Head coach Alvin Gentry of the Phoenix Suns reacts during the NBA game against the Portland Trail Blazers at US Airways Center in Phoenix Arizona. The Trail Blazers defeated the Suns 101-94. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
1 Total Update since December 29, 2010
over 2 years ago Update 0 comments
The new look Phoenix Suns five games after the big trade showed little sign of improvement on the defensive end. In fact, if anything the losses to the Clippers and now to the Philadelphia 76ers showed a team that is moving in the wrong direction, and fast. The Suns defense was next to non-existent as they passively allowed their opponent to move the ball at will, take open shots and drive into the lane and draw fouls. The Sixers were happy to take advantage with a season-high 123 points on 55 percent shooting. Coming into the game, Philadelphia averaged just 95.6 points per game which is 23rd in the league.
It might be too soon to pass final judgment on the trade and the Suns season overall but clearly they are moving in the wrong direction. In Vince Carter's debut with the Suns the offense wasn't a problem as they shot just over 50 percent themselves and put up 110 points. That has to be enough to win a home game if this team has any hopes of making the playoffs.
The 76ers took advantage of a passive Suns defense that wasn't physical and put no pressure on the ball. They were comfortable all game which showed up in seven players scoring in double figures. Evan Turner, the number two overall pick in this year's draft, had a break out game with 23 points on 9-12 shooting and Jrue Holiday was able to use the space the Steve Nash gave him to shoot 12-18 for a team-high 25 points.
Philadelphia's defense wasn't much better as they also allowed the Suns put up 65 points and shoot 59 percent in the first half.
The real difference in the game was the bench play. The Suns used five guys off the pine who combined for 40 points while three reserves for the Sixers put up 48. Even more troubling was the continued poor play from Goran Dragic who didn't score at all in 10 minutes was lost on both ends of the floor.
With the new Suns front line rotation that doesn't put enough shooters on the floor, Coach Gentry has taken the ball out of Dragic's hands and had the second unit run a more conventional offense with wing players running off screens and attacking in isolation. With two bigs on the floor who need to be in the lane, Dragic doesn't have room to penetrate or run the pick and roll and his play reflected that change.
Vince Carter had a quiet 18 points (8-20) while Steve Nash lead the Suns with 23 points and 15 assists. Nash was visibly frustrated on the court and his highly animated reactions earned him a technical foul. The Suns were out-rebounded by the 76ers 46-31 and gave up 18 second chance points.
Phoenix falls to a season-worst four games under .500 (13-17) with the loss while Philadelphia goes to 13-19. The Suns next play at home against the Detroit Pistons on New Year's Eve.
over 2 years ago Update 0 comments
The Phoenix Suns bring a lot of baggage to this match with the Philadelphia 76ers. The league-worst defense hasn't shown much improvement, despite the constant coaching emphasis, and the rotations and bench play are still a disappointment. The Suns hope that the debut of Vince Carter will be a step in the right direction as he brings the team a different offensive look and, more importantly, allows Coach Gentry to establish a set rotation for his reserves.
"Obviously, the talent level there is pretty special," Gentry told reporters this week. "We're excited about him. We'll get him out there and see how long he can go, put him in some situations. I think he's eventually going to be everything we thought he could be."
The Suns (13-16) are losers of seven of their last nine games and understand that if they hope to make the playoffs, they will soon need to show signs of improvement. Losing to the league's best teams is painful, but understandable. Losing to sub-.500 teams like they did on Sunday against the Clippers is a sure recipe for a failed season.
The Sixers come to town with a 12-19 overall record, but have been playing better of late. They split their last ten games, with four of the five losses coming to top teams in the league, while they managed to also notch wins over the Denver Nuggets, Orlando Magic and New Orleans Hornets. This is a team very capable of beating the Suns if the home team doesn't play much better.
The 76ers are led on offense by Elton Brand's 15.1 points, but overall have a balanced attack, with six players averaging over ten points per game.
The game tips off at 7:00 p.m. local time (9:00 p.m. ET) and will be broadcast locally on Fox Sports Arizona and Sports 620 radio. Fans can follow along with the live game thread at Suns blog, Bright Side of the Sun.