What: New York Knicks vs. Phoenix Suns
When: 7:00pm AZ Time
Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix AZ
TV: Fox Sports Arizona
Radio: 98.7 FM Arizona Sports
The Phoenix Suns, winners of two in a row and three of their last five, come home during a road-heavy month to host the reeling New York Knicks, who lost last night by 16 to the Denver Nuggets.
In uniform for the Suns will be new signee Chase Budinger, a former U of A Wildcat, and Alan Williams, a Phoenix native. Yes, we've reached the part of the season that signing local guys might keep fans interested a bit longer. These two might be 14th and 15th on the team's depth chart, but if the game is a runaway in either direction don't be surprised to see them on the court.
I'm guessing most of you have not been following the Knicks this season. You might have caught on that the Knicks started off the season in really promising fashion behind the surge of Kristaps Porzingis and some savvy free agent signings that seemed to work out for them.
Side note: I can't wait to see Kristaps tonight. He's just as big as Alex Len and more athletic, more ready to play in the open court. The kid is going to have a nice long career in the league.
The funtown Knicks were 22-22 at one point after a big OT win over the Jazz but since then have gone only 4-15 as the season hit the skids. The middle of that skid, Kurt Rambis replaced Derek Fisher as head coach but hasn't gotten much of a boost.
KP has kind of hit the rookie wall, or Kurt Rambis built one around him. And Carmelo Anthony is already talking about being at the head of the table this offseason during free agent negotiations. So maybe the Suns aren't the only tire fire in the league. Robin Lopez has been playing well lately (13 and 9 per game over the last 10 games) and former U of A Wildcat Derrick Williams wowed the highlight-loving crowd earlier this year but has faded back into anonymity lately (15 minutes per game over last 10).
Let's take a look at the Knicks through the eyes of our erstwhile contributor but permanent friend of the blog, Bryan Gibberman, who still bleeds blue and orange. Bryan took to twitter while watching the Knicks lose by 16 to the Denver Nuggets last night.
This is like watching 3rd graders play basketball. No one is stopping the ball in transition.— Bryan Gibberman (@Gibberman10) March 9, 2016
And the Knicks guards are pushing up so far on the Nuggets guards for no reason. Rambis is an absolute clown.— Bryan Gibberman (@Gibberman10) March 9, 2016
Phil ruined a perfectly enjoyable season. Good job, buddy.— Bryan Gibberman (@Gibberman10) March 9, 2016
KP played 9 mins in the first half lol. I want his mins watched, but that's not the reason it's happening.— Bryan Gibberman (@Gibberman10) March 9, 2016
Perfect timing for Melo to sub back in -- gotta ensure he hits the 40 minute mark for the 4th time in 5 games.— Bryan Gibberman (@Gibberman10) March 9, 2016
So, things are going well in Knick-town.
Now they play the Suns in Phoenix on the second night of a back to back. It's possible the Knicks are in worse shape than the Suns, but all that means is that Melo will go off, KP will dazzle, and the Knicks will win going away.
The home team has won three of five with an unorthodox lineup that more likely hit upon a few good matchups than solving any long-term lineup riddles. The pairing of Alex Len and Tyson Chandler for big minutes has allowed Len to put up career-high numbers, but overall the two of them are not a long-term answer for winning games.
Together, they are a net negative that's probably approaching quadruple digits.
Together, their net impact on the scoreboard might be worse than the net impact of a mention of Brandon Knight in a BSotS comment section.
Together, they are a perfect pairing for the rest of this season.
The best possible ending to this Suns season is to allow Alex Len to establish himself as a long-term starter in the league. Next to Chandler, he's been playing the best basketball of his career. Putting up 17 and 12 per game over the last 10 games is wonderful. Sure, it's at the expense of the scoreboard most of the time. Neither Len nor Chandler can defend most power forwards, let alone stretch fours so popular in today's NBA, so they give up more than they score.
But it's not about wins this season. It's about development.
Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing how Alex Len compares to Kristaps Porzingis. I hope I'm not disappointed.
Another rookie matchup tonight is Knicks rookie PG Jerian Grant against Suns rookie Devin Booker. Since the Suns still don't have Knight back, Booker will spend a lot of time running point so he will occasionally be matched up against Grant.
But the Knicks, miles away from playoff contention, are for some reason giving twice the minutes to Jose Calderon (30 per night over last 10 games) versus the rookie Grant (14 per night) and more minutes to Arron Afflalo (35) than last year's young prospect Langston Galloway (24). Not sure how that's happening.
The Suns win this one too, and the BSotS commenters start getting really restless about that bottom-3 record.