New Orleans Hornets 109, Phoenix Suns 97 — Dudley dunks, Suns lose

Posted by on April 9th, 12:27 am

Jared Dudley finally slammed home his 10th dunk of the season during the Suns' loss to the Hornets. Copyright 2011 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

Jared Dudley finally slammed home his 10th dunk of the season during the Suns' loss to the Hornets. Copyright 2011 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

In a season gone sour, sometimes the little things are all there is left to enjoy.

For New Orleans, tonight’s 109-97 victory was about Willie Green canning his first 12 shots to help the Hornets keep pace with the Blazers and Grizzlies in the race for playoff seeding.

But for the Phoenix Suns, their biggest achievement came two minutes into the game when Jared Dudley stole a pass and dished it ahead to Grant Hill, who passed it to Aaron Brooks, who whipped a slick behind-the-back pass to Dudley, who was streaking down the lane in perfect rhythm and slammed home his 10th dunk of the season.

Robin Lopez raised his arms to the heavens, Garret Siler let out a primal yell and Zabian Dowdell danced around on the sidelines after the throwdown and when Dudley returned to the bench at the next timeout he got high fives all around and lots of smiles during his hero’s welcome.

I’m not quite sure why Dudley dunking 10 times this year became so important. In essence it’s a rather trivial circumstance, a stat that doesn’t matter in the big picture during a season that ended two weeks ago.

It started during the preseason when the so-called unathletic Dudley vowed to reach 10 dunks before failing to throw down even once during the first 49 games. At that point he promised to start dunking and he has steadily added a dunk here and a dunk there every few games.

Dudley’s quest for 10 dunks has grown almost a cult following with a US Airways Center graphic keeping track of how many dunks JD is at like the old career strikeout tallies for Randy Johnson at Chase Field, and reporters asking JMZ about his progress toward this feat after every slam.

Dudley originally said during the last homestand that he wanted to get his 10th dunk during the season finale on Wednesday in San Antonio, but he woke up on Friday in New Orleans and decided he could not risk waiting. Tonight would be the night.

After shootaround he told Paul Coro, “I’m promising No. 10 tonight. Put it in the books. Get it over with. I don’t want the Mark McGwire stress on me.

“It’s like when Floyd Mayweather does a fight and he says, ‘I’m gonna win.’ He’s letting the other fighter know he’s going to win, but it doesn’t matter because his mind is already made up. My mind-set is that I want to get it done with.”

In theory an NBA player dunking 10 times in a season is no monumental feat whatsoever. I wouldn’t be surprised if Blake Griffin dunks 10 times in a single game at some point in his career if he hasn’t already.

All the hype over Dudley reaching 10 dunks is really about the camaraderie it creates, be it three of his teammates holding up a “No dunk” sign after a recent weak dunk he was credited with in the stat sheet or Steve Nash tweeting that the 10 dunks tripled the odds set in Vegas or the over the top way JMZ has had fun with this “chase,” making it bigger than it really is.

But Dudley is much more than a dunker, if you would even call him that. Buoyed by some Snow Cones in New Orleans that Grant Hill was talking about before the trip, Dudley played another fine game as a starter with 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting to go with seven boards in 39:29. Perhaps most noteworthy is the fact the Suns were outscored by 11 points during the 8:31 he sat in a 12-point game.

Since becoming a starter eight games ago, Dudley has averaged 15.3 points and 5.5 boards, taking full advantage of the opportunity to become a long-term starter for Phoenix going into the future with his combination of outside shooting, gritty defense, hustle and yes, even dunking.

Playing without Nash due to a right hamstring injury, the Suns jumped out to a 23-13 lead but couldn’t sustain it as the Hornets led by one after the first on a Chris Paul buzzer beater. After New Orleans surged ahead in the second the Suns came back to knot things up at 51 before yielding a 14-2 run they never recovered from in a game in which they trailed by as many as 19 in the second half.

In Nash’s place Brooks struggled with his shot in going for just nine points on 2-for-7 shooting but he did dish nine assists, and Zabian Dowdell added nine points as well.

Hill played another solid game with 15 points, and Marcin Gortat once again stood out as a bright spot along with Dudley with 17 points on 6-for-9 shooting. Gortat’s plus-minus was even more pronounced as the Suns gained 14 points in his 29 minutes, meaning they lost 26 points in the 19 minutes he was not on the floor. Kind of makes you think the Suns really would have won the game between these squads two weeks ago in Phoenix if not for Gortat’s late fractured nose.

Robin Lopez once again provided zero impact with no points, two boards and two fouls in just 6:45. Alvin Gentry clearly has lost all faith in Robin being that he’s not even getting burn in a meaningless game. In fact when Lopez picked up two fouls in 5:05 of the first quarter after Gortat picked up a quick pair, Gentry pulled him for Garret Siler time in the first quarter and then played the big rookie until it was time for the Polish Hammer to return in the second quarter.

Lopez has played very poor basketball, but if nothing else for his trade value I’d like to see him get a little more action. That is unless Gentry thinks he’s helping Lopez’s trade value by not allowing opposing teams to see him play.

Overall the Suns — who won’t have a winning record for the first time in the Nash Era — shot well (50.0 percent) but could not defend (55.6 percent for New Orleans). They hung around for a half before tapering off against a quality West team once again, as Phoenix has not beaten a Western Conference playoff squad since taking down these Hornets back in January.

There’s nothing funny about Phoenix losing its 11th straight game to a West playoff team and seventh game in nine contests overall, but at least Dudley’s successful run at 10 dunks provided a bit of comic relief in The Big Easy.

Michael Schwartz founded ValleyoftheSuns in October 2008 and is the owner/editor emeritus of the site. He is currently working toward his MBA in sports business at San Diego State University.

Facebook Twitter Google+ YouTube 

Tags: Jared Dudley · New Orleans Hornets · Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns Recap

18 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Rich Anthony, (KJL) // Apr 9, 2011 at 3:48 am

    You know what Michael, I don’t mind the antics at all. I’m pretty convinced that our Suns pulled the perverbial plug a couple of weeks ago. Really, I’m fine with that as our draft stock increases and reality sets in that much quicker.

    Really, PHX was one-and-done this year in the playoffs anyway.

    The attitude of the team is still strong going into the future. Hopefully JMZ finally gets his shot at the 2, and hopefully JChil is at the ready with him in the 3 slot next year. Gortat has the 5 locked down, and Frye, (AKA attractive trade bait), will keep it spaced at the 4.

    Really, those are the only 4 that I feel will be safe heading into free agency, (or a work stoppage), with Frye being on the bubble if he can bring back a bunch of building blocks.

    A lot of Suns fans are going to be furious when the season ends, but honestly this was a long time coming. It’s time to rebuild from ground zero.

    And really, I’m not that worried. Phoenix has always done a good job bringing talent into the league to field a team strong enough to attract major talent when needed.

  • 2 Freddy // Apr 9, 2011 at 5:40 am

    Very Nicely said Rich.

    I wish I would of watched this game if anything to see what my boy siler did in place of Lopez. All we can hope for as fans is a big move is made via trade that helps the future of the team be it trading Nash or bringing something back star calber (Not Super Star just Star) in exchange for something else we have. Hopefully our guys work on improving their game and make it an exciting for us come next season.

    This season was interesting to say the least.

  • 3 Rich Anthony, (KJL) // Apr 9, 2011 at 7:18 am

    Freddy,

    At this stage, Siler seems more likely to return to the Suns than RoLo.

    He’s a seven foot big man. History says that somebody will call asking about him or at the very least, he will be in a package if teams call with interest in anybody else.

    Sad really. I thought he was heading in the right direction last year. Perhaps that back injury just isn’t allowing him to do very much. A back injury destroyed TMac before his time was up. Just sad it happened to RoLo, (at least I hope that is what is going on because it’s really easy for me to accuse him of having no heart at this stage).

  • 4 Steve // Apr 9, 2011 at 9:12 am

    I think Siler will be back because he won’t generate ANY interest from other teams, unless they happen to have noticed what I have, in that I think he is a hard worker in practice. That’s his value to an NBA franchise.

    But one thing that no one seems to be mentioning is that every other team, every other gm knows our guys suck just as bad as we do. Pawning off RoLo might not be as easy as we think. Are there a lot of teams who would kill for an able-bodied 7-footer? Yes, but there aren’t any teams who have room for a guy who sucks it up on a nightly basis like RoLo did this season. I’m sure there will be two to three teams that will bite, but I don’t think there’s any type of guarantee we’ll pull the trigger on the deal, because I don’t think the price tag is going to be that high. Is anyone going to be willing to give up an unprotected first-rounder for RoLo? I doubt it. I certainly wouldn’t, if I were a gm.

    I think Frye would be great to keep around for another year. He made some strides to become a more complete player this year. If he continues that, he could become good enough that maybe we’ll want to keep him for his whole contract, or at least he could garner enough value to bring in some big time building blocks. At this point, I think everyone else will have as many questions about Frye as we do? Not the least of all being, “What’s he going to give me on any given night?”

    I’d like to move those guys, but I would like to avoid selling low. I think they have room to move up. Warrick, Pietrus, Carter (obviously), and even Brooks to some extent can’t improve on what they already are, in my opinion, and only have room to move down. We need to focus on unloading those guys before anything else.

  • 5 Tony // Apr 9, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Rich,

    I don’t know how you can keep maintaing such optimism for such a miserable team the Suns have become under the “leadership” of Robert Sarver. Minus Nash, this team is basically the Cavs of the western conference.

    People, such as yourself, that believe in a rebuilding process conveniently ignore the responsible party to properly rebuild the Suns team. In one summer, Sarver single handidly turned a western conference finalist team into a lottery team. I don’t understand how you or anyone else can have any faith in the Suns front office since the worst owner in the NBA runs this team. Sarver is not willing to sign a top level talent and continually sells draft picks. If he’s not going to sign elite players and he constantly sells draft picks, that leaves only via trade for a star player. However, to trade for a star player, a team must have to give up quality and the only Suns realistic asset at this point is Gortat and obviously the Suns would be foolish to trade him.

  • 6 Mel. // Apr 9, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    Oh, get off the garbage truck, Tony. You want to fault a guy for striking his colors and showing optimism in the face of what’s been the most tumultuous season for the team in six years?

    I’d counter that tired-ass wheedling against the evils of $arver and gaseous pity-party comments like “the Suns being the Cavs of the West” (Never mind the fact that there’s what… six teams who are FAR worse off than we are, even with Nash prospectively changing zip codes, in the WC alone?) and the “people such as yourself” are infinitely more obnoxious. Living in some cotton-gossamer Candyland where the only thing keeping us from winning a title is our owners is convenient, since it always keeps reality JUST out of the reach of one’s commitment as a fan.

    “Oh, I’ll cheer for the team when they win, but if things go south, I’ll sit back/boycott/cluck my tongue/roll my eyes/call a spade a spade/so on and so forth.”

    Fine, but screw off with passing judgment on fans who aren’t buying into the typically inane negative jibber-jabber. It’s a hell of a lot harder to find positives and keep the faith than it is to arbitrarily show up with the intention of pissing on people who love to watch the Suns because they love to watch the Suns.

  • 7 Tony // Apr 9, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Hey Mel, aka Robert Sarver,

    you are an enabler for the wrong kind, in this case for Sarver. As long as dodos like yourself sit back and say, “well Sarver let Amare go and brought in Hedo and Warrick, so everything is fine,” you enable Sarver to continue making absurd moves. If you want to continue to watch the decline of this franchise led by Sarver, by all means continue to pay dollars to support his ownership. Don’t get mad when the Suns stink for many years to come.

    Maybe you are not acquainted with how capitalism works, but when a producer produces an item of inferior quality as Sarver has done with the Suns, the consumer, in this case the Suns fans, should punish the producer by not purchasing his product. If the consumer refuses to purchase the item, the producer has no choice other than to improve the product or sell his business. My point with boycotting is that if the fans refuse to purchase tickets to Suns games and Sarver begins to lose a vast sum of money, he will be forced to improve this team or to sell it. However, as long as he can depend on dodos like yourself to continue purchasing tickets, he has no incentive to improve the team.

  • 8 sun also rises // Apr 9, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    I knew we couldn’t finish out the season with one last post with someone calling Mel Robert Sarver. Just like JMZ’s dunks, it’s become a bull-pen joke for people on this blog to follow.

    But just out of curiosity Tony, while you’re talking down to all us actual fans, what would your brilliant ass solution to the state of the team be? I imagine it starts and ends with something about STAT leaving with nothing in between. You kooky cabrones always sound like a broken record (here come the boycott threats right) but you don’t have the balls or brains to offer anything constructive. Just b**ch, b**ch, b**ch some more.

  • 9 Rich Anthony, (KJL) // Apr 9, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    Tony, you’re quite silly.

    Those who have responded before me are on the right track, but the one thing I’ve learned in writing is not to have thick skin, but to just take things on an information basis and counter from there.

    First, you say that Sarver destroyed a WCF team in one summer. In reality, that didn’t have much to do with him in the grand scheme of things, (minus the Kerr situation).

    1) Amare Stoudemire – “fans” like you assume that all it would have taken was a couple more million dollars to keep STAT. That is false.

    STAT was running around in NY caps and visiting New York before he was finished being a Phoenix Sun.

    He talked about wanting to be part of that “free agent round table” of super-friends that was Flash, LBJ, and Bosh.

    Those are not the actions of a person who ever intended to return to the Valley. Dude was gone; Sarver, Kerr, Babby, KJ, Barkley, or Chambers could not have done anything about it.

    2) Amundson knew the market was going to be high and he made sure that everybody knew his asking price before the season was over. In other words, he was telling everybody that he wouldn’t be back with the Suns.

    3) Alando Tucker & Earl Clark – Part of that WCF team, but no impact on it. So they don’t count. There was a D League guy who never played either.

    So 5 players that Sarver had no control over bringing back or that didn’t contribute anyway. In no way did he “destroy” a WCF team.

    He had to bring people in, and in reality, there wasn’t much out there to work with. He bombed with Hedo, and then turned it into Gortat.

    I don’t care what anybody says. I’m all good with him landing us Gortat.

    We lost J Rich, but honestly, J Rich was going to be gone the same time as the Nash era ended. Everybody knows he would not have remained during a rebuilding period.

    We get Carter off the books for a bargain, and we’re in a position to conjure up a lot of prospects and future depth while also being in a decent position to sit below whatever the luxury tax will end up being even with contracts like J Chil and Frye currently on the books.

    Like I said on another thread, I’ll chill on Sarver until around November.

    Oh, and on that “how can you be okay with rebuilding” thing? It’s something that must be done by every franchise.

    You’ve got to go back to ground zero to get back up there with the elite. Boston did it. Miami took three years off and did it. New York finally got out from under that financial rubble and are now in a position to contend.

    Phoenix has to do it and they’re going to do it. At least we have young players in position to keep the rebuilding process short as opposed to having to go through what the Knicks went through or what Sacramento is currently going through.

    Oh, and about that supply and demand stuff you’re spraying everywhere, just stop it. You’re doing far more damage to yourself than you know.

  • 10 Steve // Apr 10, 2011 at 9:06 am

    I wasn’t aware that the Cavs had 38 wins. When did that happen. Man, if we suck as bad as the Cavs, we must be REALLY bad.

  • 11 Mel. // Apr 10, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Tony, (aka ramblin’ douchenozzle),

    Of course you think I’m Robert Sarver. It feeds into your keyboard-fapping nonsense to believe that he’s actually poring over every inane comment that you make on this blog, just like it serves your delusional state to believe that any fan who genuinely supports the team–and NOT the boogeyman in the front office–is “an enabler” (Uh…), or that I’m somehow representative of this great evil by “buying tickets” (Which would be really easy to do, from NYC… right).

    Your world’s a weird, petty and paranoid one, and I really do pity “fans” like you. Your enjoyment of the team goes as far as expecting them–and the game at large–to kowtow to your bizarre little expectations; and like a child who’s been coddled into thinking that reality bends to their whims and DOESN’T wind up with that pony on Christmas morning, you pitch a tantrum the moment that reality settles in.

    Doesn’t work that way, kid. Dynasties come and go, winners become losers, and the sport itself is bigger than any of our personal whims and woes. You don’t care for that fact, you’d be better off flippin’ tiddly-winks by yourself in the basement, pretending like you can control the outcome simply by WANTING it to be a certain way. Wah-ha.

  • 12 Tony // Apr 10, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Mel,

    Only a narcasistic douche would take what I said about you also being Sarver as serious.

    On most Suns sites, I am in the majority of Suns fans, but I guess this blog page is dedicated to Sarver’s last remaining dodo heads. He could move the team to another city and claim it would benefit Phoenix’s economy and you would probably believe him!

    How far did the Phoenix Suns go last season????? Ah, if you remember, they made it to the western conference finals. How many players remain from last season’s team? Only five players remain. Who’s responsibility is it to sign and resign players? It is ultimately the owner’s responsibility, no matter what the GM does, he cannot overrule the owner. Now, from going to last season’s western conference finals, to the very next season in the lottery, is the fault of Sarver. This was not a case of injuries, but rather the out right refusal by Sarver to do the responsible thing and resign the core players of last season’s team.

    With that being said, there’s no reason to argue with you because you have your head up Sarver’s ass.

  • 13 Tony // Apr 10, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Rich,

    I appreciate you going through each move by Sarver in the off-season, but you are conviently ignoring the impact of those decisions.

    Firstly, with regards to Amare, I nor you can speak for him, but from everything I’ve read, Amare wanted to stay in Phoenix but wanted a guaranteed 5 year contract and Sarver would only offer him 3. Now, I wasn’t so opposed to resigning Amare, but Sarver had to bring in players of similar caliber to replace him. Instead he brought in Hedo, Warrick, and Childress, none of which are all-star caliber players and none of them can play the pf position. A responsible owner would have pressed hard to bring in David Lee, Chris Bosh, or Carlos Boozer. In other words, a legitimate starting pf.

    Jason Richardson was an intrigal player on this team and should have been resigned. He’s quoted as saying that the Suns front office didn’t even have the decency to talk to his agent about an extension. So he knew he was going to be traded and while I love what Gortat has brought to the Suns, losing Richardson and gaining Carter was a huge loss.

    Between Amare and J-Rich, that’s two of the big 3 for the SUns last season. It would be like taking Gasol and Odom off the Lakers and expect them to still do well. It’s ludicrous.

    Lou was another integral player on this team. His defense and rebounding were very important as we see how important with Warrick’s inability to play even decent defense.

    Then you ignore the Dragic trade which so far is looking worse and worse. No way is Brooks a legitimate starter for this team in the future if the front office expects a playoff team. He’s too small to guard anyone and his offense is predicated too much on scoring, not good for leading this team with Frye, Dudley, Childress, Gortat, and Warrick, all guys dependent on strong passing pgs to get them easy baskets.

    In conclusion, the Suns are in very poor shape because they do not have a young star player to build around and most of the team’s contracts are for over-paid role players. Regardless of what happens with the new CBA, there’s no doubt it will lead to a lower salary cap, thus not allowing Sarver much room to bring in quality talent before moving into the luxury tax. Even though they should get a decent pick in the draft, it is considered one of the weakest in years.

  • 14 sun also rises // Apr 10, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    “In conclusion, the Suns are in very poor shape because they do not have a young star player to build around and most of the team’s contracts are for over-paid role players. Regardless of what happens with the new CBA, there’s no doubt it will lead to a lower salary cap, thus not allowing Sarver much room to bring in quality talent before moving into the luxury tax. Even though they should get a decent pick in the draft, it is considered one of the weakest in years.”

    So you couldn’t just say this without being a jackass and insulting a bunch of other people? The problem with making a good point is when you ruin it by coming off like a stupid nut who’s going to run someone over because their team is slumping, the point tends to get lost.

    Also, why are you posting as “Larry” in that other post? Stick to one personality and trying to make sense and you might get taken seriously, bro.

  • 15 Tony // Apr 10, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Sun also rises,

    First off, I didn’t post as someone else. I have no idea who Larry is, but if he said what I said, then he’s a pretty smart fellow.

    Secondly, I only replied with an insult as a result of being insulted first. Tit for tat.

    Finally, I am by know means happy with the direction the Suns are headed. This is not pleasant, but what frustrates me most is that this team had two more years of really top-level ball before a rebuilding process would need to begin. What Sarver did is an insult to both Nash and Hill, two of the classiest players in the NBA.

  • 16 sun also rises // Apr 10, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    I find it hard to believe that some stranger just showed up out of nowhere, posting the exact same time as you did and trying to pick fights with the posters on this board. Seems funny but hey, if that’s what gets you through… go on.

    As for what happened: you clearly called out Rich (Who has been the backbone of this board since before I was following it) and got spanked for it by other people. Don’t pretend to be a victim when you start a crap avalanche. You could have avoided it by just stating your point and not making it about your weirdo Sarver obsession, and it would have been a civil exchange and not a stupid flame war.

  • 17 Tony // Apr 10, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    Sun,

    I don’t need to pretend to be someone else, whomever this Larry fellow is, he is right one money if what he said is similar to me. Now, I have no idea who he is, so instead of trying to demean my argument by throwing out bs like that, argue with my points instead.

    I didn’t say anything inappropriate to Rich, but I disagree with his opinion. He can take all the blame away from Sarver he wants, but facts speak volume. The fact is, this team went to the WCFs last season and watching them play against Dallas tonight, they look awful and they are unlikely to even finish with a .500 win record. The other fact remains that only 5 players remain from last season’s team. You nor Rich can argue that.

  • 18 sun also rises // Apr 10, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    You didn’t disagree, you pulled a punk card on him with some ridiculous “you’re either with us or against us” BS about (again) Sarver. Then you went on with it by calling everybody an enabler (whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean) and kept it stirring.

    Now you apparently took your meds, which I would definitely recommend sticking with. Your contributions are a lot more interesting when you aren’t pretending to be someone else or seeing how many times you can insult people before getting to something that makes sense.

    And I don’t argue with your points, because honestly, nobody in this convo is coming to defend Sarver despite what you seem to be so bent on believing. Like I made clear above, I agree with most of what you have to say, but I don’t agree with you acting like a psycho or trying to channel George W. Bush by calling out other fans as being enemies of the state or whatever the eff you’re going off about.

    I have an OKC/LA game to watch now, been fun.

Leave a Comment