What is it about back to back road victories that makes me feel like a giddy little school girl? And this 3-game winning streak the Phoenix Suns are on. The first since November. Giddy is the only way I can describe my emotion right now.
Of course we're talking about the Phoenix Suns here, so tonight, in the midst of a 109-100 victory over the New Orleans Hornets, there was some typical Suns play or lack thereof:
- Losing a 20 point lead (in the 4th quarter)
- Committing 15 turnovers ( 7 in the first quarter alone)
- Allowing the opposing squad's guards to go crazy: Darrin Collison 16/14/4, and most notably, Marcus Thornton, 25 points (15 in the 4th quarter)
- J-Rich 1-6 from the field (he did pick up 8 boards though)
But there were also some surprises:
- Amare Stoudemire played another strong game with 25 and 12 (maybe he was stressed out in PHX)
- Grant Hill not only had something left in the tank, he was flat out clutch
- Channing Frye went for 20 and 6 off the bench. He was 3-8 from beyond the arc, but at least 2 of his buckets could have been 3's if it wasn't for his enormous feet.
- Robin Lopez went for 18 and 6 in 26 minutes and didn't look too winded at all
- Steve Nash put up 18 points, 12 assists and 2 steals-with an abdominal strain
At the outset, things were looking shaky for the Suns. They began the game with 3 straight turnovers. But they quickly put themselves back together and finished the quarter shooting 63% while the two teams traded leads 16 times. Amare scored 9 and looked extra motivated, perhaps even spazzy at times, while Robin Lopez and Steve Nash played a smooth two man game that produced 8 Lopez points.
in the second, Channing Frye and Jared Dudley began the quarter with two straight 3's. Frye eventually kicked in another 3 and 4 more points to help the Suns gain an 8 point advantage. The Suns went on a 13-0 run and eventually outscored the Hornets 29-15 in the second to lead at the half 59-46.
In the third, the Suns lead swelled to 20 as both Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire picked up double doubles before the end of the quarter. Robin Lopez dropped in 10 points and the Suns ended the third up 85-70.
Can you guess what happened to that 15 point lead?
In the 4th, Marcus Thornton went crazy and the Hornets reeled off 7 straight points to close the gap to 10. After two buckets by Frye and one from Nash, the Hornets went to work, running off 8 straight, keyed by Collison and Thornton. With a minute left, the Suns were up 100-98. Then Grant Hill took over.
First Hill hit a 15 footer off a Nash assist and drew a David West foul. Hill converted to make it a 103-98 game. After an improbably Marcus Thornton miss, the Suns had little going on the next posession when Hill found himself with the ball in his hands and the shot clock running down. But you see Grant Hill drinks Sprite, and he can still flat out BALL. He knocked down an 18 foot J in front of Peja Stojakovic. DAGGER IN THE HEART, Peja. As I said in the preview, it was time for some payback tonight.
- The Suns shot 51% from the field, the Hornets 45%
- The Suns were 6-21 from three-point range, the Hornets 6-18
- The Suns out rebounded the Hornets 44-38
- The Suns had 7 blocks, the Hornets 1.
- The Suns bench outscored the Hornets 32-16
- Goran Dragic did not score a point, but managed 5 assists in 15 minutes. I'm not worried about Dragon, he's still playing aggressively. he's not going to drop 32 every night
- Jared Dudley had another solid game with 12 points, 3 assists, 3 steals, 5 rebounds, while going 2-4 from beyond the arc (Anyone have a reason why he shouldn't be in the 3-pt competition All-Star Weekend? You know he'd love it.)
This was a great all around win for the Suns. Yes every W is great at this point, but while I admittedly left this team for dead a few games back, I cannot help but sense a confidence brewing remniscent of our November/December Suns. Tonight they kept their poise amid a cold shooting 4th quarter as the Hornets caught fire and gained momentum. Thornton and Collison are excellent young players that possess amazing confidence for their age. So, I don't want to hear anything about the absence of CP3. The Hornets are a good squad and the Suns came out victorious. 3 straight, people, enjoy the moment.
The Suns conclude their road trip at Denver, 2/3, and Sacramento, 2/5.
Random Factoid (didn't know where to put this):
Amare Stoudemire has scored in double figures the past 18 games. He has only two single digit scoring efforts this season.
"In all three games, we showed grit...that's what we talked a lot about early in the season - the grittiness and depth we needed to win games. It's plain to see in the three games we won. More than anything, it's tiring. It proves you have to go earn it every night."
"We're a little more desperate...we're fighting for our lives. We're starting to figure out what we need to do at both ends to be successful. Defensively is where we're starting to take a step."
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