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Game Preview: Phoenix Suns vs New Jersey Nets (Lopez v Lopez)

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Robin Lopez looks to break through at home and against his brother, Brook. (Photo by Max Simbron)
Robin Lopez looks to break through at home and against his brother, Brook. (Photo by Max Simbron)

First the obvious. Coach Gentry and all the Suns are going to say the right things about this game to avoid the obvious let down that comes when you look across the half court line and the team staring back is 3 and 37. 

"I tell you what, guys, they are an NBA team and they are very capable. I know they only have three wins but to me if you don't go out and play hard against them, you can look at all the situations, they had New Orleans beat and let them off the hook a little bit. They've played some really good games and they're getting healthy," Coach Gentry said after yesterday's practice.

That's fine. He has to say those things and he's certainly right that in this league any team can beat any team if said team doesn't play hard and the other team does. But if that team is the 3-win New Jersey Nets and the team that doesn't show up and play hard is your Phoenix Suns then we are going to have a problem. A big, big problem.

But that's not going to happen. The Phoenix Suns are going to shake off their recent suck and come out guns blazing. The will is there. The understanding is there. And as Grant Hill says, they just need to see the ball go through the basket Nets a few times.

Confidence is a wonderful thing and for a team built around its offense it is the only thing.

Despite the best intentions of the players and coaches, this Suns team is not good defensively and is 25th in rebounding differential (-2.14). Maybe having Robin in the rotation more will change that over time but don't think you can go from playing 30 minutes of Channing Frye to 30 minutes of Robin Lopez without some adjustment period on both ends of the floor.

See what happen just there? We went from talking about confidence and scoring to being upset about defense and rebounding. That's how it happens. Just that fast and bam!! you are stressed and depressed and missing your shots.

Lopez v Lopez

My instinct was to ignore the Lopez v Lopez portion of tonight's game but on second thought, I think this really will be both fun and telling.

Robin has long lived in his brother's shadow both at Stanford and through their first year and a half as pro players. He's generally not responded well to any discussion of Brook and will likely prefer if he never had to play against him and deal with this.

But that's not the case as evidenced by veteran AZ Republic reporter and former Suns beat writer Bob Young talking to Robin after practice and writing this story on the topic.

Lopez twins to start opposite each other for 1st time in NBA
For 1st time, Suns center Robin Lopez and twin Brook Lopez will square off as NBA starters.

"I think people are just focused on it," he (Robin) said. "We've played against each other a few times before.

"I just want to bring a lot of aggressiveness. I feel like when I'm doing that, things will go my way and hopefully they'll go the team's way as well."

Seven foot twins playing against each other is a story like women fighting or Shaq's divorce. We might want to pretend we are above all that but we just can't look away. At least I can't.

Brook was drafted 5 spots higher and immediately was given the opportunity to start for a crappy team. As a result Brook's had the benefit of over 3,000 more floor minutes and understandably better overall statistics and a faster development process.1_medium

It is hard to get better at the NBA level if you are not playing at the NBA level and while some might not consider the Nets "NBA Level" they certainly at least compete against some of the best teams in the world. And Brook has been one of their few bright spots putting up 19 points and 9.5 rebounds along with 2 blocks and only 3.28 fouls per game. 

Meanwhile, as a starter Robin is averaging 19 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks.

Ok, that was only one game but it is also on a much better team and you always have to watch out for guys who put up big numbers on bad teams. Which isn't to say that Brook isn't a good and potentially great player but on a better team those numbers go down. That's a cold hard fact.

For example, the Nets are one of the few teams that rebound the ball worse than the Suns. They are a -6 rebounds per game which means that gap between the 25th place Suns and the 8th place Magic is the same as the gap between the 25th place Suns and the 29th place Nets. Put that in your math blender and make a smoothie and suck it right down with a bit of orange and some protein powder.

It also means that the rest of that Nets team couldn't find a loose ball if it were falling out of their jock strap. That leaves plenty of balls for Brook to clean up.

Sorry for that last sentence.

Chances are Robin won't play well against his brother tonight. I don't expect him to and frankly, I don't understand the family dynamic well enough to begin to explain why. But that also creates an opportunity for the fuzzy-haired twin to step up and surprise us all (including himself). If he goes out and plays as well as he's had in the last few games the world might just begin to see him in a new light. And more importantly he might start seeing himself in a new way. He might even shave and cut his hair so he doesn't feel the need to look so radically different than his twin brother.

You know, they really should just take my key board away. Or at least I should not be allowed to type after watching Dr. Phil.

I am including the following Nets roster because chance are better that you can name the starting 5 for the Phoenix Mercury than you can for the New Jersey Nets.

FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Brook Lopez 40 36.4 6.9 13.9 49.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 5.2 6.1 84.5 3.4 6.1 9.5 2.2 2.5 0.8 2.0 3.3 18.9
Yi Jianlian 16 34.1 5.3 12.5 42.0 0.4 1.1 38.9 4.9 5.9 83.2 1.9 5.1 7.1 0.4 1.8 0.7 1.1 3.2 15.9
Devin Harris 29 34.2 5.0 13.1 38.5 0.6 2.7 21.8 5.2 6.7 77.8 0.4 2.8 3.2 6.0 2.7 1.6 0.2 2.8 15.9
Chris Douglas-Roberts 31 35.1 5.9 12.9 45.5 0.3 1.1 25.7 2.6 3.1 84.2 1.2 3.1 4.2 2.0 2.0 1.3 0.5 1.9 14.6
Courtney Lee 33 32.8 4.2 10.5 39.5 0.7 2.6 27.6 2.1 2.6 82.4 0.5 2.8 3.4 2.1 1.1 1.6 0.4 2.1 11.2
Keyon Dooling 16 18.0 2.8 6.8 40.4 1.1 3.1 36.0 0.4 0.6 70.0 0.2 1.1 1.3 2.1 0.9 0.9 0.0 1.6 7.1
Terrence Williams 37 19.8 2.8 7.5 36.6 0.4 1.4 28.8 1.1 1.6 67.8 0.3 3.2 3.5 1.5 1.4 0.5 0.1 1.6 7.0
Kris Humphries 28 13.8 2.4 5.1 47.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.4 2.3 62.5 1.6 2.6 4.2 0.3 0.6 0.3 0.5 1.9 6.3
Trenton Hassell 34 23.9 2.3 5.0 45.6 0.0 0.1 0.0 1.1 1.4 77.6 1.2 2.2 3.4 1.0 0.9 0.3 0.2 2.0 5.7
Bobby Simmons 23 17.1 1.8 5.1 35.9 0.9 2.7 31.7 0.8 0.9 90.0 0.5 2.3 2.7 0.7 0.8 0.7 0.1 2.3 5.3
Jarvis Hayes 8 15.8 2.0 5.1 39.0 0.4 2.5 15.0 0.1 0.3 50.0 0.0 1.6 1.6 0.8 1.0 0.5 0.0 2.4 4.5
Josh Boone 35 19.2 2.1 4.2 49.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.9 25.8 2.2 3.2 5.4 0.7 0.7 0.5 0.8 1.9 4.4
Tony Battie 11 9.5 0.9 2.7 33.3 0.1 0.3 33.3 0.6 0.7 87.5 0.4 1.1 1.5 0.0 0.2 0.3 0.2 1.1 2.5
Chris Quinn 5 7.0 0.4 2.2 18.2 0.2 1.4 14.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.8 0.2 0.2 0.0 0.4 1.0

Game and Other Links:

[Note by Phoenix Stan, 01/20/10 12:20 PM MST ]

Steve Kerr on Sports 620 KTAR



[Note by Phoenix Stan, 01/20/10 2:19 PM MST ]

Robin and Brook interviews from shoot-around via

This is actually as relaxed and happy as I think I've ever seen Robin. Good sign


Brook...(he sounds a lot like Robin). He says that Robin is more athletic and a better defender


and Channing Frye has a great attitude. Not a surprise

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