Phoenix Suns 106, Sacramento Kings 96 — Good thing the season starts today


Lindsey Hunter led the Suns to the first win of his coaching career. (Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images)

Lindsey Hunter led the Suns to the first win of his coaching career. (Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images)

By my count, the Los Angeles Lakers have restarted their season between three and thirty times already this year. The Suns, on the other hand, have hit the reset button only once. Tonight’s victory, a 106-96 win against the Sacramento Kings, was the first of the Lindsey Hunter era. It was sloppy to say the least, but first dances always are. The Suns, at times, looked awkward on both ends of the floor, but they put in a great effort and got a much deserved win in their penultimate trip to Sacramento.

Before and during the game, first-time head coach Hunter stressed ball movement to his team. It complied with his wishes for the most part but with very mixed results. While the Suns only had 12 turnovers according to the box score, that number doesn’t account for the huge number of bobbles, tips and ricochets there were in this game. The Suns moved the ball too quickly for their own good at times. Though they scored 106 points on nearly 48 percent shooting, the offense looked far from dialed in. Ball movement is and will continue to be crucial for Phoenix’s offensive success, but it didn’t contribute nearly as much in this one as Sacramento’s lazy defense. It’s a great sign for the rest of the year that the team was so committed to moving the ball right off the bat under Hunter. It’s also a great sign that despite a solid offensive night statistically, the Suns still have lots of room for improvement on that end of the floor.

Defensively, the Suns were flying around the court with reckless abandon. Phoenix looked energized. The Suns weren’t always in the right position, but their effort on the defensive end was greater than any game I can recall from the first half of the year. On the positive side, the Suns’ outstanding effort led to 27 points off 25 turnovers. On the negative side, the Suns’ poor positioning led to 18 offensive rebounds and 58 points in the paint for Sacramento.

The Suns were totally lost on the boards, getting outrebounded 49-30. The Kings’ bigs – DeMarcus Cousins and Thomas Robinson – were too much for Phoenix’s frontline. The duo pulled down 29 boards combined. The Suns’ rebounders were pushed under the basket far too often, allowing Sacramento to grab rebounds in the middle of the key. Even more unforgivable, Phoenix gave up 20 fastbreak points. Standard basketball logic would posit that if a team is getting killed on the boards, it’s because players are running back on defense instead of crashing the boards. That wasn’t the case at all in tonight’s game. The Suns’ guards were caught in no man’s land – not close enough to the hoop to rebound but not deep enough to stop the ball in transition. Phoenix gave up way too many easy buckets. Had the Kings not missed nine of their 24 free throws, this result may have gone their way.

The King’s success shouldn’t over shadow Phoenix’s defensive effort though. The Suns completely stifled Sacramento in the fourth, closing out the game on a 30-14 run. In the final period, the Kings turned the ball over eight times, and star forward DeMarcus Cousins was completely shut out. Overall, Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola did a commendable job defending Cousins. Even though he ended the night with a double-double, DeMarcus missed 11 of his 18 shots, turned the ball over six times and didn’t get to the free throw line once. In the fourth, Boogie was visibly frustrated and about a hair’s breadth away from getting a technical foul.

Offensively, Scola was the key to the game for Phoenix despite only playing 29 minutes because of foul trouble. Luis scored a game-high 21 points including nine in the fourth quarter as the Suns took control of the game. Scola also dished out four assists, a few coming on plays similar to those we broke down in a piece earlier today. If he continues to perform like this, Scola will become the de facto centerpiece of Phoenix’s offense.

Michael Beasley was also outstanding tonight. Beas scored 13 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter. He was efficient, hitting eight of his 15 shots and connecting on his lone three-point attempt. Other than that lone trey, all of Michael’s makes came from inside the paint, a fact that bodes well for both him and the team moving forward.

Goran Dragic posted a double-double (12 points and 11 assists) for the first time in nearly a month.

Hunter and the front office have both expressed a desire to get the Suns’ younger players more minutes in the second half of the season. That wasn’t really the case in this game. Kendall Marshall saw no time at all as Sebastian Telfair retained his role as backup point guard. Wesley Johnson got eight minutes, and Luke Zeller got a surprise two minutes. Zeller likely got off the bench because Jermaine O’Neal didn’t travel with the team to Sacramento for an undisclosed reason.

The Suns didn’t miss O’Neal much though. Markieff Morris gave them a very solid contribution in 25 minutes. Down the stretch, Phoenix went with a frontcourt of Morris, Beasley and Scola, which more than held its own against the powerful frontline of Sacramento.

The lineup and the allocation of minutes will probably fluctuate from game to game. I expect that Hunter went with veterans tonight to help build the team’s confidence by getting a win against a favorable opponent. As the schedule gets tougher, like tomorrow night at home to the Clippers, the younger guys may see more minutes.

In the mean time, the Suns are 1-0 after their respawn and quietly have won two road games in a row.

Tags: Phoenix Suns Phoenix Suns Recap Sacramento Kings

  • SHAZAM

    in this years finals the suns will beat the heat 4-2

  • PennyAnd1

    Keep this up Beasley and you can stay as a Sun as long as you want.

    Marshall needs to shine soon

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Congrats to Lindsay Hunter on winning his 1st game as Suns head coach.

    Better suspend draft talk until the dust settles a little more.

  • Anonymous

    I think if beasley scores 15 or more every game, we will go undefeated till the playoffs.

  • http://none Sillmarillion

    Why did Gortat not play in the 4th quarter?

  • bill.thomas

    @ Sillmarillion: to paraphrase Mike D’Antoni (re. Pau): Because we wanted to win this game.

  • bill.thomas

    If I were Herbalife, I would get whatever Hunter has and bottle it. I mean even Einstein (E=MC squared) would not have understood this. No energy with Gentry, but great energy with Hunter.

    If I were the Iranians I would hire Hunter to help harness their atoms. He’s obviously great at releasing energy that somehow (despite salaries in the millions) lies very dormant under someone as prosaic as poor Gentry.

  • bill.thomas

    Look, we can use most of the squad and still tank. Just put Blanks on the floor for two minutes each half.

  • bill.thomas

    @Shazam: Only if you personally are added to the Heat squad and play at least six minutes per game. Then it might well happen.

  • bill.thomas

    @Shazam: I don’t think even you can ruin the Heat just being on court 4 minutes per game. Not even you.

  • bill.thomas

    @Shazam: You’re not bad enough to ruin them in 4 minutes, LOL. Your mom would probably agree with me.

  • azbballfan

    Great Win for the Suns

    We had a lot of people play well at the same time and that does not usually happen

    However

    We dont play the kings 40 more times this season

    Rebounding and interior defense is a huge issue no matter who is coaching

    The Suns dont play one game a week very often

    most teams in the NBA dont commit 25 turn overs every game and miss 9 free throws

    Lets see how this team does in the next month

    We play the Lakers twice, Spurs once, and OKC back to back.

    We play an angry clippers team tomorrow night

    I will be impressed when we win consistently, and on the road, against quality teams

    We have yet to do that this season and i dont think the Suns are gonna magically do that

    a huge portion of the time, a new coach invigorates a team and then they go back to playing the same ball they have all season in about 5 games or so

    I was gonna give Sarver the benefit of the doubt that is until i heard him on doug and wolfs radio show

    Just because you win one game against the kings does not justify tossing aside Gentry, Majerle, Turner, and likely alienating a good porton of the team

    Either Majerle lied when he said the team wanted him, or Blabby was when he said they wanted Hunter

    If i was an owner there is no way i would hire blanks or babby on my team, and Hunter would have to pay his dues like nearly every other coach.

    Beasley was great tonight, lets see him do that consistently against a team that plays defense.

    Everybody is all smiles tonight, lets see what happens when the chips are down.

    I also dont like the message that, if you want something, all you gotta do is go over the current coaches head to your buddy GM and complain.

    Yeah on this team, that worked tonight, i would guess most teams dont put up with that crap.

    Now, If your busting your ass in practice and you have a legit case thats one thing, but given the behavior the front office has shown im not gonna fall for that.

    The ends dont justify the means

  • bill.thomas

    @Shazam: I see you as a PG for the Heat. You know, dishing, high P&R, all that. How do you see it?

  • bill.thomas

    @azbballfan: You are brilliant albeit a bit raw as usual. Carry on.

  • bill.thomas

    Where is the Lon Babby 7 day advance restaurant planning schedule posted?? Please !!!

  • bill.thomas

    Maybe in “Phoenix Under Cover”, Backpage Phoenix, Phoenix After Dark, or on Craigslist.

  • bill.thomas

    Or maybe in the Recycler.

  • bill.thomas

    I think Sarver should let Babby go, and pay him his full salary less any amount Babby earns as a restaurant critic, bar marketing agent, talent agent, athletes’ agent, general mouthpiece, and so on.

  • bill.thomas

    Potential Settlement Agreement: Babby agrees to apply to and give his best efforts to be a paid spokesperson for Weight Watchers, Nutri-System and all similar. Sarver agrees to let him go and pay his full salary, less such spokesman fees and any money he may earn as in post 18 above or similar. Problem: Solved !!

  • bill.thomas

    Also if the Lakers hire Babby (about the only thing that could give the Lakers more problems than they already have), Sarver agrees to pay that salary just as a consideration for getting Babby out of here.

  • bill.thomas

    I know, Babby can represent Turkoglu. They REALLY, REALLY deserve each other !!!!!!!!!!!

  • bill.thomas

    Worthless !!!!!!!!!!!

  • bill.thomas

    Babby would have made a great behind-the-lines agent in any wartime situation. You know, he just has an absolute GIFT for quietly disrupting any organization.

  • bill.thomas

    How about a P&R with Blanks and Zeller?? I bet SNL would have a field day with that. Or maybe Jimmy or Dave.

  • azbballfan

    Thanks for the nice comment bill 8-)

  • azbballfan

    I dont understand some of your comments bill.

    Are they about that movie?

    Cyborg 3: The Recycler?

  • bill.thomas

    The Recycler was a publication in Socal where people would dump their junk. Like Babby. It was superseded by Craigslist.

    You are a smart and funny guy, AZBBallfan. I do not have the effort you have to put (or I am not a natural).

  • bill.thomas

    I still think the idea of a P&R with Blanks and Zeller would be great on SNL or Jimmy Kimmel.

    And it would not interfere with any resto runs of Sarver or Babby.

  • bill.thomas

    And what about Babby’s wife, for God’s sake. Patience of Job.

  • Lon Babby

    We’re proud to announce a few promotions in the orginization…

    Luke Zeller is “VP of Dry Cleaning Pick-up”, Diante Garrett is “Head Car Washer”, and Kendall Marshall is “General Manager of Donuts”.

    We were going to promote Dan Majerle to “Pastrami Sandwich Picker Upper” but he got mad and left the office.

  • bill.thomas

    I know, let’s get Turkoglu. That will set us up for a playoff run.

  • bill.thomas

    Lon Babby is a really funny guy. Jimmy Kimmel better check up on his 401(k) and make sure his agent is not asleep at the switch.

  • bill.thomas

    Rolls of fat, but I know quite a few great plastic surgeons. And she did work on the blood drive.

  • bill.thomas

    @Lon babby: It is encouraging that Garrett can really hose things. BC that is what this organization really needs !!!

  • Herbalife Representative

    Mr. Hunter,
    Are you available for a late afternoon lunch tomorrow? Our company would like to discuss some important details with you concerning a position with us. We’d greatly appreciate your response.

    Sincere Regards,

    Des Walsh

  • Dan S.

    @bill thomas
    Hahahaha..funny stuff, where do you come with this?

  • SAD VOTS FANATIC

    I remember looking forward to the give and take on this comment board.Now i check in and its just drunk Bill Thomas over and over and over.Notice how most dont comment when hes on a bender?He ruins this site.Ill still read the articles but im not even going to bother with the comments until hes gone.

  • bill.thomas

    Rolls of Fat on that Bitch. But she does love expensive sushi !!!!!

  • bill.thomas

    Thanks SAD. Say something intelligent.

  • bill.thomas

    BTW, there is such a thing as punctuation and spacing. Not criticizing anything/anyone in particular, but people in glass houses might need to go to ESL. It is free in most places. If the shoe fits, wear it.

  • bill.thomas

    @Dan S. I dunno, maybe I was chaneling Alvin.

  • bill.thomas

    @SAD: C’mon let’s go.

  • azbballfan

    Hey Bill

    Assuming a miracle of biblical proportions does not happen, and the Suns get 2 good lotto picks who would you draft

    Yeah Shannon Brown made some clutch fall away shots tonight but he is not the right answer

    We will need help everywhere except maybe point guard cause we got like 4 of em

    I would vote for Shabazz Muhummad and a bigman

    Scola and Gortat are not going to be here forever.

  • john

    @Kevin

    Is something going to be done about @bill.thomas? I hate permabans and modding as much as the next guy, but he’s already had a “talking to” about this.

  • http://none Sillmarillion

    I’m sorry, this board becomes unreadable. What I enjoy most here is the comment section, because there are some guys with interesting opinions, they stay mannred and try to explain their point of view. But since a few weeks it’s mostly spam and fake Babby/Blanks/Beasley/fillinwhateveryouwant posts.

  • Harry

    I’m sorry Ryan bur Scola should not be the centerpiece of this offense. Dragic should, and it isn’t even close. All this Suns offensive ball movement does is create long twos. The offense looks best when Dragic is penetrating creating shots for others. Run more PNR’s.

    Good effort but not a lot of change, as would be expected since there was so little time. The biggest difference was the pushing of the pace. That was nice. First impression is that Hunter in over his head but all he needs to do is push the pace and turn the ball over to Dragic and he’ll still be miles better than Gentry.

    Love the Gentry apologists. Making excuses for their boy. Gonna laugh at 99.9% of Suns fans when they realize Gentry was the problem and not the solution.

  • SHAZAM

    i agree with sad vots fanatic,john and sillmarillion…in all honesty i did a lon babby post weeks ago as a novelty joke but others picked up on that one time post and are over doing it…bill thomas is way way way beyond tolerable…this comment board sucks now

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    30 posts by bill.thomas…..is that a record ?

  • john

    I think he had like 36 out of 42 one time. In any case, this is common for bill.thomas.

    It’s interesting to me that the boo birds haven’t come out yet. It seems to me like there’s a contingent of Suns fans that only likes to hate on the franchise. It’s odd. They’re fans by being anti-fans. When the Suns win, there’s nothing to talk about. When the Suns lose, OUTRAGE! FURY! THERE WILL BE BLOOD!

    It’s like they don’t even appreciate the victories, they just want to rag on people for all the failures (which have been plentiful).

  • SHAZAM

    john im not going to jump up and down and throw babies in the air because the suns won a game…im for a high draft pick and want to lose..and i want the lakers to lose..howard is injured again the lakers pick that we have now can be number 7 and ours should be 4 or lower…we have a real shot at cheap upgrades if the suns and lakers continue to lose..this season is over anyways