Atlanta Hawks 101, Phoenix Suns 99 -- Zoned out


PHOENIX — Through two and a half quarters, the Phoenix Suns seemed to be cruising to an easy win on their third consecutive game night behind some torrid shooting and a zone they mixed in to throw off Atlanta’s offense.

The Suns’ zone worked well enough that the Hawks decided to give it a try as well, and immediately Phoenix’s top shooting night of the season was no more.

“I thought the turning point was we just couldn’t seem to get anything going against their zone,” said head coach Alvin Gentry. “We had shots available, couldn’t knock them down.”

Added Jared Dudley, “That’s what we did to them so kind of funny that they did that right back to us.”

But it wasn’t so funny for the Suns’ offense.

The Hawks switched to a zone midway through the third with the Suns leading by double digits and Phoenix’s hold on the game ended there. The Suns still led by five three minutes into the fourth but a 12-0 Hawks spurt during a four-minute Phoenix fourth-quarter drought led Atlanta to tonight’s 101-99 victory.

Steve Nash said the zone threw off the Suns’ rhythm as players received looks they weren’t accustomed to since the team has not faced much zone. In turn the offense looked a bit lost without the pick and roll to fall back on in crunch time.

The whole purpose of a zone is to see if a team can makes shots, as Gentry said. If a team makes a few shots in a row — as the Hawks did — you switch back to man, as the Suns did. But the Suns never could knock down those critical shots to force Atlanta back to man and thus they followed a scorching 59.1 percent shooting first quarter with 42.9 percent shooting in the fourth.

The turning point of the game revolved around the zone as well, but not the way you might think.

After Josh Smith scored a bucket and got fouled with 7:38 left, Nash noticed Kirk Hinrich calling double fists, which is the sign for Atlanta’s zone defense. He sauntered over to the sideline and mouthed that to Gentry before asking what zone offense to run.

Before Smith could step to the line for his foul shot, the whistle sounded and Nash was blindsided with a technical foul that he protested vociferously, later saying the official thought he said, “They’re horrible.”

“It’s just unfortunate that he misinterpreted what I said,” Nash said. “It was just a tough break that changed the momentum.”

The Hawks took the lead on the technical shot and Smith’s subsequent free toss and never gave it back, although they came awfully close to giving the Suns a chance to tie down two with 2.1 ticks remaining when Smith threw a length of the court pass that Willie Green ran down to prevent Phoenix from getting the ball under its own basket.

If that script sounds familiar then it should because it’s the same story that played out Monday in Oakland when the Suns blew a double-digit lead midway through the third and then trailed throughout the fourth, and it’s very similar to the Rockets game last Thursday when a late seven-point advantage quickly evaporated.

“It sounds like it’s Groundhog Day all over again,” Dudley said. “We had a lead, a double-digit lead, and they came back. It’s happened a little too often, we’re having these dry spells of scoring. It happened obviously today, it happened obviously in Denver, it happened in Golden State. We’ve got to find ways to score. I think the dry spells killed us. We let a team that talented hang around, they’re going to come back to bite us.”

The Suns still hit 53.6 percent of their shots overall, but that’s only because they were on pace for a season-best shooting night through three quarters. The offense bogged down when it counted and then they could not stop Smith at the other end, as the talented swingman filled the box score with 30 points, 17 rebounds, seven assists, four steals and three blocks on 12-for-23 shooting.

The decision to rest Nash and Hill sure seemed to pay off, as Two Time exploded for 22 points and 16 assists, making him the league’s only player with multiple 15-15 games this season.

Hill looked spry on the offensive end by scoring 18 points (one short of a season high) on 8-for-11 shooting, but his most impressive accomplishment must be holding Joe Johnson to six points on 2-for-10 shooting (and at least one of those shots wasn’t on Hill) after limiting Tyreke Evans and Monta Ellis to a combined 6-for-29 on the trip.

Nash said that although he wants to play every game, taking a breather every now and again is smart because usually injuries like Chauncey Billups’ torn Achilles come from “a cumulative effect of fatigue.”

With the loss the Suns once again were left to lament their home struggles, as they have now lost six of eight at home to fall to 5-8 in US Airways Center, the second-worst home mark in the West and the worst of any team with fewer than 22 losses (the Suns have 18).  By contrast, Phoenix is the West’s seventh-best road team.

“I think that’s the biggest thing for us,” Gentry said. “We’ve played good enough basketball on the road that if we were playing like we are supposed to at home then obviously our record would be so much different and we’d be right in the middle of the playoffs. But, you still got to play them and still got to win them at home. I don’t know why we just seem to struggle at home.”

It’s hard to say, but we know this latest home loss capped a devastating stretch of three losses in three days, a stretch Dudley laments since two of those games were so winnable.

Yet the Suns once came up empty at home after a fourth-quarter drought against Atlanta’s zone spoiled an overall solid performance.

“It’s one of those deals where we played good basketball for 35-38 minutes, but it’s a 48-minute game,” Gentry said.

And 1

  • Dudley on the three games in a row stretch: “Definitely difficult mentally as well as physically.”
  • Bret LaGree from Hoopinion in the Daily Dime: “That was … feast or famine: Great as Nash was with the ball in his hands, whenever one of his teammates put the ball on the floor, it was an adventure. Nash put up a shot, got fouled, earned an assist, or committed a turnover on 38 of Phoenix’s 96 possessions, leading to 56 points. Phoenix scored just 43 points on the other 58 possessions, turning the ball over 16 times.”
  • The Hawks ended a five-game losing streak against the Suns and snapped a four-year run of losses in the Valley. Such streaks seem to be ending quite often this season.
  • Shannon Brown and Hakim Warrick went back to not playing after getting some burn last night in Denver.

Tags: Josh Smith Steve Nash Zone Defense

  • Penny Hardaway

    I swear Nash needs a legitimate back up. Price & Telfair are just too inconsistent. If Aaron Brook was here, suns would be in the playoff. I just hate how every time Nash sits down, the offense is stagnant. Everytime! Wazzup with that?!

    And Gortat still hasn’t learn a single sh!t about scoring. He’s too big of a guy to be shooting to much outside shots!

    I can definitely say that Nash is the only reason why I’m watching suns. Without Nash, the team is horrible. I also love Dudley’s game. At least he’s trying. But he needs to be more aggressive in getting more shots.

  • great balls of fire

    blow it up! blow it up!

  • Scott

    Initially, I was quizzical about the Suns’ choice of backup PGs, because both had lower PER scores than Dowdell. I thought the Suns needed to get a backup PG with a higher PER than Dowdell, because Dowdell had the minimal acceptable talent level for backup PG.

    Turns out I was right. Maybe if you put the two guys out together you get decent PG action, but since neither scores, you’d have to load the 2nd unit with scorers, and Gentry has been unwilling to do that. (In other words, put Redd/Dudley, Morris/Warrick, and Frye with those two PGs, and you might have something.)

    So once again, I put out the call to try and trade for Udrih. He’s not Superman, but he has been a NBA starter, he can run the pick and roll, and penetrate, pass, and score, and he should be able to run the bench a lot like Nash does the starters. Right now he’s being used as the 3rd option at PG for the Bucks, and he has a $6-7 million-ish salary, IIRC, so the Suns could offer Childress (or Brown) and Telfair and see if they get a bite.

  • shazam

    the first 42 minutes of a game teams see who is hot and then cave to them because its a long hard season…if the game is close in the last 8 minutes teams give their maximum effort..our maximum vs. the others maximum usually means a loss for us…if we arent up by 20 with 8 minutes to go the odds are very good we will lose..we dont have a real nba team…most of the time we are the washington generals

  • MadhouseHoops

    Zabian Dowdell is surely better than Price and Telfair, but what is the condition of his knee? Regardless, the Suns need to find a rotation scheme to keep P&T off the court. Substituting Hill out early to bring in Redd, then bringing in Hill with the bench unit to play the defacto PG along with Shannon Brown is one alternative. One way or another, something HAS to change in the rotation at the backup PG position, if the Suns will ever be able to tally enough wins together to make a push for the playoffs.

    The Suns are already 6 games under .500, and to match the .533 winning percentage of current 8th seed Portland, 35-36 total wins are needed by season’s end. That means the Suns will need to finish 23-13 / 24-12. In other words, the next four games, including two against the Lakers, before the All-Star Break are all must win to have any hope for the playoffs down the stretch.

  • steve

    Why don’t they try running the offense through Childress more when Telfair and Price are on the floor.

    Offensive game plan with Telfair on the court: Telfair dribbles for 12 to 15 seconds, crosses over a couple of times on the perimeter to create separation, passes to a heavily guarded Sun, bad shot.

    Offensive game plan with Price on the court: Price dribbles for 12 to 15 seconds, drives to the hoop, turns it over or picks up his dribble and sends a pass to a Sun who isn’t prepared to shoot, rushed shot or turnover.

    Are you telling me Childress couldn’t do that? Every time I see Childress given the freedom to create for himself and his teammates, he manages to make good things happen (at least more often than Telfair and Price do).

    Oh, btw, before this thread gets there… blah blah blah boycott blah blah blah oust Sarver blah blah blah Three Stooges blah blah blah

  • shawn

    once i was done with this game i switched to the gs/ portland game and noticed monta ellis on the bench the entire fourth quarter soooo does anybody think we have something to offer besides nash. oh and mark jackson doesnt know how to draw up plays his assistant does it for him i just found it hilarious.

  • Tony

    Steve,

    I hope you’re joking when you said that Childress should run the offense with the 2nd unit because that’s as comical as saying Childress is a good shooter! Oops, wasn’t it you who was praising Childress as a good shooter?

    For people who even a little bit about basketball, excluding of course those who think Childress can shoot and should run the offense, what’s absolutely killing the Suns is the horrendous play from the backup pgs and Lopez. The second unit would be ok if they could run the offense through posting Lopez despite Telfair and Price. But with Lopez being such a waste, the pressure is on Telfair or Price to create the offense and they are doing a miserable job. The Suns should be getting Brooks back soon which might help even though it’s obviously going to take time to get him integrated with the team. Add to that, it doesn’t seem like Brooks is too fond of being a Suns player either, what a surprise there.

    Other than that, we all have to remember, the Suns are playing as most objective analyists predicated and so it should come as no surprise that they currently have the 9th worst record in the NBA. There’s an article up on Arizona Republic about how the Three Stooges have a solid plan set in motion and that Sarver said “the goal is to transition back to elite status.” The article is nothing more than a press release and as such, has about as much credibility as believing the Suns will make the playoffs this season. However, I do recommend for people to check it out as it’s funny how much in denial the Three Stooges are in.

  • Cam

    @shawn
    I’ve brought up monta Ellis in the past and have been chastized for it. He is a high volume shooter but that’s about it. If it took Nash to get him I’d say no. At this point I would say no anyway. I was keen on him to start the season because I thought it would have given the Suns a chance to compete this year. At this point in the season I think waiting for the draft and the off season would be the best route to take. Draft a SG or take a chance on Eric Gordon in the offseason. Go Suns.

  • shazam

    “8 – 10 years to rebuild if team is blown up”…shame on you babby..the only way it takes 8-10 years is if the owner and or front office is deplorable..basically they are saying they dont trust themselves…cant have it both ways ba ba babby…there is NO team that has had decent management that has taken 8-10 years..LIE LIE LIE

  • http://www.shattertheglass.com David Rice

    Curious writer here looking for feedback from Suns fans. Who would you trade Nash for? He could very well leave after this season and let’s face it at 38 or whatever he can’t give you much more so you may as well cash in on him and get something while you can. What is good enough? I hate to be negative, but it’s tough to see the Suns contending for a title any time soon. Seems likely to me he’ll leave or maybe even retire at the end of the season.

  • Al

    I’ve been sad since the Monday loss to the Warriors. Are the suns the first team to lose back to back to back? Maybe the suggestion of trading Steve to a contender isn’t a bad idea after all. So, I was thinking…what if they traded Steve to NY for Bibby, Shumpert and Fields and a trade excemption? Could that work? Seems like NY will be signing JR so they would still have a starting SG and get Steve in the process. Suns would get two young talent in Shumpert and Fields and finally start the rebuilding process. Let Nash have a shot at a championship and see if he decides to return to the suns next season. By the looks of it, this will probably become another fail attempt to squeeze to the playoffs and end up with middle of the pack draft lottery. The season will be over in April for the Suns, if the FO stays with the same players on the roster pass March 15. Doubt the suns pull a Cinderella story a la Jeremy Lin.

  • shazam

    we need to get away from nashs ball hog monopolization of this team asap…trade him for a pez dispenser as far as im concerned..he only helps us win enough games to get a lousy draft pick

  • shazam

    @ al we dont have a lin…when jeremy was given a shot he excelled….gentry has given everyone on this team 5 chances and it is what it is…you cant polish a turd but you can roll one around in glitter…babby saying it takes 8-10 years to rebuild if team is blown up is a lie…hes just rolling a turd around in glitter hoping to sell tickets to the naive.

  • steve

    @Tony -

    If you choose to ignore the numbers (which say that Childress is an effective shooter and a very good decision-maker and hustler), then there’s nothing I can talk about with you. If you want to discount reason, math, statistics, and anything logical, then you simply can’t be argued with.

    Btw, my point wasn’t to say that Childress would be an amazing facilitator who could end the second unit’s woes. It was just to say that he wouldn’t be any worse than Telfair or Price (who are abysmal). And I think that’s a perfectly fair statement.

  • steve

    And yes, 8-10 years to rebuild is absolutely ridiculous. In the NBA, it only takes one player to completely change the landscape and outlook for a franchise. If a rebuilding phase happens, then it should only take 1-2 years for a competent front office to convince a marquee guy to come to a market like Phoenix. The biggest problem is that I don’t even know if Phoenix’s clock has started ticking yet. They’ve been straddling the line between hanging on for dear life to what they have with Nash and truly going in a different direction (and that’s not to say they have to get rid of Nash to go in a different direction, they just need to stop getting players for the sole purpose of answering the question, “I wonder how Player X would fit in with Steve Nash?”).

  • Scott

    @steve -

    Childress has a decent shooting percentage. The problem is that his volume is so low he can go for whole games without shooting once.

    In a sense, that’s like praising a stopped clock for being right twice a day.

    However … of the Suns, Childress may handle best of anyone not named Steve or Grant. I don’t think this is a solution, but like my Gortat/Lopez theory, they could try it out in practice and see if it works well enough to put it on the court.

    How I’d defend against this, however, is I’d have everyone play their man and the passing lanes, and one guy stay in front of Childress, with the idea of forcing Childress to shoot the ball each time.

  • shazam

    nash has never proven that he can be effective with any style but his..so if we stop looking for nash style players then we should REALLY get rid of him…@ TONY..steve quote—>”my point wasn’t to say that Childress would be an amazing facilitator who could end the second unit’s woes. It was just to say that he wouldn’t be any worse than Telfair or Price (who are abysmal). “…thats what i took from steves original post as well…i think we all agree on this one when put in this context right?

  • Scott

    @Madhouse -

    What I meant to convey was that last year Dowdell had a PER of like 11, and Price and Telfair both had a PER of like 9. If Dowdell was pretty much the minimum PG you’d ever want to put on the floor, why would you pick not one but two players with worse stats?

    I did not mean to imply that the Suns should have picked a player with bad knees.

  • Scott

    @Al -

    If the Suns absolutely had to trade Nash, and they were to trade with NYC, there’s really no point in taking Bibby, as for whatever reason his PER has been very low lately … in fact catastrophically lower than Price or Telfair. He has a PER of 6.

    Oh wait … I was just perusing the PER scores, and Telfair has now fallen to 6. LOL That may be a new low for him.

    Price is at 8.

  • shazam

    @ scott i agree that we should at least give it a try…with these combos…so help me with this…ive seen you allude to m redd not signing w/ suns in timely fashion forcing us to sign others…would you be more clear about this and what ever sources youre using…as you know im an m redd fan boy..now that hes on the suns..any info on this would be greatly appreciated.

  • Cam

    @Al
    I don’t think that trade would be a good trade for the Suns. Bobby is a shell of his former self and Shumpert and Fields play the same position. Add that to the fact that the Suns are overloaded at the SG position and they could draft a better SG in 2012.

    @David Rice

    Two trades I like would be Nash to Portland for Batum, Felton, and Nolan Smith/portlands 2012 1st. This gives the Suns Batum and his restricted free agent status. They could get a young SF will talent and still get cap room to sign another max free agent next off season. The second trade would be Nash, Warrick, and Lopez to the Mavs for Kidd, Odom, Mavs 2012 1st and a future 2nd. The Suns could move Frye to backup center, have Odom and Morris at the PF spot for the next 2 years, and have cap space next offseason while unloading Warricks contract in the process. The benefit for the Mavs is the fact that Nash as been there, knows the system, and would most likely re-sign for another two years at a discount, shoring up their PG position to go with Nowitzki. I think these trades would be a stretch for the Suns to pull off but possible nonetheless. These trades would help both teams involved IMO. Go Suns.

  • shazam

    @ scott your quote “If Dowdell was pretty much the minimum PG you’d ever want to put on the floor, why would you pick not one but two players with worse stats?”…the answer to this is they were cheap….and cheap is the front office mantra this year…you know so they have cap space for next year bwahahahahahha…mark my words they will bring in a slightly better than middling player to keep selling seats at the arena but we will be only better enough to stay out of the good lottery picks

  • Zak

    8-10 years to rebuild isn’t ridiculous… if you have an inept front office.

    Getting Brooks back isn’t going to help anything. The only difference between Brooks, Price and Telfair is that Brooks has a “shoot first” mentality. You might as well try making Brown the backup PG as rely on Brooks as an improvement PG for the second unit.

    At this point in his career, Bibby isn’t much more effective than a pez dispenser but NY wouldn’t trade away Fields and Shumpert as long as Lin is playing so well. They might be willing to trade away one of the two – my guess would be Fields – if they land JR.

    If the Suns do make a trade before the trade deadline, it needs to be geared toward the future rather than this season.

  • shazam

    agree w/ ZAK 100%

  • Grover

    I hate to say they’re right as I think they have proven themselves among the worst management teams in the nba, but I agree with Sarver and Babby about not wanting to blow the team up in order to rebuild from scratch.

    First, the draft is a crap shoot. For every sure thing like Lebron or Durant, there are other “sure things” like Oden, Adam Morrison, or Oliwakandi. On top of that there is ample evidence of smart teams drafting well a little later in the draft – Nash, Stoudemire, Ginoboli, nowitzki, etc were not super high picks (Stoudemire the highest in my example list at what #9?).

    Second, young players (except forbtr very very rare ones like Lebron) can’t lead you to the playoffs at all for at least three years and can’t take you past the first round for probably 4-5 years. So even if you stockpile draft picks AND hit on a very high percentage of your picks, it will be 5 years before you stop sucking. Realistically it would take longer through just the draft unless you think you can somehow accumulate multiple first round picks several years in a row.

    Third, look at the history of teams who have had a lot of lottery picks. They sucked and they sucked for a LONG time. How many years out of the last 20 seasons were the Clippers and Twolves in the lottery? They both are looking up, but neither is a powerhouse and Minn may still be another 1-2 years away. On top of that, would anyone be at all surprised to see their best players bolt as soon as possible or demand a trade? There is a reason after all they sucked for so long.

    I’d prefer seeing the Suns try and be as good as they can next year as well. The best way to get back to the top this decade I think is by free agency, and you don’t attract free agents by sucking. Granted, you also don’t attract free agents by overpaying for mediocre talent because that wins you one more game this year at the expense of financial flexibility the next three years (like Turkoglu, Warrick, or Childress) just because that was all that was available.

    There seems to be too much faith here that 1-2 years in the lottery will somehow bring us the next Lebron. Wishful thinking. Many teams sit in the lottery for years and keep striking out. The draft is no magic bullet.

  • Scott

    @Zak -

    So far as I’m concerned, the only truly good front offices are those of Houston and San Antonio, and even they have had their whiffs.

    The Lakers totally got lucky with the Gasol trade. Other moves they have made have been poor, but they always had Kobe to make up for their errors.

    Miami management isn’t that great; they only landed LeBron and Bosh because Miami happened to be where Wade was playing and the roster was already emptied out. The players moved themselves to join Wade.

    Chicago’s management isn’t that great; look how many years they toiled in obscurity before finally landing Rose and Noah. They’re probably the model that the Suns are referring to.

    As for the Grizz … last year was the first year they’ve ever been good, and the Bobcats have yet to have that kind of year.

    OKC seems to be the only team you can point to that has turned its fortunes around fairly quickly, and I count that as luck. I don’t think you can rationally expect to be as lucky as they were. You have to accept them as maybe representing the fastest rebuild possible, with the right picks available each year, and then maybe Chicago as the midrange, and then look at the Grizz, the Wiz, and the Cats as being maybe where you don’t want to go.

    If Roy and Oden had panned out, the Blazers would be a candidate as a turnaround franchise, however, a lot of years have passed since they fought Shaq and Kobe, and the fact is that Roy and Oden DIDN’T pan out. So the Blazers have more years to go.

    Sacramento has likewise been completely derailed since they last challenged Shaq and Kobe.

    NYC rebuilding was going nowhere, for years and years and years … till the Lin miracle occurred. We still have to see where that is going, since we’re only 7 games into it.

    Toronto has been perpetually rebuilding since both Carter and McGrady left.

    Boston was lucky in that they were able to land both Allen and Garnett. It almost didn’t turn out that way. They were trying for Garnett, he didn’t want to go, and so they signed Allen as a replacement, and then Garnett changed his mind and forced a trade to Boston. Probably without that unexpected chain of events, Boston would have only had Pierce and Garnett, or Pierce and Allen, not all 3.

    And so on.

    I think fans have unfairly high expectations for what management can really do.

  • Zak

    @ Grover – You are right about the draft being a crap shoot. You’re also right about not overpaying role players. The Clippers aren’t a good example though of teams that have often gotten high draft picks not being good because, until recently, they’re owner has been notorious for being too cheap to pay those high draft picks what they were worth once their rookie contracts ran out. They all fled to greener pastures which kept the Clips relying mostly on young talent to be even fairly competitive. Minnesota has just made a series of bad decisions as to trades and draft picks (and coaches) over the years with the two notable exceptions of Garnett and Rubio.

    With all that said, blowing up a team and rebuilding from scratch is what Charlotte seems to be doing. Even if someone could convince me that is the best thing for the Suns 2-3 years down the road, seeing them at the absolute bottom of the NBA standings just seems too big a price to pay. If Charlotte wins an NBA championship within the next 5 years, I’ll admit that my opinion is completely wrong.

    Until then…

  • Scott

    @shazam -

    I’m not sure what info you’re looking for. The Suns said they tried to get Redd to sign right off the bat, but he was weighing his offers. They did sign Brown, who plays the same position. Then, weeks later, Redd agrees to join the Suns.

    I take this as Redd expecting to get better offers than he did from the Suns, Knicks, and whoever else it was that was after him. I suspect he thought he was going to get more money, but no one was offering that. I don’t think he realized how far his credit in the league had dropped.

    So he signed a one-year deal with Phoenix, presumably with the idea of recovering with the Phoenix training staff and raising his rates thereafter.

    Aside from the statement from the Suns that they’d had their eye on Redd since the summer, it’s all just my reading of the situation.

    As for the Suns taking Telfair and Price because “they are cheap” … the pickings at PG were very poor and the Suns were already in collision with the cap. IIRC, the only player with a decent rating was tiny aged veteran Earl Boykins, and maybe he was already playing overseas, as was Patty Mills (low PER) and Carlos Arroyo (low PER).

    The Suns would have had to have made a trade for a PG of some quality, yet for some reason not really prized by his team. The only PGs I could come up with that fit that bill were Sessions (before Baron Davis was released) and Udrih.

    Now Udrih is clearly the most available. Yet the Suns are probably reluctant to add him, as he’d be taking $7 million of next year’s cap space.

    If it was me, I’d rather have a competent backup PG, but the Suns and I clearly don’t see things the same way.

  • Zak

    For those wondering what happened to Dowdell, the last info I could find on him was that he signed with a Turkish team but failed the team physical and he is currently not playing b-ball anywhere. Very sad. I liked ZD’s effort and commitment. I hope he makes it back into pro b-ball somewhere.

  • Scott

    @Zak -

    If Dowdell’s career is over (not sure about those knees), then at least he got to play in the NBA for a season. Most players don’t even get that.

  • shazam

    agree w/ ZAK 100%…. @ SCOTT… thanks for the redd info..i always look forward to your amazingly insightful posts ..serious dude….you rock :)

  • shawn

    @zak thx for the update. i was thinking about him while watching that mess of a second unit.

  • Zak

    My 2nd personal best was being part of a a local team that won a small local league championship back in the 80′s. But my proudest b-ball accomplishment is with a 3-on-3 team I played with in 93. We went 0-4 in our games in that tourney but all of my teammates were legally blind. I was working at a rehab center for the blind and visually impaired at the time. The guys that I played with then had more heart than anyone I’ve ever played with. That is what convinced me that heart and determination is as important as ability. Yeah we lost all of our games but my teammates never gave up. They never lost the desire to win.

    We lost every game but we still won because we never quit.

  • shazam

    FRYE quote about missing the crucial 3 pointer last night……. Frye said. “I think back in the day I probably would have taken that a little harder.”… im so happy channing that you dont let losing bother you too much any more..that pretty much sums up the acceptable level of heart our team has de-evolved to.

  • Tony

    Steve,

    Childress has a good career fg percentage because he takes so few shots and the ones he usually does take, are within 12 feet. By your logic, a player who has made 1 free throw out of 1 attempt must be a great ft shooter because they are shooting 100%. That’s such lunancy.

    Shazam,

    I know Steve didn’t say Childress should be the primary offensive creator for the 2nd unit. It’s the very notion of using Childress in that capacity at all which is absurd. Childress is a horrible ball-handler, his game comes from slashing to the basket and doing the little things. To put that much offensive pressure on him to create for others is not a good idea at all. With that being said, I do agree with Steve that the play of Price and Telfair has been abysmal. I would rather see Hill play more with the 2nd unit and be a point forward for them.

    As fas your comments about Nash, they couldn’t be farther from the truth. Shazam, do you really consider players like Gortat, Lopez, Childress, Dudley, Telfair, and Price, Nash-oriented players?? I’ll admit Frye is a player well-suited for Nash’s style but pretty much none of the others are. Even Gortat, while he has improved his offense markedly, is still nowhere near a proto-typical big who fits Nash’s style perfectly. The Suns had that player in Amare, but let him go.
    As far as the wing players go, none of the players on the team are really athletic, with the exception of Brown but he’s a ball-hog and is not a good shooter. In fact, one of the Suns biggest problems is the lack of great shooters on the team besides Nash. I’m not including Redd because he’s still working his way back into shape and shouldn’t be relied upon often.

    My point is that it is unfair to put the blame on Nash’s style of play as a reason for the Suns offensive problems, when the very players the Three Stooges brought in are not ideally suited for an offense oriented around Nash.

  • shazam

    @ tony..i couldnt agree more…NOBODY not even the great steve nash can get many wins with that asinine assemblage of ass burgers…but that is a nuance from my point…in fact it proves my point..if we dont surround steve with the right compliments how can he succeed?..we are putting 2 time in a position to fail because he has nailed himself to a system that we cant provide support for…all he does is sell tickets and win just enough games to keep us out of the draft…TRADE HIM..you agreed with that position last i checked tony..we still on the same page on that one?…i also totally agree with you about the chances that childress could pull that off..his strength is moving with out the ball so it is counter intuitive.. BUT with this excuse for a suns team we have nothing to lose…in fact the suns should read our comments and do what we say just to keep us amused and interested..what do they have to lose?..make channing frye wear a dress…why not?…super glue a spoon to gortats nose…why not?..make dudley wear a toilet seat around his neck..why not?…what do we have to lose?..NOTHING…we gain because it will be funny AND we will lose more games and get a better lottery pick…what am i missing here?

  • steve

    @Tony

    Look at you actually making an attempt to bring some sort of stat into the game…… then you didn’t actually bring any stats to the game. NUMBERS, or it’s just your good-for-nothing opinion vs mine.

    In 06-07, Childress’s best season in the NBA, he was attempting 9.4 FGs per game. This year, the Suns have just two players who attempt more FGs. Childress is no Havlicek, but it’s not like he can’t shoot at a moderate volume and shoot the ball well.

    Please, bring something factual rather than just saying, “NUH UH!” You’re making a fool of yourself. And yes, most of his makes are at the rim… but how is that a bad thing? If you could get to the rim at will and score in the highest professional league in the world, that would be a BAD thing?

    PS – A layup is still a shot.

  • Grover

    I’m not a stat lover as I think they can be horribly misused, but I had to play along. Basketball-Reference.com… Childress is shooting less than 17% this year from 15 ft or beyond and only 20% from beyond 5 feet. His shooting percentage from beyond 5 feet has gone down almost every year he’s played in the NBA. Statistically Childress certainly can shoot at a moderate volume, but the data does not support that he can shoot well…. at least not from beyond 5 feet. Inside 5 feet… he’s closer to a career 60% guy.

    Childress is real athletic and an awfully good offensive rebounder. I wish he could shoot, but we can wish all we want. He can’t. He’s a smart guy and knows this himself and is extremely reluctant to take outside shots. When he does it always appears he knows he has to due to the shot clock or to keep the defense honest, but he clearly is not a chucker.

    Since I found the website I thought I’d look around. Shannon Brown shoots anywhere between 29% and 37% from beyond 5 feet. Unfortunately, Brown is a chucker, so I’m glad to see minutes are being skewed towards Chili now and not Brown. I don’t feel so bad about my shooting at the YMCA now.

    I don’t remember who’s post it was about playing with the four blind guys, but by any chance were any of their last names Childress or Brown? If not, do they own a Suns jersey? What are they doing tomorrow night? Gentry might have 20 minutes of playing time for them if they can show up at Staples Center. I think they have a chance of hitting more than 30% just by guessing where the rim is.

  • shazam

    @ grover out of control bwahahahaha @ —> “I think they have a chance of hitting more than 30% just by guessing where the rim is.”

  • steve

    Btw, Tony, where do you get the idea that Childress has awful handles? I rarely, if ever, see him lose the ball when he’s handling (passing or dribbling), and he has solid hands to catch passes in traffic. And again, rather than just throw out random statements, Childress’s turnovers per 100 plays this season… 8.5. 12.9 for his career, which is slightly lower than Grant Hill, who has consistently been praised for his ability to handle the ball. Somewhere between 12 and 15 is where nearly every SF falls who has some decent handles (Durant, LeBron, Hill, Iggy, I’m sure others will line up the same). So… where are you getting that Childress has no handles?

    @Grover

    If you look at one stat and say that counts for everything, then I’m with you that stats can be misleading. But stats will generally confirm everything a well-trained eye sees. A well-rounded view of stats is the best way to judge a player, especially the gap-fillers (role-players). The way Mark Cuban and Rick Carlisle built their championship team last season was heavily based on sabermetrics, and that Mavs squad was one of the most balanced teams I can remember, and they only had one GREAT player.

    Can stats be misused? Yes, just like your eyes can deceive you. But if you asked me if I’d trust my eyes, your eyes, Tony’s eyes, any NBA scout’s eyes, etc., over a book full of advanced stats and analysis, I’ll take the stats all day every day.

  • Grover

    Steve – the problem using stats that way is twofold. One, basketball stats aren’t that advanced yet and don’t do an adequate job adjusting for teammates, opponents, situations, etc. The stats are definitely better than try were even just 5 years ago, but they aren’t there yet. Two, there is an art to putting together a team and you can’t just look for the five highest stat guys at their position and expect to have a good team. Chemistry and meshing the right types of talent and style are critical.

    For those reasons, I trust my eyes more than stats. I know enough about basketball that I can see things (though I’m sure not with perfect accuracy) that are very difficult to measure. On a board like this, however, I do like a good measure of stats or you’re right – it turns into pure battle of opinion with the loudest and most obnoxious opinion “winning” the argument. And on a board you can’t tell off the bat who knows hoops an who just thinks thy know hoops. Everyone claims to for sure.

  • steve

    “…you can’t just look for the five highest stat guys at their position and expect to have a good team.”

    According to PER, here’s your starting 5 if you get the best at each position:

    PG – Chris Paul
    SG – Dwyane Wade
    SF – LeBron James
    PF – Kevin Love
    C – Dwight Howard

    Are you going to tell me any of those is out of place? Maybe Rose over Paul. Maybe Bryant over Wade. Maybe Aldrige, Nowitzki, Pau, or Griffin over Love…

    I’m not the biggest fan of PER, but it’s pretty hard to argue against its accuracy (at least at the top of the class), and just ONE advanced stat produced a starting five that would be untouchable if you could manage to get them all on the same team. Imagine the kind of team you could produce if you looked deeper.

    Sure, there is something to be said about character, hustle, chemistry, etc., but talent wins out more often than not on an NBA court. The Suns aren’t losing because they aren’t trying. They’re losing because they have no talent outside of Gortat and Nash. I firmly believe that if you are more talented than the team you’re facing, you’re going to win in the NBA 60%-70% of the time. I realize it’s not quite as simple as just looking at PER and calling it good, but that’s why I’m saying stats have to be examined as a whole.

    I used to be in your shoes, where I heavily doubted advanced stats… until I started looking into them on a deeper level and realizing that what my eyes tell me is almost always the same story that advanced stats will tell, and a lot of times advanced stats can open my eyes to things I never noticed before. Instead of just doubting them without reason, I decided to investigate, and I have found there really isn’t much, if anything, that my eyes can see that advanced stats won’t tell me. I’ve learned that believing I’m smarter than math is a dangerous game, and it opens myself to looking like a fool on occasion.

  • Zak

    @Grover – Well said. Stats are often misleading if a player is in a “system” that doesn’t fit his skills making him look worse than he really is OR can be overblown when a player IS in a system that fits his skills making him look better than he really is. Take a player with mediocre stats in one system and move him to another team/system that better suits his skills and suddenly he’s a key player or a “star”. Take another player with really good stats out of a system that suits him and put him into one that doesn’t and suddenly he’s a dud. Stats only go so far and you have to rely on your eyes and judgment too.

  • Zak

    LOL, steve… my eyes alone could tell me that a team made up of Paul, Wade, James, Love and Howard would be unbeatable. I don’t need stats to tell me that!

    The great players are just great and don’t need any stats to prove it. It’s the other players where the stats can be misleading. As I just wrote, some players have very good – but not great – stats because of the teams they play with whether it’s their teammates or the coach or a combo of both but outside of that environment they suddenly fall from grace. Conversely, some “bad” players suddenly become good when they switch teams and find themselves in a better environment. Great players will always have superior stats no matter what team they play for but great stats doesn’t always mean a player is great. Sometimes the stats are great just because the player has found the right place for their skills to flourish. Move them to another team that doesn’t fit them and they can flounder.

  • Grover

    Steve – The argument isn’t whether picking the “All PER Team” would produce a good team – that’s obvious. The argument is whether you could do better by overruling the stats and injecting some knowledge that is deeper than stats to put together a stronger team. You already started doing the same in suggesting alternatives that might be better. It’s not too unlike what Collangello is trying to do with USA basketball – get away from bringing a pure all start type team and instead focus on finding pieces that fit together well. In the case of the All PER Team, I’d question whether that many egos could play well together for a whole season or series. And would their crunch time roles be defined? Remember – before last year’s season started many in the press were ready to crown Miami champions, but it turns out they didn’t mesh well and Lebron and Wade’s skills were too similar.

    This all started (I think…) over a few assertions on this board (they may not have been yours) asking people to show up with stats to “prove it”, otherwise it’s just opinion vs opinion. All I’m saying is there is stats don’t prove anything, they suggest. Sometimes the stats are overwhelming (e.g., LeBron is way way way better than Telfair and the stats make this pretty obvious), but sometimes they are mere suggestions and can’t prove anything (e.g., Tony Parker’s PER is 22 vs Deron Williams at 20. Does that prove he’s a better point guard? I think most people would prefer Williams, me included). Yes, I agree advanced stats are super helpful and are rarely totally off base. I’m just saying they aren’t perfect and they aren’t the only way to judge basketball.

  • steve

    They aren’t the only way, but they are the best way. In any case, the first step to building a team should be subjective. That’s what stats are. Frye was objectively loved (and Dudley too), so they were signed to big contracts they dont deserve. Subjectivity would have shown that to be ill-advised. The “meshing” argument is what caused those signings to happen. Chemistry, fitting in, meshing, they’re mostly farce. Good players will almost always beat players who aren’t as good regardless of the chemistry involved. Advanced statistical analysis is simply a better idea than figuring you know better or see something “the computers” can’t. Sorry for the typos, my autocorrect stopped working again.

  • Grover

    Any GM that can’t see something statistical analysis doesn’t see should be run out of town. I’m not saying there aren’t a number of GMs who are stuck in the stone ages and aren’t making good enough use of stats, but if they don’t know the game well enough to see things the stats aren’t capturing, there is no way they should be in charge of a high school team let alone a multi-million dollar NBA team.

    I think you’re carrying your argument too far in saying statistical analyses are better than figuring you know better than a computer. For most people here on this board? God yes, bring on the stats.

    My description of the perfect GM… I think you’d more or less agree with this: Before committing large dollars to new players, a good GM should be pouring over advanced stat tables AND pouring over countless hours of game tape trying to find the right fit for his needs and budget. They should be using game tape to challenge the conclusions he gained from the stats, and conversely he should using stats to challenge the conclusions he made from game tapes. Somehow they synthesize all this and form conclusions in the end that blend stuff from both sides.

    Or if your the Suns GM, you just call up your former clients and sign them to long term, expensive contracts. That takes much less effort.

    When I throw out opinions here, I’ll admit mine are more from the “game tape” variety simply because I’m not paid to be a GM. I watch and embarrassing number of hours of NBA games each week, but I only occasionally find it enjoyable to go look at stats. When I do go to the stats, about 95% of what I see is exactly what I expected, but I occasionally see stuff that surprises me. Obviously it’s never of the “oh wow, I had no idea Lebron was a good player” variety. Usually its more like never noticing how many times a player takes long two point shots or something kind of small.