense, when firing on all cylinders, is unstoppable. It's like the mythical hydra: cut off one head, and another one pops up in its place. Of the 12 Suns that took the court tonight, 11 of them scored at least 5 points on a blistering 59% from the field.
- Steve Nash was Steve Nash. 9 points and 11 assists in just over 26 minutes.
- The Suns bench saw plenty of action with 6 players logging 12 minutes or better. Alando Tucker was not one of them.
- Robin Lopez wasn't the only reserve to make the most of his minutes. Earl Clark made a strong case for more minutes going a perfect 6-6 from the field to finish with 14 points. However, one would like to see the 6-11 Clark manage to pull down at least 1 rebound in 12 minutes. He also got lost defensively a couple of times.
- The game was well in hand by the time Amar'e Stoudemire got around to getting his 12 points. Despite playing only 18 minutes, Amar'e continues to play smart, efficient offense, going 6-9 from the field.
- Speaking of defense, the Suns were a bunch of shot-blocking fools tonight. 6 different players notched blocks for a team total of 8, with several other shots being changed and challenged.
- The Timberwolves offense will make anyone look good defensively. Take away Ramon Sessions impressive 10-13 23 point performance (tellingly, he had no assists) and the rest of the team was a mind-boggling 25 of 73 from the field. They came 3 bricks away from missing as many shots as the Suns made. Al Jefferson also had 20 points in the losing effort.
- How bad was Minnesota? Consider they lost by 25 points despite shooting 32 free throws to the Suns' 10.
- At 13-3, the Suns have the best record in the NBA... again. Toronto is up next on Sunday.