Leandro Barbosa will never be confused with a prototypical NBA point guard, but his second-half scoring burst propelled the Suns to a 101-89 win over Memphis.
Barbosa scored 11 points in the third and 11 more in the fourth as part of a season-high 28-point evening that broke Memphis’ back. The Grizzlies are probably wondering how Barbosa averages a shade under 12 points per contest because his previous season high was the 27 he put up against Memphis back in Phoenix.
Everything worked for Barbosa offensively in the second half.
He hit threes on back-to-back possessions in the third to keep things close, then scored eight points off a pair of threes and a nice driving layup as part of a 9-0 Phoenix run that turned an eight-point deficit into a lead and added a go-ahead layup a few minutes later off a baseball pass from quarterback Matt Barnes.
However, nobody’s going to start confusing Barbosa with Steve Nash after he recorded just a single assist in his 33 minutes at the point guard spot.
Particularly in the second half, Barbosa was purely looking for his own shot, which is fine because that’s just the type of player he is.
Although Barbosa essentially won this game for the Suns, along with a heavy dose of Shaq and a dominating 50-34 edge on the boards, in no way is Barbosa a perfect answer at the backup point guard spot.
In the first half the Suns’ offense was very mechanical and lacking any kind of flow with lots of one-on-one stuff, kind of like what we saw from the team at the beginning of the season when it was clearly uncomfortable playing with head coach Terry Porter’s new system.
Much of that has to do with missing Steve Nash, out with back spasms, which was a big reason the team turned the ball over 17 times.
But then Barbosa caught fire and did what he does best by providing Phoenix with a hot streak that led to the victory.
Shaq still attacking
I was very curious how Shaq would play in this one being that he entered this contest averaging 6.7 points and 5.0 boards per game in three back-to-backs, sitting out the rest.
When he went out and put up 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting and 4-for-4 free throws in the first half, I then wondered if he could keep it up in the second half, doubts that were confirmed by a scoreless third quarter.
But Shaq kept on trucking on his way to a 24-point, 13-board, three-block outing. He even hit 8 of his 10 foul shots, and who ever would have expected that?
Of course, Phoenix had played just one game since Dec. 20 at the start of this back-to-back and I still think it’s better for the Daddy to rest the majority of these back-to-backs, but with Nash out and Amare ejected, the Suns would not have won without a stellar performance from the Shaqtus.
Speaking of Amare, I don’t know what he said to earn his ejection off one technical, but he’s GOT to be more mature than to let something like that happen.
Already down the two-time MVP, Amare had to know he was badly needed and couldn’t risk saying anything that could in any way, shape or form lead to an ejection.
As much as I want Amare to be the Suns’ future, incidents like this make me wonder if the Suns would be better off blowing things up during the summer of 2010.
This and that
Entering the fourth quarter the Suns needed to play a hell of a 12 minutes after trailing for almost all of the first three quarters.
Then they went out and won the quarter by a 31-11 margin, holding the Grizzlies to a single field goal over the final 9:12 and no points in the last four minutes.
Lou Amundson stepped up for Stoudemire with a career game, scoring a career-high 10 points to go with eight rebounds, three on the offensive glass. He put up six points and six boards in his first seven minutes of floor time.
Meanwhile, another rebound just went off Robin Lopez’s hands and out of bounds.
If Sweet Lou keeps playing like this, he deserves every minute Porter’s giving him, time that at the beginning of the year I would have thought should go to Lopez.
Grant Hill stepped up big with 15 points, seven boards, four assists and six big steals.
Jason Richardson did not, with just seven points on 3-for-12 shooting in 37 minutes, but he did hit a dagger of a three to ice it.
Barnes didn’t have a great scoring game with just four points, but he also chipped in with a team-high five assists and four boards.