We all saw this coming from far away. The cards were stacked against our beloved Suns from the opening tip. They clawed their way to victory in a rugged game last night in Miami. Tonight they were up against one of the best teams in the league, the Orlando Magic. Only an astounding effort could have put the Suns over the top tonight and while Amare Stoudemire did his best, putting up 25 points and 14 rebounds, the rest of the Suns couldn't follow his lead.
Perhaps tonight the Suns were simply tired. Or perhaps we have seen our first glimpse of one of the Sun's potential Achilles heals already: age. For the second night in a row the Suns rebounding leader, Grant Hill looked tired.
Steve Nash wasn't much of a factor as well as the Suns bigs found themselves in foul trouble early on and fell behind an angry Magic squad that dropped a game in Detroit they should have won the night before.
Funny thing was, for much of the game, Dwight Howard wasn't his dominant self. Howard did manage to put up 25 points, but finished the first half with a technical foul, 3 personals, and only 2 rebounds while the Magic led 56-52.
It was efforts from Ryan Who? Anderson, (20 points, 10 rebounds), the infamous Matt Barnes, (13 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists), and Jameer Nelson (16 points and 10 assists) that did much of the damage for the Magic.
Oh and let us not forget the Suns helped out with cold shooting: (45% FG, 31% 3PT), and for the second night in a row, hovered near 50% from the free throw line for much of the night, finishing at 65%.
But enough of the negative. There was some good that came out of tonight's game besides Stoudemire's performance: the bench once again proved solid, even before garbage time:
- Goran Dragic once again played well, adding 15 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds
- Jared Dudley scored 17, and played like his usual junkyard self
- Earl Clark saw action and looked confident, going 4-6 from the field and pulling down 5 boards
- There was a T-Griff sighting HEY-OH!!
Amare Stoudemire's recovery appears ahead of schedule. Alvin Gentry has been reminding us all that Sun Tzu will need 15-17 games to get back to form, but he looked very good for the first half of this game. Perhaps he felt at home in Florida, or perhaps he's feeling good and seeing dollar signs, either way he was a monster for the Suns tonight.
"It’s tough on Grant (Hill) back-to-back, but I never fault his effort or anything that he does. I’ll go to war with him every single night and most of the time we’re going to win. It was just a tough situation. He and J Rich (Jason Richardson) struggled tonight. You can’t have your two wing players struggling against these guys. You’ve got to play well, but I think we’re going to be okay. Obviously we were missing LB (Leandro Barbosa). LB can change the course of a game like this in that he gives us so much speed and he just gives us another weapon out on the floor. And there’s very few times where you’ll have LB (Leandro Barbosa), J Rich (Jason Richardson) and Grant (Hill) where they’re struggling. Usually two of those three guys are always playing pretty good. But I don’t want to take anything away from Orlando. They did a great job.” - Coach Gentry