Preview: New Jersey Nets (2-9) at Phoenix Suns (4-6)

New Jersey Nets 110, Phoenix Suns 103



PHOENIX — Alvin Gentry will keep saying it, but it’ll mean nothing if nobody’s listening.

“I’ll keep harping this season, NBA basketball is the toughest place to win on the road,” the Suns’ head coach said after dropping a home game to the Cleveland Cavaliers. “If you go back and look over the history of this league, even the last few years, the teams that have had the really good records have had great records at home and have been about .500 on the road.

“It’s just really important for us to take care of business at home.”

The loss to the Cavs was a missed opportunity, but Phoenix can make it less painful with a US Airways Center win against the 2-9 New Jersey Nets tonight. Then the Suns are off on a daunting five-game road swing.

Gentry joked before the Cleveland game that it’d be silly to put the blinders on and not realize the task ahead. Looking at the road trip only helps his team realize how important a win against New Jersey at 7 p.m. could be down the road.

This is a Suns team that’s now averaging the same 102.9 points per 100 possessions and giving up 102.9 to opponents. But while the assumptions from those numbers would put the Suns somewhere around .500, that won’t be the case if they can’t finish games.

In the past two games, both losses, Phoenix was within five or six early in the fourth quarter, but a 15-point final period against the Los Angeles Lakers and a 19-point period against the Cleveland Cavaliers were signs that the Suns could lose to anyone willing to put their defensive foot on the Suns’ throats.

That’s why a win is vital against the Nets, who are dead last in the NBA by giving up 112.2 points per 100 possessions.

“It’s critical,” said forward Jared Dudley, “you want to take care of the home games, especially the teams that probably won’t make the playoffs.”

Scouting New Jersey

Deron Williams — Compared to past seasons, the point guard’s numbers have dropped off a tad, but it’s likely more of a result of the lack of talent around him. He’s putting up 16.9 points and 8.2 assists per game, yet struggling with a 35.4 percent clip from the field. He’s also averaging 5.2 three-point attempts per game and hitting only 30.8 percent of those.

If the Suns are willing to risk it, going under screens might bait Williams into taking a shot he has struggled to make.

MarShon Brooks — The 6-foot-5, 200-pound shooting guard out of Providence was relatively unknown until he went for 52 points against Notre Dame in his final collegiate year. Of the Nets players averaging more than 20 minutes a game, the rookie leads the team with a 19.3 PER. His 14 points per game is coming surprisingly efficiently too — Brooks is hitting on 45.2 percent from the floor and 38.7 percent from three-point land.

Kris Humphries — There are two things to note about the Nets’ energy guy. Firstly, Humphries is quietly averaged a double-double of 13.1 points and 10.4 rebounds. Secondly, why does everyone hate Humphries so much? Do we really hold someone of Kim Kardashian’s stature higher? I mean, I don’t even know what she does. Maybe she makes perfumes. My pop culture ineptness could be to blame for this ignorance, but so too could be my like for basketball over E! television.

Redd to start?

With Grant Hill probable against New Jersey and Gentry possibly sliding Jared Dudley to the bench, it’s possible there’s a shake-up in the starting lineup, Paul Coro reports.

And 1

Schwartz took part in a 3-on-3 game preview with the TrueHoop Network’s New Jersey blog, Nets are Scorching.

  • shazam

    i keep hearing that we dont have room for error…nash defense or lack of is the biggest error our team makes..his style worked and we didnt need as many rebounds or defense when we had shooters who could pace..sarver sold them …looks like ill be saying this all season…trade nash,lopez,hill,chill,warrick…tank the season..go for a draft and some trades to compliment gortat,keef,dudz,frye..this is easy for anyone to grasp…whats stopping us?…that circus monkey called 2 time is whoring the turnstiles for an owner who doesnt deserve it

  • sun also rises

    Yeah it’s really easy to trade away half your team in a season where everybody is already in panic mode, and get… what exactly? Players of similar value? Second round draft picks? Cash considerations?

    The problem with you clowns who try to turn your hours and hours of eating gordito burritos and playing 2k association is that it makes you believe that your ideas are actually realistic. What day-dream crap world do you guys live on where a team has EVER tanked intentionally and dumped half its roster and benefited from it? The Cavs? The Knicks? The Wizards?

    I’m sure you can go back to 1976 or whatever and find a good example of when this worked but for those of us living in 2012, the game and the business work a teeny bit more complex than that. Not that this stops the idiots who think Sarver = Robert $atan from farting off at the mouth with their genius ideas of how they would do things better.

    First we intentionally lose for six years! Then we burn the stadium down for the insurance money! Then we frame Robert Sarver for embezzlement! Then we get three first round draft picks in a row! Then we get a new owner! yap yap yap yip yip yap

  • shazam

    when youre hell bent to make a point s.a.r you really fudge what others have written…if you group players in a trade ie, nash,hill for example…you can get back single value..the rest of what you say falls apart in to yap yap yip yip yap due to your inability to understand that…i was at work when i read your response and my first thought was..”im wasting my time reading what this clown shoe writes,,im working here..hey s.a.r i dont slap the sailors cocks out of your mouth while youre working”…leave me alone..when it comes to put downs you will soon see that youre boxing out side your weight.

  • Mel.

    Ironically, the biggest reason as to why I’m hoping for a convincing win tonight is that it will crap-can comments like those above for another 36-48 hours.

    Seriously, you guys all sound like a bunch of goons from the Land O’ Lakers boards; when we win, everybody’s going off about ‘Kief and the potential upsides of a steady-on performance throughout the remainder of the season.

    However, the moment we lose–which should really only be a shock to those who A) Don’t actually bother watching the Suns play and B) Who managed to somehow miss the duration of the 2010-2011 season–we’re “treated” to the endless back-biting and bullthwop about nuking the roster, taking a dive for the rest of the season, and so-forth… to say nothing of the ongoing tedium of pointing out how dumb said ideas are.

    Which is fine and dandy, save for the fact that it’s been less than a month and yet… the sheer redundancy of these exchanges is making it feel like it’s been about a year, already. Anybody know any good driving songs?

  • steve

    I would want picks for those guys. The Cavs showed that it’s possible to rebuild quickly through the draft, as did the Wolves and the Thunder. I don’t think the rebuilding process would be as long as some think if we dumped this team and moved on.

    Imagine if we had 8 picks in the draft between 20 and 40, haha. We’d be bound to get the one guys everyone was sleeping on who turns out to be a star.

  • Mel.

    Also, I’d like to see those censorship toggles back on, if possible. The playground pissing-contest stuff is amusing on a slow afternoon, but I’m not really interested in sifting through lame filler consisting of low-rent “e-thuggery” and dick jokes.

  • Mel.

    And really, I look to the Wiz and Kings as being proof of the holistic value of “rebuilding through the draft.” A bunch of rudderless kids trying to figure out the fundamentals of the game in systems that were pretty much predicated on potential over balance; not that the hilarity of seeing eight rookies and five low-rent veterans go 1-81 over the course of a season wouldn’t make for must-see “Crash TV,” but… no thanks. Not in any serious breath, anyway.

  • steve

    @Mel and sun also rises

    I understand what both of you are saying, but one thing to consider is that getting rid of crap players isn’t necessarily going to ensure that we’ll tank even harder. Can we really not find a replacement for Hakim Warrick’s 8.2% rebounding rate? Can we not find someone who can give us something better than Dudley’s 13.5 PER and 0.095 WS/48? Shannon Brown’s 11.1 PER and 8.8 ppg is irreplaceable? Robin Lopez’s 9.6 PER can’t be traded away for something worthwhile?

    I know that not everyone would make sense to trade, necessarily, but the Suns should at least be fielding offers for the entire roster. I’ve only been to one game in person this season (the Portland blowout), and even in that game, I saw Childress, Lopez, Warrick, Dudley, and Hill looking completely disengaged from the game. I lucked out and got some tickets directly in front of TC, so I was right next to the Suns bench, and I didn’t like what I saw. Even in an easy blowout, the guys didn’t look like they cared. I know it’s just one game, I know that’s just the opinion of an outsider, but can you honestly tell me you think half the team cares about the Phoenix Suns right now?

  • shazam

    mel…you are forgetting the most important tenant in my argument…TRADE..that DOESNT imply that we fill the team up exclusively w/ kids…you have no problem writing “dick joke”hahaha…anything you say or do is just fine mel..uh huh..nice fuzzy world you live in…if you follow my posts ive said since last year the team needs to be radically changed and it starts with trading nash..who i dont trust and havent for awhile…sure hes good if the system lets him monopolize it a-z and if the system at its root doesnt care about fielding a shot at contention..i also dont trust nash because he wont make it easy to trade him..he knows he isnt going to win here…why stay then?..A, winning isnt that important B, being close to his kids is his priority..thats admirable..but im a fan of the SUNS not on the side of 2 time getting 15 extra days with his rich kids…so it doesnt matter if the suns win or lose tonight i will still have this opinion so you are wrong there as well mel…and for the record i have been to almost every suns home game since 1974

  • Mel.

    I actually can’t, steve. I really can’t. The thing is, I completely agree with the points that you’re making here; the status quo is NOT going to work in any long-term sense, regardless of how optimistic some of us might be.

    There’s no wind in the team’s sails, no sense of a long-term blueprint for improvement, and–speaking honestly–the FA prospects for the upcoming summer are tepid, at best. That’s got nothing to do with the desirability of PHX as a player destination, and everything to do with the simple nature of the business itself: after twenty-two years of watching the game, the league’s dynamics make less sense to me than they EVER have, in previous seasons. Time was that you made the best trade you could, groomed your talent and took your lumps… but even that “square one principle” doesn’t guarantee respectability, anymore.

    Deron Williams–a marquee talent–goes to the Nets, in the hopes of raising the franchise’s profile and attracting another superstar; from all indications, this experimentation has been a failure, since the team’s worse than ever, despite landing the vaunted “big fish” that every middle-of-the-pack squad is gunning for.

    The Knicks get everything they could have hoped for–three near-max and bonafide max contracts–and somehow manage to stink as badly as they did five years ago, when they had NOBODY.

    The Grizzlies, 76ers and Trailblazers all cobble together balanced rosters with homegrown talent and veteran leadership, and begin to achieve some momentum as spoilers, and “teams that nobody wants to face.” For Portland, this comes AFTER they lose their two most talented players, and suffer through years of disappointment and poorly-advised FA signings.

    So, weighing all of that: I can’t tell you with any certainty as to WHAT the hell the Suns should be doing, right now. I don’t disagree with the sentiments that change is needed, at all; I’m right there with you.

    However, what I’m NOT on board with is the naivete’ that’s involved with some of these “scorched earth” policies that get bandied about. I don’t care how painful it is to watch a bunch of semi-interested roleplayers try to make sense of their purpose; I’ll cheer that a million times over before I ever advocate “tanking on purpose.”

    Also, I trust Lon Babby as a “level-headed voice of reason in rebuilding” as much as I trust Donald Sterling to bring a championship to the Clippers. This is the guy who brought us Hedo Turkoglu and Vince Carter in the span of a single season, and who stacked the team with Fours who can’t play the position and thirty-eight wingmen (While ditching our project PG of the future for… what, exactly?). I can get behind incremental one-step-forward/one-step-back moves like getting us Gortat and signing Redd as a low-risk investment; I cannot, however, fathom WHAT the management would do if they suddenly decided to gut the franchise.

    And frankly, I’d rather not. Maybe I prefer a slow burn, but–much like the contradiction in calling Sarver cheap and then blasting him for overpaying lame contracts–I can’t see the rationale’ in railroading the upper-ups for being clueless boneheads, then advocating that we push the button on a major blow-up.

  • shazam

    omg…i agree with 99 percent of that mel…whats this world coming to?..i guess instead of a slow burn with a pretty certain out come id rather blow it up and just see what happens knowing that the odds are pretty good that it cant get much worse..and at least there is a short at the fashionable word “upside”

  • Mel.

    LOL. Never mistake my attempts to keep my chin up as being advocacy for half the crap that this team does, dude; I may be an optimist at heart, but I’m not enough of a psychopathic masochist to unquestioningly believe that anybody at the top tiers of management have the slightest clue as to how to right the ship.

    Of course, that just puts us in the same lifeboat as a half-dozen similar franchises, but… eh. You know. So goes the life of a lifer.

  • Zak

    If the Suns’ management can’t figure out how to rebuild “on the fly”, I don’t have much faith in them being able to rebuild through the draft after blowing up the present team if they decided to do so. And even if management did decide to make major changes or blow up the team, they would probably get better return value closer to the trade deadline than now so I think it’s in their best interests to stand pat for the near future.

    So for the time being I’ll just hope for the best, prepare for the worst and try not to expect either while I keep cheering for the Suns whenever they play.

  • shazam

    its never black and white…i actually agreed with letting amare go (caught hell for that too)..havent changed my mind either..i knew we were missing a piece to win it faith in sarver to get that piece…i still feel that amare is too immature to lead a team to the promise land but most important..he gets injured a lot…our team cant take a huge salary hit from an injured player…ive been too much of a homer for too many years..i want to see a championship before i die…i love the hawk but as a little kid i literally cried when we lost the flip for alcindor…and distraught when walter davis relapsed…ohhhhh and the thrills i got when as al mcoy used to call him” the thundering heard”…hit the shot to send it to another over time against the celts….i really thought we had a shot in that series…havlichek was old..i thought alven adams was better than cowens (at that time )..and paul westphal was amazing…i loved the barkley team but i never thought they could beat jordan..ok im rambling again ..i guess all im saying is that i always sort of knew that i was getting a bit conned by my team never really having a chance to win it all but i convinced myself that they might….sarver sort of rubs your nose in it..he doesnt have the finesse to make me suspend disbelief…its as though he screwing you,your city,your way of life and your team..what are you going to do about it?….well i cant do much but just write how i feel on these blogs….right or wrong..its just how i feel…wish i didnt…damn id give almost anything not to

  • shazam

    hey zak…i agree with waiting to the trade dead line.

  • Zak

    If Steve’s observation is correct about several players seeming “disengaged” during the Portland game (and I’m not doubting you or what you observed, Steve), perhaps it would be best to eventually clear the bench and load up on young talent eager to prove themselves in the NBA. I think Morris is already one of those types. This year’s draft should be a deep one. If some of the players we have are “disengaged” and maybe just playing for their paychecks, it might be a good time to clean house, take our chances and pin our hopes on a younger, hungrier group of players.

    Regardless of how the Suns’ management decides to proceed this season, any trades that they do decide to make should at least try to bring in some draft picks instead of giving the ones they have away.

  • Mel.

    I don’t know, shazam. Honestly, I don’t think that estimation of Sarver is that far off-base; the guy’s the NBA equivalent of that new money chump who throws up a crass-looking McMansion on the hillside of some quaint hamlet, then “buys local” in order to ingratiate himself to the people who have actually lived there for the better part of their lives.

    But; and this is the real sucker-splash-of-cold-water… he’s just one of a dozen of these low-conscience, low-rent “hobby owners” who follow the exact same philosophy. The only difference between him and a guy like Clayton Bennett is that Bennett’s drafted brilliantly, and that his bridge-burning travesty of a team move turned out a winning culture; if OKC wound up like the Grizzlies (the Vancouver installation), then he’s as much a villain as Sarver, or Sterling, or the Maloofs… some “one-percent silver-spoon” slob who decided to turn the NBA into his own pet rock.

    I mean, as much as I hate Mark Cuban–and really, it’s the duty of any red-blooded basketball fan not living in Dallas to do so–the guy genuinely loves his team. He’d bleed for his players, he goes to bat for them, and even when he has to perform open-heart surgery on the squad–like letting Chandler and Butler go for financial reasons–you get the sense that he seriously suffers over the consequences of having done so. It’s the same thing with Buss; love him or hate him, his actions are inextricably woven into a driving love for his team, and the players who have given so much for him.

    I don’t see that in Sarver, and never have. But I also don’t see it in Orlando’s ownership, Mikhail Prokhov, the dopes trying to juice respectability out of the Knicks or the management teams currently trying to tear the engines out of the Celtics or New Orleans.

    And–as such–I might just have to admit that my understanding of how the game should work, and the principles of loyalty and dedication are just… bleh. Outdated. Like I said, I don’t even know what ingredients justify a championship mentality anymore: unconscionable roster-loading doesn’t seem to help, hiring veteran coaches doesn’t make a dent, and the most successful teams seem to be those who are doing the same crap they did a half-decade ago.

    So… go fish?

  • shazam

    the clips,okc etc…have a shot because they were horrible and got low draft picks..i dont respect the money mongerers but miami etc. has a shot..after putting up w/ the lakers all these years if we could buy a championship hell ill take it..all that rattles around my empty head like a haunted mantra is that the phx. suns biz model doesnt give us a shot…on another note ..”the guy’s the NBA equivalent of that new money chump who throws up a crass-looking McMansion on the hillside of some quaint hamlet, then “buys local” in order to ingratiate himself to the people who have actually lived there for the better part of their lives.”…..soooooo nailed it…wish i could write like that

  • Nathan

    I know there’s no long-term plan in place that makes the most sense to everybody, but just because we don’t have a solution doesn’t mean we can’t identify what’s not working.

    Banking your playoff aspirations on Steve Nash and his revolving cast of over-paid role players year after year isn’t getting this franchise anywhere. If what keeps you tuning into Suns games is the enjoyment you get from watching Steve Nash do his thing like only he can, night after night, that’s ok. But at some point it may become necessary for fans to separate the enjoyment we get from watching him work his magic, from the team’s long-term prospects.

    Envisioning this team two or three years down the line, are we better off having kept Nash this year?

    That’s an important question to a lot of us, many of whom place higher value on the health and future prospects of the franchise over immediate entertainment. Yes, by trading Nash and hopefully offloading a bad contract in the process, this team will probably be one of the worst in the league, and undeniably less entertaining to watch than what we currently have the pleasure of seeing. But a couple seasons from now? I haven’t heard a convincing argument in favor of this team being in a better place by holding onto Nash while he still had value to the franchise.

    This franchise is going to out-live Steve Nash, and I’d like to be prepared for it. Hoping for a playoff berth and a first round exit just isn’t going to cut it for me anymore. That’s not the basketball I want to see, and at this point I’m more willing to put my hope in the unknown by cutting ties, trading for youth and/or picks, and rolling the dice on the draft and building around what we can get out of it. Hope is fickle, but it’s what feeds most fanbases.

    I want a competitive Suns team. Not just in the present, but in the future as well. At the moment, we’re not competitive in either, and that’s a bigger problem to me than wondering how I’m going to cope with a Phx team post-Nash.