The Suns were looking to extend their 6 game road winning streak against the "new look" Dallas Mavericks in what turned out to be a roller coaster game (shocker) that had a little bit of everything. The spot light was on Amar'e Stoudemire who could have been playing his last game in a Phoenix Suns uniform. Right before the game we found out that Cleveland was no longer interested in the Sun's PF as they pulled the trigger on Jamison. You might think that all of this drama surrounding a basketball player would affect his game and maybe make him lose his focus but Amar'e did what he does best...play like a beast on a basketball court.
Many negative things have been said about Stoudemire, that he's lazy on the defensive end, that he should rebound the ball better and that he needs to be a better closer if he ever wants to be considered among the Kobes and Wades. And although you might agree with those remarks, you can't deny the fact that he's a professional and that he has handled this trade circus better than anyone I've seen in this business. If he gets to stay -which is most likely what will happen- I'm sure that he will continue to play at the same level and will do his best to make this team better and that alone makes me glad that he stayed.
Game notes after the jump.
The Suns started the game playing with high energy and moving the ball really well. Amar'e got off to a quick start scoring from the perimeter and also penetrating. J-Rich had a couple of early baskets as well while Robin looked great in the paint on the offensive and defensive end of the court. This didn't last long. After a timeout the Mavs made adjustments on Nash and made the Suns miss 6 consecutive shots. Their defense stepped up big to end the quarter with an 11-0 run. Caron Butler made several shots and looked more comfortable in the Mavs offense. The Suns not only lost the lead but ended up trailing by 5 points. They shot 38% from the field. On a positive note, Amar'e had 7 boards and Grant seemed to be doing a decent job on Dirk.
Goran started at the point while Dudley was given the assignment to guard Nowitzki. Again, the Suns offense seemed lost, not able to create good looks. This prompted Gentry to put Amar'e back in at the 9 minute mark. He immediately attacked the basket, getting fouled and earning a trip to the line. His offense was not enough and again the Suns couldn't get anything going. Suns shooting percentage at the half was 39% while the Mavericks were shooting 47% from the field. The bench failed to help out as they finished 0-8. The Suns went 1-14 from down town.
Whatever Gentry told the team during the break didn't help. The Suns were outscored by Dallas 12-4 to start the Q. Jason Kidd hit back to back threes and out of nowhere we were down by 19 points. They had 7 turnovers during this quarter but still where able to cut the lead to twelve. Gentry changed his strategy and played Goran and Steve together. Both were able to spread the floor better and helped the team make a little bit of a run. Again this was not enough as the Mavs pulled away to close the quarter.
This is where it got interesting, ladies and gentlemen. The Suns showed some heart and came out firing. With Nash on the bench, J-Rich took over. He scored 6 consecutive points and suddenly the lead was down to 11 with 9 minutes left to play. After a couple of three point shots -one by Dragic and the other one by Richardson- the Mavericks lead was down to 5.
The Suns couldn't make stops down the stretch as the Mavericks extended their lead to 8 and eventually to 10 again. A dagger from Jason Terry pretty much ended our hopes as the Suns let Dallas get 2 offensive rebounds with less than a minute to play.
Our bench can play way better than they did tonight and we can certainly shoot better a better percentage from behind the arc. If we hit half of those three pointers (5-22) the game is in the bag. Overall I'm really happy with the effort to finish the game. They didn't roll over after being down by 19 points. I like the fact that J-Rich seemed mad at himself for playing badly and started to hustle and make plays. Haywood proved to be a great addition to their team. He was all over the place today. Oh, and didn't you love the fact that Grant got in Dirk's face at the end of the game? When I saw the replay I didn't see Dirk hit him or anything. I believe Grant was upset about something that Nowitzki had said. Showing a little emotion from time to time is a good thing. Let's hope that anger carries over to the next game.
Day off tomorrow and I can't wait for the clock to mark 3:01 pm.