Friday, October 21, 2011

No Sympathy for NBA Players

The NBA owners and players have been meeting recently in an attempt to save some sort of season. The owners are demanding serious cuts in player’s salaries but the players have not been willing to give in. The war of words in the media has definitely tilted towards the owners as fans simply don’t have any sympathy for the players. This could be a big week for negotiations and it may decide whether we can bet on NBA basketball anytime soon.

Players Fighting a Losing Battle
You really have to kind of feel sorry for NBA player’s union president Derek Fisher. He is a really good guy who is trying to make the best of a bad situation. The owners are not going to give in to the players but Fisher has to put up a brave face and try and hold the union together. It doesn’t help that many of the players have no clue as to the reality of the situation. "We have 450 guys that are entitled to various opinions," said Fisher, "It's extremely difficult to try to not just control their thinking, but make sure as a group we're sending a collective message."

Mixed Message from Players
The players can’t even get the right message out to the media. Some players have said that they have considered caving in to the owner’s demands. Others, like Denver’s Kenyon Martin have even started to argue with fans.

Owners Winning the War
The owners are going to win the war; it is just a matter of how big the victory will be. The NBA is not the NFL and there is no outcry from the public to save the season. The NBA owners are not getting much sympathy from the public either but they don’t need any. They are going to win this battle and they are getting a lot of help from the players who can’t get any type of consistent message out there so that the public will support them. The players will have to give in to the owners to some extent. Perhaps Fisher can save something but as each day goes by the likelihood of the players winning anything grows dimmer. Whether there is any season to bet on NBA basketball is still up in the air but what we do know is that the owners are going to win when this lockout is over.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Trade Deadline

The 2011 trade deadline has come to a close and the potential for a positive Suns deal was there, and they definitely made some moves.

Still, NBA odds makers likely won't be favoring this team anytime soon.

Instead Suns management traded Goran Dragic, surprise breakout player of the 2010 playoffs, or, a bench player that got lucky for one series. They also traded away a first round pick. All for Rockets guard Aaron Brooks, a definite gamble.

Trading Dragic I can understand. But the Suns affinity for trading away first-round draft picks is unsettling.

I am glad they kept Steve Nash, I would like to see him retire in Phoenix. I feel no matter his age he will continue to be a very positive contributer to any team.

Obviously the Suns needed some young talent and athleticism to pair with Steve and Aaron Brooks does have the potential to become a star player. Time will tell.

The Suns have always been of proficient teamwork. But I feel that the team has always lacked a bit of selfish and aggressive play. Maybe Aaron Brooks could fill that role.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A few quick thoughts

Seems like forever since we've seen the Suns. I was thinking I wouldn't be that interested in the playoffs but to my surprise I've enjoyed it. The Bulls/Celtics series was an all-timer. LeBron James' nightly exploits have blown me away. I was listening to the end of Game 2 of the ECF on the radio with a buddy from Ohio when LeBron hit 'the shot.' We were both screaming. I hope they comeback against Orlando and setup up an epic Finals. James is easy to root for because he comes off as genuine, has created a fun atmosphere with his teammates and is so fun to watch. Watching the Lakers and Cavs battle would be nice but the Magic aren't too shabby either. Entertaining basketball is all we can ask for at this point since our beloved team is chilling.

So the lottery came and went. The Kings and Wizards got screwed and it further shows how the lottery works for the good and bad. Have two worse teams ever gotten the 1st and 2nd picks? The Clippers are owned by total jerk and the Grizzlies don't have a fanbase in the city they moved to. Blake Griffin and Ricky Rubio have to be hoping for trades. The Suns will get an interesting player at 14. They have two second round picks too but I think they should be active on the trade front. At 14 I think Earl Clark should be the guy. A legit 6-10 basketball player. The kid can do anything and can actually guard people. He's got a Lamar Odom written all over him. It's probably the NJ accent though. A lot of people are saying take a PG but this draft is full of point guards and why waste a pick on a PG if we're committed to Dragic and trying to extend Nash. The thing with Clark is motivation and I think playing on a team with hungry veterans helps guys realize quickly how small the opportunity is to be an elite team. Playing with Nash, Hill and Shaq would help his progress immensely. We'll see though.

A few rumblings in interviews that Amar'e is dropping hints that if the Suns don't want to win, he's outty. Heard similar overtones from Nash that he wants an idea of what the team is doing before he signs an extension to end his career in Phoenix. The Shaq trade rumors have started to bubble up as well. I can't really blame guys for being skeptical of management with how they bungled what was the best young team in the NBA. Doesn't it seem like yesterday that the Suns were the #1 overall seed in the Playoffs and taking on the mighty Spurs. Free agency is a player's leverage and they have to use it. There are plenty of cities to play and earn a fat check but veteran players want a chance to win. When the Suns stopped developing players, they killed their team and now it's a big bag of spare parts. 'Used to be' is the phrase that describes too much of our roster.

Shaq: used to be the most dominant center in the league
Nash: used to be the best point guard in the league
Hill: used to be Grant Hill
Amar'e: used to the best young big man
J-Rich: used to be the two-time slam dunk champ

Thinking about the guys that 'Used to be' Suns makes it even more depressing. Kerr has recommitted to run n' gun. That's nice. It'll keep fans in the seats and keep the Suns on TV. But we need young studs. We need players to rally around and appreciate as they grow. Draft a stud. Find a way to get Trevor Ariza. Trade Alando Tucker if you're not going to play him. Trade one of our big contract stars and get some flexibility. Do something to make us see this team as something other than a sinking ship with players waiting to dive off in 2010.

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

A few thoughts on the future

I have sporadic internet access at the moment but here's some food for thought that I'll write more on later.

Grant Hill possibly returning

Alvin Gentry possibly returning

UPDATE
I officially gave up hope after the crushing OT loss to Utah last Saturday. That followed by the stinker in Sacramento was it. Today's nationally televised blowout in Dallas simply gave the jerks at ESPN ample opportunity to pick at the Suns as they fade into the lottery.

I find it funny how Mark Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy and Jon Barry can espouse at length on what it takes to win an NBA title when none played or coached on a title team. Listening to Jackson and Van Gundy complain about how bad the Suns and Mavericks are was inexcusable given that they get paid to be there. Fans of both teams are watching and these guys sound like grumpy New Yorkers who didn't want to make a trip to the South. I've hated ESPN/ABC's coverage for a while and it seems to be getting worse. One thing I liked about watching the NBA Finals in Europe last year was having no idea what the Portuguese announcers were saying. I could watch the game without Jackson's fortune cookie observations and Van Gundy surliness. If it's Kobe vs Lebron this year, I might have to mute and hope Dr. Jack Ramsey is on the radio.

Since the season is going to end a lot earlier than we've grown accustomed to now is as good a time as any to think about the draft. With Suns all but mathematically locked into the 14 spot, I think they can get a rotation worthy player with shrewd scouting. One player I really like is Sam Young of Pittsburgh. He knows how to play. We were watching tourney games a couple weeks ago and he was involved in every play down the stretch as Pitt pulled out a tough win. He makes spectacular plays and the little plays that don't show up in the box score. Blocking a layup after a foul to prevent a three-point play and then the player misses a free throw. Runs a late in the shot clock inbounds play to perfection with an assist while simultaneously screening two guys to give his teammate an open shot. He can guard guys bigger than him, he's explosive and runs the floor well. He's a senior and a little older than others in this draft class but I don't see how that hurts him. He's the type of player you can see playing on a winning team.

We won't have a clear draft picture until May 19. Players have until April 26 to declare and the lottery drawing is May 19. While it would be a miracle of sorts if the Suns slips into the top 3, they can start the rebuilding process with a good pick at 14. This offseason will be interesting.

Alvin Gentry has gotten a lot out of this group, especially bench players who gathered dust under Terry Porter. He seems like a great choice to coach this team going forward. We'll see what Sarver and Kerr do. They could go in another direction and pay a retread to install a new system with a new roster.

Steve Nash and Grant Hill could return or be let go or traded to chase rings. While I really like both players in Phoenix, I'm rooting for them individually to win it all as well. There are plenty of great players who never won rings but I really want it for Nash. As mentioned before, I've been watching him since I was high school including watching him play in-person in the NCAA tournament. He's my favorite player.

Amare Stoudemire and Shaquille O'Neal have value and big salaries so their names will come up often in trade rumors. I personally think the Suns will pounce on a draft-pick or young-player laden trade offer this summer for one or both. While the Suns may continue to be an uptempo team, there will be some sort of moves made that balance out the roster with youth and players who excel on defense.

The pressure is really only on one person: Steve Kerr. All the main players on his roster a proven commodities. This season has proven that the Suns had a tenuous yet effective balance between their stars and role players under D'Antoni. The Gentry mini-era has proved that only the role players on this team will guard anyone. We've seen lineups with Jared Dudley and Louis Amundson make runs because they make scrappy plays on defense that feed the break and keep the tempo up. With the firepower this team has, it only takes a commitment from the stars to play come defense. Nash is a bad defender because he's small but he's usually one of the league leaders in charges taken. The reality shortcuts the effort. With Amare and Shaq, they're huge but they don't bring the type of energy a player like Tyrus Thomas, Paul Millsapp or even Samuel Dalembert brings on a consistent basis. Big men are a precious commodity in the NBA and it really hurt Phoenix this season that they have two that are poor on defense. It's up to Steve Kerr to commit to a vision for this team and execute the moves to bring it to fruition. Robert Sarver is watching that balance sheet closely and losing don't sell tickets

As we move further away from the suspension series, it seems that Horry hip-check changed the direction of this franchise. The Suns have not caught a break or made a smart move since. With the Lakers dominating the West, Portland poised to add the final piece and the Nonics two drafts away from completely dominating the league- the Suns need some luck, some smarts and an infusion of youth to be an elite team again. I'll keep following but honestly I can't wait for football to start.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Die Hard

So I was going to write about the tournament and players I'd like to see in purple and orange next year. Then the Suns went into Die Hard mode and have put together a win streak in the face of being a lottery team.

I love points. I love the exciting finishes. I'm loving the bench guys making plays. I look forward to watching my team play again.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Worst Case Scenario

We needed a good road trip to keep the playoffs in sight. The Suns lost four toughly contested games, finding new ways to lose each one. They went cold in Orlando. They couldn't get a stop in Miami. They couldn't get the last shot to drop in Houston. They were out-executed in the clutch in San Antonio.

At this point it looks bleak for the Suns making the playoffs. The team hasn't quit. Nash is making plays, Shaq is still a force and different role players are contributing something each night. But this trip was a chance to step up to another level and really strengthen their case as a playoff contender. Unfortunately nothing good came out of it.

The Suns lost ground on the inconsistent Mavericks. We got word Amare Stoudemire is officially out until next season (even though it was highly unlikely he'd return). The Suns are four games back of the Mavs who currently reside in the 8 spot (aka the 'get housed by the Lakers' slot). They play two more times, including Tuesday night in Phoenix.

The team is not terrible. If they were in the East, they'd be battling for homecourt advantage in the first round. But Phoenix is in the West, where you need 50 wins to get into the party.

So maybe it's time to start thinking about the lottery. Here's the reality, as I've mentioned before. The Suns are going to battle until the season ends which means they'll be the best nonplayoff team. So the Suns are practically guaranteed (98.2% chance) of getting the 14th pick in the draft. If they don't get that pick- it'll be in the top 3 of the draft (1.8% chance of that happening). Is there a player out there who can have an instant impact at 14? Is there a rotation player that can be developed at 14? Even better question, what type of team are the Suns going to be going forward?

The Steve Kerr era has been a failure. This talented yet aging team continues to lose tough games and see a playoff run slip away. If Kerr has a strategy after the stutter-step mess this season has been, we'll see it deployed this offseason. Not sure how much faith I have in Kerr to rebuild this team quickly but perhaps some luck may finally give this franchise a boost.

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Seven Seconds or Shaq



Steve logs on to FML and types. "I traded my backup power forward because he hated our new coach and was overpaid as a backup. The team plays awful under my hand-picked coach who's a friend and former teammate and I fire him. I promote an assistant who brings back the old style. My All Star power forward goes down for the season after we decide not to trade him for draft picks and expiring contracts. His eye injury is the continuation of a training camp injury dealt by the backup I traded. F my life."

Seven Seconds or Shaq
This is the Suns hope for the remainder of the season. If the early offense isn't there, dump it down to the Big Cactus. The fact of the matter is we have a guy who really wants to win another title... who's done it before. We have two guys who are desperate to win a title before their stellar careers come to a close. Shaq is rested from having sat out all the back to backs early in the season. He's been rejuvinated by the training staff. Now the team really needs him. Some nights, they'll run people off the floor. Other nights Shaq will have to dominate for the Suns to win. He passes well out of the post. He's hitting a decent percentage of his free throws. He's probably as funny as he's ever been.

The Suns victory over LA today was their best of the season for many reasons. They were missing Steve Nash and dependent on Shaq and someone else to step-up. Matt Barnes after saying the Suns owed the Lakers one, has his best game of the season. The Suns built a lead and rebuilt it after a furious Laker rally. The Suns also goaded Kobe into 38 shots. Kobe put it on him today and kept firing until he had 49 points and a 2nd straight loss.

So the Suns are 6-2 in their quest to go (at least) 22-9, secure 50 wins and hopefully a playoff berth. The warmups against the Clippers and Nonics are nice but the Suns will have to get playoff-quality wins to get into the playoffs. It's time to start playing to the strengths and fight like this season is not lost. Hearing so many Laker fans in the crowd on national TV was a disgrace. This team needs it's fans back. If the Suns are going to beat the mountain of odds building against them, they need all the help they can get.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Stoudemire out with injured eye

All the excitement from the run n' gun blowouts is now tempered with a bit a bad news. Amare had to have surgery for a partially detached retina and will miss up eight weeks. During his monster 42-point game against the Clippers, Amare appeared to have hurt the eye defending Al Thornton on a dunk attempt when Thornton hit him in the face with his left hand.

I think we'll definitely see a return of the goggles when Amare returns. However a return this year means the Sun have to make the playoffs. Good thing they didn't trade Shaq yesterday. The bench will have to step up to replace the production but Amare was one of the Suns matchup advantages especially in the SSOL offense. Let's see if they nab a big like Mikki Moore who was waived or if Courtney Sims actually dresses for the team now.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sprint to the finish line

Last night's game against the Clippers was X-rated. There are wins, there are blowouts and there are X-rated affairs like last night.

It was enjoyable to see the Suns running and gunning again. Dropping a 140 spot on the hapless Clippers was a nice way to open the stretch run and hopefully send a message to the Western conference. At this point no one is picking Phoenix to do anything. B-Ball analysts are gloating for picking against the Suns and dissing Steve Kerr and Robert Sarver like they are Dumb and Dumber.

At this point, I can't help but think about the season preview:

So my theme for this season is Die Hard. This season is for the Die Hard fans. The folks who'll keep rooting for the Suns through it all and who'll love it the most when we get that first ring. Hopefully the Suns will show some John McClane perseverance through all the challenges this season. Hopefully the Phoenix Suns will be the team that's the hardest to finish off. If they can do that, regardless of when the season ends- we'll be inspired.

We need this team to run, we need them to play loose and crazy, we need them to be who they are. As much as people hated the Shaq trade, I hope his energy and leadership really shine through down the stretch. After he was the star of All Star weekend, Shaq is rejuvenated for one last run to glory. In a hilarious appearance on NBA TV last night (if you're missing Fan Night on Tuesday, you are really missing out) he said at best they can finish 26-5 at worst 22-9. That may be good enough to nab homecourt in the first round. So far it's 1-0 and with Zach Randolph getting himself suspended, it should be 2-0 after tonight a rematch with the Clippers.

Three thoughts...
The talking heads are doubting the return of Seven Seconds or Less (SSOL) because the Suns have lost shooters. I like the approach they used last night. Run for layups. They scored 90 points in the paint. The Clippers scored 100 total. With the finishers they have on this team, they can run for layups and midrange shots and be just as effective. Amare didn't take a jumper from what I remember. Plus J-Rich, LB and Nash can shoot and Barnes will break out of his funk at some point.

The bench has to give the Suns something if they are going to avoid burnout. Nash is the motor here and there has to be some playmaking when he takes a seat. It's almost better that they haven't been running all season as they may be peaking when the playoffs start. I hope last night was a building block for Dragic. Getting into the lane puts a lot more pressure on defense than dribble, dribble, start the offense. He was playing not to make mistakes because Porter had him on a short leash. Last night, he wasn't hesitating and pounced on opportunities including a monster dunk. We know what to expect from Amundson, LB and even Barnes at this point. Dragic is a wild card but we've seen players confidence grow in this system before, let's hope it happens again.

Besides the Lakers at 1, no other spots in the West are locks. New Orleans is playing slower and just traded Tyson Chandler. Houston just lost McGrady for the year. Portland is young. Dallas is old. San Antonio is not as solid defensively. Utah is still missing Boozer and Kirilenko and they're awful on the road. LA and Denver have a few warts too. There are opportunities to be had, let's see if Phoenix can rise in the standings.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Terry Porter: I'm out

Terry Porter has announced he's been fired as head coach of the Phoenix Suns. This may have been the worst kept secret over All Star weekend. It was accurately leaked on RealGm on Thursday, reporters were referencing that inside source by Friday, and TNT's Craig Sager jumped Shaq with that story during the game on Sunday.

I went into Porter's failings in my previous post. What's bound to come out now is more stories about how Porter treated this team. He apparently wasn't well liked at all and had very questionable motivational methods. It is interesting what will be done now as far as trades. The financial situation hasn't changed and there are plenty of sharks in the water ready to pounce on Amare at bargain price.

There have been a lot of stories this weekend skewering Steve Kerr and Robert Sarver for how they've handled this team on their own. With the benefit of hindsight, we can see they haven't made any moves to build on the momentum of the back to back WCF appearances in 05 and 06. At this point, do you want to see the team completely blow it up or try to nab a low playoff seed and almost certain first round elimination? Or is there still some chance they can put together a run for the ages?

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Eyes on Phoenix

Eyes around the NBA are focused on Phoenix. It used to be because the Suns would be in the top 2-3 teams in the Western Conference heading into the All Star break. Now the Suns are hosting the game. Instead of showcasing the city and franchise, it's a distraction from what's wrong with the Suns. Let's investigate a bit:

1. Terry Porter
No coach in the league has a tougher job. Unfortunately for Porter, the degree of difficulty doesn't reduce the accountability for the team's performance. The system he's implemented hasn't worked. Players have complained publicly, malcontents were traded, every NBA analyst has an opinion and most importantly in this business- fans aren't happy. The teams hasn't won more than three consecutive games at any point this season. The scoring is down, the games are slower and the team is struggling against good teams and middle of the road teams. The team is fighting for the eight spot when the bottom of the West is plagued with injuries and any spot up to four can be had with a winning streak. Translation: Porter is compromising what he wants to do with a roster that was built for a different coach and tweaked by his general manager.

2. Emphasis on defense
Suns junkies remember all the hype after the Porter hire about the team focusing more on defense. We all remember how Dallas tweaked a few things, changed coaches, made a couple of smart minor moves and got to the Finals. It seemed that way in training camp, when Porter stopped the scrimmages because there was too much scoring and saying "That's not our identity." Porter's Suns are one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA. Shaq doesn't even extend to shooters on the pick n' roll. Amare still doesn't fully understand help principles. Their best individual defender at this point is Grant Hill, who's 36. The team may give up slightly fewer points per game but they play at a slower pace and the point differential is much smaller. Translation: I wouldn't trust this team to guard a swimming pool.

3. New offensive offense
This one rubs a lot of people the wrong way. All one has to do is watch the game Sunday versus Detroit and tonight versus Philadelphia. Fact: Steve Nash is the common link between 6 of the last 7 top scoring offenses (last year, missed it by .9). So the new coach decides to make a healthy Shaquille O'Neal the focal point of the offense. The Nash and Amare pick n' roll has made token early appearances but mainly only showed up late in games. The fast breaking after makes disappeared. This team doesn't force any turnovers to speak of so the break dried up. Best offensive point guard of the decade, 2-time MVP relegated to feed the post on a team full of players built to run. So against Detroit, the team pushed at every opportunity, Nash picked the Pistons apart en route to 21 assists. Tonight, the Suns were run off the floor by the Sixers fueled by 18 turnovers. Shaq had no lift and Porter threw in the towel in third quarter down 14 points. The pick n' roll with Amare is still rarely used. Amare is often handed the ball at the elbow and asked to make a play. LB once again is being asked to run the 2nd unit and his inability to create for others is still a glaring weakness. Translation: the team can run half-court sets but making that the primary focus on a team with Steve Nash is dumb.

4. Trade rumors
Because of the places I've lived, I've mostly had to watch on League Pass over the last few years. I saw the Nash/D'Antoni version of the Suns play for the first in person 12/23/04. Joe Johnson had an awful night, Stoudemire ( who was practicing nothing but midrange jumpers before the game) had a great night, Nash had 17 and 14, D'Antoni barely used his bench and the Suns beat the Grizzlies to go to 23-3. The next game I saw in person was 4/19/08. Game 1 of the Spurs series last season. Best game I've attended in any sport and it broke my heart. D'Antoni's team left it on the floor but once again he was outcoached, far too familiar of a refrain during his tenure. Long lead-in for my point but think about all the changes between those two games. Nash wins two MVPs, Amare is All NBA after microfracture, Joe Johnson traded for Boris Diaw, LB goes from scrub to sixth man of the year, Steven Hunter leaves in free agency, Q Rich traded for Kurt Thomas, Kurt Thomas and draft picks given away, Casey Jacobsen traded for Jim Jackson, Jim Jackson traded for nothing, Shawn Marion traded for Shaquille O'Neal plus the selling of James Jones and the draft picks that turned into Rudy Fernandez, Sergio Rodriguez, Luol Deng and Rajon Rondo. Now Amare is on the block. Two thoughts here. 1. How many times did the roster reshuffle around Stockton and Malone before they reached the NBA Finals? They were the only constant between the teams that made the Conference Finals in 91-92 and the Finals for the second time in 97-98. 2. With all the change within this organization just in the last 5 years (ownership, general manager, coach), what are the Suns going to build around? What is their plan?

Trading Amare or Shaq is a salary dump, plain and simple. The team clearly doesn't expect to compete for a championship at this point. Unless sliding into the 8 spot to stop the Laker juggernaut is what the team is aiming for. Kerr may be trying to back track to use Amare to make up for mistakes he and his predecessors have made. However getting All Star players requires luck and skill and Amare is the only one the Suns have been right about that's still on their roster. Translation: The road to hell is paved with good intentions, apparently so is the path to mediocrity.

5. C.R.E.A.M
I got a message from a friend who's a season ticket holder. Apparently fans have starting skipping games and the USAC is partially full for weekend games. For an ownership group so reluctant to lose money, rebuilding is not a pleasant prospect. Getting out of luxury tax territory is a goal for Sarver et al but losing playoff money will hurt especially if season ticket renewals go down or the Suns can't increase ticket prices. The word in the past is teams get about $1 million per playoff game, but that's inaccurate because the league takes a cut and visitors get a cut during long series. But the extra ticket revenue from making the playoffs helps with critical extra income. It convinces fans it is worthwhile to support a team. Watching the league pass games, I see a lot of empty seats at NBA arenas. Fans getting priced out of games is not a new story but in this tight economy, I think good teams are going to be a lot more reluctant to lose, unless of course it's cheap. Even though the Lakers sucked after trading Shaq, they only missed the playoffs once and Kobe missed a ton of games to injury. The Knicks are unlike any other franchise in the league, so they manage. The Suns need to keep a competitive team on the floor. Translation: Robert Sarver's efforts to save money cost this team a title and will ultimately cost him more money as this franchise loses value.

It sucks we're on the verge of seeing this team completely blown up but sports can break your heart. A lot of sports talk is just a long discussion about 'almost.' You know the Sun Devils almost won the national title with Jake the Snake. The Suns almost won a title with Seven Seconds or Less. The Cardinals almost won the Superbowl. The Patriots almost went 19-0. It's just a matter of if we want to keep watching... and paying.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

I give up

When was the last time you saw a 60-point swing? How about in the last two Suns games. From the complete domination of the awful Sacramento Kings on Monday, the Suns were torched by Golden State 124-112 Wednesday night.

Golden State came out firing and jumped out to a 17-2 lead. There were mismatches in the Suns' favor all over the floor but the Warriors exploited Amare Stoudemire with Kelenna Azubuike going for 19 in the first quarter, 25 for the game. Stephen Jackson went for his first career triple double too.

It's become an all too familiar refrain.

" ____ is having a career night."

"That's a season high for the _______."

"The Suns just don't look like the same team."

While there are several gripes about players, I'm thoroughly convinced Terry Porter was the wrong choice as a coach. If I hear about another meeting, I'm gonna puke. Just watch the team play. The Warriors were launching jumpers all night and hitting them. The Suns cut the lead to 11 late in the third quarter and Porter goes ZONE!?! 14-4 run including two 3-pointers and the Suns are down 21 at the end of the quarter.

While it did appear the refs were just collecting paychecks tonight, the Suns were outplayed and outcoached again. Golden State didn't play their 8th guy until that run late in the third. After the game, Jackson admitted he was surprised at how little Phoenix used Stoudemire (13 pts, 4-8 FG, 5-6 FT). It just wasn't clear at any point what the Suns were doing and the sense of urgency and defense were AWOL again.

The Suns are a shell of what they were. The jerseys and a few of the names are the same, but this isn't a contender and it's barely a team.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Spurs exploit Suns awful D

When your toughest defensive player is a 36-year-old on a reconstructed ankle, you have a roster of bums offensive players. Watching the Suns refuse to play help defense on countless Tony Parker forays into the lane- just made it a matter of time. A matter of time until the Spurs made a run and Suns folded.

Terry Porter, hacking Bruce Bowen makes no sense- especially in a TIE GAME. Sure he's shooting 28 percent. He shot more free throws in this game than he had all season. Way to kill any momentum you had. Here's a thought. When the Spurs hack Shaq, they kill your offensive rhythm and then attack your weak defense. When you hack Bowen, he hits and the Spurs (a defensive team) can set their defense without a transition. Not a good strategy.

This was painful to watch because just like in the past, it was just waiting for the Spurs to snatch the game away. The Suns are to Duncan's Spurs what the Cavs were to Jordan's Bulls: foils.

Mark Price :: Steve Nash
Craig Ehlo :: Raja Bell
Larry Nance :: Amare Stoudmire
Chris Dudley's free throws :: Shaq's free throws
Unproven Steve Kerr :: Unproven Steve Kerr

The Suns can't finish 7 or 8 and expect to beat LA or the Spurs in the first round. If this team is truly built for the playoffs (doubtful at this point), they need to start jockeying for position now. If they can't beat teams that are tougher and proven, they need to beat down the bad teams. There is no boon in missing the playoffs. The 9th team in the West has no chance in the lottery and won't pick any higher than 14 because the Eastern also-rans are much worse. This team won't have the ability to blow it up or rebuild until 2010. So the time is now. These players have to put forth their best effort to look like they care to win a title when they lack the ingredients to actually achieve it. For a list of what those ingredients are, start listing the strengths of the San Antonio Spurs.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Suns Hawks game notes

1ST HALF
Amare is somewhere else. 5 turnovers. Why doesn't Porter sit him?

Mike Bibby's headband is so big. It looks like he has a head injury and he's wearing a bandage.

Joe Johnson starting to heat up. Grant Hill isn't guarding him despite forcing him into 4-21 when these teams played a couple weeks ago.

Flip Murray getting it going against the Suns again.

When Josh Smith posts Amare he spins middle into a left-handed shot. EVERY TIME. What does Stoudemire do to defend it? Nothing. He isn't aware a lefty is going to his strong hand.

Hawks are piling up the fouls trying to guard Shaq.

Suns shoot 63 percent in the first half but are trailing by two- 14 turnovers.

2ND HALF
Stoudemire appears to have woken up and the offense is focused on getting him going.

Josh Smith continue to beat Amare to rebounds.

Some tough foul calls on Grant Hill have him with four after picking up a call on a defensive rotation. How is it a 36-year-old is the toughest defender on the team?

Blown call on an obvious trip. Terry Porter complains and gets a technical foul. I love when refs compound their mistakes by T-ing up a someone who holds them accountable.

WIth Nash out, the offense just becomes one on one.

LB has it going tonight. Maybe Matt Barnes complaining about their minutes worked.

Josh Smith uses his right hand in the post and misses. Let's see if Amare picks up on it.

Soloman Jones is apparently Dwyane Wade. He gets generous calls against two veteran players. Grant Hill picks up his fifth on a clear charge. Shaq picks up his fourth on a Jones diving flop.

Josh Smith on the block again, spins into the right-hand layup and tries switching to the left at the last minute and misses. Reluctant to credit Amare defense but Smith really needs to develop a right hand

Amare acting tough toward Zaza Pechulia after a normal foul. Quit crying you big baby.

LB huge three.

Mike (who was 1-10) hits a huge three.

Amare has JJ on him and settles for a jumper. Miss.

Terrible help defense on pick n roll. Soloman Jones left wide open for dunk.

LB turnover, Hawks miss two layups.

Shaq has little guy on him and goes right to the rim. Misses shot that hangs on the rim for a week. Hits two free throws

Nash with a travel. 19 turnovers.

Amare with rebound after it hits the floor. Amare passes to LB for another huge three.

Nash bad pass. 20 turnovers.

Amare misses open jumper than could have given Suns a six point lead. LB steal. Shaq holds ball too long for 24 second violation. Does anyone want to win this game?

Shaq loose ball foul, tosses Marvin Williams and a waiter into the front row.

Hawks haven't scored in 5 minutes. LB fouls to prevent layup, Soloman Jones calmly drops two free throws. Suns up 2.

Nash to Stoudemire, layup and 1. 26.6 left. Not sure if someone said something to him at halftime but he has been a different player.

As awful as the Suns perimeter can be, it's been good tonight. Mike Bibby 2-13, Joe Johnson 5-20.

Suns won this one on defense. This game was hard fought and Stoudemire and LB hit big shots in the fourth. Still a chance to salvage this road trip with a win in Washington tomorrow.

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