PHOENIX AZ - JANUARY 30: Emeka Okafor #50 of the New Orleans Hornets slam dunks the ball against the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game at US Airways Center on January 30 2011 in Phoenix Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and or using this photograph User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
2 Total Updates since January 30, 2011
over 2 years ago Update 0 comments
It got a little closer than it needed to be at the end as the Phoenix Suns came one blown call away from giving up a 12-point lead in the final three minutes of the game. Grant Hill ended the New Orleans Hornets comeback with a block on a Marcus Thornton layup attempt that would have sent things to overtime. In the replay, the ball can be seen hitting the back board before Hill blocked it but the goal tending call wasn't made and the Suns held on to win their second game in a row.
"I thought (David) West was going to shoot it but he passed it. It was a great play on his part, I was just trying to come over. It was debatable whether it was legal but it was legal because the refs didn't call it," Hill said about the play.
Needless to say, the point of view from the Hornets side was a bit less sanguine.
"It's the NBA and I guess I have to get more experience to get that call. That's the most hurtful thing; our guys fought it out to the end and to not get that call, that's the hurtful thing," Thornton said.
In the end, the game shouldn't have come down to that one play as the Suns had built a comfortable lead behind solid defense -- holding the Hornets to 42.1 percent shooting -- and a balanced offensive attack that mixed up pick and roll scoring and three point shooting.
The Suns are getting better pick and roll play between Steve Nash and Marcin Gortat who led the Suns with yet another career-high scoring night (25 points). It's his third-straight game where he's set a new career-high.
Stepping in for the injured Goran Dragic, Zabian Dowdell played well in his first full game as the backup point guard. He had four points and four assists in 13 minutes but most importantly, the team was able to hold steady while Nash rested in the fourth quarter.
This is the second straight win for the Suns over a team considered to be in the top tier of the NBA but in both cases the opponent had played the night before and was banged up. You can only play the teams that are on the schedule and you still have to win. But even Grant Hill had some reservations about saying the corner has been turned.
"I think we're starting to come together. You're always kind of hesitant to say that with us, but seven out of the last 10 (wins)...we're starting to get confidence, we're starting to get a feel for one another and a comfort level with the new guys," Hill said.
over 2 years ago Update 0 comments
The New Orleans Hornets are the third-best defensive team in the NBA according to points allowed per 100 possessions. They played, and lost, last night in Sacramento in a close game that forced four of their starters to play over 35 minutes. The Phoenix Suns on the other hand, are rested and more so than last season depending on playing fast to win games. That all makes pace and tempo the key for tonight's matchup.
In the game against Boston on Friday, especially early when the Suns built their big lead, the Suns were coming down the floor and taking shots early in the clock. Even when those shots aren't falling, that's how Gentry wants his team to play.
"For us, that creates a good tempo and a good flow of the game so we can't pass on shots. That's why sometimes you'll see me getting on Channing (Frye) because he'll pass on a shot and we'll end up with a much more difficult shot than what he passed on. It's all about trying to get the flow of the game up and when we do that we usually play much better."
Gentry credited the Hornets defense this season to new coach Monty Williams who he said brought some of the San Antonio and Portland mentality with him to New Orleans.
"They're very tough and hard-nosed. You better get out and try and spread the court and be in the open court because once we get in half court they do a great job of just locking in on you and guarding."
"Same guy to me. I just think he's much more efficient in what he's doing. Still a great player. He still does a great job controlling the game. Great job of getting the ball to people and then a really, really good job of making a big shot when they need it most."
The game tips at 6 p.m. local time and will be broadcast on Fox Sports Arizona and Sports 620 KTAR radio. Fans can follow along with other Suns fans at the live game thread at Bright Side of the Sun.
over 2 years ago Update 0 comments
At about six this morning, Phoenix Suns backup point guard Goran Dragic said he got up from bed to go to the bathroom. He stepped on some glass that was on the floor of his Scottsdale home and ended up with nine stitches in his left foot near the big toe. Dragic is officially a scratch for tonight's game versus the New Orleans Hornets but will likely miss up to five games.
Dragic was at the Suns shootaround this morning still wearing the hospital wrist band from his visit to the emergency room and he showed me a picture of his mangled big toe which he said still had glass in it when he was treated. He promised that he will be wearing slippers at home from now on.
"That's how it is. I knew coming in that I was one injury away from having to stepping in, so here I am," Dowdell said.
"It definitely is a big opportunity any time you get a chance to step out on the floor. I just want to come in and keep the ship afloat. If I get in and things go south fast, that would be bad. I just want to try and control the game, control the pace and just run the team."
Dowdell considers himself a defense-first point guard who can control the offense and make some plays. He's generally not considered a great shooting guard and in my experience watching him in two summer league stints with the Suns he doesn't have the finishing ability of a Dragic but he's a steady presence who doesn't make mistakes.
Zabian, 26, is a four-year product of Virginia Tech with a couple years of experience playing overseas. He's a confident and solid player who will have a chance to show fans and executives from around the league what he can do. With the opportunity to play over the next several games, this is a big moment for him.
"I can run the team. I can get in the lane. I can find guys. I'm just going to look to be a threat, you know. Be aggressive and not be passive looking to other guys to make things happen," he said about his approach tonight.
Zabian played against Chris Paul in college and also against Hornet's backup point guard Jarrett Jack. He's spending the rest of the day studying the scouting reports and watching film in preparation for his big moment.
Suns Coach Alvin Gentry doesn't know what kind of production to expect from Dowdell but he's certain the third-string point guard will play without fear.