The Phoenix Suns and the Cleveland Cavaliers represent two mediocre NBA teams. One is older and average (at best) and the other is younger and average (at best). On Thursday night in the battle of mediocrity, the younger team won.
The Suns played flat as if they had a game the previous night instead of the next night. They were consistently beat to loose balls and were slow and unenergetic on defense. The Cavs won the rebounding battle 47-39 and had 20 second-chance points.
"The game was on the boards and we did a poor job on the boards and that's something we've got to take care of," Alvin Gentry said. "I told the guys that here's a team that shoots 43 percent against us and finds a way to win the game and that shouldn't be the case."
The Suns PR staff described the key stats in the loss:
A combination of SUNS TURNOVERS (16 for 19 Cavs points) and CAVALIERS OFFENSIVE REBOUNDS (15 for 20 second-chance points) gave Cleveland 14 more field goal attempts than Phoenix and allowed the Cavaliers to win despite shooting just 43.8 percent from the field, including only 41.4 percent from TWO-point range.
During a stretch of the second quarter, the Suns gave up a 14-2 run that allowed the Cavs to go from down six to up eight. Rookie Kyrie Irving scored 12 of those points as the Suns time and again went under screens and gave him wide open shots.
Irving finished with 26 points and six assists while Antawn Jamison added 23 points and when 3-5 from three.
Irving said it was an honor to play against Steve Nash, "I have been watching him for so long so to finally get to play against him it was a little surreal. But once you're out there in the game, I am a competitor and so is he and it just show you he is still doing the things he has done for his whole entire career."
After Irving's run in the second quarter, the Suns never were back in the game. They never got too far behind but weren't ever able to close the gap either.
The debut of Michael Redd couldn't have gone better although coach Alvin Gentry will surely caution patience and urge us not to jump to conclusions. Redd hit his first two shots as a Sun, both open corner threes, and finished with 12 points on 4-9 shooting.
Grant Hill, 0-2 in seven minutes, did not return for the second half due to "soreness in the quad tendon of the right knee". Hill said he was sore before the game and tried to go.
He hopes to play Friday when the Suns face the Nets but it will depend on how the knee feels. It's the same knee he had surgery on in September but it's not the same part of the knee that's now giving him problems.