Suns Fight Off Kings, 103-89, Reach Sweet Sweet .500

Led by Steve Nash's gaudy stat line (28 points, 14 assists, seven rebounds) and more of Hakim Warrick's effective scoring (18 points on 6/8 shooting, 6/7 free throws), the Suns downed the Kings.

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Steve Nash Score Machine Lifts Phoenix Suns Over Sacramento Kings

The Sacramento Kings are reportedly a mess in the locker room with all kinds of divisions and distractions and they sure played like it against the Phoenix Suns. The Suns weren't exactly fantastic except for Steve Nash who finished with 28 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds to lead Phoenix to a 103-89 win over the Kings. Nash was 13-18 from the field for his best shooting night of the season. He obviously was energized by the birth of his son this morning.

"I thought we played good," Kings guard Tyreke Evans said in a statement that really doesn't match the game we saw. "Nash was being Nash; hitting shots in the lane, pull ups. We couldn't stop him tonight and that was pretty much it."

The Kings were lead by Carl Landry who had 20 points and 11 rebounds while Nash got help from Hakim Warrick's 18 points and Jason Richardson who finished with 14. It's hard to give the Suns defense too much credit for the Kings poor shooting but they certainly were able to take advantage of Sacramento's mistakes and run the ball off turnovers and misses. The Kings shot .409 from the field and never had any kind of cohesion or offensive flow.

Rebounding, which has been a problem for the Suns all season long, was an issue again tonight with the Kings out-rebounding the Suns 50-42. But the inept Kings offense wasn't able to convert on their extra chances so the advantage didn't help them much although it's still a concern of the Suns as expressed by Jason Richardson.

"We've got to rebound. We did everything we were supposed to do on the defensive end besides that aspect of it. We played great team defense, we held them to 40 percent but we just got to find a way to rebound the ball, that's the only thing we have to do better."

Turnovers have also been a focus for Suns Coach Alvin Gentry. He was pleased to see that his team only coughed up the ball 11 times but he's repeatedly said that while the Suns can improve the turnover problem, rebounding is going to plague this team as it's currently constructed. 

"I mean there's no secret formula. We're just going to have to find a way to just man up and find a way to come up with some rebounds," Gentry said.

The Suns four bigs, Hakim Warrick, Channing Frye, Hedo Turkoglu and Robin Lopez, combined for only 13 of the Suns 42 total rebounds. Nash and Richardson had 15 on the night. The Suns can get away with that against a bad team like the Kings but will not be able to beat quality teams if the bigs aren't grabbing more boards.

The Suns held a lead most of the game with the margin reaching 14 points early in the third quarter before the Kings were able to close the gap to three early in the fourth. Nash came back in the game a bit early and the Suns quickly pulled away for good.

For more on the game, visit Bright Side of the Sun.

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Gentry Considering Starting Warrick Over Turkoglu, Foul Trouble Biggest Concern

Phoenix Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry spoke more today about the possibility of starting Hakim Warrick over Hedo Turkoglu at power forward. He's been open to the idea for several weeks now and Turkoglu said he would not be opposed to coming off the bench.

It's been a difficult transition for Turkoglu, who has never played the power forward position in the NBA and has been frequently overmatched by bigger players such as Zach Randolph, LaMarcus Aldridge, Lamar Odom, and DeJuan Blair. Turkoglu has been giving a good effort, but has found himself in early foul trouble in several games, which has taken him out of any kind of rhythm offensively.  

"I don't know. We'll take a look at it. One of the things I talked to Hedo about is that to have him guard a Zach Randolph or something like that is a little unfair, so there is a possibility," Gentry said after Suns shootaround.

"We'll see how it goes. I don't want him in foul trouble, so if I think it's a situation where he's going to get in immediate foul trouble, then we'll change our rotations and it could be as early as two or three minutes in the game."

Warrick, who's listed at 219 pounds, is also too thin to be effective against bigger power forwards, but it's a position he's played his entire NBA career. This gives him the advantage of experience when it comes to fronting in the post and playing without fouling.

The rebounding and defense from the Suns power forward position would be less of an issue if center Robin Lopez were fully healthy. Lopez said this week that he's still not regained the same level of athleticism as he had last season before injuring his back.

"I think I'm not quite as explosive as I was last season. I need to get back to that, but I also kind of need to figure out how to play not being quite as explosive," Lopez said this week about his condition.

He feels that eventually he will get back to the same level of play and in the meantime needs to get better at being effective without the same quickness and explosion. Robin says he's not in any pain, but just needs more time to recover from last year's injury. Lopez is only averaging 5.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game this season, which is down from the previous year's numbers. 

The Suns face the Sacramento Kings tonight, who start Carl Landy at power forward. Landry, 6-9 and 248 pounds, is also undersized for the position, but is a very physical player. It will be interesting to see how Hedo responds. 

According the game notes from the Suns PR department, the Suns have won 25 consecutive home games against their Pacific Division opponents, not including the LA Lakers: Kings (nine straight), Golden State Warriors (10 straight), and Los Angeles Clippers (six straight).

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