Suns 'manhandled' in Vancouver on the boards

In the Suns’ 113-93 preseason finale loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns didn’t exactly give the Vancouver Nash-aholics the basketball performance they were expecting. For what seems like the 100th time this preseason, the Suns were absolutely murdered on the boards en route to an embarrassing loss.

Steve Kerr and Alvin Gentry have talked over and over about the Suns’ “gang rebounding” strategy and the team’s new commitment to defense. Well, prove it. It is one thing to say you are going to do something, but going out and actually doing it is a completely different story.

Even if your starting point guard’s team has led the league in scoring the last eight seasons, which Nash’s teams have, it is impossible to win on a consistent basis if you don’t rebound and defend. I don’t care if it’s the Showtime Lakers or MJ’s Bulls, rebounding and defense wins games.

I feel like I have discussed these glaring issues far too often this preseason, but defense and rebounding are exactly that for the Suns — glaring issues. At halftime of tonight’s game the Suns corralled a whopping 12 rebounds. Determined to improve on their lack of boards, the Suns put up an astonishing 16 second-half boards (sarcasm).

Looking at the box score I couldn’t believe my eyes; well, with the Suns’ personnel I actually could, but still a 50-28 rebound deficit is flat-out embarrassing. I knew the Suns were an awful rebounding team, but coming into this contest they were at least averaging 42.6 rebounds per game in the preseason.

Yes, this Suns team is small, but when Steve Blake has more rebounds (six) than any Suns player, that is a slap in the face, preseason or no preseason.

“I feel really disappointed because we got really manhandled,” Suns head coach Alvin Gentry told The Associated Press. “We’ve got to find a way to do a better job on the boards.”

Even in a loss as ugly as this one was, there are usually still a few bright spots. On this night, the Suns had very few things to hang their hat on. I guess you could say Earl Clark played well — eight points and five rebounds in 14 minutes. Jared Dudley did have another Jared Dudley-like performance — 13 points and three steals in 22 minutes on 4-for-5 shooting.

Nash tried his best to impress his “people” with a stat line of 14 points, seven assists and four rebounds. But the bottom line is that if the Suns’ offense isn’t clicking, they are in big trouble. Luckily for them I believe that more times than not Suns fans will see the run-n-gun system that has so often thrived in the regular season, but this team clearly has some gaping holes.

I think somebody needs to remind Amare Stoudemire that he is 6-foot-10, 249 pounds and the Suns’ only legitimate “big man” with Robin Lopez on the shelf. Yes, Channing Frye is 6-foot-11, but so is Mehmet Okur, and you don’t see people tagging him with the “big man” label.

Amare showed how much he’s improved since the injury as he posted 27 points against the Kings on Tuesday, but even then he only managed a measly six rebounds in 36 minutes. As for Frye tonight: one rebound in 35 minutes of play. One rebound!

I know the guy is soft and Kerr wants him drilling threes this season, but you have to find a way to bring down more than one rebound or this team will get slaughtered on a nightly basis.

STAT and Frye have been so bad thus far the Suns are even thinking about bringing in Jarron Collins. Let me say that again … Jarron Collins! For as much as this team constantly stresses its commitment to defense and the emphasis they must put on hitting the glass, you would think they would try and bring in someone other than another soft big man.

The good news is that this is still the preseason and for whatever reason some teams don’t quite show their true colors this time of year. The bad news is that the Suns have zero rebounders and very few defenders. Portland is a good rebounding team, but I think 28 rebounds is more a function of the Suns being THAT bad.

Hopefully the Suns figure some things out during the next six days or Charles Barkley miraculously drops 10 years and 80 pounds because as of now this Suns team is in trouble.

But the fans still love Nash

Vancouver basketball fans don’t seem to care much about the Suns’ rebounding woes, as they still gave Steve Nash a hero’s goodbye as he left the arena, courtesy of @JaredDudley619:

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