The Phoenix Suns finally switched Hakim Warrick into the starting lineup for Hedo Turkoglu and their crunch time power forward was ….. Josh Childress?
Such is life on Planet Orange, but the late fourth quarter lineup of Nash-Richardson-Hill-Childress-Frye made sense with Denver countering with a pair of point guards and a pair of wings around Nene, and Childress played well with a 15-5 and better defense than any of this teammates.
But the move showed signs of paying off for Hedo Turkoglu, who caught fire in the second quarter and scored all 13 of his points during a five-minute stretch that kept Phoenix in the game. Hedo was allowed to be more aggressive with this unit, and he looked like Orlando Hedo for those glorious five minutes, driving to the hole and freezing bigger defenders before sticking a jumper.
“When Hedo comes off the bench and is aggressive as he is, it really helps us,” Warrick told reporters. “It makes us a lot more comfortable out there.”
Warrick rebounded like a power forward by pulling down nine boards, his best performance since the Utah game in late October, but he was out of whack offensively on a 3-for-12 night that resulted in eight points.
Warrick shockingly missed a couple of bunnies right at the rim and continued his strange Channing Frye impersonation of being much better at home than on the road. Hak averages 17.6 points per game on 62.9 percent shooting at home but is only putting up 9.5 points on 45.5 percent shooting on the road.
Perhaps he was trying to do too much after gaining a starter’s role, but we have seen how important he is to the starters the dive man in the pick-and-roll so I don’t read anything into this for Warrick more than it being an off night.
Although Turkoglu was the same guy he’s been all season for 22 of his 27 minutes, the Suns have now given him a role that puts him in the best position to succeed, and the same can be said for Warrick.
So while the Suns still need to acquire a real power forward to do work on the glass, this arrangement suits the team best for now.
What’s wrong with the officiating in Denver?
I generally try not to bash the officials too much just because I believe over the course of a season good calls and bad calls tend to even out.
I will even admit that Steve Nash caused the contact on his old-fashioned three-point play that cut the lead to one with 22 seconds left.
However, the refs really missed one when Nash was whistled for a foul on the ensuing inbounds pass when Chauncey Billups dribbled the ball out of bounds without being touched by a trapping Nash and Grant Hill. Billups drilled both foul shots and when Nash’s potential tying three missed the game was essentially over.
I find this noteworthy since it’s the third consecutive year that a late call or no-call has significantly altered a Suns game in Denver. Last year Nene was draped over Nash on a foray to the hoop with the Suns down two but no call was made, and two years ago Dahntay Jones tripped Grant Hill on a potential game-winning drive. Isn’t it interesting that this year when a no-call would have been the right call, the whistle was blown.