Game Thread: Suns (23-17) at Bobcats (17-25)

Bobcats 98, Suns 76

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Having lost four of five, the last thing the Suns need is to play another losing team with a little extra motivation to beat Phoenix after dropping one to Mike D’Antoni’s Knicks.

That’s not good news since for at least two Bobcats Friday’s matchup with the Suns will be one of their biggest games of the year.

You just know Boris Diaw and Raja Bell will be extra pumped to face their former team and prove that Phoenix made a mistake by dealing them. Jason Richardson might feel that way as well, but he doesn’t play with the fire of Raja or have a bad taste in his mouth from his previous stop like Diaw.

3D, as you may remember, was last seen in these parts saying, “It’s not as fun for everybody (on the team). I’ll always remember Phoenix with Mike (D’Antoni). We went from a winning team that was the most exciting team in the league to a half-winning team that wasn’t exciting at all.”

Diaw’s words are becoming truer by the day.

The skilled forward has been rejuvenated by the trade to Charlotte, going from the third big in Phoenix averaging 8.3 points, 3.8 boards and 2.1 assists in 24.5 minutes per game to a focal point of the offense averaging 13.9 ppg, 7.1 rpg and 5.1 apg in 37.9 minutes per game in Charlotte.

Those numbers are very similar to what he averaged during his Most Improved Player season in 2005-06 in Phoenix the year Amare was hurt, thus freeing the low block for himself. And yes, I picked up Diaw on my fantasy team immediately following the trade.

The Charlotte Observer has referred to Diaw as the Bobcats’ version of Staples’ big, red Easy Button, a laughable comparison earlier in the year, and a French site called him the best player in Bobcats history. After a month.

Raja, meanwhile, has been the gritty defender we all know and love. His scoring is up 1.5 ppg to 11.1 ppg, but he’s shot below 40 percent from deep.

Knowing the warrior Raja is, no matter what he says publicly and no matter what kinds of issues he had with Terry Porter’s system, he had to hate being traded away from the (theoretically) competitive Suns and his buddy Steve Nash to a losing situation in Charlotte.

Suns fans know he’s going to make it his personal mission to shut down J-Rich to prove to Phoenix the trade was a mistake. Let’s just hope he doesn’t go Kobe on anyone.

Big picture-wise, the Suns can’t afford another loss to a bad team after dropping games to the Pacers, Timberwolves and Knicks already this month.

Raja and Boris are going to play with a chip on their shoulder, but the Suns can’t let that stop them from winning a game they should.

Tags: Jason Richardson

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