That was the single greatest game with no defense* ever played between two teams consisting of first- and second-year players selected for their teams by Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal in history!
*Okay; technically, some defense was played, at least on one possession. It was all Greg Monroe’s fault, and it was hilarious. Seriously, if you didn’t see what Monroe did, check out that link.
Dunks on dunks on dunks was the theme of the night in the 2012 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, as we all knew it would be, and Team Chuck beat Team Shaq 146-133. The question for Suns fans was how deeply involved Markieff Morris (a member of Team Shaq) would be in the smash-tastic festivities.
I am pleased to report that Morris made it out of the Rising Stars game in one piece, which is the most important thing. In fact, his prowess at running aimlessly from one free throw line to the other, unencumbered by an offensive system, was unmatched. This wasn’t a game really designed for a player like Morris, whose bread and butter in the NBA has been knocking down 3s after a defensive breakdown, forcing the action in the post and being a nuisance on the defensive glass. Post play, after all, was non-existent; the only time a defensive player entered the paint was to corral a made basket and inbound the ball. And there were few rebounds to grab when both teams hardly missed a shot.
Morris did have his moments on the offensive end, though. After checking in with about 15 minutes to go in the first half (yes, this game was played with two 20-minute halves, instead of quarters), it took three minutes before Morris attempted his first shot, a deep, pure three with which Suns fans are already so familiar. He continued his shuttle drill for the next six minutes or so, then took advantage of the sloppy game and his generous point guard teammates to throw down two slams in short order. The second dunk was courtesy of a pretty behind-the-back pass from Ricky Rubio, which Morris turned into a one-handed tomahawk before being pulled back to the bench and fading into oblivion. Sure, he added another three in the second half and finished with 12 points, but Morris made little impact in a game meant for the Blake Griffins, Rubios and Kyrie Irvings of the world.The Suns will take that. Morris got to play in front of fans who likely don’t see him that often, and he acquitted himself fairly well, even if doing so meant being part of the background. It could have gone a whole lot worse.
Coaching legend John MacLeod to join the Ring of Honor
In more honorary Suns news, the winningest coach in Suns history, John MacLeod, will be inducted into the Suns’ Ring of Honor at halftime on April 18 when Phoenix hosts the Oklahoma City Thunder.
MacLeod’s 579 career victories with Phoenix give him a fairly substantial lead over fellow Ring of Honor member Cotton Fitzsimmons (341). MacLeod is also Phoenix’s longest-tenured coach; he led the team for 15 seasons, from 1973 until 1987. He, along with Paul Westphal, is one of only two coaches to take the Suns to the NBA Finals.