Like the last CP3-less meeting, the Suns are coming off of a road win versus the Houston Rockets. Unlike the last game though, the Suns don't have a break in between games, and must deal with the tired legs factor. Nash and Amare played 41 minutes, Grant Hill 39, and Jason Richardson played 35.
The Hornets are coming off of a nice come from behind victory versus the Memphis Grizzlies. Down 19 at the half the Hornets turned it on in the second half and won 109-102. Both Emeka and Collison came up big for the Hornets in that game.
At the moment, New Orleans sits 4 games back of the Mavericks in the Southwest and a game behind the Suns in the WC playoff picture, currently occupying the 8th seed. They are 3-2 in their last 5 with victories over Portland, Golden State, and Memphis.
Darren Collison will start in place of Chris Paul at the point. Collison is coming off of a 17 point, 18 assist performance against Memphis, and is Reason #1 why the Suns need to come out swinging tonight. Collison is a youngster, and second string to CP3, but he is the #1 now and should be treated as such.
Reason #2 is Peja Stojakovic, AKA Suns Killer. Peja was an 0-for in the first meeting with the Suns but rebounded with 7 threes and 25 points in the second matchup. Keep a body on that guy and a hand in his face (although that probably won't help).
Reason #3 is Emeka Okafor who pulled down 12 boards, 7 of them offensive in the last match up. It should be interesting to see how Robin plays Okafor and how he manages after playing 26 minutes last night.
Reason #4 is David West. While only going 2-11 from the field against the Suns last time, he's averaging 19 and 9 at home this season.
Getting Down to Brass Tacks:
It goes without saying the the bench will have to step up tonight. Goran "The Slovenian Sniper" Dragic only played 14 minutes last night and will most likely be asked to double that amount of work tonight. Nash should be tired and still nursing his abdominal strain. Lopez will need to body Okafor, Stat will need to slow West and continue his gorilla game from last night. (Did you hear, Stat feels less stressed on the road as he can escape the trade rumors that seem to be waiting for him in PHX?). I don't expect much left in Grant Hill's tank tonight, but anything he can bring is an added bonus, especially slowing Peja. Expect Dudley to get some quality minutes on him as well.
I don't like the word "gritty" as it is applied to teams, players or athletics in general (overused), so I'll substitute Junkyard Dog in its place. The Suns need to bring their junkyard dog game tonight. I don't care that they're playing back to back, payback is due vs. New Orleans, and the bench is capable of picking up the starters.
Steve Nash (commenting on last night's officiating)
"I'm not going to talk about Scott Foster."
Way to take the high road, Steve.
Alvin Gentry (commenting on the officiating)
"I thought that was an outstanding call (the technical on Nash). I don't ever question anything they do. We're not supposed to. I thought it was an outstanding call and I'm sure everybody else does too... I'm not going to give them any of my money. I'll tell you how great they are and how they do a great job and they work extremely hard and they do a great job getting up and down the court and it was a well-officiated game."
Gentry has described himself (and most of the Suns) as "tight" with money. I don't blame him for not taking the bait.
Robin Lopez (on giving up an 18 point lead but still coming out with a W)
"Teams are going to make runs but in the past we didn't really respond to those runs, this time, we were mentally tough."
Aaron Brooks (on his missed layup at the end of the game)
"I just missed it..Great play. I got to the rim. I make that shot nine out of 10 times. The ball kind of slipped."
Rick Adelman: Complaining about the lane violation call on Brooks last night
"It happened so quick, I don't know how he made (that call)...It's been going on in our league for years. I'm sorry. They step over it constantly. It's when you call it that it's really important."
Rick-quick to you is um, not so quick to others. Be quiet and strap on your depends.
Oh, and lastly, Channing Frye has been asked to participate in the 3-point shooting contest during the All-Star Weekend. Congrats Channing!
Suns vs Hornets coverage