PHOENIX — After stellar seasons leading a team no one expected to go very far, point guard Steve Nash and forward Amare Stoudemire were named to the All-NBA second team, the league announced in a release Thursday.
The honor is Nash’s seventh career All-NBA team selection and Stoudemire’s fourth. Nash earned first-team honors in 2005, 2006 and 2007, and second-team honors in 2008. Stoudemire earned first-team honors in 2007 and second-team honors in 2005 and 2008.
Nash put together one of his finest seasons, despite battling injuries to his back and abdomen. The two-time MVP averaged 16.5 points per game and became the oldest player in NBA history to lead the league in assists (11.0). Overall, Nash, 36, had the greatest statistical season for a point guard over 35 in NBA history, the release said.
Stoudemire led the Suns in scoring (23.1 points per game) and rebounding (8.9 rebounds per game) while playing as well as the league’s top-five guys in the second half. Only Stoudemire and Chris Bosh finished the season averaging at least 22 points and eight rebounds.
“I’m really proud of [Amare],” Gentry said. “It’s almost [like] a dad seeing his son maturing and all these things.”
Joining Nash and Stoudemire on the second team were Denver’s Carmelo Anthony, Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki and Utah’s Deron Williams. The first team featured Cleveland’s LeBron James, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, Orlando’s Dwight Howard, Los Angeles’ Kobe Bryant and Miami’s Dwyane Wade.
It comes as no surprise that little has changed in regards to the status of center Robin Lopez. Lopez’s rehab from a back injury has probably been one of the Suns story lines most closely followed during the playoffs.
Once again, Suns coach Alvin Gentry said he does not expect Lopez back soon.
“We’ll take a look in San Antonio at shootaround and stuff and see how he feels, but I still think it’s a long shot,” Gentry said. “We could really use him, but I just don’t think he’s ready to play. I think it would be a big mistake to stick him out there if he’s not ready.”
At the same time, no one expected Portland’s Brandon Roy to play at all in the first round against the Suns, so it wouldn’t be totally shocking to see Lopez get a little time before this series ends.
Happy birthday, Goran Dragic
The Suns’ backup point guard got to celebrate his 24th birthday at practice and on an airplane bound for San Antonio, but his teammates made sure to serenade him before the team departed. As a giant cake was wheeled in (at right), the team sang happy birthday.
Dudley doing right
Last year’s trade for Jason Richardson and Jared Dudley is looking better and better all the time. Richardson has put the Suns on his back multiple times these playoffs and Dudley has proven invaluable off the bench.
Dudley went for 11 points and six rebounds in the Suns’ Game 2 win. Gentry talked after practice Thursday about how important Dudley has become to the team.
“I knew that he was a real smart player,” Gentry said. “I don’t think you can be ACC Player of the Year … and not have something going for you.”
Under former Suns coach Terry Porter, Dudley essentially warmed the bench. But under Gentry, Dudley has evolved into one of the first guys to sub into games.
“When I took over, I decided to play him,” Gentry said. “I thought he was one of those guys that could help your team. He’s been the face of the second team.”
Gentry said the Suns would certainly not have won Game 2 without Dudley’s efforts. The coach also credited the energy level of Lou Amundson.
“We weren’t really focusing — just kind of sleepwalking a little bit,” Gentry said. “Those guys really kind of gave us a wake-up call.”
Across the nation: May 6
With a 2-0 lead, the Suns head into enemy territory looking for a sweep but hoping for at least a split. It won’t be easy in San Antonio, but the Suns looked very good in Games 1 and 2. With a monstrously important Game 3 on the horizon, here’s (a little of) what they’re saying across the nation…
- Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm continues his riveting tale of Suns-Spurs with his narrative of Act Two: “We witness, in act two of our tale, the inciting action, where the tone is set for our fair tale, the players set, and turns safely guarded in mystery. Our story is not the continued clash of pace versus defense, stodge versus vigor, nor some sort of coming-of-age for Amar’e. Instead it’s about unity, the centralization of effort from man to man, because for the first time, since the game which ended under the cloud of THE HIPCHECK, the Suns have pushed the Spurs against the wall and landed a haymaker. They’re not dangling off a cliff, but that breeze at their back ain’t the gentle sea.”
- ESPN’s Bill “The Sports Guy” Simmons shows the Suns some love and talks about Steve Kerr’s role in the Suns today after attending Wednesday’s game. Simmons on the crowd in Phoenix: “The Phoenix crowd is wired differently from a typical NBA crowd: more urgency, more unbridled excitement, more vitriol for the refs, more hatred for their opponents, more everything. It’s like a college atmosphere, only angry and more desperate. Everyone wears orange, everyone screams, everyone seems hopelessly tied to the ebb and flow of the game. When the wrong call or break goes against them, 40 years of torture quickly bubble to the surface and every defense mechanism kicks in. It’s tangible. You can feel it. They totally believe in this team … only they totally don’t. If that makes sense.”
- At 48 Minutes of Hell, Jesse Blanchard discusses role reversal in the storied Suns-Spurs rivalry and recaps more from Game 2.
- And finally, wife of Spurs point guard Tony Parker and star of hit series “Desperate Housewives” Eva Longoria-Parker … Suns fan?