Second chance points, rebounding, defense and turnovers. Those four things will be a key determinant in the Suns’ success this season. The team’s win over the Trail Blazers two games ago was one of those games in which the Suns’ stellar offense outweighed those four factors, but tonight’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers was a completely different story.
The Suns were out-willed, out-hustled and frankly outplayed en route to a 114-96 loss against the Philadelphia 76ers.
From the opening tip it was apparent that the Suns weren’t all too thrilled to be playing all the way in Mexico. Rebounding and defense usually comes down to how bad you want it, and judging by the Sixers’ 58-49 rebounding edge and 22 second chance points, the Suns certainly didn’t want it.
The Sixers did their best Suns impression tonight, running all over Phoenix. They scored 26 points off the Suns’ 20 turnovers and pasted 114 points against a sorry Phoenix Suns defense. There were countless times when Steve Nash or Goran Dragic would basically give the ball away, leading to a Sixers 3-on-1. The Suns were careless with the ball, something that seems to happen too frequently.
When the Sixers weren’t running all over the Suns, they were crashing the boards and finishing uncontested layups. There were far too many occasions when Amare Stoudemire or Channing Frye would give up an offensive rebound and stand with their arms down while a Sixer went up for an uncontested layup.
I understand that Alvin Gentry wants to keep the game moving, but you cannot give up so many offensive rebounds for points. I would be more forgiving if this was the Lakers’ Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom corralling the loose balls, but it was Samuel Dalembert, Elton Brand and Marreese Speights that did most of the damage — 28 rebounds between the three of them.
At times Dalembert looked like Hakeem the Dream against Amare, as he knocked down multiple fadeaways against a defenseless STAT. Don’t be fooled by Amare and Frye’s 15 combined rebounds, because they were manhandled on the boards. Speights, Dalembert, Brand and even Thaddeus Young were constantly battling on the boards, while Frye and Amare simply stood and watched.
Yes, it’s the preseason, and the main thing on the players’ minds was probably to escape the swine flu and get the hell back home, but I have a feeling the second-chance points flaw will be a recurring theme this season. There certainly were far too many layups and far too many offensive rebounds for the opposition (19) in this one.
The Suns have been dominated on the boards and burned defensively before and have come away with wins. But the offense wasn’t there to save the day for the Suns tonight. Aside from Jason Richardson’s 17 points in 19 minutes, the Suns’ offense looked very out of sync. They shot 38.2 percent from the field and only attempted 12 three-pointers.
The Suns will have to count on their offense to bail them out a lot this season. Luckily for them, their offense happens to be the best in the NBA.
- Earl Clark, like most rookies, is a confidence player. If he has a bad start, it’s likely he’ll disappear. Tonight he put up an ugly air ball, missed three consecutive free throws and almost got hit in the head with a pass that he could have easily stolen if he was looking.
- Alando Tucker got the start and looked the same as always, aggressive but unable to finish. I am ready to guarantee the Suns will not pick up his option — 1-for-5 shooting tonight.
- Dragic is still not comfortable as a Sun for whatever reason, 0-for-5 with four TOs.
- Amare still looked a step slow, but you can tell he is starting to get in better shape. He had at least four dunks and an impressive miss, offensive rebound, putback slam sequence.
- Taylor Griffin should not have been given any guaranteed money. Carlos Powell is a superior basketball player.
- Leandro Barbosa will do what he has always done this season: score in bunches.
- Jared Dudley and Lou Amundson need to play 20-25 minutes a game each. Period. Amundson: 10 rebounds in 16 minutes. Dudley: six points, three rebounds, two more steals in 11 minutes.
- J-Rich is taking pride in his defense. He was out pressuring the ball at half court and even came up with two steals. His offensive game was on point, and hopefully his defense will remain stellar as well.
- It looks like Channing Frye will be painfully inconsistent for the Suns. He suffered through a 2-for-11 shooting game on Sunday after Friday’s 7-for-8 first half.
- I said it in July of 2008 and I’ll say it again: the Suns should have definitely taken Marreese Speights over Robin Lopez — 14 points, 10 rebounds in 17 minutes after his 32-12 Friday in Phoenix.