Preview: Phoenix Suns (12-25) at Brooklyn Nets (20-15)

Posted by on January 11th, 9:52 am

Brooklyn Nets 99, Phoenix Suns 79

Suns

Suns

Nets

Nets

This brutal stretch of the season continues for the Suns.

Playing four road games in five nights is as bad as it gets in the NBA. Given Phoenix’s struggles both on the road and in the second night of back-to-backs, this road trip is truly worst case scenario for a team which has lost 10 of its last 11 games. The Suns make their first-ever trip to the Barclays Center to take on a Brooklyn squad playing very well at the moment.

The Nets are currently riding a four game win streak in the wake of Avery Johnson’s firing. Whether the team is playing better under interim Coach P.J. Carlesimo or simply basking in the glory of Johnson’s absence is still unclear. Either way, Brooklyn is firing on all cylinders right now as they prepare to host a Suns team playing their worst basketball in a decade.

Over the last 11 games, not much has gone the Suns’ way. They’ve been inconsistent and completely incapable of playing hard for all 48 minutes. They’ve suffered through long stretches of ice-cold shooting, defensive lapses, sloppy ball handling, and poor bench play. That last one has been the most detrimental. The reserves have been downright awful as of late. In the game against Boston on Wednesday night, the bench had a plus/minus of -60 in only 52 minutes on the court. Looking at that stat for a single game can be misleading, but the same group was -58 the night before in Milwaukee. The starters have not been stellar by any means, but the bench has got to step up and be competitive.

Tonight they’ll face one of the deepest bench units in the league. The Nets have 11 players who average more than 10 minutes per game. While Brooklyn’s starters all the well-paid headliners, it’s their bench that sets them apart. The Nets’ reserves have scored an average of 44 points per game over the last three contests. Leading the way for this unit is forward Andray Blatche, who has completely turned his career around in his first season with the Nets. Blatche has averaged 16 points and 10 boards over the last three games. Markieff Morris and/or Luis Scola will certainly have their hands full with him.

As for the starting matchups, the key for the Suns defensively will be containing the Nets’ big three of Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, and Brook Lopez. This trio scores well over 50% of their team’s points and has been playing their best basketball of the season since P.J. Carlesimo took over on December 28th. Brook Lopez is averaging 22 points per game over the last seven. Joe Johnson had 33 points in the win over the Thunder that kicked off this streak. And Deron Williams has shot over 60% in the last two outings. Joe Johnson is currently fighting an illness and is a game-time decision for tonight’s game.

Marcin’s Gortat’s ability to defend Lopez will be key to this game. Lopez is a highly effective scorer, but a very poor rebounder. Marcin must stay out of foul trouble and keep Lopez off the glass. On the perimeter, the Suns cannot allow Brooklyn open looks from downtown. Brooklyn is tied for 10th in the NBA in 3-pointers made. Giving up easy looks from beyond the arc has been Phoenix’s downfall all year long. If the Nets start raining from deep, this game could get ugly in a hurry.

Offensively, the Suns must attack the Nets in the paint. Kris Humphries, Lopez, and Reggie Evans are nothing more than average defenders. Scola and Gortat must look to score early and often. Likewise, Shannon Brown and Goran Dragic must penetrate and get Brooklyn’s defense back on their heels for the Suns to have a chance in this one.

Ryan Weisert

Ryan Weisert is a staff writer for ValleyoftheSuns. You can also find him at his sports and pop culture blog Spectavius.com.

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Tags: Brooklyn Nets · Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns Preview

41 responses so far ↓

  • 1 john // Jan 11, 2013 at 9:57 am

    Not really related to the game…

    Does anyone else think Brooklyn’s logo is hideous? It lacks anything resembling what I would call character. Even though I don’t like the current Suns logo very much, I have to say the Nets logo is much worse.

  • 2 SHAZAM // Jan 11, 2013 at 10:01 am

    @ john youre a world class dick for accusing some one with out a speck of evidence of doing something they didnt do..you owe me an apology..for all i know it was you…ask michael he knows where comments originate..be careful dude..that sucks

  • 3 john // Jan 11, 2013 at 10:04 am

    @SHAZAM

    Sorry for accusing you.

    Btw, isn’t your entire point of being on this site to make radical, out-of-left-field comments that could sometimes be offensive out of “humor” because you don’t want to take this Suns team too seriously given their current state of futility. And, if that were the case, wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that someone who often posts offensive, over-exaggerated comments and doesn’t take this seriously would be willing to change his posting “name” to something of that nature?

    Tell me honestly, how often do you post as something other than “Shazam?”

  • 4 SHAZAM // Jan 11, 2013 at 10:15 am

    dude being nazis crosses a line for me ..have i been alter egos for wind up or comedy?..hell yes…thanks for the apology the rest of your missive is just dribble to make you look or feel better about your actions…you are the eugene mcarthy of vots ..but i still like your takes on b ball so im going to drop it

  • 5 SHAZAM // Jan 11, 2013 at 10:20 am

    oh i get it i posted as the real lon babby a few times..that was obvious it was me…i also posted as ladmo once big deal..”dig me up and put me in coach”..others do joke alter egos as well..i dont have time to be all of them or the most offensive that we have already mentioned..you just shouldnt have point blank accused me for stuff i didnt do…maybe dance with the words..give my history and ask the question is it shazam?..then i could have explained in a less pissed off way that it wasn’t

  • 6 john // Jan 11, 2013 at 10:25 am

    @Shazam

    It’s not to make me feel better. I have no problem admitting I am wrong. I was wrong to accuse you. Admitting I was wrong allows me to change my ways. It’s an opportunity for growth, not a condemnation to failure. So again, no problem admitting I’m wrong.

  • 7 john // Jan 11, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Agreed. I won’t let it happen again.

  • 8 ClashBoogy // Jan 11, 2013 at 11:13 am

    @john. In regards to your comment about nets logo. I actually like it. I think the whole less is more Oprah worked for them. I think it’s tough looking too with the whole raiders color scheme.

    I found this quote online from an artist/graphic designer who blogged: “Now let’s talk for a minute about the new Brooklyn Nets identity. At first I wasn’t a fan of the logo. It felt almost too simple. The ‘B’ didn’t seem to fit well. But after some more examination and viewing of the alternate logos…I LOVE this new identity. Jay-Z had a big hand in designing this stuff and I applaud him for it. The black and white color scheme is great and the simplicity of the logo is pure greatness. The outline of the logo, which I used in the wallpaper, is a cool marketing tactic and a shape people could easily identify with the Nets. I can’t wait to see the uniforms.”

    Of coarse we are all entitled to our opinion. Just thought IDE respond since your post was more interesting g then this suns season. LOL

  • 9 john // Jan 11, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Haha, fair enough. Things like logos are definitely hit or miss with certain people. The Nets one is just a big miss for me. When I saw them wearing their black unis a couple days ago, I honestly thought they were wearing practice jerseys for a minute. :)

  • 10 dick t // Jan 11, 2013 at 11:58 am

    The owners of the Suns have completly desrtoyed this team.As a former season ticket holder for 36 years I feel I am qualfied to speak.We no longer have real basketball people running the team. Lon Babby is a criminal defense lawyer. Lance Banks played a couple of years. We need to build from within. WHO IS SCOUTING THE COLLEGE TEAMS?We wont make the playoffs again so lets keep on getting players like headcase Michael Beasley.

  • 11 azbballfan // Jan 11, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    I agree with the post above me.

    I will point out though that even though things look really bad right now, there are some silver linings going on

    The fact that the Suns caught Channing Frye heart problem on a treadmill in training camp and he didnt die tragically in a game is something we all need to be thankful for

    P.J. Tucker has turned out to be a great addition to the team.

    Suns Charities is great

    None of our players have problems off the court like the Jailblazers a few years ago

    everyone on the suns team seems to be a standup person, and i think every one just wants to win

    Of course it looks like the front office and ownership cant agree on how to do that

    I always end up having fun at suns home games, even if i dont agree with how the team is ran and they get blown out by 40 on the road

    The Suns may be in ruins from a talent perspective but that doenst mean it will always be that way

  • 12 DBreezy // Jan 11, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    You’re getting old azbbalfan!(jk) The Jaliblazers were more than just a few years ago. Z-Bo and the recently returned Sheed are the only two left in he league I believe. Sheed never really qualified IMO as he didn’t really get in trouble, he’s just a bear with the media and refs. Z-Bo has played with 3 teams since then and hasn’t been in trouble since he left POR afaik. Long live Ruben Patterson, Bonzi Wells, Qyntel Woods, and Darius Miles!

  • 13 Scott // Jan 11, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Sometimes people ask, “What would you do if you were GM?” So here are my main thoughts on the subject …

    I keep hoping the Suns can work out a trade with Orlando.

    Orlando has the same number of wins as the Suns, mainly due to injuries to their veteran players. They have talented young players, but the young guys aren’t experienced enough to produce wins, and next year they’ll end up buried behind the vets. I believe there’s incentive to trade.

    A trade I’d like to see would be:

    Gortat + Morris
    for
    Vucevic + Nicholson + Harkless + the 2015 pick from the Sixers

    I don’t know if the Magic would be willing to do that. I know the Orlando press considers this season gone and is now looking at the developing young talent. But – aside from injuries – their roster is jammed with veterans with more years on their contracts, and Orlando will be getting more picks. So it might make sense to trade these young assets to get a veteran center, a versatile front court guy, and plan to run with a veteran team next season.

    As for the Suns, I think they need to stockpile young talent and regrow that way.

    If the Suns were to make the above trade with Orlando, then I would be fine with doing a trade with Memphis of Dudley for Gay, like this:

    Dudley to Memphis
    Beasley to Charlotte
    Diop to Memphis
    Gay to Phoenix

    That would give the Suns a starting lineup of: Dragic, Tucker, Gay, Scola, and O’Neal, with subs of Telfair, Brown, Harkless, Nicholson, and Vucevic. On the bench would be Marshall, Garrett, Johnson, and Zeller.

    In the offseason, the Suns would take on up to 3 first round draft picks, probably trade Scola (preferably to the Celtics for Sullinger), and drop O’Neal, Telfair, and Johnson.

    The only large salaries would be for Gay, Dragic, and Frye, so the Suns might have room for another veteran contract, if desired.

    As far as the draft goes, aside from “best player” considerations, the Suns would be looking primarily for a top-notch SG (though Gay can play both wing spots), and secondarily for a C. Not knowing where the Suns would pick and who would be available, and who might have off-the-charts potential, etc., at this point I’d take Archie Goodwin (probably a mid-to-late lottery pick) and Gorgui Dieng at C (currently projected as a late first rounder).

    As for the team’s head coach, I would replace Gentry with Nate McMillan.

    Frye would come back next season and say, “All right. Dragic I remember, but who are the rest of you guys?”

    And that concludes my day at fantasy GM camp. :)

  • 14 azbballfan // Jan 11, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Yeah i am old, i get my games on something called a radio!

    I think everyone expected the Suns to struggle, and i dont think anyone thought that the team would look this bad or that the beasley experiment would turn out the way it has after only like 45 games.

    I see Garrett was sent down to Bakersfield, does that mean Marshall gets some minutes tonight?

  • 15 Scott // Jan 11, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    ^^ Probably no one needs a guide to this, but … ^^

    Wilhelm Frick (12 March 1877 – 16 October 1946) was a prominent German politician of the Nazi Party, who served as Reich Minister of the Interior in the Hitler Cabinet from 1933 to 1943.[1] After the end of World War II, he was tried for war crimes at the Nuremberg Trials and executed.

    Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel[1] (15 November 1891 – 14 October 1944), popularly known as the Desert Fox (Wüstenfuchs, About this sound listen (help·info)), was a German Field Marshal of World War II. He won the respect of both his own troops and the enemies he fought.

  • 16 azbballfan // Jan 11, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Those are good trade ideas Scott

    I wish the Suns would make a decision on how they want to develop Morris

    If the Suns acquired Scola to win now, i dont really understand why they drafted Morris if hes gonna get 20 minutes a game.

    Its really hard to both win and develop talent at the same time

    And if you do it only halfway you end up with unhappy veterans and young guys going “what did i do wrong’

  • 17 Cody // Jan 11, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    I’m sorry but Williams hasn’t been good for awhile, and most pgs have struggled with really getting going on Dragic, he’s not the greatest pg defensively but he’s decent, he does need to get better fighting through screens because that’s what killed him against Jennings, but he’s actually done a good job defending, at least I think. But I would really like to see us let Marshall get some playing time because to be honest I’m not a fan of Telfair. I really hope we don’t let another bench player come in. and destroy us like we’ve done the past couple games

  • 18 azbballfan // Jan 11, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    Hey Scott

    Who is Gorgui Dieng?

    that name sounds familiar do you think he will turn out better than, say Lopez?

  • 19 Tony // Jan 11, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    @Cody,

    most opposing pgs have struggled against Dragic???? Come on, I know you’re Dragic’s #1 fan, but how about some objectivity? Now I’m not saying he gets destroyed every game, but against most opposing talented pgs, he’s struggled mightily. In tonight’s game, I’m expecting him to get into foul trouble early, sit on the bench a majority of the time while the game is still semi-competitive and then return and pad his stats when the game’s basically over. This is often what happens to him against opposing pgs whom have a score-first mentality.

  • 20 Tony // Jan 11, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    To the VOTS staff,

    isn’t there anyway to restrict user name’s on this site to prevent people from posting with fake names or resorting to use infamous names intended to be disrespectful towards the rest of us? You’ll know how little of respect I have for Sarver and Babby, but it’s ridiculous for people to post on here pretending to be them.

    Thanks for taking my question and comments under consideration.

  • 21 Keith // Jan 11, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Maybe there’s a way to put certain names that can’t be used as a screen name?

  • 22 Scott // Jan 11, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    @azbballfan -

    It’s hard to say if anyone will turn out to be better or worse than Robin Lopez, as that story is still being written.

    However, I can tell you what I do like about Dieng, whom I only know through his Draft Express profile. (Not to be confused with Luol Deng, of the Bulls.)

    http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Gorgui-Dieng-6219/

    He’s 6’11″ and 245 lbs, from Africa, and he’s not got much experience with basketball. That latter bit is why he’d be going late in the draft.

    On the plus side, he has a 7′ 6″ wingspan. He shoots 72% on FTs, which IIRC is better than what Morris did in college. In the pick and roll, he finishes with authority, though the rest of his offense is very raw.

    Scouts report he appears to have a good feel for the game, and he finds other ways to contribute when he isn’t scoring. He’s constantly moving off the ball, especially when shots go up. He has a nose for the ball and snags rebounds. He’s a decent passer. His main role is as a defender, where he’s learned to block and keep his fouls low. He anchors the #1 ranked defense (Louisville), and he’s mobile.

    In short … I wouldn’t be surprised if he climbs higher in the first round. Right now, Draft Express has him at #26.

    http://www.draftexpress.com/nba-mock-draft/2013/

    BTW, if anyone is interested in scouting players for the upcoming draft, Mike Schmitz (formerly of VotS) is already posting excellent draft videos on Draft Express.

  • 23 Robert Sarver // Jan 11, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    ^^ I agree! ^^

  • 24 Michael Schwartz // Jan 11, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Good stuff, Scott. Hopefully Schmitz will be able to help out with our pre-draft coverage once again next season.

  • 25 Cody // Jan 11, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Tony, he’s done decent is what I’m saying, he struggled big time against Westbrook defensively and against Jennings, but I’m saying for the most part he’s done a decent job disrupting opposing pgs, and against Memphis he did get all those garbage time buckets, but I just don’t think D-Will is gonna get back to his old form anytime soon, especially with a bad wrist hampering him, and I’m not his biggest fan just trying to be optimistic and trying to look for things he’s done well, I just feel he’s been a pest to opposing guards 1 on 1, but he still needs to get better, but then again so does this whole team, I notice how he gets lost and doesn’t fight around the screens. But I just don’t think he’s the worst pg as he’s portrayed on here

  • 26 Tony // Jan 11, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    @Cody,

    I agree with you about Williams not getting back to form anytime soon, but just because I’m expecting Williams to penetrate to the basket against Dragic’s 1 on 1 defense basically at will, I expect Gentry to be forced to sit Dragic because of foul trouble.

    I also agree that Dragic is not nearly as bad a pg as he’s portrayed by some crazies on this site. He definitely has talent, and his speed and athleticism make him tough to guard. As I said before, my biggest complaint with Dragic so far is that I haven’t seen any leadership or otherwise any ability to lead the team’s offense. Because he’s portrayed as the team’s best player, and especially because of his position as pg, it’s essential he becomes a leader. If he is unable to, then I cannot foresee how this team will be successful until they land a future franchise-caliber player to take that title as the team’s best player and leader.

    @Keith,

    Since I am by no means an expert about the functionality of the internet, so maybe it’s more difficult than I originally thought to restrict the ability of loonies from pretending to be other people. The real issue to me though is why would someone want to post pretending to be someone else??

  • 27 Cody // Jan 11, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Yea Tony I know I was honestly hoping for more from him because I went to a few games last year when he was with the Rockets and watched most games on League Pass, I saw him play a lot more freely than he does with Phoenix, and he was definitely the catalyst for how well they played, he showed better leadership then and I was really expecting to see that with Phoenix but he really looks like he’s frustrated and not playing as freely as before, and I know I shouldn’t look back but this guy was impressive as hell to be honest, just know that he’s got it in him, and that’s why I back him up, and I’ve seen games this season from him where I see him dominate, then there’s games where I feel he should have passed there or he should have scored there but I do feel he is a starter and I do feel he’s got things he needs to work on, just gotta ease up on him because listing takes a lot of confidence out of guys

  • 28 Cody // Jan 11, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    And by listing I meant losing…

  • 29 Geminid670 // Jan 11, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    @Azbballfan

    Thank you for your ‘silver lining’ post earlier. It’s nice to read an actual basketball related post on here without having to scroll down past the ‘Bills’ who drunkenly frequent this site.

    I jumped on board the Suns bandwagon way back befote Barkley and have watched as many ups and downs as this team has had.

    Win or lose I’ll always support tye Phoenix Suns. Let’s ask Sacramento if they would be willing to support a team in transition?

  • 30 cdubbb // Jan 11, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    Dude WHY IS SHANNON BROWN STILL ON THE COURT!!! Wtf Gentry!!! Ive supported Gentry fully up till the last couple games. He doesnt know what to do with this team, he is perplexed. Time for a new coach… next season at least.

  • 31 cdubbb // Jan 11, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    I really think we should try to get Jeremy Lamb… OKC would probably want to much for him though, Lamb is gonna be a stud bet on that.

  • 32 azbballfan // Jan 11, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    The Suns are down by 16 with about 5 minutes left in the 4th its not looking too good right now

    Hey Scott

    Theres a french player thats 7-1 that has a 7-9 wing span who could go in the late lottery

    He is really athletic and finishes with authority

    although of course, raw offensive skills what do you think of Rudy Gobert (i think thats his name)

  • 33 john // Jan 11, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    How did Kendall Marshall look in the last few minutes?

  • 34 Cody // Jan 11, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    Tony I will now proceed to shut up seeing how Dragic sucked it up tonight, 2nd half seems to always kill us, we play so slow and miss everything, our first halfs lately we always seem to play really well, but I will shut up for awhile until Dragic proves me right.

  • 35 cdubbb // Jan 11, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    If people are wanting to draft a big man.. nobody better then kelly olynyk from Gonzaga. Ive seen him play 4 games now and he is the real deal. If he enters the draft he should go top 15 IMO

  • 36 azbballfan // Jan 11, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    Suns lose by 20 after getting outscored by 27 in the 2nd half

    I was only listening to the radio at home, but could swear i could hear Alvin Gentrys teeth grinding

    and im just gonna stop right there

  • 37 Tony // Jan 11, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    @Cody

    haha, that’s too funny. But seriously, Dragic’s a good player but just doesn’t seem to know how to be a leader. Now that’s not to say he can’t develop into one, but as of now, I’m just not seeing it from him.

    I have no doubt that he will start playing well again, but it’s extremely unlikely he puts numbers like he did in Houston consistently. One of the things that you have to keep in mind is that when he was starting with the Rockets, he was still a relatively unknown player, and there wasn’t as much focus on him from opposing defenses as there is now. Since he’s not surrounded by talented players and because he’s not really a very good passer, he’s pretty easy to trap as soon as he brings the ball up court.

    Dragic also has to learn to go to his right. One of the things that has made Nash so great is his comfort level going either right or left, depending on where the defense shades him. With Dragic, it’s obvious he wants to go left and isn’t that confident when he’s forced to go right.

    But again, I don’t want to hear Dragic complain about his teammates or otherwise attempt to avoid his responsibility. I want to see him man-up, be a leader, and instead of berating his teammates, to encourage them instead.

  • 38 KDM // Jan 11, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    @cdubbb
    IMO he won’t make it in the NBA. I’ve seen all the games. Karnowski will be awesome in 2 years.

  • 39 cdubbb // Jan 11, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    @KDM

    What do you see that tells you that?

  • 40 Scott // Jan 11, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    Kelly Olynyk is currently ranked #38 on the Draft Express draft board. Of course there’s plenty of time to move up. I think last year around this time Nikola Vucevic was even lower in the 2nd round, because despite scouting being positive on him, there was a widespread perception he was a stiff.

    The problems holding back Olynyk, I think, are mainly defensive. He’s top 10 in turnovers, last in blocks, and 5th to last in defensive rebounds. It’s said he lacks lateral quickness and has poor court awareness.

    He could still be an impact player for a team, but it would be good to keep on eye on how well he performs heading into the draft.

    As for Rudy Gobert … he’s fairly light for his size. Kelly Olynyk is 7′ and 238 lbs, which is light. Gobert is 7′ 1″ and 235 lbs. Since that’s on the light side for a power forward, and both players aim to be centers, both have to add mass.

    Olynyk looks like a better pick than Gobert, though Gobert is currently ranked #10 on the Draft Express draft chart. I think Gobert mainly ranks high due to his wingspan of 7′ 9″. There’s not much scouting commentary on Gobert, so he’s probably benefiting from his status as an “international man of mystery.” But the latest tweet on him probably tells all there is to tell:

    Rudy Gobert finishes with 1 point 3 rebounds 2 turnovers in 22 minutes. Only took one shot a missed alleyoop dunk. Looks pretty far away.
    2012-12-28

  • 41 cdubbb // Jan 12, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    Olynyk is a PF and projects as a PF in the NBA for sure. He is super skilled offensively and pretty average at defense ill admit. He plays in the high post alot because his perimeter skills and jumpshot are very good, hence the low rebounding numbers. His game really looks like Luis Scola… (nothing to do with the hair). IMO has allstar/borderline all star NBA talent.

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