The Phoenix Suns (5-7) come in "hot" getting a much needed win ending a three game losing streak while the New Orleans Hornets (3-7) are heading in the opposite direction having now lost five games in a row. This will be the first meeting between the two teams who each had a long summer, intertwined with one another.
Over the summer restricted free-agent guard Eric Gordon flirted with the Suns as both parties were very interested in bringing the star who has been a fringe All-Star for years.
The restricted part of free-agency however meant that the Hornets could match any offer and did so to make sure the prize of the Chris Paul Trade was staying put long term. In the end Gordon has done about as much for the Suns as he has his own team with being out indefinitely with a sore right knee.
For Hornets this team is all about youth with only two players seasoned more than four years in the NBA including former Sun Hakim Warrick. The Hornets youth (average age 24.38) and potential has to make fans of the valley envious, but also excited at the prospects of beating a young, struggling team.
Game Time: 7:00 PM
TV/Radio: Fox Sports Arizona/ Arizona Sports 620
Projected Starting Lineups:
PG - Goran Dragic vs. Greivis Vasquez
SG - Shannon Brown vs. Austin Rivers
SF - Michael Beasley vs. Al-Farouq Aminu
PF - Markieff Morris vs. Anthony Davis (Questionable: left ankle) or Ryan Anderson
C - Marcin Gortat vs. Robin Lopez
Shannon Brown vs. Austin Rivers: These two have a lot of parallels as great offensive players, but at times overly ambitious shot takers. Over the years Brown has learned his craft putting it out to perfection so far this season while Rivers is still learning on the fly. Rivers has yet to find his rhythm in the league only scoring in double-digits twice this season and shooting 31.2% overall as a high profile scorer coming out of college.
The other side of this, a stat that is not really a stat, is that the Suns have done a good job targeting rookies this season. In three out of the five wins this year a rookie was on the wrong side of a motivated Sun, whether it be Kim English, Dion Waiters, or Meyers Leonard, the outcome tipped the balance in the favor of the Suns. Twice it was Brown lighting up the scoreboard and he has a good chance to do it a third time here against a below average defender in Rivers.
Key Stat: 37.8%
That is the percentage opponents shoot against the Hornets from three on the season. They have given up 96 total made threes on the season (9.6 a game), which could be huge for the Suns who have struggled from deep this season despite hitting 7 last game.
What to Watch For: Will Anthony Davis play? If he does the Hornets have an arsenal of bigs to throw at the Suns making Ryan Anderson that much more potent threat coming off of the bench. The Hornets are clearly building around Davis even at this juncture in his career so game planning for them minus Davis is like any team in the league minus their superstar.
Can Robin Lopez Get His Revenge: Whenever I see Lopez on the court all I think is, "Hulk Smash," and that is something that he will look to do against his former team. The Suns gave him a chance and then shipped him off to make room for Jermaine O'Neal and Luis Scola's minutes this season. Last game out Lopez had 17 free-throw attempts, which was exactly what he totaled in the previous nine games overall.
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The Bench: The new bench brigade has a different look, but so far, through one game, has wielded similar results. Last game they were able to score 46 points collectively and on the season they are scoring 35.6 PPG as a unit. As it seems, no matter the faces, the unit is very productive and brings the energy. The Hornets have one of the most explosive bench units in the league averaging 37.1 PPG having outbursts of 56, 50, and 49 already this season.
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