The Phoenix Suns got a much needed victory over the Charlotte Bobcats, 117-110 Wednesday night in Charlotte. The Suns got their first road victory of the season, and finished their first road trip of the season 1-2. Here is what I learned from the Phoenix win.
Shannon Brown is the Sixth Man
If there was any doubt who will be the first man off Alvin Gentry's bench before, Shannon Brown's 24 points last night cleared up the equation. Brown had 18 points in the fourth quarter, and made six threes on the night. Brown got crucial minutes in crunch time and should lead the bench the rest of the season.
Some people, including yours truly, thought that the Polish Hammer might have less force this year. I thought that Gortat's production would decline without Steve Nash to get him the rock. However, Gortat scored a season-high 23 points against Charlotte and grabbed double-digit rebounds for the fourth straight game.
The Suns rank 8th in the NBA in rebounding and Gortat, along with Luis Scola, is a big part of that. Gortat is averaging 12.3 rebounds per game and 3.5 blocks per game.
The Suns Defense Needs Work
Early in the season, Alvin Gentry preached team defense. And fans bought in, with Phoenix allowing 87 points to Golden State and 89 to Detroit in their first two games. However Phoenix allowed 115 points to Orlando and 110 to Charlotte tonight. Two teams that were supposed to be terrible this season, scored an average of 112.5 points on the Suns.
The Suns allowed 35 points to the Bobcats in the third quarter, and they allowed Bryon Mullens to drain six threes and score 24 points. Phoenix led by 14 to start the second half, and one minute into the fourth quarter, Charlotte tied the game up. The Suns cannot to go through those defensive lapses against good basketball teams and expect to win games.