Suns 109, Grizzlies 95 — One more day of Amare


Even in Memphis, Amare was the center of attention. (AP Photo/Jim Weber)

Even in Memphis, Amare was the center of attention. (AP Photo/Jim Weber)

Yes, the Suns beat the Memphis Grizzlies 109-95, made a second-quarter run and then cruised to victory without letting their lead slip below double digits in the fourth quarter.

Jason Richardson played like a guy who deserves $14 million next year for once, Amare and Robin Lopez both nearly went for 20-10 and Steve Nash dished out 16 assists.

When you add in the fact that the bench played well also, there normally would be a lot to say about this particular game.

But you probably could care less about this game. You could probably care less about the fact that the Suns have won five in a row on the road, all against West teams, and six of seven overall and that they will enter Dallas on Wednesday a half game behind the Mavericks for fourth place in the West.

All you probably care about is whether Amare Stoudemire has played his final game in US Airways Center — and what the Suns might get in return.

I know this because about five times as many comments as usual seemed to pour into the Daily Dime Live chat tonight, not a single question or comment having to do with the actual game, and the ValleyoftheSuns comments section has certainly been more robust than usual.

Amare must feel disrespected at this point considering the way the Suns have dangled him as they have — and for J.J. Hickson no less. You can only wonder what’s going through the guy’s head, knowing that this game or the next could be the final one for the only organization he’s even known.

Considering Amare has been known to play with a lackadaisical spirit even in the best of times, it was encouraging to see him put up a 21-10 line and carry his end in the Suns’ victory. You almost wouldn’t have blamed him at this point if he would have put up one of his characteristic 16 and five lines.

The whole team seemed to play as if they were oblivious to the fact that this group could be broken up at any second, and it’s interesting that the game’s biggest star is the other player who has heard his name in the news lately.

If Jason Richardson would just always be THIS Jason Richardson, the Suns would have no qualms with paying him $14.4 million next year. It was Steve Kerr who said at the time of his trade that they would rather pay J-Rich starting shooting guard money to be a top-three guy on the team than Boris Diaw $9 mil to sit on the bench.

Now that J-Rich is averaging about a point for every million he’s owed next year, he’s not so worth it anymore, but tonight he exploded for a top-dollar-worthy 27 points on 12-for-17 shooting. When J-Rich scores 20 and provides a third star to the genius of Nash and Amare, the Suns suddenly become one of the better teams in basketball (15-2 in such games). His jumper was working and he found opportunities in transition tonight, but it just makes you wonder why he had not scored this many points since the Suns’ opening road trip of the season.

When you play Memphis, who has now lost seven of eight to drop out of the playoff race, controlling the boards is always going to be a major key. Earlier this season the Suns got outrebounded by the Grizz by a margin of 49-29 in a 15-point win, but this time they took care of business to the tune of 50-46. They didn’t do a great job on Zach Randolph (15) or Marc Gasol (12), but aside from Darrell Arthur’s six boards, no other Grizzly grabbed more than three.

The Suns’ defense was also especially sharp in holding Memphis to 35.6 percent shooting, which has been a trend on their five-game road winning streak. The Suns have held opponents to 41.3 percent shooting during that stretch, compared to 45.8 percent during the rest of the season as a whole. For a means of comparison to how good Phoenix’s ‘D’ has been during this streak, Cleveland leads the NBA with a 43.4 opponent field goal percentage.

That’s a big reason why the Suns are now 5-0 on the road after a 1-12 road stretch that followed an 8-3 road start. Interesting way to get to a respectable 14-15 mark away from home.

You can thank Robin Lopez for the Suns’ improved field-goal ‘D’ of late, and after his first double-digit rebounding game of the season he has his first career double-double (18 points and 10 boards). The Suns are a different team with their true center wreaking havoc at both ends.

This was clearly a team effort with every Sun who played recording a positive plus-minus in a game that featured none of the usual dips that typically characterize a Suns game, but Grant Hill deserves an extra helping of praise for recording a plus 18 that was twice as good as the next best Phoenix player in that department.

The Suns should feel pretty good about the way they are playing now during a rough portion of their schedule with a home-heavy March waiting for them just around the corner.

But the Suns’ toughest opponent the rest of the season could be Steve Kerr, who now has a day and a half to debate the merits of keeping this team together and hoping for the best with Amare this summer and starting to build for the next decade of Phoenix Suns basketball without STAT.

  • KJ Loyalist

    @ Michael –

    Read through the DDL chatter. You took it square on the chin and kept fighting for the cause which I agree with. Hickson as the main ingredient in a trade for Amare is laughable. He doesn't have enough upside to be in that position.

    I saw that you support a deal that brings B Easy to PHX and you got a lot of questions about why the Valley doesn't seem interested in him. I'll toss out a name from the past – Still one of my favorite Suns ever:

    Richard Dumas.

    Perhaps PHX radars are picking up some of that in B Easy and are staying away from him because of that. To tell you the truth, I would too. He was very very unstable going into this season and, almost more shocking, Riley cannot control him. I have nothing against Gentry, but if Riley can't get through to him I don't know if Gentry can.

    I know Miami has draft picks, but if we're not getting the #1 pick, (which we wouldn't be), I don't know how much value those picks would bring even if we landed inside of the top 10. I also don't think that those picks would bring us enough money to be a player in free agency if we only get rid of Amare and retain J Rich.

    I will say, if any team offers to take Amare AND J Rich whether it be to that team or both players gone to 2 teams in a 3-way deal and they get back picks and some sort of decent player, they should do that because they'd have money to be a player in the FA Sweepstakes.

  • Tyler

    Steve Kerr looks like the worst general manager in NBA history right now… seriously the best you are going to get from Amare is Hickson. How much is Amare asking for? Maybe hes worth the money over this crappy trade, or keep him, I’d be interested in seeing what other teams are going to offer, how much does Amare want? Maybe no one will offer that amount and he’ll decide what the Suns are offering isn’t too bad.

  • The Z. Man

    Good to see that focus and effort last evening vs. a team that has had its way recently with the Suns.

    Suns went the deepest into the playoffs we have gone (in the Nash era) without STAT. With the development of our younger guys and the return of a healthy LB without a cyst on his shooting hand, we could be the team to fear. Most important about this game is it gave us a clear way to break a potential tie with Memphis for playoff seed.

    What we now need to do is to pass the red hot Utah Jazz. They never traded Boozer away. And now look at them!!!! Passing the Mavs will do nothing for our playoff seed. Mavs (or Spurs) are gauranteed a top four seed and begin the playoffs at home. That top four seed is automatic for each division winner, regardless of how poor their record may be at the end of the year. Mavs, like the Spurs did when getting Jeff, have made a deal that could very well back fire at them. Josh Howard almost single-handedly beat the Spurs, even though SA had the home court advantage, despite his playing in lots of pain. They will miss his "D" and that of Ross. Mavs will miss Gooden too, who has contibuted to several wins this year. Dirk, on the other hand, is, like STAT, only a dominant force when in the mood and prone to, atother times, being soft and lazy. Suns' Kerr needs to learn from his and others' bad trades and do what the best teams do – ZERO. Keep the chemistry of the team high so that we can confidently win on the road. At least we have apparently lost our desire to give away a healthy Brazilian Blur.

    MUST start and also finish with LB. Let's go SUNS!!!!

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  • fhah

    dadafsd

  • fhah

    I will fucking piss on you Steve Kerr if you trade amare for shithead hixson. Are you retarded? You fucking doing those guys a favor! Don’t give shithead Cleveland bitches a championship for free. Those pussy asses are two scared to give up any relevant pieces in other positions. fuck them and fuck pat riley for not even including beasley. I wouldn’t do a trade with any of these team even if they gave something up. Ingohdalla is an ok trade if it doesn’t include barbosa. barbosa is too good, he is just injured this season. Last season he was a rising star. Get rid of fucking richardson. Big man = championship. You got to be the one calling the shots and go for a championship. Quit being a bitch Steve Kerr. Grow some brains and balls.

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