Suns 121, Wizards 95 -- Another day at the office

The Suns didn't allow the Wizards to mount that comeback that has been their Achilles' heel of late. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The Suns didn't allow the Wizards to mount the kind of second-half comeback that has been their Achilles' heel of late. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — Just another day at the office for the Phoenix Suns in front of the citizens of Planet Orange at the Purple Palace. The Suns made easy work of the Washington Wizards, 121-95, to become the third team in franchise history to start the season 10-0 at home while remaining the NBA’s only undefeated home team.

Not only have the Suns bettered their competition in US Airways Center, they have dominated their opponents, winning each game by an average margin of 13.9 points per contest. Tonight was no different. After a tough loss in Portland two days prior, the Suns absolutely blasted a struggling Wizards club from start to finish.

“We wanted to get a good jump — you don’t really want to worry about what they’re doing we just wanted to come out and play well and avenge a tough loss in Portland,” Steve Nash said. “I thought we did a good job, we came out and were pretty focused and the second unit did a good job as well. It was a good performance.”

The onslaught started from the opening tip. In the first half the Suns looked like a team that’s hasn’t lost at home since March 12 and the Wizards looked like, well, the Wizards.

They had little flow on offense and it was clear that this team goes as Gilbert Arenas goes. Arenas, who scored a USAC record 54 points in his last trip to Phoenix nearly three years ago, couldn’t get anything going as he finished the game 6-of-21 from the field.

The Suns, on the other hand, were about as efficient as they always are when they take to the US Airways Center floor. Coming into the contest the Suns were averaging 116.1 points per game at home, a byproduct of 51.7 percent field-goal shooting and 48.3 percent three-point accuracy. Although the Suns weren’t as deadly from beyond the arc tonight, 7-of-21 (33.3 percent), they converted on 51.6 percent from the field.

They built a big lead early and actually held on, something they haven’t been able to do the past week. In their last four games, the Suns blew leads of 19, 17 and 15 — two of which resulted in losses — and that’s not to mention a 20-point lead San Antonio chiseled down to one on Tuesday.

Tonight was a completely different story. The Suns built on their 16-point first-half lead with a 39-point third quarter, 27 of which came from Stoudemire (14) and Richardson (13).

“Well, I was real happy because I thought that we did a good job of playing consistent for 48 minutes,” said head coach Alvin Gentry. “I didn’t think we had any of the peaks and valleys that we’ve had when we’ve established big leads. After the Portland game where we had a lead it was really important for us to come out and establish ourself, but not only that, maintain the lead, and I thought we did a great job with that.”

Amare Stoudemire was a big reason why, as he dominated the Wizards’ bigs to the tune of his fifth 20-10 game of the season, going for 23 points and 14 rebounds in only three quarters of play.  STAT is on a tear during the last five games, averaging 23.8 points per game and 11.4 boards per contest. The big fella’ attributed his rebounding jump to his dedication and improved timing.

“I get out there with the rookies and the young guys maybe two, three hours before the game,” Stoudemire said. “I’m only required to be here an hour, hour-and-a-half before the game, but I’m here three hours and I get a lot of extra work in.”

“Start of the season, my timing was off,” Stoudemire added. “I think just that with playing and experience back on the basketball court, my timing is slowly coming back.”

STAT was a beast, and Steve Nash was equally as impressive, out-assisting the Wizards single-handedly with 15 dimes, all of which came through three quarters. Nash has out-assisted the opponent six times this season, which is simply mind boggling.

The Suns reached the century mark in the third quarter for the second time of the season, as Jared Dudley nailed a three with 1:29 seconds remaining in the third. It was an all-around balanced night for the Suns, with five players in double figures and every player to see the floor getting on the scoreboard.

The Suns have now won 19 straight at USAC, an accomplishment even Stoudemire was unaware of.

“That’s pretty good,” said Stoudemire. “I didn’t know that, but this season, in particular we’ve talked about taking care of home court since training camp, and we’ve all bought into it for the most part. We’re just comfortable at home, and we’ll try to keep it that way.”

But what do we make of this home win streak?

By looking at the splits, it is clear the Suns are much better at home than they are on the road, but it is important to realize the level of competition these wins have come against. Aside from the Suns’ recent home wins against the Spurs and Magic, Phoenix has played zero, yes ZERO home games against teams .500 or better.

The home win streak does date back to March 12 and the Suns are 24-3 at home under Gentry, so obviously it is something to talk about. But the third-best team the Suns have played at home this season is the New Orleans Hornets (12-13), and that says something.

Suns fans will know if this win streak is for real or not sometime in the next few weeks when the Suns host a slew of NBA powerhouses. They will take on the Cavaliers, the Thunder, the Clippers, the Lakers and the Celtics all at home during the remaining month of December.

While the win is nice and the home streak is impressive, the Suns need to win some of these home games against teams like the Cavs, Lakers and Celtics before they can be deemed “dominant” at home. But regardless, the Suns will take it one game at a time, as cliché the goes.

“I don’t think we want to start to start looking at, ‘We’ve got five [home] games left this month, we’ve got to win four,’” Nash said. “We have to win our next game, and if we lose that we move on. I think the process has got to be our focus and not the outcome.”

And 1

  • Goran Dragic played extremely well again tonight, scoring 12 points in 23 minutes of play. He is averaging 13 points during the last three games. Gentry on Dragic: “I think Goran is getting better every game. I thought he did a great job of controlling the game in the fourth quarter, and I think it’s just been really helpful for him to play those few minutes with (Nash).”
  • After missing the Portland game, J-Rich came back with 22 points and six rebounds on 10-of-18 shooting in 25 minutes.
  • The Suns have held their last five opponents to an average of 42.1 percent shooting from the field. Phoenix held the Wizards to an opponent-season low 36.4 percent shooting tonight, the best defensive performance by the Suns since Nov 4, 2008, at New Jersey.

  • KJ Loyalist

    The home wins are great, and outside of the Portland game, (very embarrassing), I'm okay with the road record considering how often we've been on the road during this young season.

    What I think Gentry needs to do is install a new wrinkle in our pick and roll offense. I think that sometimes, Nash needs to be the 3rd option while Grant Hill and Sun Tzu play the 2 man game.

    Amare is far more comfortable operating out of the block this season. He operates well with his back to the basket and he finds the open guy.

    I think that having hill, who is a great ball handler, running the pick and roll with Stoudemire will prevent these big teams from challenging Nash out high and will help STAT get some favorable matches down low on a corner P'n R setup. If they double down, Nash can now take over.

    At the same time, this allows Nash to recover from time to time, even on the offensive end, and if Hill is left free he can easily challenge the opposing bigs and get those guys into foul trouble.

    It's not a big deal when the bottom feeders come in, but teams like the Lakers and Celtics defend our pick and roll well. If the Suns had an alternative plan of attack on around 10 – 15% of the offensive plays, It could prove very beneficial.

    Dragon continues to impress. I actually found myself a bit upset that Gentry went away from Dragic in the second half of that Portland game.

  • Jason

    Amare operating well with his back to the basket? He only started throwing up hooks this seasons. He does not have a low-post game right now, at least not a great one. He doesn't necessarily need one, but it's true that he's lost some of his quickness in the last couple years, and a low-post game will keep him relevant around the NBA longer. I'm glad the Suns were able to take care of business against a team they should beat. I'm hoping when teams like the Cavs, Lakers, Celtics come in, that the Suns will be competitive.

  • KJ Loyalist

    Amare isn't Kareem or the Dream by any means but he's far better this year than in years past. The turnovers are a lot lower and he actually commands double teams now. They may as well start taking advantage of that while also executing the pick and roll against two guys who haven't had time to practice it.

    I don't worry about the Cavaliers or Celtics. The Suns can win against those teams though it would be good if they can win these games so that I can actually go to or or any other and see an article that doesn't read "Suns are good except against good teams" blah blah blah.

  • Jason

    I'm hoping KJ will come out of retirement and play some minutes backing up Nash….

    Since that's a pipe dream. Yeah, Amare will never be Kareem or Dream, but if he can develop a half-decent game from the block, he could play as long as The Mailman did.

    I never concentrate on the Suns winning against great teams – there will always be a team better than the Suns. I worry about the Suns losing games to teams like the Knicks and Hornets and Trailblazers when they should know better. And if the sports sites like to claim that only the Lakers, Magic, Celtics and Cavs are better than the Suns, hey, that's a back-handed compliment, isn't it?

  • Mike Meez

    I don't know the numbers but Amare's game near the basket, especially with his back to the basket has looked dreadful to me. My breakdown of the outcome in such situations: 60% Amare shoots and misses, 20% Amare gets stripped, 15% he slams it home or gets a little j to drop, 5% he finds someone else to dish it off to.

    It was exactly that type of play that the Suns were running late against Portland, whether it was through Amare, Hill or Dudley. I couldn't understand it. It was one pass from Nash to the corner and then a one on one match from there. If I want anyone in that situation for the Suns, it's a Amare. Dudley should never try that and Hill, though capable, shouldn't be doing that in crunch time. Still, even Amare can't pull that off a lot of the time anymore. He's lost some of his inside game as has been mentioned and people have adjusted to that aspect of his game over the years. That's exactly why he was forced to develop a jump shot in the first place.

  • asani

    I don't know what you guys are talking about. There is a lot of criticizm when it comes to Amar'e and you can say what you want but he is a very effective player. He is easily the best offensive big man in the league and that isn't even a close one. If you notice the games we lose are usually when Amar'e is not really a part of the offense. He does have a back to the basket game but that isn't how the suns use him which they most certainly need to. Also I agree with kj you must let Grant handle the ball a bit more and use him in pick and roll situations. The suns aren't as bad as some of you think. Let's see what those teams can do when they come to Phoenix before you make a judgement on where the suns are against good teams.

  • John C.

    I like the idea stated above of running the pick and roll with Hill and Stoudemire occasionally though it depends on whom is matched up defensively. When the Suns throw to Stoudemire around the post I cringe. Everybody else stands around and he tends to bring the ball down low where a defender can slap it away or he turns it over in some other fashion. Amar'e is a medium range jump shooter and a finisher on the pick and roll. He doesn't handle the ball well in tight spaces and he doesn't handle double teams well.

  • Pingback: Preview: Cavaliers (20-7) at Suns (18-9)| Valley of the Suns

  • Pingback: Truth About It » Quintessential Instances of Wizards Defense

  • The Z. Man

    John and Mike Meez are correct. But properly motivated, STAT is much more valuable to the Suns than just an offensive weapon, as he is able to grab boards: lots and lots of them.

    I was at the Wizards game. Amare gets it from both ends. From Gentry on the bench and also from myself at the opposite corner. STAT is surrounded at court side, as I look to fire him up from the start of each home game. Each and every rebound he grabs is rewarded by a loud court side yell. What do I yell? Loud enough to be heard by the Suns bench in the opposite corner, I yell “Way to grab those boards Amare!!!!” STAT becomes so fired up that, late in a close game, when grabbing a key board (like vs. the Kings or the Magic), he roars and beats his chest like King Kong.

    So, I will take the blame for the loss to the Cavs. Could not find anyone to go to the game with, not even my son Jacob or my girl friend Janie, and so I didn’t show. Last game I went to was this game. Need not beat his chest in a laugher vs. the Wizards, but, this crazy old dude finally did get a belly laugh out of him, late during his playing time. Nash is always motivated, focused, and competitive and so are Hill and Louis and J-Dud and they need no inspiration from the side line. The competitive Sun we miss most right now is the Brazilian Blur. He plays so well off of Nash. Pick & roll has a whole different look, when LB is in the game.

    MUST start and ALSO finish with LB. Let’s go SUNS!!!!

  • Pingback: Preview: Clippers (12-16) at Suns (18-11)| Valley of the Suns