Phoenix Suns 93, Los Angeles Clippers 90 — Gut check

Posted by on April 20th, 1:10 am

The Suns and Clippers played a chippy game that ended with Phoenix prevailing with a critical three-point victory. (AP Photo/Matt York)

The Suns and Clippers played a chippy game that ended with Phoenix prevailing with a critical three-point victory. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — US Airways Center was sleepy.

It was a weird sight to see considering the Phoenix Suns had so much to fight for. The final playoff spot was on the line, and with the Houston Rockets inexplicably falling to the lowly New Orleans Hornets earlier in the night, a win would lock the Suns with the identical 33-30 record as the Utah Jazz, then give them the eight seed by holding the tiebreaker.

A few verbal fireworks marked key points that led the gritty Suns to a 93-90 victory on Thursday against the Los Angeles Clippers, who themselves are in pursuit of the Pacific Division title.

“It was a gut-check game,” coach Alvin Gentry said. “We did everything we could to hang in there and we found a way to pull it out in the end.”

With a 46-45 Clippers lead at the half, Los Angeles started inching away midway through the third quarter, opening up a 66-58 advantage with 4:30 to go in the period and looking like it was about to extend a winning streak to six games.

Then came the fireworks.

Jared Dudley got in the face of Blake Griffin after Kenyon Martin hit Dudley across the neck on the other end. The Suns forward was called for a technical, and Chris Paul’s free throw made it a nine-point Clippers lead.

“I thought that was a cheap shot,” Dudley said in the locker room. “(Martin) later apologized, but I was running on high emotion.

“Blake caught the ball, so if you’re going to go at a guy,” Dudley joked, “go at a big guy.

“(Against) Oklahoma City,” he added, “there were technicals that we got, we kind of let that get to us emotionally.”

They didn’t on Thursday, and from that point forth the arena was awake. Meanwhile, the Suns were focused.

Nash and Dudley hit consecutive threes to climb back, and finally the expected playoff atmosphere appeared. The Suns trailed 71-69 going into the final period, but both benches struggled to find the bottom of the net. The Clippers and Suns scored a combined 11 points through the first six minutes.

The score at 77-74, Griffin appeared to have a fast-break dunk, and Robin Lopez went up for the contest, but raked Griffin around the neck, causing a brief, yet tense period where the two teams had to be separated. Lopez was ejected and Clippers guard Mo Williams was assessed a technical for reacting after the hard foul.

A back-and-forth ensued and the Suns would tie the game with 1:15 remaining on a Dudley three-pointer, his final three points of a team-high 18. Nash scored on a running scoop shot over Griffin after a Clippers’ score, and free throws shot for both teams — after three combined questionable calls — put Phoenix at a 91-90 advantage.

Paul’s shot was blocked out of bounds by Sebastian Telfair with eight seconds left — Telfair was alongside Nash in the final two minutes to defend the All-Star point guard — and Channing Frye secured a Mo Williams miss off the inbound play, then hit two free throws to ice the game.

“It wasn’t our type of game really,” said Nash, who finished with 13 points and six assists. “It wasn’t a clean game by either team. We could have gone south a lot. Big win.”

Each team took two and a half quarters to feel one another out, and neither led by more than four points in the first half. Both struggled to shoot above 43 percent in the first half as well, but they finished with identical 44.6 percent accuracies.

The Suns got 14 points and 14 boards from Marcin Gortat, 16 points from Frye, and 13 from Telfair despite the point guard struggling with a rib injury.

Paul had 10 assists and scored 19 to lead the Clippers, but he only shot 6-of-19, a stat Gentry was proud to point out afterward. He was also pleased that, after Griffin had 14 points in the first quarter, the Suns held the All-Star forward to just two more points thereafter.

“(Assistant coach) Elston (Turner) has done a great job of making it so our defensive gameplan is to take all of the lobs and all of that away,” Gentry said. “Really, if you go back to the first quarter, the dunks that (Griffin) had came off our turnovers. We’ve done a good job of making him make basketball plays.”

Hard fouls aplenty

Robin Lopez’s ejection with six minutes to play in the fourth quarter did indeed warrant the toss.

Nevertheless the Suns’ backup center wasn’t worrying about his ejection or potential fallout from the league if it decides he should receive further punishment.

“Tried to go for the ball, tried to go for his arms,” Lopez maintained. “It’s my job to protect the rim.”

In addition, Lopez cited the Suns’ focus on disallowing dunks and layups from the Clippers’ big men considering their poor free throw shooting. That and a hard-nosed attitude were the topic of discussion after the game.

“I think, you know, people have kind of called Phoenix soft in the past,” he said. “Tonight I think we tried to do a good job of being the aggressors, especially near the end.”

Quotable

Steve Nash on his shot over Blake Griffin that appeared to touch the tip-top of the backboard before going into the net: “I saw him (coming) like Carl Lewis out of the blocks. I was like, I better kiss this soft off the top because he was racing to get there.”

Jared Dudley on Sebastian Telfair’s pesky defense: “The black Sasha Vujacic. Kind of someone you hate, gets under your skin.”

Kevin Zimmerman is the lead blogger and editor for Valley of the Suns. He is also editor of AZDesertSwarm.com, an Arizona Wildcats\’ blog, and a contributor at SB Nation and Pac-12.com.

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Tags: Los Angeles Clippers · Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns Recap

42 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kenton // Apr 20, 2012 at 1:28 am

    Woo!

  • 2 Tony // Apr 20, 2012 at 1:56 am

    What a win! I’m so proud of this Suns team. Despite the lack of talent on this Suns team because of the incompetent front office, this Suns team has a ton of heart and their team chemistry and belief in each other is inspiring. I mean, looing at their roster on paper, they easily have one of the worst teams in the league. Yet, here they are, with three games to go and in the 8th seed! Truly remarkable and speaks volumes about the leadership of Nash, Hill, and Gentry.

    To that point, I am so sick of Barkley dissing the Suns! The guy for years has never had a good thing to say about the Suns. Tonight he couldn’t give the Suns any credit and had the nerve to just right off the Suns in their final three games, as if the Jazz and Nuggets are so much better. Then he couldn’t even give Nash even a tiny compliment for moving up in history of assists. Barkley’s been talking smack about the Suns ever since Nash joined the team. I wonder if it’s a racial thing or maybe he’s bitter about not getting a title for the team and takes it out on the team as a result or maybe something else…

    By the way, Steve, tonight was once again a perfect example of why stats are misleading. Looking at the box score, Gortat had 14 points and 14 rebounds, which taken at face value, is a very solid performance. However, when you look at how he performed in the 4th quarter with the pressure on, he missed a key free throw, couldn’t score in the post with the tiny Paul guarding him, and was otherwise completely ineffective in the 4th quarter, which is obviously the most important time of the game.

  • 3 erierikas // Apr 20, 2012 at 2:13 am

    Respect to RoLo. I don’t care if he got ejected or what cos that is just beastly.

    Houston lost again too..looks like the Hornets doesn’t like the idea of being last in the conference. 7-3 in the last ten.

  • 4 belike81 // Apr 20, 2012 at 2:44 am

    @Tony

    “By the way, Steve, tonight was once again a perfect example of why stats are misleading. Looking at the box score, Gortat had 14 points and 14 rebounds, which taken at face value, is a very solid performance. However, when you look at how he performed in the 4th quarter with the pressure on, he missed a key free throw, couldn’t score in the post with the tiny Paul guarding him, and was otherwise completely ineffective in the 4th quarter, which is obviously the most important time of the game.”

    I’m sick of You guys saying the same thing over and over again. Take away his 14 point and 14 rebounds and there’s no 4 quarter to play for.

  • 5 Serek // Apr 20, 2012 at 4:03 am

    Some people just don’t have that clutch factor in them, but perhaps can develop it. Look no further than King James himself, who after almost 10 years playing in the spotlight, 2 MVP titles, who scores 20ppg blindfolded – still can’t take the final shot with the game on the line.

    Gortat was playing backup for D12 for years, he was supposed to defend and rebound, and now is expected to be the go-to guy all game? Give him a moment. That is a major mental change to make.

  • 6 PennyAnd1 // Apr 20, 2012 at 5:40 am

    My respect goes out to Rolo as well. @ Serek, That’s fine that Gortat wants to try stuff with his offense..but this is not the time to do that. Gortat needs to apply textbook basic bball 101, shoot if you are open, go closer if given, pass if defended, and freakin’ dunk the ball
    d-mnit!

  • 7 PennyAnd1 // Apr 20, 2012 at 6:12 am

    @belike81

    well we could just turnaround and say that if he had passed the ball, instead of shooting bad shots they wouldn’t be in this hole in the first place. Again you guys are only blinding yourself trying to defend Gortat. We are hating on Gortat at all. He just needs to know his limits, use his head, play defense & rebound like what you say he is all about. So why the F*** he acting like he needs to score in order for Suns to win. And the he shoots it too is like he was a shooter. You ain’t a shooter Gortat! stay in the paint where you belong!

  • 8 PennyAnd1 // Apr 20, 2012 at 6:13 am

    *we are NOT hating on Gortat…

  • 9 belike81 // Apr 20, 2012 at 6:24 am

    @PennyAnd1

    “well we could just turnaround and say that if he had passed the ball, instead of shooting bad shots they wouldn’t be in this hole in the first place.”

    But he’s shooting 55% from the field! That’s so bad, that You think he should pass the ball to better shooters? Who? He has the highest FG% of the entire Phoenix team.

    You don’t know what coach is telling him to do. He’s the teams leading scorer, and for all we know, maybe it’s the coach who’s pushing him to take more shots.

    I agree with You on one thing. He needs to play smarter. But in order for him to play smarter, he needs to learn from his mistakes. This season it’s his first season as a starter, his first season as the teams scoring leader. Does are all new roles for him. He was never considered a player that would be in this position. But he is, and it takes time to adjust to this role.

    I said it before, Gortat will never be a true leader, a scorer, a closer. He doesn’t have the mentality for it. But to achieve what he has achieved this season, he needs some recognition for it.

    That’s my opinion.

  • 10 Brandon // Apr 20, 2012 at 7:13 am

    Good win for a Suns’ team that wasn’t expected to do much this year. Long time Suns fan here in CA. I’m happy to see them fighting, although I think getting K. Marshall in the draft would be more beneficial in the long run. But as a true fan you want your team to succeed.

    Watching last night, while i’m happy with the win. After this season we need to start over. We all know Nash can’t do it alone, he’s done an amazing job and we know Sarver won’t pay for D. Williams, or push for a big name. We are going to have to hope we draft a gem. I won’t be upset when Nash leaves this summer, he’s earned it.

    As well as Gortat did, its Nash that is allowing him to get those stats, if you watch him it seems as if he doesn’t recognize opportunites out there or is that great of a rebounder. He’s being made look better as most have by Nash, we should trade him while his value is high because once Steve is gone he won’t be the same. Also Frye is not a true 4, we need to draft a true PF.

    I’m going to hope for the best this year but also am looking at the future.

  • 11 Tim in BC // Apr 20, 2012 at 8:51 am

    A great hard fought win for the Suns! I got abit worried there towards the end when the Clippers had a couple of good looks there but fortunately they didn’t go in. Dudley plays with alot of passion and heart and Lopez seems to play better when he is kind of angry. I like Gortat and what he has done for the team but he needs to be more agressive around the net and block more. I agree that he does not do nearly as well without Steve Nash feeding him the nice passes. Nash made some nice baskets but wish he would shoot more as he used to get more threes and lay ups. Maybe he is hurting too much to shoot as much as he used to? Go Suns, win the rest of the games and make the playoffs!

  • 12 steve // Apr 20, 2012 at 9:28 am

    First, that was a WEAK flagrant 2, and I’m sure it was only called that way because it was Blake Griffin. It was great be at USAirways and feel the crowd turn against Blake. It seemed like every Suns fan came into the place just wanting to see something amazing from Griffing, holding their breath whenever he touched the ball, oohing and aahing when he was dominating the first quarter. By the end of the game, every time Blake Griffin touched the ball, got fouled, got called for a foul… every time Griffin took a breath, he was getting booed like he was Manu.

    I HATE when Suns fans cheer for the other team’s likeable superstars, and it seriously irked me at the beginning of that game that everyone seemed to like Griffin. Suns fans made me a happy man again by the end of that game, when they finally saw Griffin for the chump he is.

    Griffin moved toward the contact on Robin, and it was obvious that Robin did make some sort of a play for the ball (at least with one arm). Either way, I’m happy with Robin and Dudley for having a backbone and setting the tone. They did what needed to be done in order to let the refs know that they weren’t going to allow the manhandling without some retaliation. Even though that game was terribly officiated, I felt like it got better as things progressed (for the most part), and I’m sure that was because they were fearful that the game would get out of hand if they weren’t careful with their whistles. Good job Dudley and Lopez.

    About Gortat – I won’t say as much as I said in the last thread, but I’ll echo what a couple of reasonable folks already have. Without Gortat’s double-double, that’s not a game. Not to mention he also only had one turnover, which certainly helped. I was at the game, and I chastized Gortat for shooting his little hook over Chris Paul instead of going hard to the basket. He once took a 14-footer even though he had a wide open lane in front of him. I know he made mistakes. I know he isn’t Hakeem or Shaq or Robinson or Russel… no one is trying to say he is.

    What I’m trying to say is that he is quite obviously at the top of the second tier of centers in the NBA, with the potential to reach the top tier if he improves his few flaws. You all act as if the Suns are used to having Lew Alcindor at the 5. Gortat is the best young big this franchise has seen for ages… maybe ever. He has rapidly improved over the past season and a half, and the stage that he’s already at is FAR beyond the expectations anyone besides his mother could have had for him. Who’s to say he won’t keep improving as he has?

    If anyone can prove that it is Steve Nash that artificially boosts Gortat’s numbers, go ahead. Do I believe that Gortat would be as good with Mike Bibby feeding his as he is with Steve Nash? No. But do I believe that Gortat would work his game as necessary to fit into whatever system he found himself in and be productive? Yes. He already proved in Orlando when he wasn’t playing with anyone near Steve Nash’s caliber that he is extremely efficient. He has already proven he has a very good, maybe even great mid-range game for a big man (look at the numbers, he’s shooting 40-45 percent from midrange… to put that into perspective, that’s what Tim Duncan shoots in any given year). He has already proven he can finish near the rim. Even if he is being spoon-fed near the rim, not everyone in the NBA can finish at the rate he does.

    Some at-the-rim finishers (in percent):

    Gortat: 73
    Duncan: 62
    Bynum: 73
    Howard: 74
    Gasol: 67
    Fat Gasol: 69
    Chandler: 76
    Nene: 65
    LeBron: 75
    Amare: 69

    Those are just some random names pulled to show you that Gortat is among the ELITE finishers in the NBA. You can all rant and rave about how soft he is, but he still gets results that are just about as good as anyone in the NBA.

    I know you all wish we had the next Tim Duncan on our hands, but the fact is that we don’t. Gortat is not Tim Duncan. It would be nice if he was, but that’s just not going to happen. What you do have is a borderline all-star center who has shown incredible improvement since his entrance into the league. You people who doubt that he is a center of fantastic quality have NOTHING worth mentioning to back up your claims.

    4th quarter woes… are you going to tell me LeBron isn’t the best player in the game despite his problems?
    Soft around the hoop… are you going to tell me that top 10 in FG% and FG% at the rim isn’t good enough?
    Poor shot selection in the 4th… are you going to tell me that being a top-10 mid-range big man doesn’t justify taking a few mid-range shots just because it’s the last 12 minutes?
    bricks for hands… every big man you can name averages more TO’s per game than Gortat (I know that many fumbled passes get pinned on the passer, but the gap between Gortat’s TO’s and any other bigs is SIZEABLE). Gortat averages just 1.2 TO’s per game. Howard, Bynum, the Gasols, Duncan… they’re all well above that.

    Give me ANY shred of evidence that Gortat is anything less than a stellar player besides your baseless opinions that “it’s just Steve Nash,” “he fades when it counts,” “he’s soft,” “he has no hands,” “I like to whine about having a star center when the Suns have always lacked that.”

    ANYTHING, people. ANYTHING with any sort of proof besides your opinions.

    Man, I thought I said this was going to be short.

  • 13 shazam // Apr 20, 2012 at 9:29 am

    @ brandon -your quote——–>”and we know Sarver won’t pay for D. Williams, or push for a big name.”…cmon man PLEASE dont put me in a position of having to defend sarver….thats sucks and he sucks….with that said d williams and other big names are unavailable or wont come to phoenix until they see a team worth playing for…it has nothing to do with the money or sarver interest in real time…in past years i would agree with you…now he has the cap space and has to spend most of it so he has no choice

  • 14 shazam // Apr 20, 2012 at 9:32 am

    BREAKING NEWS….the suns gorilla will be fired before next season and replaced with wanda

  • 15 steve // Apr 20, 2012 at 9:37 am

    “we know Sarver won’t pay for D. Williams”

    Another one of you folks? Wow. People will believe anything.

    Anyways, if Williams is going to get the max like it seems, I wouldn’t want him either. I don’t think any PG is worth that amount, not even Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, or Deron Williams. How many championship teams in the past 20 years have had a PG as one of their top 2 players? Detroit… is that it? A great PG is a nice thing to have, but it’s unnecessary. A SMART PG is necessary.

  • 16 Grover // Apr 20, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Not a bash on Gortat, but I have been concerned about him the last few weeks. He looks to have lost his confidence… You can see him questioning himself and getting frustrated at mistakes more than I recall earlier in the season. The body language isn’t good.

    We need him these next few games. Somebody needs to send him an FTD Pick me Up basket.

  • 17 Mel. // Apr 20, 2012 at 10:50 am

    There were points in this game where I felt like I was watching the Memphis Grizzlies, instead of the usual suspects; gritty, chin-check attitude with a focus towards getting at every fifty-fifty ball that came their way (with a token touch of finesse, in the shooting and spacing).

    As much as I hate robbing the Clippers of a chance to avoid said Memphis team in the first round (The Lakers are going to absolutely destroy the Mavs, barring some miraculous re-injury to LA’s starting bigs or Dallas finding a way to kick in a “Cheat Mode” that allows them to start two Dirk Nowitzkis at once), the Suns just wanted it more. Seeing this team embrace purpose is a bit shocking, as it’s been for the last two years; as noted in my response to the preview, I think Nash played more defense on CP3 last night than he had in the previous five years, collectively. That simple shift in on-court mentality felt almost infectious, with Telfair and Dudley following suit and playing some crucial, lockdown “D” when it mattered the most.

    Anyway. Enough guppy-faced gushing. Suffice it to say if these are MVSteve’s “dinner days” in the Valley, then I don’t think fans could ask for a better run (Especially considering what he’s working with). Nothing exemplifies the man’s career more than his ability to inspire “mid carders” to embrace superstar-like possibilities, even if it is only for a night or two.

  • 18 steve // Apr 20, 2012 at 10:55 am

    I agree. He seems to have been shaken.

    This is pure conjecture on my part. I really have no basis besides some very brief observations from a distance to back this up, but I don’t think he and Nash like each other all that much. I could be completely wrong about that, but I really don’t get the feeling that they are pleased with each other. In fact, I don’t really get the feeling that Gortat is all that close with anyone on the team. He seems to be far less involved socially than anyone else on the team.

    I don’t know if that’s true or not, but if it is, I could see how that could be a contributing factor to his often-less-than-stellar play as of late.

  • 19 Brandon // Apr 20, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Steve & Shazam –

    You’ll have to forgive me I was just making a generalization about Sarver. I wouldn’t pay a max contract for D.Will either, he’ll be available after this season and your right, he wouldn’t come to Phoenix bc of the supporting cast, which is directly a resulf of Sarver. I won’t go into all the decisions that have been made by him and mgmt in the past but just in case peolple have forgotten….Suns mgmt and Sarver let JJ go, made a knee jerk reaction and let Marion go for Shaq, traded Dragic, countless selling of first round pics, the Amare situation was tough considering what he was asking, didn’t we have Rondo and Deng’s rights as well? Lets just say my opinion of the Suns management and Sarver are not high what so ever.

    Nash has had less and less talent to work with each passing year since 2005 and he’s done an amazing job.

    As for Gortat, I’ll give credit where its due, some great points have been made, its his 2nd year as a starter and will improve. I guess its easier to highlight the flaws when your such a big fan. But I will say the Nash effect have proven right for numerous players…Amare, Tim Thomas, Marion to name a few. Gortat can def. improve, just saying he won’t be as effective with Nash and unless its a big improvement those flaws with be more noticable. Go Suns.

  • 20 Al // Apr 20, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Wow. The Suns really took off their granny panties and played tough with the game on the line. Seemed they played uninspired in the first half, but stepped up in the second. Dudley and Robin showed Griffin they weren’t going to let themselves be dunked on. Unfortunately, Robin was send to the showers early and I hope he is fined but not suspended otherwise Phoenix will need to sign a big from the D-League or play Frye at 5 with second unit. Refs didn’t seem to know who to favor in the last few minutes as both teams went to the free throw line several times. Telfair pestered CP3 on defense and got called for fouls 3 times for being too close to him? C’me on. That’s just good defense. Then Frye pulled a Luis Scola act and drew a foul on Griffin that sealed the game. That made me chuckle.
    Did anyone else listen to the stuff Chuck and the other guys talked about in Inside the NBA? Guys talked about how they would get calls to “Take a few games off”. Really? You mean some of the games may be fixed and that star players suck sometimes, because they’re told to?
    Chuck seems to just hold a Phoenix grudge. Luckily Sarver didn’t offer Sir Charles the GM position, because he would have traded Steve before Christmas of his first year, no doubt. Then, Phoenix would have a record as bad as the Bobcats. Think Chuck ruined his chances to ever be offered a position of GM.
    Now it’s time to prepare for Denver and the MANIMAL!

  • 21 Mel. // Apr 20, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    “Did anyone else listen to the stuff Chuck and the other guys talked about in Inside the NBA? Guys talked about how they would get calls to “Take a few games off”. Really? You mean some of the games may be fixed and that star players suck sometimes, because they’re told to?”

    I think the implication was that they were forced to sit, due to concerns about overdoing it against certain teams… sorta like Pop’s patent method, over the last few seasons.

    Of course, Shaq’s bizarro context about how he was “told to sit out” while in Los Angeles whenever they played the Jazz… didn’t exactly make a whole hell of a lot of sense. The implication seemed to be that he was too club-footed to understand their bread-and-butter pick-and-roll (Or maybe he was just shaken by the physical menace of Greg Ostertag), so management figured that he was a liability if he played.

    Which… is just dumb. And weird. And the fact that Kenny and Chuck took him to task for not just learning the damn play was pretty spot-on, too.

  • 22 Michael Schwartz // Apr 20, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    @Steve Last year that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Last year at this time Gortat was all but offering to be Nash’s personal valet if he would stay in Phoenix. I don’t know what’s happened behind the scenes recently between the two after some of the crucial dropped passes. I know Nash hasn’t exactly been thrilled about that, but from what I’ve seen in the locker room Gortat is very much a part of this team and I have no reason to believe there’s any rift between him and Nash.

  • 23 Scott // Apr 20, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    @Al -

    I think the idea was not so much to take whole games off, but to play fewer minutes. That is, to not be “the man” for that game. The coaches probably had to offer rationalizations, or occasionally the truth, to their stars, to get them to play fewer minutes against teams where they were less effective.

    If Shaq was significantly exploitable by the Jazz, then sure Jackson would have Shaq sit more minutes, or have him play off the bench due to an “injury.”

  • 24 steve // Apr 20, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    @Michael – That’s good to hear. I think it’s crucial for a team to get along, and it’s especially a team that is often outgunned.

    I have no doubt that Gortat loves Nash. Who wouldn’t love someone who fed them 5 easy buckets every game? Nash, however, is very difficult for me to read, in comparison to Gortat. The amount of complaining Nash has done this year about being outgunned, not having talent, etc., wouldn’t have sat well with me if I were on the team having to listen to Steve Nash tell the world that I’m not a good enough player for him… I *think* Nash was trying to get management’s attention, but on the other hand I highly doubt he’d be so blunt if he was completely happy with his teammates.

  • 25 JAY // Apr 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    @ Grover I agree with you about Gortat. The reason why Gortat prefers to take a jump shot instead of driving to the basket is because he is nervous someone will strip the ball from his hands. A prime example was in this last game against the Clippers. In the 4th, Gortat was baseline and chose to drive to the basket but he swing his arms too much and I believe it was Mo Williams that strip the ball from him for a turnover. He is also a center that has an easier time getting blocked by guards. I saw it when Watson blocked his pass and saw it again when he tried to dunk against the clippers, but got blocked/fouled by Bledsoe at the rim. Gortat is able to have double digit rebounding nights, but that is something that a starting center should be able to do. If Steve leaves Gortat’s scoring will decrease even if his rebounding doesn’t. Take a look at Gortat’s scoring in the games Nash did not play (February 14-15, March 15) or even the spurs game last weekend where he played less minutes than his average. Bottom line, Gortat is a streaky shooter. I’d personally take Pau Gasol over Gortat any day.
    This off season the FO should aim to trade Gortat and Childress to Milwaukee for Ellis and Ilyasova and draft a Center instead of a point guard. Tyler Zeller, Meyers Leonard, or Fab Melo would be fine picks for this draft. This upcoming free agency is going to be filled with point guards. Telfair will be gone as some other team will pay him a mid-level/multi contract for back up minutes. I prefer it for suns to keep Aaron Brooks and let Telfair walk.
    This offseason will be extremely exciting as a Suns fan.

  • 26 Grover // Apr 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    What really concerns me about Gortat right now is the lack of confidence. You can see him hesitate when he gets the ball, or when he blows an easy shot he talks to himself in a way you can tell he’s disappointing himself. It’s a downward spiral as the more unsure of himself he becomes, the more he hesitates and the more mistakes he makes, which just increases his confidence problem. Somebody needs to get in front of him and figure out how to get him playing his game again.

    Of course the best way to pick up a player’s confidence is to have blogs with dozens of posts a day discussing the player’s lack of performance, right? Glad we could help.

  • 27 PennyAnd1 // Apr 20, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    About Nash & Gortat? It’s plain simple guys, Nash has grown frustrated over Gortat’s lack of growth. It’s nearly 66 games, and Nash has done more than enough, giving his patience & even committing so much turnovers just so Gortat can get use to the p-n-r. To think he’d learn by now..and about 3 weeks ago he was doing good, but all of the sudden Gortat has regressed to being himself. If you were Nash how could you not get frustrated, especially during this time of the season. It just goes to tell you that Gortat is not taking his preparations or practice seriously, and by doing that he disrespects the game. If you think I wrong just listen to his excuses “I guess I was just wasn’t ready tonight (the loss to T-Wolves), “I was just too relaxed..missing easy layups (loss to OKC)”, and it goes on and on…. I also hate his body language.

    @Steve

    “Some at-the-rim finishers (in percent):
    Gortat: 73
    Duncan: 62
    Bynum: 73
    Howard: 74
    Gasol: 67
    Fat Gasol: 69
    Chandler: 76
    Nene: 65
    LeBron: 75
    Amare: 69″

    Again stats can be deceiving. Remember most, if not all, these guys were not baby-feed like Nash has done for Gortat. Reason why Gortat has a high percentage was due to 80% help from Nash, setting him up. Gortat also lacks turnovers because he won’t catch the ball he was intended to catch, giving the turnover to Nash or the other players trying to feed him. And during pressure he just panics and is nowhere to be found. Stats are deceiving.

  • 28 steve // Apr 20, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    I don’t care if there’s a post entry pass or penetration to get to the rim… the method of getting there doesn’t really matter. Finishing at the rim is often just as difficult if it’s assisted as it is if it’s unassisted. What’s easier to make, a driving dunk when no one challenges or an alley oop? And on the other hand, what’s easier to make, a contested driving layup or a contested layup off a pass?

    An assisted basket is not necessarily any easier (or harder) than an unassisted basket. That’s a complete misconception. Assisted baskets can range the whole scale in terms of difficulty, just as unassisted baskets can. The degree of difficulty of a shot has nothing to do with being assisted or unassisted.

    One thing that is true is that isolation buckets are MUCH harder to come by than any other kind. But if you can find me one person in the league who can score as often or more often in isolation as they can in the flow of a team offense, I’ll bake you a cookie.

    Your quest to find a way to prove Gortat is as bad as you falsely believe he is baffles me. You’re just not right on this one.

  • 29 steve // Apr 20, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    “Stats are deceiving”

    I loved that last line.

    When someone develops a statistical method of analysis with the intention of proving their premise, then yes, that can be misleading. Stats can be manipulated to say a lot of things, and obviously no single stat tells the entire story. But in my internet thesis I have written to defend Gortat’s honor, I haven’t just focused on any one stat. I have brought up 10-20 different stats (traditional and advanced) to show that by any metric we have, Gortat is a quality player, and among the best of the second tier of centers in the NBA (which was my argument all along. I never wanted to pretend he is Dwight Howard or Tim Duncan).

    If one stat showed that Gortat was among that class… sure, I could see how someone could find reasonable ground to stand against that claim. If 3 stats showed that Gortat was in that class, I could understand someone trying to fight that claim… If EVERY stat there is shows that he’s in that class, no one with a shred of objectivity could say anything besides, “Every piece of evidence there is suggests that Marcin Gortat is among the group of centers ranked somewhere around 3-8 in the NBA, so he must be that good.”

    I can’t think of any logical reason to oppose every single metric known to man and try to pretend as if you know better. One metric. Sure. A handful of metrics. Maybe. 10-20? That’s where I start to doubt your objectivity/sanity.

  • 30 Suns Critic // Apr 20, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Whats happened to the THOR in Thortat? He is settling for his jumper too much and isnt being forceful on the offensive end. In the 1st he had a wide open lane but decided to take the jumpshot and missed. At the end he goes for a layup and gets blocked by foye! Take that ball in 2 hands and stuff it!!! Fropez is showing more ups right now and Gortat looks like he can’t jump as Lopez couldn’t when he had his back injury.

  • 31 Rich Anthony, (KJL) // Apr 20, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Heavy is the head that wears the crown.

    That can’t be more true as I read through this thread. You guys want to know what’s wrong with Gortat? Dude is TIRED.

    This is, really, his rookie season in the league. Kind of like a red-shirt freshman.

    He did nothing in Orlando, really. Even when he did play he was asked to defend and board. He had no real offensive responsibilities.

    Fast-forward to now, and not only is he asked to rebound, (which he does well), and defend, (which he does well), but he’s also asked to be THE GUY on offense. He’s asked to be the tip of Nash’s spear.

    He logs major minutes and to top it all off, he has to do it in a compressed 66-game season.

    He has to perform when everybody in the building knows he’s about to get the ball… Eh, enough.

    I have no problems with THORTAT!?!?! Especially remembering how many passes STAT fumbled and how many times he got stripped attacking the basket. If you’re THE GUY in this Nash-driven offense, those issues are going to be magnified because you ALWAYS have the ball and the attention that goes with it.

    I’m sorry, but Gortat’s growth over this short period of time has been tremendous.

    You guys should be more angry over how Channing Frye can’t shoot for 6 games at a time or how Shannon Brown is just bad.

    Should be more upset over RoLo not being able to do what Gortat does when he has been basically gift-wrapped the opportunity year in and year out.

    Should be talking about how the team just flows better with Chily in and G-Hill out or how IMPORTANT Telfair has been to this playoff run.

    Out there, in crunch time, guarding Chris Paul so Steve Nash doesn’t get eviscerated by CP3 and we can actually win the game.

    Gortat should not be getting such negative press. It’s absurd.

  • 32 Michael Schwartz // Apr 20, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    @Steve Good point, I only mentioned that Gortat portion of the equation. Nash is difficult to read because he’s so unyieldingly positive and supportive on one hand but then went on Dan Patrick and spouted off about needing better players. I do find it interesting that that barely made a ripple (so far as I know) in the locker room, and I think it’s because Nash is so clearly right and everyone knows it. Of course this team needs a more talented cast to win big!

    Who knows how frustrated Nash has grown with Gortat’s fumble-itis, but let me offer up one more stat for those who like them. According to Synergy, Gortat ranks 9th in the entire league by averaging 1.21 points per play out of the pick and roll. Last year in Phoenix he was 10th at 1.23. For comparison’s sake, Amare scored 1.21 ppp as a roll man in 2009-10 in Phoenix with Nash, so although Nash deserves a whopping chunk of the credit for those numbers, Gortat is unequivocally an elite pick and roll player.

    We all know his limitations and why he’s not a top tier center but for a guy on a mid-level contract who was a complete unknown when he was acquired, we really can’t complain. After all, look at the production of the Suns’ other mid-level guys.

  • 33 Tony // Apr 20, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    @Steve,

    Please answer this, do you think Nash has earned the right to criticize the Suns front office? In other words, you claim if you were a Suns player and Nash publicly mentioned the team’s lack of talent, that he thereby disrespected you? Are you telling us, the likes of Dudley, Frye, Lopez, Gortat, Brown, Telfair, Price, and Hill are really in the elite category in terms of talent? Brown, Dudley, and Frye on most teams would never be starters and yet, they are with the Suns. Nash has earned the right to criticize the lack of talent on this team especially because with each passing season, Sarver and Co. reduces the talent level of the team. Imagine, if you were in Nash’s position, in which each season you see your good friends and talented players replaced with the likes of Warrick, Childress, Frye, and Dudley. Don’t you think you would be pissed off, especially since you are competing for a championship.

    @Rich,

    fatigue has nothing to do with Gortat’s struggles. Come on, what a lame excuse. Gortat’s struggles are explicitly mental. As last night’s game illustrated, he plays well for 3 quarters and then the 4th comes along and he shrinks in the pressure. Even Frye was able to post Paul and score on him and yet, when Gortat had the same situation, he went for a soft hook shot when he should have dunked right over tiny Paul. This had nothing to do with fatigue.

    Gortat is just a soft player and will never be a go to player or even a player a team can depend on in 4th quarters.

  • 34 Tony // Apr 20, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    @Brandon,

    I have to warn you, on this site are some of the last bastion of pro-Sarver supporters. They me be a small minority, but they are a fiercly loyal bunch, albeit completely brainwashed and so staunchly supportive of Sarver, that no amount of facts will convince them of Sarver’s ineptitude and harm he has done to the Suns franchise. Their cultish appreciation for him is baffling, so it’s pointless to attempt to persuade them of the truth, that Robert Sarver has been and will continue to be in the top-3 worst owners in the NBA.

  • 35 Scott // Apr 20, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    I don’t think Steve is upset with any of the players on the roster. I don’t think he’s mad at Gortat or anybody. His frustration stems from not having a better solution to use to help his team win.

    He knows passing to Gortat will only work for 14-20 points, generally speaking. He also knows it is unlikely to work during crunch time. He knew this last year. But he doesn’t have a lot of other options.

    He tries to work with what he’s got. He just doesn’t have access to a better solution.

  • 36 steve // Apr 20, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    Any player has an ego whether it’s reasonable or not. If I am the worst player on the team and my team captain calls the players out for their lack of talent, you better believe he’s going to regret saying that at the next practice…

    Have you ever played a sport? Team captains do NOT disrespect their teammates publicly if they intend to keep their favor… Not even two-time can get away with that, in my book.

    And there are no pro-sarver folks here, to my knowledge. Scott and I have argued against your blind hatred the most in the past, but it’s not because we like him, it’s just to provide a voice of reason. Even you must see that your views on sarver are completely biased and subjective, and you know about as much of his day to day responsibilities as you know about the POTUS’s favorite ethnic food dish.

  • 37 steve // Apr 20, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    Also, you constantly bash frye and dudley, then refer to the glory days of when the suns were competing dorm championships… Do you not remember frye and dudley were on the nash team that got as close as any other to reaching the finals? Frye and dudley were HUGE parts of that.

    Try to be reasonable, and better yet, try to say one positive thing about your “favorite” team without spewing some negative garbage along with it.

  • 38 Daniel // Apr 20, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    @ PennyAnd1 @ anyone else who is looking closely at what Gortat says to determine his mental focus/toughness. We have to all remember English is his second language. I can read and speak some Polish. When I hear him speaking on Polish radio shows and read through his Facebook posts (written in Polish), I don’t get any of the same context/meaning from his statements about “not being ready” or “too relaxed”. Stuff like this isn’t as noticeable with other foreign players like Nowitzki because his English is better. But listening to some of Gortat’s interviews in English, you’ll pick up on it being a little bit off at times.
    Michael Schwartz, Rich Anthony, and Steve probably have Gortat right. He’s a solid upper tier center but not a consistent outright all-star level player. He’s on a mid-level contract making a little more than Childress, for the money, he’s an Awesome Bang for the Buck Center.

  • 39 Michael Schwartz // Apr 20, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    @Daniel I’m with you on the lost in translation thing. I was there for the “too relaxed” interview, which came after the OKC game, and from the way he said it I don’t think it’s anything that should be read into further than the fact he was expressing he played a bad game.

  • 40 Brian C. // Apr 21, 2012 at 8:43 am

    @steve
    Are you Gortat’s agent??? I watch the SUNS games religiously and analyze a lot of what the players do on the court. I won’t say much about Gortat’s disappointements b/c they’ve been mentioned numberous times above. I just think if he learned from his mistakes (like playing stronger in the paint) during the season he wouldn’t be bashed as much. Plus, don’t try to make an excuse for him when he himself puts the pressure on by talking too much!~ He’s a good player and OF COURSE we should cheer for him to do well. So when he doesn’t do the things what we think he NEEDS TO DO, then he’s gonna get bashed so calm down and I think you need to look at why fans are negative about him as well. HOPEFULLY he can develop his game next year and become that strong #2 to Nash…REMEMBER, he said that he and Nash are THE BEST 1-2 COMBO IN THE GAME! LET’S PROVE IT YO!!! GO SUNS AND FOLLOW NASH’S LEAD!!!~

  • 41 Tony // Apr 21, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Steve, Steve, Steve! I have nothing against Dudley or Frye. Of course they were a part of the last of the very good Suns teams. But you know what? They were playing in their proper roles, coming off them bench! Both are terrific bench players, but neither should be a starter.

    As far as Nash is concerned, is he supposed to be blind or lie and claim his teammates are the most talented in the NBA? This Suns team, out of every Suns team Nash has been on, has the least talent of any of them and is easily in the top 3 least talented teams in the league. He’s not disrespecting his team by stating the obvious.

    As far as Sarver is concerned, of course you are a staunch Sarver supporter. You falsely equate arguing one side that Sarver is a horrible owner as not being reasonable. Yet, by any objective standard, he’s done such a poor job. Give me some evidence that Sarver has done anything good to improve this franchise…

  • 42 Sebastian Telfair is the Suns' forgotten man in a summer of turnover // Sep 1, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    [...] an example from an April 20 game against the Los Angeles Clippers, one of the most pivotal of the season. In the final minute of the game, Telfair was playing [...]

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