PHOENIX - NOVEMBER 15: Jason Richardson #23 of the Phoenix Suns lays up a shot against the Denver Nuggets during the NBA game at US Airways Center on November 15 2010 in Phoenix Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
2 Total Updates since November 15, 2010
over 2 years ago Update 1 comment
The Denver Nuggets came into Phoenix winless in their last 11 tries and walked out with another loss despite having a 15-point lead early. The Suns easily could have rolled over and used the "second of a back-to-back" excuse, but they kept fighting and clawed their way to the win. This was the most impressive win of the season so far just based on the grit and determination the Suns showed.
The Nuggets were shooting 50 percent at the end of the half and finished with 41.6 percent. The Phoenix defense held Denver to 11-of-37 shooting in the second half. Suns coach Alvin Gentry recognized the defense his team played against the normally high-scoring Nuggets.
"I keep standing up here and talking about Channing Frye's defense; he is doing such a good job for us. As far as team defense, this was probably the best win we have had in a long, long time from a total team defensive situation," Gentry said.
On the other side of the court, Nuggets head coach George Karl was very critical of his team's offense.
"That should be the headline: Pass The Damn Ball. Trust the pass and play the game ... We did a lot of good things, but if we're not going to share the ball then we've got to play much better defense than what we played," Karl said.
The Suns defense in the first half, and especially in the second quarter, was exposed in its weak middle by Nene and Al Harrington. They each had 11 points and combined to take 17 shots. In the second half, the Nuggets went away from their bigs and the two combined for only seven field goal attempts. This fact did not go unnoticed by Harrington.
"It's frustrating. We found a recipe that would help us win the game and we went away from it. That's just us," he said about his team's offense that reverted to an isolation-oriented selfish game.
In a game that had six Suns players in double-figures, it was the guy who finished with nine that was the star. Hedo Turkoglu built on his big shot against the Lakers with a strong fourth quarter performance on both ends of the floor, including key blocks on Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony and another big three to secure the win. He finished with just nine points, seven rebounds and three assists, but controlled the game with Nash resting on the bench. The Suns were led in scoring by Hakim Warrick's 21 points.
"Tonight, he put me as a three (small forward) and give me the ball (so) that I can play a lot of pick-and-roll and do the things that I'm good at and thank God it worked out for me and for the team, too, and we get a win," Turkoglu said about his performance that ended up leading the team in plus/minus with a +16.
The game had a sloppy and slow feel for the first quarter, with Denver first to awaken in the second and take a 12-point lead into the half. The Suns showed their determination and the kind of grit that Amare Stoudemire is missing on his new team and battled back in the third quarter, cutting the lead to two before falling behind seven going into the final stanza.
In the fourth, Turkoglu took over and the Suns repeatedly exploited the Nuggets' switching defense to find Warrick in the post against a smaller defender. Warrick was not known at a low post scorer and his prowess in the paint has even surprised coach Gentry.
Warrick insists it's always been part of his game, "In Syracuse, that's where I made my living, in the post. So whenever I got down there, especially when there's a smaller guy, I try and make them pay for putting a smaller guy on me."
The Suns survived a 20-point, 22-rebound performance from Carmelo Anthony, who set a career-high in boards. The Suns defensive game plan against the league's top scorers like Melo is to keep them off the line. Anthony had free throw attempts and needed 19 shots from the field to score his 20 points. That kind of inefficiency keeps the ball out of other players' hands and is very effective when the Suns don't give up too many offensive rebounds. The Nuggets had 16 second chance points compared to 15 for the Suns.
The Suns now travel to Miami for a game Wednesday against the Heat and then to Orlando on Thursday to face the Magic.
over 2 years ago Update 2 comments
When Matt Barnes flopped to the floor after taking minimal contact from Jared Dudley, he caused a chain of events that ended with Dudley falling (thanks to Barnes) into the side of Robin Lopez' left leg. Robin went the floor holding his knee in pain and the replay clearly showed Dudley hit Robin in the side and bent the knee inward -- not a direction it's designed to move.
The injury could have been much, much worse -- just ask the Portland Trail Blazers, who have four players who have undergone at least two knee surgeries since 2007, plus former ASU Sun Devil Jeff Pendergraph, who blew out his ACL this preseason. Fortunately, the reports today are that Lopez suffered a "mild sprain" and will miss one or two weeks, which should equate to four to seven games.
The injury, which happened during the second quarter of the Suns game against the Lakers, is a set back for Lopez, who was still recovering from last season's back injury that caused nerve issues in his right leg and robbed him of the explosiveness and quickness that made him so special last season. The Suns were hopeful that, with time, he would regain his full athleticism and it even seemed early in last night's game that Robin was moving better.
An even more interesting part of the report is that the Suns will look to sign a big man to fill a spot on the roster. This means they aren't ready to move rookie Gani Lawal into the rotation and they aren't sold on Garret Siler getting big minutes behind Channing Frye, who will likely move into the starting center role.
It remains to be seen what options are out there for available big men that the Suns can sign. Perhaps Dwayne Jones will return to Phoenix for a third time.
[Note by Seth Pollack, 11/15/10 6:21 PM MST ]
Dwayne Jones is going to China and doesn't have the size the Suns were looking for. It seems like Earl Barron will be joining the Suns as soon as Wednesday in Miami according to Paul Coro.
over 2 years ago Update 0 comments
The Denver Nuggets have not beaten the Phoenix Suns in Phoenix since before Steve Nash re-joined the Suns in 2004. That's a total of 11 consecutive home wins for Phoenix over Denver. Tonight will certainly be a challenge for the Suns to keep that streak alive as they come in after last night's road win over the Lakers while the Nuggets are fresh and rested. That said, there's a reason the Suns have won 16 of the last 22 meetings between these two teams -- the Nuggets are a good match up for the Suns.
The two teams right now are very much alike. Both are small in the front court with the Nuggets missing bigs Chris Andersen and Kenyon Martin due to knee injuries and the Suns just being the Suns. If there's any game that Phoenix can afford to not have Robin Lopez in the lineup and playing well, it's against the Nuggets, who will start Nene and Sheldon Williams and back them up with Melvin Ely and Gary Forbes. Nene is a decent player, but he doesn't have the length and mobility to bother the Suns nearly as much as other bigs.
The Nuggets excel, like the Suns, on the play of their wings and backcourt. Carmelo Anthony is still playing in Denver for the time being, but Grant Hill has managed to slow him down over that past few years. It will remain to be seen if Grant can get his old body up and rolling for this game on no rest, but typically, even if his shot isn't falling, he still manages to stay in front of his man.
The back court rotation of Chauncey Billups, Aaron Afflalo, JR Smith and Ty Lawson is the group that does the most damage for the Nuggets. Those four account for 43 percent of Denver's scoring. The Suns, however, have the top rated back court in the NBA. They lead in points per game (59.1), assists per game (14.8) and are fourth in assists per game (16).
The Nuggets (5-4) are ranked sixth in offensive efficiency and 20th in defensive while the Suns are second and 29th, respectively.
This game is the second in a brutal six-games-in-nine-nights stretch that includes four of the league's best teams. With the win last night in Los Angeles, the Suns are off to a good start and another victory tonight would take the pressure off the next two game set in Orlando and Miami on Wednesday and Thursday.