Phoenix Suns 102, Golden State Warriors 91 -- Lid off the rim


PHOENIX — Through four and a half games of the NBA season, the Phoenix Suns were a jump shooting team that could not hit a jump shot.

A Suns team that has annually led the NBA in field-goal percentage entered the day shooting 40.2 percent from the floor, much to the dismay of head coach Alvin Gentry.

After continuing to clank shots during a 34.8 percent shooting first quarter, the Suns finally started to show signs of breaking out of their collective slump by hitting 48.4 percent the rest of the way to close out a 102-91 victory over the Golden State Warriors. Their 110.9 offensive rating and 49.4 effective field-goal percentage were season highs by a good margin as well.

“We just missed so many shots uncharacteristically the first [four] games let alone the first half,” said Suns guard Steve Nash. “We missed so many shots that we normally knock down: open threes, baseline jumpers, top of the key, free-throw line, just shots that we’re accustomed to making but also that our offense is predicated on. When we’re not making shots like that it really puts pressure on us.”

Poor shooting is an issue that’s certainly not exclusive to Phoenix, it’s just that the Suns are so used to pacing the league in this category.

Entering the day four teams were shooting below 40 percent although no such squad has shot that poorly for an entire season in over 50 years. Last year the Milwaukee Bucks shot a league-low 43.0 percent yet 13 teams fell below that number entering play Monday.

“We’re not a 40 percent shooting team, we’ve not been a 40 percent shooting team,” Gentry said. “It’s kind of league-wide, really. It’s going top be a bit of a roller coaster until people get their legs under them.”

The Suns had been particularly abysmal from three-point range entering the day, shooting a horrid 25.9 percent, with players like Channing Frye (12.5 percent), Nash (31.3), Jared Dudley (30.8) and Grant Hill  (0 percent on seven attempts) shooting well below their career averages, and that continued Monday as the Suns missed 12 of their first 13 long balls before perhaps settling into a groove by knocking down seven of their final 11.

After struggling so mightily with the three ball, the Suns used the shot to put the Warriors away. They led 83-80 with five and a half minutes left before Frye, Dudley and Nash all drilled long balls as part of an 11-3 run over the course of three minutes that put the game out of reach.

“I thought we came up with big shots when we had to tonight,” Gentry said.

To Nash, this is largely “a confidence thing.” Shooting can often be contagious it seems, and all the Suns’ bricks seemed to beget more bricks. As the Suns developed that confidence in the second half, they used the three ball to seal a victory.

“If we keep getting these kind of looks throughout the whole year I think guys are confident, they are going to be able to knock them down,” Dudley added.

It didn’t hurt that Nash – hampered by his rib injury – became the closer down the stretch, scoring nine points in the final 2:25 to put the game out of reach.

It’s downright alarming that Mr. 50-40-90 came into the game as Mr. 31-31-100, but in this contest Nash started to clear the rust in his 21-point, nine-assist performance on 9-for-13 shooting. He scored or assisted on all but two of the Suns’ fourth quarter field goals when he was in the game.

Two Time said he usually feels rusty during game seven of the preseason, which is what today’s contest would be in a normal season, and that’s with a month of pickup before training camp.

Nash regaining his form may have only been the second most positive development on this day as Markieff Morris continued to make the Suns look smart by selecting him 13th overall by pouring in 16 points on 7-for-13 shooting to go with nine boards and importantly just three fouls in 32 minutes.

He became the first Suns rookie to score in double figures in consecutive games in the first five games of the season since Amare Stoudemire in 2002, and his mix of physicality, rebounding and shooting make him a player Gentry can’t keep off the floor.

“I think Markieff’s been great,” Nash said. “He’s got to learn all the plays, he’s got to learn the way the game is played, his new teammates. He’s under a lot of different factors that make it difficult for him, but he’s aggressive, he’s skilled. He gives us definitely a toughness physically that we haven’t had a lot of, so it’s great, and I think he’s just going to get better and better.”

Added Morris, “I’m learning and picking it up fast. It’s a congested season, so if Coach plays me I have to produce, so I’m just going out and playing as hard as possible, basically just being the dirty man on the team.”

Morris said it’s “big for me” that Gentry is showing enough faith in him to play him 20 minutes in the second half, including the entire fourth quarter.

Suns centers Marcin Gortat and Robin Lopez did not play at all in the fourth as Gentry chose to ride with Morris, Frye and Hakim Warrick. The trio even played together upfront for half of the fourth as the Suns chose to go big with Golden State missing forward David Lee due to an illness.

So the glass half full version says the Suns trail the Lakers and Clippers by a half game for first in the division; the glass half empty version says the Suns barely beat mediocre New Orleans and Golden State squads without a key player.

Regardless of which viewpoint you subscribe to it’s a fact that Phoenix must start shooting the ball better to have a chance this season, and perhaps we saw the first step in that direction in the fourth quarter today.

“With this lockout I don’t think any team is shooting lights out,” Dudley said. “What we have to do is keep running the offense, executing and keep the floor spaced and we’re going to knock down shots. We have too good of players on this team.”

Siler released

The Suns announced after the game that they waived center Garret Siler. Siler did not enter a game this season but averaged 2.1 points and 1.3 rebounds in 4.8 minutes of 21 games last season.

He has the size but not the agility to be an NBA-caliber season. By all accounts he was great in the locker room and hopefully he gets another chance with a different organization.

According to StorytellersContracts.com, the Suns will save $394,436 (half Siler’s minimum salary) with the move because his contract was only partially guaranteed.

The Suns’ roster now stands at the minimum of 13.

And 1

  • Gentry pregame: “Every game that we’ve played we’ve had good shots, we just haven’t knocked them down.”
  • The closest Josh Childress came to entering the game was when his Fro Meter appeared to pump up fans during a timeout. If Childress isn’t playing in a Redd-less rotation, how will he ever get time when the former Bucks star is ready?
  • Gentry said the team has been discussing signing Redd since the summer. “We didn’t sign him as a knight in shining armor,” he said.
  • The Warriors have lost 13 in a row in Phoenix, dating back to March, 8, 2005. Phoenix has won seven in a row over Golden State overall. … The Suns won their first home game since April 13 against the Spurs.

Tags: Markieff Morris Steve Nash

  • steve

    I’m on the kief train. I think he’s going to be a high quality 4 in this league for a long time. Looks like we might have got the right brother this time.

  • Tony

    Big win for the Suns and great to see Nash play so well, especially with his shooting. I’m sure that a large part of his and Hill’s struggles from the field are mostly due to the lack of time for training camp and preseason.

    If the Suns can get Redd to be just half as good a scorer as he used to be, then he will really bolster the team.

    Another very solid performance from Morris. I would like to see him start at this point.

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    So I’m one of the guys who really really REALLY did not want the Suns to select Morris.

    I wanted Jordan Hamilton or Tristan Thompson or, anybody else as long as they could produce points on their own.

    So, through 5 games I’ll admit that perhaps this Morris cat is a stud. Honestly, I think SNOW, (Steve Nash or, Steve Nash Over Winning), is probably the most excited to have him out there.

    Already, he’s the second-best pick guy we have and unlike Frye, he can dive inside and setup shop and go to work even if it isn’t a gimmie off the Nash dish. Dude does work.

  • Josh

    Do you think Morris is starting by mid-season and Frye is still getting the same minutes, but with the second unit? Or will this be like Lopez and Gortat last year where one starts, but the other one is essentially a “starter?”

  • shazam

    michael this is the best take on the suns and the game that ive read and i read them all..thanks bro for the commitment…damn im proud of keef

  • Scott

    @Josh -

    Unless Frye comes down with an injury, I expect to see Morris come off the bench. He may play a load of minutes, and even some of them on the court with Frye, but I don’t expect him to start this year.

  • A-ROCK

    I didn’t see the game, I had a choice of going to the game or a movie with the fam, well the fam and I chose the movie. Hey steve keep shooting and morris is a stud and I said that from the beginning! Go Suns

  • Daniel

    Morris was very solid last night. He actually reminded me a bit of Barkley the way he worked the post with the up and under scoop, rebounding and he seems to like the 3.
    Lopez seemed downright peppy out there as well. A hard foul to stop an easy basket and getting low for a loose ball to keep the play alive.
    If they play more like this, then even if we don’t win a lot of games at least they’ll be entertaining.

  • KeZ

    If Morris keeps playing like this, I wouldn´t mind a Frye trade.

  • Elviro (Italy)

    Wow! Morris is what was needed: energy, vitality, physical, shooting, character!
    I was convinced after the first few games to see what he did, I am even more convinced after this game!
    The boy now has to grow well: Work + sweat = bonus: starting lineup!
    In Italy we say that with him we want to “stick” and “carrot” …
    But do not believe that they must come, must continue to fight to show everyone who’s Markieff Morris in every workout, every game, every season and for all: only then can become a star because it has the potential!
    I read that someone compared him to Sir. Charles: Yes, that should be his model!
    Sir. Charles brought us one step closer to title (and it was like to win it because those Bulls made ??history with MJ) … he should do the same!
    Must have hunger to win and must be contagious in the locker room!
    But little by little, step by step, Gentry must use it with the right “dosage” but I think, what I see Italy, Morris is the character and the potential to break!
    I hope very much and I want to be here in the future to speak so highly of him!

    The team did well … Nash has shown signs of revival to shoot … but I want to fly low, we have won against NO without Gordon and with GS no Lee …

    Let’s hope so: I can not wait to see the game against the Spurs because of the January 16 will be broadcast in Italy and I can better assess the team, now I only watch highlights and statistics on the site!

    Go Suns!

  • Elviro (Italy)

    Wow! Morris is what was needed: energy, vitality, physical, shooting, character!
    I was convinced after the first few games to see what he did, I am even more convinced after this game!
    The boy now has to grow well: Work + sweat = bonus: starting lineup!
    In Italy we say that with him we want to “stick” and “carrot” …
    But do not believe that they must come, must continue to fight to show everyone who’s Markieff Morris in every workout, every game, every season and for all: only then can become a star because it has the potential!
    I read that someone compared him to Sir. Charles: Yes, that should be his model!
    Sir. Charles brought us one step closer to title (and it was like to win it because those Bulls made ??history with MJ) … he should do the same!
    Must have hunger to win and must be contagious in the locker room!
    But little by little, step by step, Gentry must use it with the right “dosage” but I think, what I see Italy, Morris is the character and the potential to break!
    I hope very much and I want to be here in the future to speak so highly of him!

    The team did well … Nash has shown signs of revival to shoot … but I want to fly low, we have won against NO without Gordon and with GS no Lee …

    Let’s hope so: I can not wait to see the game against the Spurs because of the January 16 will be broadcast in Italy and I can better assess the team, now I only watch highlights and statistics on the site!

    Go Suns!

  • Ryan

    I’m also starting to like this Morris kid. Kinda reminds me of a more beefy Shawn Marion and I think we can all remember how good he was in a Suns uniform :)

  • Evnerl

    We should trade Frye, Im not seeing any real reason to keep him around, If he was hitting shots it would be one think…but no. We already have 4 productive bigs (Morris, Gortat, RoLo, and Warrick) Frye is just taking up productive minuets.

  • steve

    I really like the comparison of Markieff’s offensive game to Boozer. Strikingly similar, if you ask me with the very limited amount of time I’ve spent in analysis.

    I haven’t found his defensive doppleganger. Anyone have any ideas?

  • http://h Sun-arc

    Calling to trade frye is just not a reasonable thing to do right now. First of all, his shot will come back. Last year it took a few games in before he was hitting- it’ll be the same thing here. How can anyone forget the game winning shots he hit last year? Or how about when he got under KG’s skin? Or bayless’?

    Plus, he has been rebounding really well (16 the other night), and has improved his D a bit more once again. He plays with energy and desire, fits our style to a T, and is a great character player.

    Plus, until he gets his shot back, what are we going to get in a trade that is better? And once his who is falling, why would we trade him?

    Trading him is nonsensical.

    It’s great to have a rookie showing so much promise. I love the way Morris is playing. I hope he pushes Frye to the 2nd unit, because then we would have 2 good PF’s that can shoot and rebound. What is the harm in that?

  • http://h Sun-arc

    By the way- great to have fans in Italy posting here. Great to hear from you!

  • abdul

    here another guy from saudi arabia support the suns. i only watch the highlights from nba.com

  • Cam

    After watching Keef “the beast” Morris for a few games I think the defensive comparison that fits the best IMHO is Metta World Peace aka Ron Artest. Keef possesses the versatility, much like Artest, to defend multiple positions adequately. I think as the season goes on we will see him defend the 3/4 spots and occasionally the 5 when the Suns play small ball. He also seems to gravitate towards the ball, much like Artest. His help defense disrupted a couple of shots in yesterday’s game, which seems to be a recurring theme I have seen these first few games. He moves well to give himself an opportunity for the rebound too. This is the type of play Artest has made a career out of. If Keef can play like Artest on defense and play like Boozer on offense, I think the Suns might find themselves in possession of a future all-star caliber player at PF. Go Suns.

  • Zak

    I have to agree with Sun-arc. Frye’s in a shooting slump but the rest of his game has improved. His shot will return. Morris may eventually take over the starting PF spot but I don’t see it happening really soon unless Frye gets injured. Maybe mid-season if Morris continues to play impressive minutes. And it seems that this time the Suns really did pick the right brother because I just read that Houston is sending his brother to the D-league.

  • Cam

    Might I add. I’m glad the Suns have Keef, who seems to play with a maturity you see in NBA vets, instead of a headcase like Demarcus Cousins. That guy oozes potential but seems to possess the mental stability of a spoiled 7 y/o. Go Suns.

  • Scott

    It’s nice to see all this appreciation of Morris, but keep in mind that he’s a rookie, and at some point he’s likely to hit a rookie wall. He’s never played so many games in a season, and so quickly, and with so much to learn. If it all catches up with him at some point, he might crash for a bit.

    But from what I see he has a solid foundation, so I’m not too worried. It also looks like his style of play is fairly contained, and he keeps his balance, so he may have a low rate of injury across his career. (One hopes!)

  • steve

    Oh, he most certainly will slump. I agree with that. There are very few rookies who get better for an entire season and don’t fall apart under the pressure/grind of the NBA life.

    I think Markieff might have as good of a shot as any rookie to remain consistent, though. He doesn’t depend on his athleticism all that much, as his height and range can create opportunities for him offensively if his agility/quickness/power are compromised in the post. Also, his build and height are such that they could keep him afloat on the defensive end should the grind wear him out. His body just has that pro look.

    FYI, I know this won’t carry on for an entire season, and I’m not even expecting above-average play once the season is over, but right now, Morris’s PER is 22.2 and his WS/48 is 0.248. And that’s not in garbage time. If he could post those kinds of numbers over an entire season (again, I’m not saying he will or can), he’d be a top 5 PF. Right now, his ORtg is 129 and his DRtg is 100 (I would guess that has to be the best DRtg on the Suns roster, and probably one of the biggest differentials in the league and he’s on a pretty awful team). Just as a heat check, LeBron is at 125/97. Morris>LeBron? Haha, we all know I’m kidding, but to say this kid is playing out of his mind right now is an understatement.

  • Mel.

    Agreed about the slump, in principle. However, I do always contend that a rookie’s upside is often either amplified or exacerbated by the needs and philosophy of the team that they find themselves on; while a guy like John Wall is obviously given the keys to the ignition the moment that he’s signed onto a squad like the Wiz (Since, well… what have they got to lose?), a perfectly-serviceable player like Devin Ebanks winds up in some bizarre rotation-limbo, despite the fact that he’s got the same numbers as the guy who keeps starting in his spot.

    It’s the way of the beast, of course, but it is also one aspect of Gentry’s approach that’s likely going to benefit Keef’s ability to keep himself comfortable all season: a lack of “rookie reservation.” Even if Morris wasn’t drafted as a potential franchise-saver, the Suns NEED a guy with his skill set (You know; a four who actually plays LIKE a four, and not like some weird lab experiment involving a swingman skills, PF height and the weight of a rubber chicken), and he seems more than game to keep running with the opportunities that he’s given.

    That’s a good spot to be in, in terms of expectations and grooming a first-year player’s confidence and skills. It’s a safe bet to say that Keef will eventually peak and fall off a bit, but–to be fair–that really isn’t any different than 97% of the current roster (Or heck, 97% of the LEAGUE’S current rosters; talk about a weird first couple of weeks).

  • A-ROCK

    Why talk about him slumping, give an example of past slumpers, all I know is guys that came in the league in nba shape and become stars ie Kobe, lebron, dwight, wade, durant, Sun’s fans get real and don’t be morons. The only slump we need to be talking about is that goof ball French Fry, it kind of tickled me when someone suggested a trade hahaha French Fry is not a banger and Chris angel couldn’t pull that over my eyes, he is opportunistic ie rebounds, for 7 foot he doesn’t dominate like a shot blocker like garnet he doesn’t have a post game like amare with a mid range jump shot, and he keeps the suns living and dying by the 3 ball which he can’t hit after 6 years in the league he still plays with the gitters, all nervous, always getting down on himself and he isn’t that good, he needs to go out there and prove his worth or sit down. The guy sucks and he plays like a rookie. Oh and Robin Lopez is just Boggled……( major disappointment) I would think a guy that went to stanford would be smarter but he just seems like he is dumb and he has no skill set, he got a free ride 4-real!

  • steve

    I can’t think of one rookie off the top of my head who had excellent seasons and never slumped outside of lebron, to be honest. I’m sure it has happened outside of him, but nearly every rookie hits a rough patch.

  • KeZ

    Phx fan from Sweden right here. Thank god for nba leaugepass!

  • Elviro (Italy)

    for Suns – arc!

    it is an honor to be the Suns’ fans! I’ve always loved this team since I started following the NBA …. were the days of Sir. Charles …. as the Suns did not fall in love with that team! and since then I have always cheered Suns: here in Italy in those years all went crazy for the Bulls …. it’s easy to choose to be a fan of the strongest team with the best player: I do not! I loved the Suns, I loved Sir. Charles!

    I could appreciate with time many more samples with the Suns: Stat Matrix, Nash, Hill …

    Now I hope a new star is born: Morris!

    Appearance of the race with trepidation January 16th with Spurs: will be sent free of charge in Italy …. by the way is my birthday …… I hope you guys make me a nice gift!

    I hope one day to see a live game: Last year I touched on this possibility in January … when the Suns played in Miami …. I was in Florida to visit my uncle …. shame played on the evening of my arrival ……

    This year, perhaps I will return in June to visit my Uncle but in RI Provvidence to …. too late for the championship!

    Go Suns!