The Suns 3rd stop on a 4 game road trip finds them in Charlotte tonight to take on the Bobcats. Boris Diaw's squad has won 4 of their last 5, most recently a huge and impressive upset of the San Antonio Spurs, 92-76. Diaw came up huge against the Spurs, with 26 points and 11 boards, prompting his teammates to turn from openly calling out the young Frenchman to quite complimentary of his play, when he wants to play. Well, at least our old friend hasn't gone a changin' on us.
Other than Diaw, who put up 27 and 26 points in two match ups versus the Suns last year, the Bobcats are led by Stephen Jackson, 19.8 ppg, and Gerald Wallace who averages 18 points and 11 rebounds per contest. Last year you may recall Wallace owning the Suns once in a messy 22 point defeat on the road which saw the Suns shoot 36% from the field.
This Larry Brown coached team stresses defense. Just ask Greg "Pops" Popovich whose recent experience with the Bobcats left him gushing:
"This is a typical Larry Brown team,they are tenacious, physical, use pressure defense to create turnovers and create offense out of those turnovers. We knew this coming in, but just reacted poorly to it."
Raymond Felton averages 15 points and 6 assists against the Suns while Nazr Mohammed leads the Cats with 58% from the field.
Stephen Jackson was an early season acquisition for the Bobcats and has managed to make a believer out of Larry Brown: "He's about as bright as anybody I've ever coached. He's in that difficult category, but he loves his teammates and he loves to play. And he's made everybody better."
Check out the Diaw led Bobcats last night:
The Suns face another difficult challenge tonight against a defensive minded squad on the second night of back to back contests on the road. Phoenix is 2-6 on second-nighters, so the bench will need to step up again. These Bobcats are not the Bobcats of old. Their challenging for a playoff spot and obviously coached by a guy who knows what he's doing. In addition he's got a squad of guys who seem to be responding to what he preaches.
I expect another low scoring, low FG%, grind it out kind of game. Of course, just when we think we understand our Phoenix Suns, they play in a manner which makes us realize we really don't know what to expect from them night in and night out.
So, we can hope, right? Hope that Jason Richardson and Jared Dudley find a little extra in their tanks tonight to stick it to their old teams. Rich is notoriously bad on btb's, but then again he really didn't play last night, even if he did log 26 minutes. The good news is Dragic's play enabled Steve Nash to conserve. Nash put up 8 field goal attempts and only played 31 minutes, so in theory he should be fresh and energetic. I don't expect much out of Amare, he played very well last night, but who knows if he can summon that same energy, even if he faces up against his old teammate, Diaw.
- The Bobcats have won 5 straight at home, and are 15-4 overall in Charlotte.
- The Suns have won 9 of 10 meetings overall with the Bobcats
- In 6 games versus the Bobcats, Amare Stoudemire averages 21 points and 11 rebounds
- In 10 games versus the Bobcats, Steve Nash has averaged 15 ppg while dishing out 9 assists
- Jason Richardson enjoys seeing his old squad, averaging 21 ppg in 6 games versus the Bobcats
- Stephen Jackson needs 14 points to reach 10,000 for his career
- Charlotte averages 93 ppg while allowing opponents 92.
Look for the early game thread, football fans, why not start things off early, it's the weekend!?
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