I don't often start a game recap by complimenting a Suns opponent. However, tonight will be an exception. The Sacramento Kings are young, strong, fearless, poised, and well-coached. In December, the Kings recovered from a 35 point deficit to defeat the Bulls, in Chicago. Tonight, they nearly overcame a 20 point deficit to defeat the Suns at home. Unfortunately for the Kings, the Suns gathered themselves at the right time to hold on to a 113-109 victory. Now, on to our beloved Suns.
The Suns started quick tonight, making their first 5 shots and scoring 10 fast break points en route to a 34-25 lead at the end of the first quarter. Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire teamed for 8 and 6 and 12 and 7 respectively. That was the good news for Amare "Max" Stoudemire. The bad news for Stoudemire, was we didn't really see or hear from him again until the waning moments of the game. While his disappearing act was unfortunate, his reappearing was indeed fortunate for the Suns.
In the second quarter, the Suns kicked things into high gear with a 17-1 run and led by as many as 20 points. Jared Dudley was instrumental in the second, scoring all of his 9 points while the Suns defense locked down the Kings, forcing them into an 8-23 shooting quarter.
Yet the Kings rallied at the end of the second to close the lead to 63-49. It was a sign of things to come.
Sacramento came out of the break inspired, outscoring the Suns 32-25, and outrebounding them 16-8. Andres Nocioni chipped in 8 points while the Israeli King, Omri Casspi chipped in 6 points to compliment 8 points from Tyreke Evans. It was a balanced effort from the Kings, compared to the tandem of Jason Richardson and Steve Nash who scored 17 of the Suns 25 3rd quarter points. The Suns clung desperately to an 88-81 lead.
The Suns began the 4th quarter 0-7 from the field, with 2 turnovers and little semblance of a team capable of playing defense at the NBA level. The Kings went on a 7-0 run, knotting the game at 88 before a Channing Frye tip-in broke a Suns slide of 0-13 from the field. At that point, we had ourselves a nail-biter.
With 5 minutes left, Amare Stoudemire reappeared, downing two free throws to break a 95-95 tie. But the Beno Udrih show had just begun. While the Suns struggled to place the basketball through the hoop, Udrih dropped a 16 footer. Then an 18 footer. Then Udrih sank two free throws. Then Udrih downed a 13 footer.
It was Udrih 8, the Suns 4.
With a minute left, Jason Richardson stripped Jon Brockman of a rebound. Nash gathered the ball and sent an outlet to Stoudemire who drew a foul and sank two free throws. 105-103 Suns. After three Kings misses and two offensive rebounds, Nash proved for the something thousandth time how clutch he is with a long two to put the Suns up 4 points with 17 seconds to go. The teams traded hoops and then it was clutch free throw time for Nash, who sank 13-13 for the game. Suns win.....We can breathe again...
Thoughts, Stats, and Other
- Jason Richardson had 20 points and 9 rebounds, Channing Frye chipped in 17 points, Steve Nash had 30 points and 12 assists, Amare Stoudemire scored 24 and pulled down 8 rebounds.
- Leandro Barbosa ended the first period with a running 35 footer at the buzzer. That was the only highlight from the Brazilian Blur, who went for 5 points, 3 turnovers and was 1-7 from the field. In my opinion, Leandro is trying a little too hard. It's too be expected, I think he's feeling some pressure to regain his minutes while also dealing with ankle and wrist injuries that are not healed.
- Did you see J-Rich's reverse dunk put back in the first quarter?! SWEET!
- It was great to see the Suns come out running and gunning in the first quarter. Of course it's difficult to sustain that for 48 minutes, but the energy and effort was there.
- In a very inconsistent season, there are two very consistent Suns in my opinion: Steve Nash and Lou Amundson. Lou brings it every night the same way. Sure he plays limited minutes and yes he has limited skills, but he always brings it. Tonight he had two nice blocks (he was credited with one), and was fouled about 7 times. OK, he'd probably miss the free throws if sent to the line, but still, the guy works hard, he's not a rookie, give him a call every now and then.
- Jared Dudley's shot at the outset of the game looked awful. He tossed up a few short bricks that were dang ugly. But you know what, he's the Junkyard Dog, he doesn't get upset, he doesn't quit, he pulled it together, sank a three and 4 of his 5 free throws.
- The Suns bench was uncharacteristically crappy tonight. They were a combined 3-14 from the field with 8 rebounds. They were outscored 38-16 by the Kings bench. Nash and Stoudemire were brought in with 9 minutes left to play in the 4th when things were beginning to go South.
- Why does Amare start so strong and then fade? Fouls? Defensive adjustments by other team? Does he get tired? Disinterested? It looked as though he was in for a big night, again, but he just kind of....I'm sorry Amare, no max for you.
- The Suns broke a 7 game road losing streak tonight.
- The Suns return home to face Houston tomorrow, 7 P.M. At least Houston played tonight, losing to the Lakers 88-79.
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