Preview: New Orleans Hornets (3-7) at Phoenix Suns (5-7)


Phoenix Suns 111, New Orleans Hornets 108 OT

Hornets

Suns

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns will host a struggling New Orleans Hornets team Friday night as they attempt to build on their best game of the year with their new rotation.

This very well may have been the best time to implement such a change with two relatively easy home games following a three-day break after a brutal week of games in which the old starters got waxed.

I went into depth on how well the lineup worked in the Blazers recap, but essentially every Sun was in the positives of plus/minus and both the starters and reserves gained ground on Portland.

Markieff Morris looked like a different player with the first unit, and the floor was spaced better for Marcin Gortat in the new starting lineup.

In theory it makes sense for Luis Scola to anchor the bench as the go-to guy in that unit, but it did not happen too much on Wednesday as he took just five shots and dished one assist in 18:37. Michael Beasley was not much of a factor in 18:56, but 12 games in Suns fans are already plenty used to his inconsistency.

Especially now that some starter-caliber players are on the bench and vice versa, I expect Gentry to coach even more by feel. If Scola is rolling, he might play upper 30s to 40 minutes as he did in his standout performance against the Bulls, and same for Beasley. If Dudley ever gets back on track he could take time away from Brown, so it kind of feels like the “starter” designation is really just a title at this point for the Suns with the team seemingly intent on putting together the best units rather than starting its five best individual players.

Jared Dudley thought he was going to be the team’s main leader before the season, yet he’s turned into a player who really seems to miss Steve Nash instead. Dudley scored just four points on five shots in 20:27 as a reserve on Wednesday and on the season he’s averaging a mere 8.1 points on 42.6 percent shooting after putting up a career-high 12.7 on 48.5 percent marksmanship last year.

“We’ve got to find a way to get JD more shots, to try to manufacture some more shots for him,” Gentry said. “As a shooter, getting five shots, six shots, sometimes you have to get in a rhythm. He does need to have more touches and more shots. Maybe playing with that unit defensively they might come up with more steals to get him a couple easy baskets.”

Gortat broke out with more points on Wednesday (22) than he had scored in his previous three games, but Meyers Leonard was so bad defensively he got called out by his coach after the contest. He will be facing a slightly more motivated opponent with Robin Lopez coming to town for the first time since this offseason’s trade.

Lopez is coming off one of the more interesting games he’s ever played. He scored 21 points, pulled down 13 boards and came up with four blocks and two steals, but he missed 14 of 17 field goals and needed 15-of-17 free throw shooting to get those stats. No, that is not a misprint. Yes, I’m still writing about Robin Lopez.

Lopez did a solid job filling in for Anthony Davis when he was out with a concussion and for the season is averaging 11.2 points and a Lopez-like 5.8 rebounds a game. Lopez will likely be out to prove to the Suns they made a mistake trading him, and Gortat will have plenty of motivation going against his former sparring partner who he has noted is not exactly Dwight Howard.

The Hornets have lost five in a row after a 3-2 start, and star guard Eric Gordon (knee) still has not played a game since the Hornets matched the max offer sheet the Suns signed Gordon to over the offseason.

With a looming six-game road trip starting Sunday, this is the kind of home game against a bad team the Suns can’t afford to drop.

And 1

I joined Hornets247′s “In the NO Podcast” to talk Gordon and preview the game.

Tags: Jared Dudley Robin Lopez

  • Scott

    A non sequitur, but to follow up on Brandon Roy, he has stage III arthritis in his knees, and the next step is stage IV, which requires a knee replacement.

    —-

    So, Lopez scored 21 pts, got 13 rebounds, blocked 4 shots, and snagged 2 steals?

    Good for him. I’m guessing his stats are better when Davis isn’t in the lineup …?

  • Victor

    Suns really need to either tank or pick up a STAR player… I believe that if we get a start player (i.e Harden type of player) we wouldn’t need to tank, and we could in fact make it to the playoffs..

  • suns68

    The Suns need to get on an upward trajectory to attract a star player. Tanking just creates a loser mentality and you generally can’t trade no one for someone.

    If they continue to play like the did in the Portland game, we’ll develop a reputation as a program on the rise and things will get better.

  • Michael

    @Suns68:

    When talking about a Sarver-team, you cannot connect the words “reputation, program, rise” to a meaningful statement.

  • Harry

    Michael,

    I listened to the podcast with the Hornets at H247. Surprised you were willing to give up Gortat for Gordon, even though you did change at the end.

    Question on what could be a real trade. Gortat, Marshall and the pick obtained in the Lopez trade to OKC for Perkins, Lamb and the Toronto pick they have. Might work for both teams. I don’t think Gortat is traded from the recent hubbub (as it already seems in the past) but if so, what do you think?

    Also, every Suns fan who wants to tank should be required to listen to it. Your counterparts, while funny, weren’t exactly upbeat on their team. Losing for years on end sucks.

  • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

    @Harry I’m kind of surprised I was willing to give up Gortat at first, too! Being that the Suns are not allowed to acquire Gordon per league rules due to the failed offer sheet attempt, I was kind of thrown off the by the question. At the end of the day, I probably would put Gortat in the right Gordon deal because I kind of think trading him in a deal for a young impact player is the best future course with him. At the same time, obviously I would do all I could not to throw him in such a deal.

    That’s interesting but I probably wouldn’t throw in both Marshall and the pick if I’m the Suns. I could see OKC trying to package some of its assets in a win-now kind of trade and Lamb/Toronto pick would be a nice haul for the Suns. OKC probably won’t be able to afford Gortat so the question is how much would they be willing to give up for a year and a half rental?

  • Bill-in-Tokyo

    Let’s see what happens in the next couple of games before we declare victory and withdraw. If this is a brillant move by supervisory management, then the Hornets are toast. This game will test the basic hypothesis that this new scheme worked.

  • Melon Man

    Trade Gortat!

  • Melon Man

    Wish we would have drafted Parsons over Morris. Parsons is a real beast!

  • Russell

    Parsons was drafted in the 2nd round, the Suns could have drafted both Morris and Parsons…

    Matter fact Parsons (since he was a 2nd rounder) will be a free agent this summer, the suns should trade Beasley and sign Parsons in the summer. Also trade Gortat to the Hornets for Eric Gordon maybe in the summer 2013.

  • Scott

    If Gentry doesn’t trust Tucker over Beasley by now, I don’t know what’s in his head.

  • Melon Man

    Ok Morris was a beast again too. I still stand by trading Gortat though. Maybe we can trade him to NO for Anderson and the Hornets can keep taking our mediocre centers.

  • bill.thomas

    @Melon Man: We could have had both if we hadn’t thrown in the Orlando pick with the already foolish Brooks trade. Dragic and a first round pick for a guy who can’t keep his drawers on would only appeal to Babby.

    Guess what Lon, its not that easy to establish a law practice at your age with your public track record.

    Good luck !!!!!!!!!!!

  • bill.thomas

    @ Harry: Why would ANYBODY want Perkins ???????????

  • john

    Yawn. You haters are ridiculous.

    Awesome game tonight. The vibe at the arena was great. JO and Tucker were beastly.

  • m.i.milliman

    @ bill.thomas The trade that Harry purposed was more for Lamb than anything… I hope.

    anyway, I’ve been saying trade Gortat since last year. I don’t hate him, I just think he’s their best trade piece, but what do I know, I wanted them to trade Gortat and keep Lopez.

    Looks like this roster change is helping. Looking like Alvin knows what he’s doing.

  • Harry

    Re: the trade. Yes, a big part of it is to get Lamb as the Suns need a SG. Perkins is needed as the Suns almost have to get a center back. Honestly, though, the Toronto pick is probably the most valuable asset.

    I’m not much a trade guy so I just threw this out there. I think it’s something that could help both clubs as the Thunder could use a PG and Gortat could be an upgrade. Would depend which Gortat they get. Good Gortat or bad Gortat.