Well it's that time of the week, time for the Phoenix Suns Player Thermometer for week 15 of the NBA season. After struggling below .500 since December 19th, the Suns finally broke through last night by taking advantage of the tired Golden State Warriors. Only problem with this player thermometer is that it only takes into account the games played up until Wednesday, so you won't find anything about last night's game here. Guess you'll just have to wait for next week. That is what we in the business call a "teaser."
In the actual week that was, the Suns played just two games -- one a tight loss to Oklahoma City in which referee favorite Kevin Durant benefited from a phantom foul call which, after a pair of technical fouls on Nash/Hill, resulted in a game-changing four free throws. The other game was Monday night's near-blown lead to Golden State in which the Suns shot out to a large early advantage only to see it slip away.
Here are this week's player rankings, in order of hottest to nottest (last week's ranking is in parentheses).
1. Channing Frye (3). I suppose this ranking was compiled based on shot attempts because Channing was not shy in the past two games. The "engine" of the Suns offense attempted 31 shots in the last two games, hitting just 12. His 5/17 (1/6 threes) performance against the Thunder was probably a key factor in the Suns loss, but he rebounded nicely against the Warriors, hitting 7/14 from the field and a very impressive 5/9 from three. Included in those five threes against Golden State were two enormous shots that took the Suns from a perilous five-point lead to an 11-point lock. Frye also added 11 rebounds in the contest. (Scott Howard)
2. Steve Nash (2). It has been more of the same for Nash. He is putting up solid numbers, but hasn't had to shoulder the scoring load. He had 12 points and eight assists against the Thunder and 14 with 15 against the Warriors. Overall, it was a good week, although it could have been better if he didn't have a bunch of "cheap bastards" for teammates and more of them had gotten him a gift for his 37th birthday. (Jess Root)
3. Grant Hill (5). Grant hasn't been spectacular lately, but he's been solid. Even when he's not putting up gaudy stats -- which he's done off and on this season -- he's doing things to help keep a young, relatively talent-less team playing smart basketball. More than anything, his defense has been solid this week. He basically neutralized Monta Ellis, holding him to "only" 21 points -- and it took Ellis 17 shots and 47 minutes to get there.. (Justin Burning)
4. Marcin Gortat (1). Earth, meet the Polish Hammer. Polish Hammer, meet the earth. After his obscene 21/13 week, Gortat saw himself step back to reality, but still managed to average 9 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Sure, those aren't the All-Star levels from the week before, but only the craziest fan could have expected him to continue to do that. Gortat going 3/10 from the field against OKC was a case of a guy falling a bit too much in love with his jump shot when it isn't that great. All seven of Gortat's missed shots were jumpers and he was blocked on three separate occasions. Go to the rack, son! (SH)
5. Vince Carter (7). Vince was once again hot and cold. He was every bit the superstar for three quarters against Oklahoma City, scoring 30 up until the final quarter. But he missed the big shots when the team needed him. Classic Vince. He followed that up with a 3-12 10 point game against Golden State. On the bright side, we were able to witness his the warmer, caring side when he helped Steph Curry up after taking him out on a pick. (JR)
6. Jared Dudley (6). Jay Dee continues his consistent play. His shooting stroke was a little AWOL against the Warriors, but he found ways to help out. Completely opposite from last season, this year's bench has not been good, but Dudley's remained a dependable player off the pine, while a number of his reserve compadres seem unable to find their way. (JB)
7. Robin Lopez (4). Like a lot of NBA basketball players, Robin's comfort level and ability to stay mentally in the game seems to be based completely on how early and often he is incorporated into the offense. Against Oklahoma City, the Suns went to RoLo early and often and he responded with seven first quarter points. After that, the team stopped going to him despite the fact that he posted 11 points on 5/6 shooting. As with Gortat, Lopez was a bit of a non-factor against the Warriors as they went small -- he played just 15 minutes, scoring five points on 1/3 shooting and grabbing exactly one rebound. He did, however, manage to come up with two steals, which is just weird.(SH)
8. Zabian Dowdell (8). 'Z' must be happy -- he was signed for the rest of the season. He promptly followed that up with a scoreless performance against Golden State. Against the Thunder, he had flashes of playing decent, scoring four points, assisting on three baskets and netting three steals. However, when he is on the court in the fourth quarter, bad things have been happening. He looks good in the second, but the offense bogs down late in the game, which is one of the likley causes for the team's recent struggles in the fourth quarter. Once Dragic comes back -- which could be this next week -- Dowdell will be relegated to cheerleader status hanging out with Garret Siler's eyes and Josh Childress' hair. (JR)
9. Mikael Pietrus (9). Pietrus has been getting regular rotation minutes lately, which is a step up from a few weeks ago. His shot is still off and on. It was very off with a 1-for-6 shooting performance against the Thunder (including 0-for-4 from three). Against GSW, he was 4-for-7 (3-for-5 from three), so yeah ... not dependable. Unfortunately, when his shot is going, he seems to get a little too in love with trying to make plays. I've seen a handful of bad shots or forced passes as a result. (JB)
10. Hakim Warrick (10). Hak has settled into a nice role of playing a few minutes a game and being completely irrelevant. Wait, you mean that isn't nice? He played 7 minutes against OKC and posted no stats besides a missed shot and a pair of missed free throws but against Golden State he "exploded" for 6 points in his 6 minutes. Remember when this guy was called Amar'e-lite? Good times. (SH)
11. Goran Dragic (11). Dragic doesn't play a minute and still is higher than the Suns bench team. He is still recovering from his foot fight with glass on the floor when he got up in the morning to take a leak. Word to the wise, young Goran. You may be "The Dragon," but you are not stronger than glass on the floor. Don't leave any out before going to bed, certainly not in your bath to the bathroom. It will end badly for you. (JR)
12. Josh Childress (12). This can't be what Josh had in mind when he signed a contract in Phoenix. At least in Greece, he'd be playing. Everyone's talking about Childress being a disappointment in his return to the NBA, but I don't see how that's his fault. He had a broken finger when he was playing and now that he's healed, he's not in the rotation. I still think he'll work out if Grant Hill would just go ahead and retire. (JB)
13. Garret Siler (13). If I'm Garret Siler, I'm pretty pissed this week. First the second time in a couple weeks, the Suns had a large lead and it looked like we were going to get some sweet, sweet Silo action -- but no. The Suns had to allow Golden State back into the contest and the big man was frozen to the bench. For shame, rotation players, for shame. (SH)
14. Gani Lawal (14). Yes, he is still on the team. He's still rehabbing his surgically repaired knee. No, he won't get any higher than this the rest of the season. (JR)