Chris Bosh, who had been struggling through the Miami Heat's first 10 games, went a long way towards regaining some mojo in scoring 35 points through the first three quarters of his team's steamrolling of the Phoenix Suns. Bosh sat out the entire fourth quarter after shooting 12-for-17 from the field and 11-for-11 from the free throw line, along with six rebounds and four assists.
The Suns had no answer for stopping Bosh, or any of Miami's big three. LeBron James had a typically well-rounded game, accruing 20 points, nine assists and eight rebounds and Dwyane Wade had 17/6/6. The offensive barrage started early, as Phoenix fell behind 6-0 and never really got back into it. They led briefly towards the end of the first quarter, but that was about it.
After their scorching-hot three-point shooting in Los Angeles, the Suns have had two straight games of ice cold work from distance. Against the Heat, they shot only 26% from behind the arc, missing 14 of their 19 attempts. On Monday against Denver, the Suns were able to overcome their shooting woes with grit, ball protection, and timely defense. Unfortunately, two of the Suns' usual problems showed up tonight: the team was outrebounded 42-32 and had 17 turnovers to Miami's 11.
Ball movement, in general, was a major issue. Steve Nash, known as a prolific assist-generator, had zero assists in the first half; it was his first such game as a Phoenix Sun. He ended the game, after 29 minutes of play, with only two assists and 11 shot attempts -- never a recipe for a Suns victory. Prior to the tip-off, Nash's status was unknown due to a strained groin -- and could have been a last-minute lineup scratch -- but ultimately decided to play. Perhaps it might have been better for him to sit, as he clearly wasn't himself, and now, after potentially agitating the injury further, he'll have to face the Orlando Magic on the second night of the East Coast back-to-back.
Goran Dragic ended the game with no assists, leaving forward Hedo Turkoglu as the team's assist leader, with four.
On the positive side, Channing Frye continued to shoot well, going 2-for-3 from three and 6-for-9 overall, with six rebounds in 26 minutes. Turkoglu appears more comfortable with every passing game, and had 10 points, six rebounds and four assists in his limited minutes against Miami. Key reserve Jared Dudley continued to struggle from range. He's only shooting 27% from three for the season after leading the team in three-point percentage last season, making 46%.
The Suns face the Orlando Magic tomorrow at Amway Center.
For those Suns fans who usually listen to the legendary Al McCoy give the radio play-by-play on Sports 620 KTAR, you’re going to be disappointed. As was reported earlier this year, McCoy will miss some of the team’s road trips this season, beginning with the current one that begins tonight in Miami.
In his place will be Jeff Munn, who is a secondary play-by-play guy for the Arizona Diamondbacks, hosts their post-game show, and does play-by-play for the Arizona State women’s basketball team. Munn will join regular color analyst Tim Kempton.
The last game McCoy missed was a game in Chicago five years ago.
It'll be a difficult business for the Suns to try and extend their current three-game win streak. The Heat aren't playing cohesive basketball just yet, but the "Miami thrice" are awfully nice. However, if the Suns are going to steal a game on this back-to-back, this is the one. The Heat, as a whole, are much smaller than tomorrow night's foe, the Orlando Magic. Down one Robin Lopez and up one Earl Barron, the Suns will appreciate the lack of proficient size on Miami's roster. Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Joel Anthony, Juwan Howard and Udonis Haslem are not the most intimidating bunch, so Phoenix should be able to hang reasonably close in the battle of the boards.
Chris Bosh would normally be a factor, but his rebounding numbers are way down early this season (from 10.8 RPG in '09-'10 to 6.0 so far this year). However, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra will likely consider the Hedo Turkoglu-on-Bosh mismatch to be prime territory for exploitation tonight. Phoenix's help defenders will get a nice workout down low.
But, of course, it's the Heat's back court that's the real problem. Grant Hill, Jason Richardson, Jared Dudley and Goran Dragic will have their hands full trying to keep both James and Wade from penetrating the lane at will. But I think head coach Alvin Gentry would argue that if only James and Wade are trying to beat you, you've got a good chance for victory.
Tonight will be yet another test in an early Suns season filled with them. So far, though, the team has performed admirably in the face of superb competition so it shouldn't be too surprising if the team comes out swinging.