Preview: Golden State Warriors (22-28) at Phoenix Suns (24-25)

Phoenix Suns 112, Golden State Warriors 88


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PHOENIX — It’s been quite a while since the Phoenix Suns could call themselves a winning team and all recent chances they have had to relinquish a losing record have gone for naught.

Thursday’s matchup with the Golden State Warriors marks the Sun’s fourth opportunity to get back to the .500 mark since Dec. 19.

While shaking the “losing team” label for at least a day will certainly offer some relief to the Suns and their fans, don’t expect the team to put much stock in a winning percentage.

“We’re not throwing a party for it or anything,” Suns center Channing Frye said after practice Wednesday. “We should’ve been at .500 a long time ago, but you know, stuff happens. We lost some games we shouldn’t have lost. We’ll just try to continue to get to our goal and that’s the playoffs.”

Grant Hill echoed Frye’s sentiment, saying there would be no postgame fireworks if the Suns win, but for a team that has seen as many ups and downs as a pogo stick this season, getting back to .500 is the first step toward getting the season going in the right direction.

“Getting to .500 is a great first goal,” point guard Steve Nash said. “The process is to keep improving, and the wins will come.”

The Suns are winners of four of their last five and 10 of their last 15, but they’ve been even better against the Warriors, particularly in Phoenix.

Granted, teams change from season to season, but the Suns have beat the Warriors 10 straight times at home. Golden State hasn’t won in Phoenix since March 18, 2005.

More impressive than any current streak though was the Suns’ defensive effort in Oakland on Monday that led to a 104-92 Suns win. In the victory, the Suns held the league’s best three-point shooting team (39.5 percent entering Thursday’s game) to just 11.1 percent from three-point land.

The Suns’ ability to repeat such an effort and duplicate the level of play will be put to the test Thursday night.

“It’s a tough thing to beat a team twice in a row so it’ll be a good challenge,” Nash said. “I’m sure we’ll be up for it.”

The Suns have held opponents to an average shooting percentage of 40.3 percent over the last five games. Their struggle, however, has been closing out games. The Suns have been outscored in the fourth quarter of their last four games, including a crucial fourth against Oklahoma City that led to a close loss.

With five games remaining before the All-Star break, the Suns face a crucial stretch. The team’s record at the break could play a role in any action at the Feb. 24 deadline. If the Suns don’t think they can contend this season, they may decide to move some pieces to look toward next season.

One piece though that remains unlikely to relocate is Nash, who was once again asked about the constant trade speculation on Wednesday.

“I really don’t hear it until I come down here and you guys ask me about it,” Nash said. “I think it’s all speculation from people that just need something to write. At this stage of my career, it really doesn’t bother me at all.”

Against the Warriors on Monday, Nash totaled 14 points and 15 assists to notch his 27th double-double of the season, best among all guards in the NBA this season.

And 1

Goran Dragic will not play Thursday and is unlikely to play Friday as Gentry said he remains a few games away … After Gentry told Sports 620 KTAR last week that he had lost some respect for the Celtics’ Kevin Garnett after the Garnett-Frye incident, Celtics coach Doc Rivers, when told of Gentry’s remarks, responded with this:

Actually, I didn’t know Alvin said anything. I’ll just let Alvin talk. He seems to do that well.

Gentry laughed about Rivers response Wednesday, making fun of himself.

“I’ve got to slow down,” Gentry joked. “I talk too much. That’s what Doc said.”

Tags: Golden State Warriors Phoenix Suns Preview

  • Dirk

    Easy win tonight.

  • Steve

    Go Suns!

    Hopefully the Sloan situation will help our causes this season. I can’t imagine that the Jazz wouldn’t falter a little bit with this situation.

  • Nick

    Hopefully it doesn’t, why do you want to make the playoffs when you know damn well we’ll get swept in the first round? If not swept we’ll get one victory. We need the highest pick we can get. If we make the playoffs we’re just shooting ourselves in the foot by delaying the inevitable rebuilding process.

  • Zak

    “If the Suns don’t think they can contend this season, they may decide to move some pieces to look toward next season.”

    If they do make some sort of trade, I hope it IS something that will help in the future rather than a desperation trade to try and improve enough this season just to make the playoffs. I hope everyone will agree that we’d much rather see a trade that might get the Suns back in the finals next year than one that will only lead to an 8th seed in this year’s playoffs and a quick exit… even if not making that trade means we wind up in the lottery this year.

    Especially KEEP the draft picks unless some sort of deal comes up where Phoenix can actually get a prime player who could contribute for many years.

  • Steve

    I would want the playoffs if we can manage the 8, the 6, or the 5. The reason I say those postions is because I think the Spurs are getting the 1, the Lakers are getting the 2, the Mavs the 3, and OKC the 4.

    The only one of those teams that I think is guaranteed to beat the Suns in a series is the Lakers. I would love to take the Spurs again. The Mavs are always highly overrated because they are a good regular season team (just like the Suns used to be), and I really don’t think OKC is a very good TEAM. Durant is incredible, but I don’t think it’s his time to run everyone over in the playoffs yet.

    I’ve been saying for weeks that I want to miss the playoffs and get the best pick possible, but I can’t say I don’t want to see the Suns win a series or two as the underdog.

  • pete

    @nick – you don’t deserve to be a fan (if ever?). just beLieve & watch.

  • Zak

    Steve, don’t underestimate the Mavs this season based on the past. Usually I would agree with you but T. Chandler has added something to their team that they’ve not had before. If not for the injuries they had this season, I think they could be leading the West right now in wins. If they enter they playoffs healthy, no one should take them lightly.

    The Spurs are playing really well because they have been very lucky and have avoided injuries to their starting 5… so far. Maybe their luck will hold, maybe it won’t. Time will tell.

    The Lakers are still the Lakers although a little older. When the playoffs come they will still be a force to be dealt with unless they have injuries that will hobble them.

    OKC actually has a great, young nucleus which could surprise everyone this year. Durant is Durant and one of the best player in the NBA but Westbrook is also having a great season. Jeff Green is no slouch either. Honestly, I wouldn’t bet on the Suns being able to take any of those teams in a 7 game series.

    And I would even add NO to that if they are healthy again at playoff time. But if the Suns do make the playoffs this year I would be perfectly happy to see them paired up with the Spurs in the first round. Why? I just hate the Spurs. Watching the Suns win a playoff series against the Spurs is second only to watching the Suns win a championship to me. Yeah, it’s illogical and irrational but I just hate the Spurs. I still remember the suspension of Diaw and Stoudemire because of the cheap shot that Horry took on Steve during the 2007 playoffs.

    The Suns could have won it all that year if not for that. “Cheap Shot Rob”. That’s his “legacy” as far as I’m concerned and I’ve hated the Spurs ever since. Yeah I know that I should let it go and forget about it but whenever I hear anything about the Spurs THAT is what I think of. Odd considering that I always loved watching George Gervin play and was a Spurs fan way back then. I’m glad to say that I eventually had the chance to meet “The Iceman” in 2007 and shake his hand. Hopefully I’ll also have the opportunity to shake Steve’s hand one day too.