BOSTON — The Phoenix Suns acquired Aaron Brooks to provide energy and a scoring punch off the bench, and for the first time as a Sun he did all that and more Wednesday night in Boston.
With the amped up Celtics starting unit making the Suns’ starters look as bad as they have all year, Brooks and the bench unit entered at the end of the third quarter and completely changed the game, finally forging a Suns pace while cutting a 29-point lead all the way down to eight before ultimately succumbing.
It would be unreasonable to expect Brooks to lead many 18-0 runs as he did in this one, but the spurt could be a blueprint for what Brooks can do for this team as he the Suns got out in the open court for transition buckets and knocked down threes in the half court with Brooks in the middle of everything. In 15 minutes of second-half action, he exploded for 14 points, six assists and two steals to combine with Jared Dudley’s 14 points to make this a game again.
“I just wanted to bring a little bit of energy off the bench,” Brooks said. “I think as a team the bench players came in, played very well today.”
In the end this deal will be judged by its long-term implications, of which there are many, but purely for this season Brooks appears to be a perfect fit as a lethal scoring threat who can energize the entire unit and prevent some of the lethargic stretches we’ve seen this season.
He’s covered defensively with Dudley, Pietrus and Gortat out there with him, and he’s got a pair of three-point shooters to dish it to if teams key in on his drives.
Most importantly, as we last night, he can create that frenetic pace the bench so thrived in last season that has seldom occurred this year, and when the threes are falling this bench can make the kind of game-turning runs it was known for last year.
“We like to run and shoot, up tempo,” Brooks said. “That fits my game, that’s how I play, so it works out perfect.”
Having played just three games, Brooks is still just getting acclimated to the Suns. He said the first couple games it was “weird” playing with new teammates because he’s not used to seeing them out on the floor with him.
We saw that a few times against the Celtics as he penetrated and got the ball to teammates in spots they’re unaccustomed to getting it in, but that will come with time. Perhaps it had to do with the “nothing to lose” game situation, but Brooks finally looked comfortable being the gunner he was acquired to be against the Celtics after some feeling it out passiveness in his first two contests.
I’ve questioned Brooks’ fitness as the Suns’ point guard of the future since he’s far from a distributor in the Nash mode, but that’s the last thing the Suns want him to constrain himself to be this season.
“He’s an open court player and a scorer and that’s who we want him to be,” Gentry said. “We don’t want him to be Steve Nash, we want him to be Aaron Brooks. And Aaron Brooks was a guy that was very aggressive offensively when he played in Houston, and made as many threes as anybody in the league last year. And we just want him to be what he is.”
Brooks is the Suns’ change of pace point guard, a guy who will look for his offense more than Nash does but a player who can carry the Suns for stretches when he gets hot.
It will be interesting to see how this dynamic works itself out. In some ways it’s like the Philadelphia Eagles going from a dynamic playmaker like Michael Vick to more of a pocket passer in Kevin Kolb in the middle of a game. The contrast in styles from a maestro like Nash to a gunner like Brooks can make the team very difficult to defend.
Although Brooks is in no way Nashian in the way Goran Dragic tried to emulate Two Time, Brooks called MVSteve a “genius with the ball” and somebody who surely will team him a thing or two about being a playmaker in this league.
In my first interview with Brooks he seemed genuinely excited to be in Phoenix playing with teammates he called “cool,” a head coach with “a great coaching style” in that it allows him so much freedom and a renowned training staff that’s helping the ankle that’s hampered him all season slowly get smaller.
But most of all Brooks is excited about having a fresh start as he tries to rebuild his value heading into a summer where he will look to get paid.
“A fresh start, that’s it,” Brooks said. “It’s just good to be open, going out there playing, not having to worry about all this stuff.
“Just a fresh start.”
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