2 Total Updates since January 9, 2011
over 2 years ago Update 0 comments
It took all the talent the Phoenix Suns can muster these days to get a much-needed home win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Suns played flat and uninspired basketball for most of the game, but the short-handed Cavs weren't good enough to capitalize as most other teams would. The Suns finished with a strong defensive fourth quarter to secure the 108-100 victory. A win is better than a loss here, but there's not a lot to be excited about, either.
"We just needed to get a win. I don't care who it was against, Lakers, Clippers -- we'll take this win," Jared Dudley said, echoing the prevailing locker room theme.
Phoenix was led by Steve Nash's 20 points and 17 assists and got balanced offense, with four other players scoring over 15 points. Robin Lopez played one of his stronger games in recent memory with 15 points and six rebounds of his own. Channing Frye led the Suns with 12 rebounds against the undersized Cleveland front line.
The Suns held the Cavs to just 36.8 percent shooting, but gave up 20 turnovers, which kept the game close. Cleveland was led by a career-high 27 points from Manny Harris.
Before the game Coach Alvin Gentry said that he would look to find a more consistent lineup and rotations and stated that he felt his team couldn't play a 10-man rotation. However, ten guys did play in this game for the Suns with Hakim Warrick being the surprise entrant into the game after getting cut from the rotation in previous contests.
Gentry said he went back and looked at all the games and the ones that went well included strong performances from Warrick. "We've got to get him back in the rotation," Coach said.
Steve Nash spoke about what Warrick can give the Suns when he's playing with energy.
"We don't have any fours (power forward) so if Hakim plays well it gives us a four. It gives our team balance," Nash said. With Warrick on the floor, the Suns can run a strong pick and roll which generates both free throws and open looks on the perimeter when the defense sucks in.
For Nash this this have been a frustrating season.
"Frustration's been mounting for about three months. It's hard, this is very difficult. Just trying to fight though it and stay positive every day is a challenge. Sometimes you have to take a step back to gain perspective but when you get out there, the fire burns and the frustration is there."
Grant Hill left the game in the first quarter with what was officially described as mild right knee sprain. Goran Dragic suffered a bone bruise to his knee after colliding with another player. His knee was swollen and sore after the game. No word yet on Hill's prognosis or availability for the upcoming games.
The Suns play in Denver on Tuesday and are back home against the Nets on Wednesday.
over 2 years ago Update 4 comments
When things aren't working, you have to try something and for Phoenix Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry, that means shorter rotations, an established and consistent starting lineup, and increasing the tempo. With just two wins in the last ten games and a performance Friday that earned boos from the home crowd, Gentry is going away from what worked last season. but has so far failed him this year.
"I've tried to coach these guys like I coached last year's team and it's not the same team. The chemistry is not the same," Gentry said.
"Last year, we could play guys whenever we wanted to, who was going good, things like that. I think I've got to find a way to develop some consistency in the rotations and who's going to play and when they're going to play and them have a good feel as to when they're going to come in the game and stuff like that. This team's not a team that can play ten guys. I do understand that now. There's going to be three, four guys that are not going to be in the rotation."
Gentry will start Robin Lopez, Channing Frye, Grant Hill, Vince Carter and Steve Nash tonight and said that he would stick with that starting unit for the next ten games and stop trying to adjust to what other teams were doing.
He pointed out that two of the best games the Suns have played recently came against Oklahoma and San Antonio when the team was short-handed right after the trade.
"I just have to try and establish some more consistency and a pattern of rotations and substitutions and see if that's something that can help with the overall mindset of a guy and how he plays," he added.
Gentry gave the Suns the day off yesterday to help clear their minds and get both a mental and physical break. The upcoming schedule won't allow for many days off.
Asked about hearing boos from the home crowd on Friday, Gentry was understanding of where the fans were coming from. "The thing with people, they want their money's worth ... We've got great fans here. They love the way we play, they've been very supportive of us. We also have to keep our end of the bargain."
Suns broadcaster Tom Leander asked if there was a risk of tonight being "trap" game with the Cavs coming in with a poor record and an injury-depleted team.
"We have not played well enough to be any trap game. We couldn't be in a trap game if we were playing Appalachian State, my old alma mater. We're in a situation now where we need a win and we need a win in the worst way."
over 2 years ago Update 1 comment
The Phoenix Suns offense has gone bad. The defense is only slightly improved. Rebounding is still a disaster and rotations are a daily mystery. But all of that can be solved with one nice win over the Cleveland Cavaliers who come to Phoenix with the worst record in the league.
Obviously, that's not true. As we saw in Sacramento one week ago, the Suns are perfectly capable of losing to the worst team in the league and as we saw with an impressive win over Detroit on New Year's Eve, one win over another bad team isn't going to solve anything.
The only thing tonight's game will tell us is if this team might have reached rock bottom with Friday's embarrassing 25-point loss to Amare Stoudemire and the New York Knicks or if there's even further to fall for the team that was two-games from the NBA Finals just six months ago.
The Cavs know a thing or two about falling from NBA's graces as well. When LeBron James took his talents to warmer weather and into Dwyane Wade's arms, the Cavs went from a 61-win team to the bottom of the barrel. Their season was always going to be an uphill battle without James. But since LeBron and the Miami Heat stomped the pride out of his former team on December 2, the Cavs have only one game in their last 19 tries. Ironically, their single victory came over the New York Knicks on December 18.
Will Amare's return and embarrassing defeat of his former team have a similar life-sucking effect on the Suns?
Cleveland comes into Sunday's game with an injury excuse the Suns don't have. They will be without Daniel Gibson (ankle), Joey Graham (quad strain), Leon Poew (knee surgery) and Anderson Varejao (ankle). Anthony Parker is questionable with a back strain.
The only Suns injury is to rookie Gani Lawal who recently tore his ACL and MCL in practice last week and will be out for the season. Lawal had played two minutes for the Suns this season.
For the time being, the Suns are still clinging to hope and the memory of being a good team.
"What are supposed to do? We can't quit," Channing Frye said after Friday's loss to the Knicks.
Unfortunately, Channing is wrong. The team can quit as other teams have done and as this team has done during the course of games. A loss to the injury-depleted Cavaliers tonight would certainly look like a team that's given up.
The game tips off at 6 p.m. local time and will be broadcast on UPN My45 TV and 620 am radio. Fans can commiserate at the live game thread at Bright Side of the Sun.