The Phoenix Suns open a season-high 10-out-of-the-next-12-game home stand tonight against the Charlotte Bobcats (18-25). Normally, that would be cause for confidence on Planet Orange but this season and with this opponent there's a lot to be worried about.
The Suns have been a very good home team over the past five or so years but stand at just 11-9 at US Airways Center this season and that's just not going to work according to Alvin Gentry.
"Our record at home is one of the worst in the league, really. When you think about the number of games we've played and we're right at .500 and that's not good enough," Gentry said after a shootaround.
Gentry has often preached that the key to a 50-win season in the NBA is to win 30 games at home. That's going to be a tall order for the Suns now who would have to go 19-3 to reach that mark. I think we can safely call that "unlikely".
As for the Bobcats, they've beaten the Suns four out of their last five meetings including an embarrassing 123-105 game earlier this season. They are a difficult matchup for the Suns according to Steve Nash, who cites their versatile players and their rebounding ability. Vince Carter, who was on the Orlando Magic last year when they swept the Bobcats in the first round of the playoffs explained the key to beating them.
"You have to attack them early," Carter said, "You have to take their confidence immediately. If you don't and let them hang in there it can be a long night."
The Suns know all about long nights.
Today was Vince Carter's 34th birthday and the team presented him with a red velvet cake, his favorite. Asked if his mother made a good red velvet cake, Vince said she didn't but she knew were to find the best ones. He plugged "The Cake Man" in Brooklyn.
The team's rookies and new guys sang to Vince but really it was Garret Siler stealing the show. Here's the audio of his stirring rendition of "Happy Birthday to You."
Vince reflected on his career saying, "When you come in the league, especially myself coming in the league as a high-flyer, a lot of landing, a lot of running and jumping and dunking, and the body's still holding up so I'm thankful for that."
Carter went on to talk about his sore left knee which he tweaked early in the game in Philadelphia when he landed after a dunk. He said the swelling has gone down and they were pleased it didn't swell more on the flight back to Phoenix. That was a sign that there's no structural damage. Vince seemed to accept that his knee is just going to be sore sometimes but admitted that it effected the lift on his jump shot causing him to hit the front of the rim.
"I expect to come out and produce for this team. That's what they brought me here and that's what I need to do, regardless," Carter said, adding that he's felt better today during practice.
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.
- "That's just basketball sometimes. Sometimes the bottom falls out at the wrong time and you've got to find a way to get a stop or get a basket when it's not going for you and we just haven't done it this year," Steve Nash said about the fourth quarter collapse in Detroit.
- "Our home record hasn't been good enough. We need to play better at home. We've done a decent job on the road at times but at home it's not been good enough. We've got to find a way to bring more energy at home and play better," Nash said.
- Carter on the road trip: "It was a very long trip. 3-2 is not bad. 5-0 is what we wanted. It's just good to get back home, get us some home cooking and get ourselves back on another win streak."
- The Bobcats are 9-6 since firing Larry Brown. DJ Augustine is thriving under former Sun Paul Silas. He's averaging 18.7 points per game and 47.3 percent shooting (41.9 3P%).
- The Bobcats lost Tyrus Thomas to a knee injury for several months and also are without DeSegana Diop for the rest of the season. Kwame Brown has been starting at center, but before you laugh, he put up 13 points and 18 rebounds against a pretty good Sacramento front court in their game last night.
- Boris Diaw has played and started in 184 consecutive games since being traded to the Bobcats, proving the merits of a pastry-laden diet.
- Goran Dragic went one on one with Dan Majerle after practice. Majerle was backing him down and pounding him in the painted area but Dragic hit some shots in his face after Dan backed off and when he didn't, Goran went by him and ended the game with a pretty drive and finish with his right hand. Dan wasn't happy about losing and (probably) jokingly refused to shake Goran's hand.