Preview: Phoenix Suns (0-2) at New Orleans Hornets (2-0)


Phoenix Suns 93, New Orleans Hornets 78

Suns

Hornets

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns will hit the road for the first time this season in search of their offense and their first win of the season.

They will also get a shot at revenge in New Orleans after the Hornets knocked them off in the opener on Eric Gordon’s game-winning shot.

It was presumed that the Suns might get off to a quick start with a favorable early schedule that is hardly looking advantageous anymore, especially after New Orleans took the Celtics behind the woodshed in their home opener.

Jarrett Jack, who served a one-game suspension against Phoenix, returned to score 21 points and dish nine assists in the Hornets’ 97-78 victory. It surprised many that New Orleans played so well without Gordon, who missed the Boston game with a bruised knee and is expected to sit out tonight’s game as well. Marco Belinelli is slated to start in his place.

Without Gordon to worry about drilling another game-winning shot, the Suns are focused on rediscovering their offensive rhythm in The Big Easy after it went MIA in Phoenix.

Through two games the usually prolific Suns rank 27th in offensive efficiency having scored 90.6 points per 100 possessions. Moreover they rank third to last in true shooting percentage and fourth to last in effective field goal percentage, territory this team is completely unfamiliar with.

“We’ve got to get a better rhythm,” said head coach Alvin Gentry. “We just haven’t had a very good rhythm offensively. We’ve had some good practices and we’ve done some good things, it just seems what has happened is that we’ve had some good looks early on that haven’t gone in and I think we’ve probably pressed a little bit. We’ve been a good shooting team, we’ve been a good offensive team. We’ve got to try to get that back.”

The Suns will be doing it against a New Orleans squad that has played stout defense through two games, although perhaps some of that has to do with facing the Suns in one of them. The Hornets rank third in defensive efficiency, with a 90.9 defensive rating.

The Suns have been particularly horrid from long range, shooting 7-for-36 (19.4 percent), and have been nearly as bad anywhere beyond nine feet, shooting 28.2 percent on such jumpers. It’s telling that the Suns’ leading scorers through two games are a guy who did not even enter the opener by coach’s decision (Hakim Warrick) and a player coming off a season in which he averaged 6.4 ppg in Robin Lopez.

“I honestly don’t know,” Grant Hill said when asked to explain the team’s offensive struggles. “It’s not the first time we’ve played and not been in rhythm. It’s just the first time the first two games. We have a great opportunity Friday to find our rhythm. I have confidence that we can shoot better and play better offensively.”

The Suns better find that rhythm soon because these early games were supposed to represent the easy portion of their schedule before the end of the month turns brutal.

But right now the Suns aren’t thinking long term, they just want to find a way to play better and get in the win column against a team expected to be among the league’s worst after trading its superstar.

“We’ve got to try to find a way to win a game,” Nash said. “That’s the bottom line. We obviously have proven we’ve got a lot of work to do, but we have to find a way to grind one of these games out and get our season started at some point here because we haven’t really come out yet and made shots or felt in any sort of groove or confidence. We’ve just got to buckle down and get something done.”

  • http://jtshoopsblog.blogspot.com JT’s Hoops Blog

    It’s still the beginning of the season so it’s still hard to tell, but the Suns certainly need to wake up before it’s too late.

  • sun also rises

    “I got a bad feeling about this” – Han Solo

    But serio, the good news is that this is a team that the Suns played already so that there shouldn’t be any surprises. The bad news is that there is no indication that the problems from the Philly beating have been fixed which means that its just as likely that we get sunk again as if we swim. I would definitely like to see the team come out tough, like the Mavs did last night.

    I’m also happy to see that the mods are back in effect on the board. Maybe now we can get to the chat and forget the anti Sarver spam and cheesy name calling.

  • Zak

    Lol, I don’t hate Sarver nor do I really like him. Yes although whether the Suns succeed or fail ultimately falls upon his shoulders , he still has to decide whether it’s in his best interest as to how he can make money off of the Suns. He’s the team owner and he’s trying to make a profit off of what he owns… is there anyone here who really doesn’t understand than concept?

    As much as I would love to be the Suns’ owner, I wouldn’t go too far into debt to try for a championship unless I saw it as a reasonable objective.

    While some fans may hate him and blame him for everything wrong with the Suns, I can understand his point of view. I don’t agree with it but I understand it.

    I’d go for broke at least one season. Sarver’s real failing, IMHO, is that he isn’t willing to gamble that way.

  • Tony

    I do not understand why Gentry is continuing the same starting lineup! Frye does not deserve to start, he’s been atrocious. He’s not only missing his shots but is playing poorly defensively as well. Going against Landry in particular, Frye is not well-suited to guard him. Morris should be starting at this point, especially since he’s a better matchup against Landry.

    Also, Dudley should not be starting either! The starting lineup is too slow and that’s a primary reason for the offensive struggles. Even though Brown so far has shown no ability to shoot the ball well, at least he’s athletic and fast.

    I just don’t get Gentry’s stubborness to change the starting lineup as this is the same problem he had with continually starting Lopez over Gortat last season. I know it may hurt the confidence of those players he does take out of the starting lineup, but the team needs wins.

  • Tony

    Zak,

    Sarver’s primary failing is not his incompetence or his consistent cost-cutting moves, but instead his refusal to take any responsibility for the Suns predicament. It may be he’s so arrogant that he’s delusional and can’t see his mistakes and admit to them or some other reason. However, you cannot improve if you can’t admit your faults and mistakes. Thus, if Sarver truly believes his decisions were for the good of the franchise, then why should we expect anything to change in how he operates the team in the future?

    Compare the Suns to the Spurs and Peter Holt for instance. Watching the Spurs against the Clippers, it was amazing to see such competent ownership from an even smaller market team than the Suns. The Spurs are continually able to maintain their core three stars while adding younger and more athletic role players who fit the system Popovich uses.
    The Spurs hardly have any turnover in their personnel either. Since Nash came back to the Suns, he’s played with something like 70 different teammates. This continuous roster change makes it far more difficult to develop any team chemistry.

  • Scott

    @Tony -

    Gentry probably wants to start players who played well together last season. And he probably doesn’t want to fiddle with the starting line-up too much, because his main goal right now is to provide some consistency so players can develop chemistry.

  • Scott

    @Tony -

    I don’t see Sarver passing the buck on his decision-making. However, he’s not a dictator making his decisions in a vacuum. Everything that happens was recommended by someone in the FO, and Sarver takes those suggestions into consideration and goes with them.

    If you’re comparing Suns and Spurs, I suspect the Spurs FO has either been better overall these past few years, or just luckier.

  • Zak

    Tony,

    My point was that Sarver is doing what he thinks is best for HIM, not the franchise. If I was i his position, I would be tempted to do the same… put as many butts in the seats as possible by providing at least a team that fans could hope could win.

    Personally, if I had the power to do it, I’d go for it all even if it cost me.

    That kind of attitude would bring top FAs to Phoenix . That is Sarver’s failing.

  • Tony

    Okay, but Zak it is actually in Sarver’s best interest to produce a top level team. That way the stadium is always sold out, ticket prices can be raised, TV advertising revenue goes up, and marketability of the franchise also greatly expands. Sarver is incessitant on maintaining a short-term profit margin with the consequence that these moves will generate less revenue in the near future because of the quality of team he puts out.
    Then you have to consider that running an NBA franchise or any professional franchise for that matter is not simply a business. It’s more than profit margins. Owning a team means you are representing your respective city and the fans that support the team. If it was just a business, fans wouldn’t be that interested. It’s more than that. There should also be some pride in winning and I don’t really see that in Sarver.

  • Zak

    Tony, the only difference I see between our opinions of Sarver is that I don’t believe that Sarver wants to take the chance to spend enough to bring a championship team to Phoenix… he just wants to spend enough to keep fans in the stands with the hope that the Suns “might” be good enough to win it all. I agree that it’s in his best interest to to produce a top level team but I think he’s trying to hedge his bets. He wants a winning team but he’s also afraid to spend too much to do it until he feels certain that he has a team that can do it with adding one or two prime (expensive) players. If that’s really his thinking – or his delusion – he’ll never go the extra mile to get the players the Suns need to step up to the top tier of the NBA. In short, he’s too cautious IMHO. He’s playing it safe. A fairly sure way to stay a good but not a great team in the NBA.

  • steve

    Tony, the spurs haven’t had to try for the past 20+ years. Having two of the top 6 centers of all time helps a bit. That comparison fails miserably. I’m much more with zak on this one. I think Sarver thinks about money first, and hopefully a good or great team will be a by-product. I honestly don’t blame him for that. You can say all day you wouldn’t do it that way, but the fact is that none of us will ever have the opportunity to prove ourselves in that regard.

  • Scott

    Just to point it out … the Suns are typically luxury tax payers. And not every team who pays a lot in luxury tax wins … look at the Knicks, for example.

    The Spurs, as I recall, are not big luxury tax payers. They were fortunate to get 2 HoF centers in the draft, and they were fortunate to get Ginobili at the tail end of the 2nd round.

  • Scott

    BTW … a nice game tonight by the Suns … not perfect, but looking much more like what we probably expected to see in game 1.

  • Mel.

    Well, on the upside… we’re officially better than the reigning NBA champions, now. Not a great game by even the most optimistic standards, but at least the better team showed up this time.