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As the 2012 NBA season winds down, the bottom half of the Western Conference playoff spots are really crowded and close. Only three games separate the fifth seed (currently the Memphis Grizzlies) and the 10th place team (currently the Utah Jazz).
The Phoenix Suns did themselves a huge favor with a road win in Utah Wednesday night. By winning, they leapfrogged Utah, taking over the ninth spot and gained on the Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets.
Phoenix, now 28-26, trails the Denver Nuggets for the eighth and final playoff spot, by one game. They will play Denver on Friday. The Houston Rockets are also just one game ahead of the Suns.
Here is what the standings look like as of Thursday morning:
|Oklahoma City1x||40||14||0.741||0.0||29-10||9-2||23-5||17-9||7-3||L 2|
|San Antonio2||38||14||0.731||1.0||24-11||10-4||21-4||17-10||9-1||W 9|
|L.A. Lakers3||35||20||0.636||5.5||26-11||8-3||23-5||12-15||7-3||W 4|
|L.A. Clippers4||32||22||0.593||8.0||21-17||4-6||20-9||12-13||6-4||L 1|
|Golden State||21||32||0.396||18.5||14-21||7-6||11-16||10-16||3-7||W 1|
|New Orleanso||14||40||0.259||26.0||8-29||1-8||6-21||8-19||4-6||W 1|
Talk more Suns at Bright Side of the Sun.
The Phoenix Suns (28-26) jumped ahead of the Utah Jazz in the race for a spot in the 2012 NBA Playoffs. Having played the night before, the Suns were the tired team, but that didn't show in their high energy play as they beat the rested Jazz on the road to take over ninth place in the Western Conference. It wasn't easy but it certainly was thrilling, as the team from Phoenix showed a lot of heart and late-game poise to get the win.
And Steve Nash went retro with two clutch buckets in the final minute of the game.
The game was back and forth through the first three quarters with the Suns building small leads only to give them back to Utah.
But with the starters back on the floor, the Jazz cut the lead to two with a 7-0 run of their own. With just over a minute left in the game, when Channing Frye threw up a prayer with the clock running down and drained three. The Jazz came back and scored and then Paul Millsap stole the ball from Nash and was fouled.
After an Al Jefferson game-tying shot, Nash hit a dagger of his own to retake the lead only to see Millsap drive and dish to Jefferson for another bucket to level the game.
The two-time MVP, perhaps tired of hearing about his old age and bad back, hit a second clutch shot on a leaner in the lane with 1.7 left. The Jazz came just a hair's breadth away from another tie on a put-back of a missed three, but the replay showed the clock had expired before the ball left Millsap's hands.
What a finish. What a game.
The Suns got balanced scoring with nine or the ten players who player recording at least seven points. Redd led the team with 19 in just 22 minutes on 8-17 shooting.
The Suns get a needed day off before heading to Denver to face the Nuggets who they are also chasing for a playoff spot.
It's time for the Phoenix Suns (27-26) step up to the plate and take a big bite out of the Utah Jazz (28-26) who they are chasing in the playoff race. The Jazz are 19-7 at home and are rested having not played since Monday. The Suns played in Sacramento and then traveled after the game Tuesday night. It won't be easy.
Bright Side of the Sun explains:
Game Preview: Phoenix Suns Can Overtake Utah Jazz In Playoff Standings With A Win Tonight - Bright Side Of The Sun
However, Utah has lost 3 of their last 4 and most of their rotation is young, not used to the playoff pressure, while the Suns' lineup is full of veteran's accustomed to qualifying and going deep into the playoffs. Just two seasons ago, many of these same Suns finished on a 28-7 tear and blazed through two playoff rounds before bowing out to the LA Kobes.
TV broadcast info:
The Suns game tips off at 6:00 p.m. Arizona time on Fox Sports Arizona and Arizona Sports 620 radio. Bright Side of the Sun will have the live game thread.
The Phoenix Suns led for nearly all 48 minutes on Tuesday night over the young Sacramento Kings, and some stellar offensive execution down the stretch propelled Phoenix to claim the 109-100 victory. The Suns had six players score 12 points or more, with Marcin Gortat leading the way with 20 points and 10 boards.
Steve Nash had a monster second half and ended with 18 points, 12 assists and six rebounds. Michael Redd erupted off the bench for 16 points, nine of which came in the fourth quarter. Channing Frye and Jared Dudley both scored 15, while Shannon Brown had 12 on 14 shots.
As a team, Phoenix went 24-for-28 from the free throw line. They shot nearly 45% from the field, although they hit just five of their 22 attempts from behind the arc.
The Kings were without leading scorer Marcus Thornton and it showed down the stretch. DeMarcus Cousins had a monster night with 41 points and 12 rebounds. Rookie point guard Isaiah Thomas had 25 points and seven rebounds, while Terrence Williams contributed 16 points, five assists and six rebounds off the bench.
The Suns could not afford a loss on Tuesday night and they remain in the hunt for a playoff bid in the Western Conference. Next up for the team: another road game in Utah against the Jazz.
For more on Phoenix and their quest for the playoffs, head on over to Bright Side of the Sun.
The Phoenix Suns know they only have so many opportunities left on their schedule to improve their standing in the Western Conference. Playing their second game in two days against a talented Sacramento Kings squad, the Suns dominated on the offensive end of the court as they scored 59 points in the first half. The lead grew to as many as 17, although a late rally from Sacramento helped keep them within striking distance.
Marcin Gortat has played very well thus far and leads Phoenix with 13 points, eight rebounds and two blocks. Veteran guard Michael Redd scored 10 off the bench, while Jared Dudley, Shannon Brown and Channing Fyre all chipped in nine points each. Steve Nash has four points and six assists thus far.
DeMarcus Cousins has been on some kind of a roll in recent weeks and is off to another strong start, scoring 17 points and bringing down four rebounds in the first half. Terrence Williams came off the bench to score 12 points, dish out four assists and bring down four rebounds as well. Despite shooting nearly 49% from the field, the Kings shot just 1-for-7 from behind the arc and made just four of their 11 free throw attempts.
The second half is about to get underway. The Suns cannot afford to let this game get away from them with the playoffs looming. FOX Sports Arizona is broadcasting the game live.
For more on Phoenix, head on over to Bright Side of the Sun.
The Phoenix Suns come into their game Tuesday night against the Sacramento Kings sitting still in 10th place in the Western Conference. They sit two games behind the Houston Rockets, who current hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference.
While Phoenix sits just outside of the playoffs currently, not much separates them from the fifth seed. The Memphis Grizzlies sit at number five, but only 3 1/2 games separate them and the Suns in 10th place.
There is not going to be much movement Tuesday night. There are only eight games on the NBA schedule and of the teams in the West in fifth place or lower but still in the playoff picture, only Memphis and Phoenix are playing. The Suns, naturally can only gain a half-game on Houston and the ninth place Utah Jazz with a win, or lose a half-game with a loss.
Here are the standings entering Tuesday's NBA action:
|Oklahoma City1x||40||13||0.755||0.0||29-10||9-2||23-5||17-8||7-3||L 1|
|San Antonio2||36||14||0.720||2.5||24-11||10-4||21-4||15-10||9-1||W 7|
|L.A. Lakers3||33||20||0.623||7.0||25-11||7-3||22-5||11-15||6-4||W 2|
|L.A. Clippers4||32||21||0.604||8.0||21-16||4-5||20-8||12-13||7-3||W 6|
The Suns start a decisive stretch of eight games with a fairly easy one in Sacramento.