1 Total Update since February 4, 2011
over 2 years ago Update 0 comments
The Phoenix Suns overall weren't displeased with their performance in the 111-107 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. They credit the play of the young and talented Thunder team but also feel they played hard and were the recipients of some questionable calls late in the game.
"I was happy with the effort we played with. I thought we did a good job. We've got to do a better job defensively in the fourth quarter but we also missed a bunch of shots that could have given us a little separation or could have kept us right there in the game," Alvin Gentry said.
It was a game of runs that started with the Suns building an 11-point lead in the opening five minutes of the game but then the home team gave up a 21-15 run to the Thunder. It was a pattern that would repeat itself several times right up through the fourth quarter where the Suns were able to build a six-point lead with 7:27 to go. Then the Thunder came right back and tied the game at 103 with 1:41 to go.
The ability to win these close game, especially at home this season, has been a constant sore spot and unlike in years past this time it's the offense that's not been there.
Vince Carter on three straight possessions missed long field goal attempts (two three-point shots and a long two) while on the other end the Thunder were able to scratch out four points off a Serge Ibaka tip-in off a missed shot and a Russell Westbrook 11-foot shot in the lane.
"I was wide open. Wide open. Maybe they should have guarded me, I might have made them. That's all I got for you," Carter said about his late-game opportunities.
That sequence put the Thunder ahead 107-103 with 40 seconds left in the game. The Suns forced a back court violation on the in-bound pass and then cut the lead to 107-105 off a Nash layup. On the next Thunder in-bound the ball went to Kevin Durant who appeared to travel but the foul was called on Nash which effectively ended the game.
"I felt like there was minimal contact. He jumped in the air 40 feet from the basket. There was minimal contact. That's the kind of call I don't see going our way when we're on the road," Nash said about the play.
It wasn't the only controversial call that had the Suns miffed.
With about 4:14 to go, Kevin Durant attempted a baseline jump shot. The official called a foul on Grant Hill on the shot and then called technical fouls on both Hill and Nash for arguing the call. That gave Durant four free throw attempts. He missed two but the two he made tied the game at 97.
"It's hard enough guarding (Durant) one-on-one. He's a great player and I think the world of him as a player and as a person and I enjoy competing against him. It's certainly a challenge. He's a great scorer," Hill said.
"He's an honest guy. He said on that play I didn't foul him."
Vince Carter definitely wins the award for the best and most frustrating player of the game. He was aggressive in the first half and scored 19 points on 6-8 shooting and even better, got the free throw line for seven attempts and even drew a charge. In the second half, Carter lost his aggressiveness and didn't get to the line once and went 5-13 from the field, including those three crucial misses.
The Suns fall to 23-25 on the season and once again fail to reach .500 when given the chance.
Goran Dragic was wearing shoes on both feet for the first time this week. He said they are leaving the stitches in his toe a little longer to be safe and that it would be about five days before he can play after the stitches come out.
over 2 years ago Update 0 comments
The Phoenix Suns had one of their best wins of the year on the road in Oklahoma City when they beat the Thunder 113-110 the day after news of the big trade with Orlando was announced. The Suns were without either their out-going or in-coming players but managed to win behind great games from Grant Hill (30 and 11), Steve Nash (20 and 10) and Robin Lopez (19 and 4).
Suns' Coach Alvin Gentry admitted that while it was a great team win, it also helped that the Suns shot the ball "unbelievably well" and the Thunder missed shots they normally make. In that game Phoenix was 57.5 percent from the field while the Thunder were just 42.9 percent and a miserable 6-21 from long range.
Thunder star and potential NBA MVP Kevin Durant was asked at morning shootaround if his team "owed one" to the Suns. "I think so," he said.
The key to slowing down the Thunder for the suddenly competent Suns' defense is denying dribble penetration by Russell Westbrook and keeping Durant off the foul line.
Gentry's Suns' have held opponents to 43.3 percent shooting over their last 11 games. The head coach credited improvements in both team and individual defense along with having more size in the front court with the addition of Marcin Gortat.
For the Thunder, Durant shared his keys to slowing down the Suns.
"Transition defense is the key. Pick and roll defense, I think we have to do a great job. Gortat is playing unbelievable basketball. Playing like one of the best centers in the league right now. Since he's been here his game has kind of blossomed," the budding super-star said.
Durant also had praise for a childhood hero, "Grant Hill is playing unbelievable for his age. He's playing great. He's playing like a 22-year-old."
"I kind of looked up to him as a player. It's cool to see how well he's playing at such an old age. Sorry to put that in there."
The Suns can improve to .500 with a win tonight, but Alvin Gentry doesn't put too much significance on that number. The goal for his team is to make the playoffs and as he said, .500 in the West is like playing par golf on the PGA tour. It is good enough to earn you a seat to watch the rest of the teams in the post season.
The game tips at 7 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.
On the All-Star selections:
On defensive improvements:
On coaching Serge Ibaka in the dunk contest: