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Center of the Sun: Phoenix Suns tighten their grip on the third spot in the reverse standings

Rollin', rollin', rollin'... keep that tank a rollin'... let's ride!

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NBA: Phoenix Suns at Detroit Pistons Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

vs Sacramento Kings L (107-101) Full Recap

vs Orlando Magic L (109-103) Full Recap

@ Detroit Pistons L (112-95) Full Recap

What a week. After another three losses the Suns are now 22-48, have officially shut down 20% of their team (Eric Bledsoe, Tyson Chandler and Brandon Knight) for the rest of the season and finished the week in Detroit with only eight healthy bodies to put on the court... including Jarell Eddie who was signed to a 10-day contract just before the Detroit game.

Call it tanking if you want or think of it as giving the young guys plenty of meaningful minutes at the end of a lost season to evaluate them and speed their development. Either way you still need more than eight guys to play in the NBA. When a team has three players "shut down" for the season and another possibly out the rest of the season (Dragan Bender) that leaves eleven guys to play all the minutes in the remaining games. That's fine if they all stay healthy but things don't always work out that way as we saw in the Pistons game. According to Tyler Ulis, "I think we got a little exhausted during the game but at the same time it's no excuse." Hopefully the Suns don’t have to deal with this type of situation very often but that’s what you get sometimes when you deliberately shut down several players.

Speaking of Dragan Bender, March 22nd (Wednesday) is exactly six weeks since his surgery. With only twelve games left to play, will we see Bender back on the court this season? Still no updates on his rehab and/or whether he might return to active status.

Key Stat

40.9 mpg, 16.3 ppg, 10.7 apg, 2.3 rpg, 2.0 spg, 2.0 TOpg

Tyler Ulis has been tearing it up in the three games that he has started. Unfortunately his FG and 3-point shooting percentages (35.6% and 8.3% respectively) manage to tarnish the shine on those raw numbers a bit.

Stats courtesy of

Quote of the Week

"We just didn't want him to get worn down during a season where we're not going to end up in the playoffs." - Ryan McDonough on shutting down Eric Bledsoe

Rookie Report

Marquese Chriss - 28.1 mpg, 15.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 0.7 apg, 1.0 spg, 3.0 bpg

Tyler Ulis - 40.9 mpg, 16.3 ppg, 10.7 apg, 2.3 rpg, 2.0 spg, 2.0 TOpg

Derrick Jones Jr. - 15.4 mpg, 3.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.7 bpg


Stats courtesy of

Reverse Standings

1. Brooklyn Nets (13-56)

2. LA Lakers (20-50), 6.5 GB

3. Phoenix Suns (22-48), 8.5 GB

4. Orlando Magic (25-45), 11.5 GB

5. Philadelphia 76ers (26-43), 13.0 GB

6. Sacramento Kings (27-43), 13.5 GB

7. New York Knicks (27-42), 14.0 GB

8. Minnesota Timberwolves (28-41), 15.0 GB

9. New Orleans Pelicans (29-41), 15.5 GB

10. Charlotte Hornets (30-39), 17.0 GB

11. Dallas Mavericks (30-39), 17.0 GB

12. Portland Trail Blazers (32-37), 19.0 GB

13. Chicago Bulls (33-37), 19.5 GB

14. Miami Heat (34-36), 20.5 GB

15. Detroit Pistons (34-36), 20.5 GB

Boston has the right to swap picks with Brooklyn this year. The Lakers' pick goes to Philadelphia if it falls out of the top 3. Philadelphia also has the right to swap picks with Sacramento this year as long as that pick falls within the top 10. If Sacramento's pick falls out of the top 10 it goes to Chicago. New Orleans' pick goes to Sacramento if it falls out of the top 3.

These numbers are courtesy of Hoops Rumors.

News & Notes

Solar Panel: Do the Suns Have Pieces to Contend? Greg Esposito/Sports 360 AZ

Bickley: Phoenix Suns finally embrace the art of tanking. Dan Bickley/AZCentral Sports

Tyler Ulis And The Comeback Of The Little Guy. The SportsQuotient

ESPN writer ranks Suns’ draft assets seventh in the NBA. Arizona Sports

Three reasons Lonzo Ball should not be in the top-3 on the Suns’ NBA Draft board. Kellan Olson/Arizona Sports

Fixing The Phoenix Suns. Basketball Insiders

The Next Generation: Dragan Bender. Brendon Kleen/The Stepback

An article that might be useful to some Suns fans

How to talk about college basketball when you don’t know anything about college basketball

After the first few lines I knew it was the story for me. I, much like it's author (Andrew Toblowsky of The Stepback), pay almost no attention to college basketball until March Madness rolls around and the NBA draft starts to get closer each year. It's a fun read and might be at least a little helpful when you're around other Suns fans who do watch college basketball and want to talk to you about it.

This Week in Suns History

On March 19, 1969 NBA Commissioner Walter Kennedy flipped a coin. Phoenix called heads but it came up tails and Milwaukee won the right to pick first in the NBA draft. Milwaukee selected Lew Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Phoenix picked Neal Walk.

On March 22, 2000 Phoenix Sun Jason Kidd was lost for the remainder of the regular season after breaking his ankle in a 114-93 win over Sacramento at America West Arena. The following day the Suns announced that Kevin Johnson was coming out of retirement to help his former team in its time of need. Johnson, 34 at the time, had not played since the 1997-98 season.

Suns Trivia

Leandro Barbosa has 6,408 total career regular season points scored as a Sun. This ranks him 14th all-time. He needs 13 more points to pass Jeff Hornacek who ranks 13th with 6,420.

Stats courtesy of Land of

Previewing the Week Ahead

Tuesday, March 21st @ Miami Heat (34-36)

Thursday, March 23rd @ Brooklyn Nets (13-56)

Friday, March 24th @ Boston Celtics (44-26)

Sunday, March 26th @ Charlotte Hornets (30-39)

The Suns have four more East coast road trip games this week. The fact that it’s a fairly short flight between Brooklyn and Boston between the back-to-back games on Thursday and Friday nights is about the only bright side for the Suns during this part of the road trip.

Tuesday night the Suns head to South Beach for what could be an unpleasant reunion former Sun Goran Dragic and the Heat. The Heat have managed to fight and claw their way back into the playoff picture since the All-Star break and now stand tied with the Pistons for the 8th seed in the East. They 7-3 in their last ten games and would very much like to add another W to their record against the Suns.

On Thursday the Suns take on the Nets in Brooklyn. A couple of weeks ago I would have counted on the Suns getting a win in this one but not anymore. The Nets do have the worst record in the NBA but have shown a little life lately and won three of their last ten games. Brooklyn also recently signed former Sun Archie Goodwin to a 10-day contract.

Then they travel to Boston. I doubt that Isaiah Thomas has forgotten that buzzer-beater that Ulis put in over him in their last matchup and the Celtics won't take the Suns lightly no matter who is shut down, out with injury, sickness or whatever.

And for the final game of the week the Suns and Hornets mix it up in Charlotte. The Suns beat them pretty badly in their previous meeting in Phoenix (120-103) about three weeks ago but I don't see that happening again... especially on their home court.

I believe that the Suns will at best go 1-3 this week.

How do you think the Suns will fare?

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