PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns have a chance to pull within a half-game of the Houston Rockets for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot when the two teams clash tonight in US Airways Center.
Here are a few pregame notes and quotes before the two teams tip off at 6 p.m.:
Martin out, Camby will see time
For the fourth straight game the Rockets will be without their leading scorer Kevin Martin as he nurses a sprained right shoulder. Houston will also once again be without point guard Kyle Lowry, who has missed the last five games with a bacterial infection.
Although Martin and Lowry are sidelined the Rockets will have an extra warm body on the bench with Marcus Camby making his Houston Rockets debut after being sent over from Portland before the trade deadline. Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said he’s not sure how much Camby will be able to play, but he will see the floor.
“He’s going to get some time tonight. How much time I don’t know, but we’ll get him out there a little bit,” he said. “He’s played in a lot of different places and he’s been such an effective player for so long. I think getting our terminology down is the biggest thing, but he’s very sharp.”
Camby is in his 15th year in the league and saw somewhat of a decreased role in Portland but Suns head coach Alvin Gentry thinks the veteran big man can still contribute with the Rockets at age 37.
“Camby is still a very effective player, shot blocking and still a tremendous rebounder,” Gentry said. “I’m sure he’ll fit in.”
Gentry on the Rockets’ bench: “Their bench has played great throughout the year, especially in our games. They’ve been more than the difference really. They keep coming at you, they play extremely hard and they’re a very unselfish team.”
Gentry on Jared Dudley and Channing Frye’s production: “There’s a lot of guys that have improved their shooting when they got in the league. The guy that I think about is a guy like Dale Ellis, who was an inside player at Tennessee. He all of the sudden became a prolific 3-point shooter in the league. You can look at Kevin Love and say look at what he’s done improving his outside shooting. When they shoot the ball well we’re a different team. They’ve obviously shot it well the last couple of weeks. It’s important to us from the standpoint of what it represents that we can do offensively. That’s when we’re at our best.”
Gentry on why the Suns have improved so much after the break: “I just think the chemistry has been much better. Technically we haven’t changed what we’re doing but just the overall chemistry. The second team has had great chemistry. They’ve gone out there. I think Shannon Brown is starting to play better for us. We’ve gotten good minutes out of Michael Redd. Just the whole overall chemistry of the team I think is a little better right now.”
McHale on the Suns’ recent stretch: “They’re playing very well. They’re shooting the heck out of the ball. They are really playing well so we’re going to have our hands full tonight.”