Phoenix Suns 93, Los Angeles Clippers 88 — Two for the road

Posted by on January 25th, 12:38 am

PHOENIX – For the Los Angeles Clippers, it was a night those people who know the history of the Phoenix Suns can related to. Without their All-Star point guard, Chris Paul, there was something majorly missing, no matter the remaining talent.

Blake Griffin looked unenthused and potentially injured throughout after going 0-for-4 from the foul stripe in the early minutes, the Los Angeles wings struggled to hit contested jumpers and Phoenix’s Goran Dragic put together his second impressive performance in a row. He torched starting Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe for 22 points, eight assists and five rebounds.

The result? Suns interim head coach Lindsey Hunter moving to 2-0 in his tenure with a 93-88 victory on Thursday in US Airways Center.

“If you can defend, you always have a chance to win a game,” said Hunter, whose team held the Clippers to 40 percent in both halves and limited Griffin and DeAndre Jordan to 14 combined shots.

“We didn’t really deny them,” Hunter added. “We wanted to stop those athletic bigs from getting to the rim. You know, Marc is long, Markieff has been just outstanding defensively for us and Scola is always great for us defensively. The weakside is really starting to get better, recognition of cutters, getting below the ball.”

The Phoenix players stayed between their men and the rim, and the Los Angeles guard-wing crew of Willie Green, Matt Barnes and Grant Hill went a combined 6-of-24.

The Suns also failed to wilt down the stretch for the second night in a row. Dragic made a drive-and-dump to Marcin Gortat with three minutes to play for a seven-point lead, and the Suns got enough stops and won the 50-50 balls they’d often failed to grab throughout key moments of this season.

“We were doing a good job,” Scola said. “The first half they got a few dunks and a few fastbreak points. We lost control for a little bit and that’s when they made their run. But we stick with it.

“Today they made their run, we adjust, we go back to doing what we say we’re going to do.”

Up 86-82, Luis Scola was stripped driving in the lane, and a Dragic jumper with the clock winding down was blocked to lead to a Clippers fastbreak. Jamal Crawford, who had been held relatively in check up to that point, hit a corner three to bring Los Angeles within a point.

But the Suns – after using two timeouts and attempting to inbound the ball three times without a turnover – finally got the ball into play and a player at the foul stripe. Gortat hit two free throws with 23 seconds left to give Phoenix a three-point lead.

Phoenix took advantage of a 1-for-2 trip to the foul stripe for Crawford, then used a clear-path foul on the inbound pass combined with another foul on the ensuing inbound to get four free throws throws. Three of those were made for a 91-86 lead that the Suns would use to hold off the Clippers.

The Suns got a solid start, and they survived short bursts of runs without flinching like they’d often done in the past.

The Suns led 23-13 with under three minutes to play, but only led 24-20 after the first quarter. Phoenix marked up a 39-28 lead on a Michael Beasley jumper with 6:20 left in the second, but the Clippers went on a 9-0 run over the next two minutes capped by the first lob after a lazy pass by Beasley.

Of the bench unit, Morris indeed was solid if not highly effective. He scored 14 points, grabbed eight rebounds and outplayed Griffin’s modest 12 points and eight boards.

Phoenix led at the half 50-46 , the final two points coming in thanks to Vinny Del Negro and Crawford earning technical fouls in what became an odd-feeling game on national TV. Crawford would finished with a team-high 21 on 8-of-12 shooting, but he didn’t have the help in the end.

It was 68-66, Suns, after three quarters, but the expected push by the sleepy Clippers never came in the fourth.

For the second game in a row an energetic Scola, who Hunter pulled earlier in the halves to rest for the fourth quarter, filled the stat sheet. He had 14 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Dragic was the other Suns played putting together a rare string of two successful games. He hit 3-of-7 three-pointers and went to the foul stripe 14 times, making 11.

“It’s good to see him smiling and being himself,” Hunter said. “You want your point guard to have the ultimate confidence, to make mistakes to play through them, to have the total command of a team. That’s what we as a staff have tried to give to him. We’re giving him a lot of responsibility, we’re giving him a lot of freedom.”

So far, so good for Hunter’s team, which appears to be at least buying into the fight.

But, as Scola always warns, it was just one game.

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 Recap

59 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Harry // Jan 25, 2013 at 12:45 am

    It’s sorry that you buy into the groupthink Kevin. I had hope for you. The Suns fan base is pathetic, along with EVERY reporter that follows them.

  • 2 hawki // Jan 25, 2013 at 1:04 am

    Break up the Suns !

  • 3 SHAZAM // Jan 25, 2013 at 1:13 am

    hmmmm should i take the bait from the previous comments?…nah,you all have a nice night
    :)

  • 4 Rich Anthony, (KJL) // Jan 25, 2013 at 1:31 am

    A lot of different scenarios playing out as we move forward under this new coaching philosophy. Some I like; some I don’t.

    I truly do want the best opportunity to end up with one of the best players in this year’s draft. To help improve the chance of that happening, the Suns need to have the highest draft pick(s) possible. Cause / effect – they need to continue being bad.

    Flip side of that, if coach Hunter wants to keep his head coaching job long-term, he has to show that he can win a lot of games. He also has to show that he can get his defensive principles to manifest themselves on the court and that his players buy into these principles.

    If Hunter does do well enough to become the Suns next long-term contracted head coach, (I still see him as a band aid until the season ends), then these Suns not named Goran Dragic have to play hard and prove that they can be an asset in this new Hunter system if they truly want to be a Sun moving forward.

    Another thing that has to adjust is the draft board, if Hunter remains at the helm.

    If Sarver was sincere about retaining
    Gentry through at least this season, then they would have been scouting talent that fits into his system. Outside of the first 3 or 4 players in this year’s draft, the Suns scouting department may have to toss out their targets and begin again with a Lindsey Hunter state of mind.

    At least, for that part of it, we’re just now starting to get into the meat of the NCAA basketball season and there’s plenty of time to do that.

    Personally, I don’t mind if Hunter is retained as long as the team has strong draft positioning. I don’t want anymore 13-16 picks.

  • 5 Majestic One // Jan 25, 2013 at 1:38 am

    Suns can’t afford to win too many games.

  • 6 GoSuns // Jan 25, 2013 at 1:55 am

    I feel ya KJL, but I never want a team to not go out and compete. If theyre always gonna be good enough to get a 13-16 pick cause were perenially an average team then so be it. I want to see us develop into a great team but I can never fully support tanking even if that shakes out to be the only way we’ll become better.

  • 7 Rich Anthony, (KJL) // Jan 25, 2013 at 2:07 am

    @GoSuns – that’s right.

    Problem is, the franchise must land a beast in this draft. They have to. Can’t go out and sign one in free agency as all of the young ones are already signed.

    At least this year’s crop of potential draft picks all have great size and most of them have great athleticism as well. I’d love for the Suns to be in the mix this year as far as superstar rookie opportunity.

    This also seems to be a rather quiet European year as well. Not many rumblings via hype from over there this year.

    So yeah be competitive, but wow. If the Suns end up with, say, the 10th or 11th pick this season as it’s best selection and can’t move up? Could be a long winter.

  • 8 Scott Remi // Jan 25, 2013 at 2:10 am

    Great win for us! The defense looked great, however Hunter really looked like a rookie coach i.e. dumb mistakes like the timeout on a 2 on 1 fast break & leaving Gortat in when it is clearly an intentional foul scenario for the Clippers in the final seconds. Regardless, it did work out though. Id really like to see Majerle runnin the show (so does Barkley), but that’s in the past. Looking forward to seeing what the future brings. As much sense as it makes to just go for a pick, I don’t believe in sandbagging. Get em Suns!

  • 9 azbballfan // Jan 25, 2013 at 2:34 am

    The team has had some lucky breaks so far

    No Chris Paul? Injured Blake Griffin?

    Both the clippers and Kings have given the Suns gifts in the form of unholy amount of missed free throws

    Maybe Blabby, Blanks and Hunter are geniuses but i doubt that

    Winning should never be confused with progress

    The Suns, to have long term success needs some kind of Manimal in this draft

    Winning in the short team, when in the long term you should be rebuilding, is not going to help.

    I dont call “8th seed in the west and likely 0-4 series”

    success

    However, i will say that for whatever reason we have looked much better defensively lately.

    Is it Hunter? is it Igor Koskov?

    Is it both?

    I dont have a problem with hiring someone, but you have to do it the right way

    You cant just toss people aside, unless you want this to be your last job in the NBA.

    I will say this though, Sarver will have no choice to get rid of Blanks and Babby if this Hunter hiring doesnt work a miracle and the team does not improve in a measureable way

    Then again, Sarver seems so out of touch with reality its just a joke

    Did anyone else hear him on doug and wolf?

    I dont think this play is sustainable

    As a fan, i value long term success over short term gains

    The Suns gotta make a trade so that no matter what happens we get a good draft pick.

    and by the way the Lakers are in much worse position long term than the Suns are

    Even with 3 the stooges running the show in the desert

    atleast i can be happy about that

  • 10 Ty-Sun // Jan 25, 2013 at 4:25 am

    Hey, I’m just happy to get a win. Even with no Chris Paul and an ailing Blake G, did anyone really think the Suns had a chance to win this game? It was a very pleasant surprise.

    For those of you wanting to tank to get the best possible draft pick this year, don’t worry. The season is more than half gone and I don’t see this team improving enough to move out of a top 10 pick.

    Of course the FO could do something stupid (again) like trading away draft picks for a few marginally better players as a quick fix to make a small run at the dreaded 8th seed. Hopefully they will do the opposite and make a trade or trades for younger players and/or draft picks which would probably hurt the Suns in the short term but offer more hope for the future.

  • 11 azbballfan // Jan 25, 2013 at 4:58 am

    With this front office you never know what they are gonna do since they say one thing and then do another thing

    Anyone hear Thunder Dan on the doug and wolf show? he was pissed.

    And rightfully so i think

    the way majerle and turner were treated says all i need to know about blanks, babby, and sarver.

    apparently jermaine oneal is out with a irregular heart beat

    clearly one of two things is going on

    either the media have engaged in a vast, deliberate conspiracy to make the front office look bad

    or babby and blanks are creeps and need to go asap and everything the media has said, and thunder dan, and turner has said is true.

    if it is a media conspiracy, the people involved should be fired. period.

    Lets see what happens when the Suns stop getting lucky breaks.

    by the way Boston is looking to make a move, blabby or blanks should give them a call 8)

  • 12 azbballfan // Jan 25, 2013 at 5:05 am

    by the way, i think “Harry” is a narcissist, is probably the guy who was posting under the infamous nazis names a few weeks ago

    time will tell if he decides to attack me in a few posts 8)

  • 13 Rich Anthony, (KJL) // Jan 25, 2013 at 6:01 am

    I still don’t feel bad for Majerle. I’m still waiting to see what sort of coaching style he has. If he was the slam-dunk choice, he’d be the head coach right now. What he should have done is accept it with grace. All of this playing up in the local media isn’t helping his coaching quest in other circles.

    It’s like what, if an interview goes bad is he going to fly off the handle to ESPN?

  • 14 Luka // Jan 25, 2013 at 6:13 am

    @Harry

    The fanbase has a right to be upset. Sarver has mismanaged this team badly for a number of years. He’s driven away several front office executives with his stingy ways.

    The selling of draft picks, the lack of draft scouting, and front office instability are the reasons why Phoenix has been in the rabbit hole going on three years now. There is a little hope that the Suns can sign a star, and use their picks. But until this FO can do that, the fans will continue to voice their displeasure as right they should.

    I will give you that this Gentry firing, the Majerle and Turner departures, and an unfound JO “shouting match” rumor have started an overblown witch hunt by the local media. I listened to John Gambadoro grill Sarver for 20 minutes about non-issues mentioned above, and Sarver surprisingly put him in his place several times. I dislike Sarver as much as the next Suns fan, but the incessant smear stories and hostile interviews need to stop.

  • 15 Willi Germany // Jan 25, 2013 at 6:30 am

    Thanks for the read, Kevin.
    Keep an eye (or two!) on the spelling, though.

  • 16 john // Jan 25, 2013 at 8:33 am

    @Rich – Right on about Majerle. I have no idea why this has been met with such outrage from fans except for their soft spot for Dan. It’s certainly not logic or reason filling their hearts with fury.

  • 17 IowaPhXfan // Jan 25, 2013 at 8:45 am

    Barkley had the best 2 minute rant last night on the current state of the Suns that was spot on….he said there is zero purpose in playing any veterans because everyone already knows what they can do, you need to be playing young guys…he also said the Suns should not be trying to win… I hope the Suns are only playing Gortat, Dudley, Telfair & Brown to showcase their trade value….otherwise there is literally zero point in playing them…Reggie Miller tried to argue with Charles and say this is a solid team, just cause they were beating a Paul-less Clippers – why would you want to try to lose…Charles immediately put him in his place and said ummm NO this is not a good team they are the worst team in the West they have zero superstars and need to find stars through high draft picks or free agency….

    At this point who cares who the coach is? Seriously. I might be in the minority but I actually think Hunter was the best option if you are thinking about the reality of the situation. We don’t need a coach that is going to try to figure out how to win with this team. What good would that do? You want our coach right now to be so good he gets us back to our favorite 13th pick of the draft?? Uhh didn’t think so. What is the #1 priority for the Phoenix Suns coach this season? Developing young players. What was Lindsey Hunter’s position before becoming head coach? Player development. I am a big Dan Majerle fan, but I don’t see the huge difference between him and Lindsey at this point. I’m sure Dan has been involved in tons of player development. My issue with Dan would be that he loves Phoenix too much, yes too much. He would not take losing very well, and there would be a ton of friction between him and upper management if they told him “Sorry Dan but we’re basically tanking this season and next to get high draft picks and leave cap space for max players, your only concern is developing our young players”. How would Dan react to that? I think he’s too competitive for the current situation, honestly. Many ex-players who try to coach their former team run into this exact situation, it never ends good. I think Jordan has had the same battles being an owner, in his first 5 seasons as Managing Member of Basketball Operations, his team won 33, 32, 35, 44, & 34 games. Making the playoffs once (getting swept in 4 games by Orl). Jordan was so competitive he couldn’t stand losing, but it was destroying the Charlotte franchise. Their draft picks in the 5 years following those first 5 seasons? 8th, 20th, 9th, 12th, 9th.
    It took Jordan 5 years of mediocrity before he finally figured out how to rebuild a team. Still not sure he has the patience, but he’s trying a different approach for his second 5 year stretch. Got himself the #2 pick last year in MKG, TBD if he is a good player yet but appears to be at least a solid contributor. They’re on pace to get another top 3 pick this year. The key is 3 straight years of getting a top 5 pick. Put 3 top 5 talent guys together and you have something. We’re a year behind Charlotte, but Phx also has advantages over Charlotte in terms of a place free agents have interest in. BTW, Charlotte’s best draft pick in that 5 year run of mediocrity? Jared Dudley.

    Hopefully our Suns are working the phones like telemarketers and trying to get max value out of our veteran trade pieces. I expect by Valentine’s Day to be seeing Marshall, Wes, Beasley, Zeller, and Garrett to be getting plenty of action. Maybe you ‘develop’ 2 out of those 5 players to the point they can be at least solid bench players for a team contending again in 2-3 years.

    Thoughts?

    -IowaPhXfan

  • 18 john // Jan 25, 2013 at 9:25 am

    I don’t really care for any of Barkley’s opinions. For instance, was anyone listening to the game when the clear path foul happened on Shannon? Barkley made it painfully obvious he doesn’t understand what a clear path foul is. There were about four other times in the fourth quarter where I honestly couldn’t believe the things that were coming out of Chuck’s mouth. He’s entertaining, but intelligence is not his strong suit. He gets paid for his loud mouth, not for his brain.

    Anyways, a little off-topic, bringing it back. As far as playing the young guys, sure, I believe you have to give them a look at least (except Kendall Marshall), but you can’t completely abandon your veteran players either. So many people are calling the Suns “classless” for bad reasons, but tanking and sticking your veterans (the guys who have EARNED the right to be on the court, your best players) on the bench is the very definition of classless. Plus, it kills their value as trade assets. It really doesn’t serve anyone well.

  • 19 IowaPhXfan // Jan 25, 2013 at 10:13 am

    @ john

    Agreed that Barkley is not a guru for the current rules of the NBA. I only mentioned that he seems to have a pretty good grasp for the overall direction of a franchise. He knows when a team has no hope and needs to completely revamp things. Yes, he has a loud mouth. But the reason people can’t get enough of him is because he tells you exactly what he thinks. If he thinks your team stinks and has no direction, he says so, even if it was the beloved team he played for.

    Don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to play Marshall at least 15 min/gm. His value is zero until he shows ANY potential in an NBA game. I personally hated the pick and still do. But I’m only speaking in terms of running this team as a business, like it should be.

    Sorry but I completely disagree with your statement – “tanking and sticking your veterans (the guys who have EARNED the right to be on the court, your best players) on the bench is the very definition of classless. Plus, it kills their value as trade assets.”

    HUH? You know what’s classless? Screwing your fans over with mediocrity and the 13th pick in the draft for 5 straight years! THAT is classless. Sorry but I’m pretty sure everyone in the league, even Jordan, knows the value of Dudley, Gortat, & Brown. You seriously think if we decreased all their playing time for Marshall, Garrett, Wes, Beasley & Morris that other teams would think “Well geez those guys must have zero value because the worst team in the West benched them all and started playing a bunch of young guys…how odd!”

    I PRAY the front office does not think like you. Cause if they do, hope you like 35 wins/yr and zero excitement for the future. But hey, at least all the washed up veterans in the league would have a place to go and finish out their careers because they have earned the ‘right to be on the court’.

    -IowaPhXfan

  • 20 Cody // Jan 25, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Not gonna lie it has been nice to see the Suns play well and for Dragic to have 2 straight games with good assist numbers, and like John just said, there’s no way the younger guys should play unless they beat out the veterans and the only guy doing well its Kieff, he seriously is a perfect off the bench 4, Beas has been solid but that’s cause he’s still chucking as soon as he comes in but he had some good passes to both the Suns and Clippers, and he’s getting boards, but he has seemed to earn some court time, the other guys though, no, just no

  • 21 Ty-Sun // Jan 25, 2013 at 10:15 am

    Yeah, I think the team should continue to play to win until the trade deadline. That at least potentially ups the trade value of players the Suns are willing to part with. The Suns only have 12 games left before then which leaves plenty of games during the rest of the season to focus on player development.

  • 22 IowaPhXfan // Jan 25, 2013 at 10:27 am

    Notice I didn’t include Dragic in guys who’s minutes should be decreasing. I think we should play Dragic with Marshall or Garrett, Dragic is a very crafty player and does not need to have the ball in his hands all the time to be productive.

    I hope we are only playing our trade pieces right now because the trade deadline isn’t too far away. I would be fine with that and understand other teams don’t want a rusty out of shape player that has been sitting on the bench. I’ll give the front office until the trade deadline before I make any more judgments.

    If we are playing veterans only because they have earned the right to be on the court, then we might as well be called the Phoenix Rainbows.

    -IowaPhXfan

  • 23 Cody // Jan 25, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Very true, Iowa, Dragic plays well off the ball, poor mans Ginobili in a way, and that’s what I meant, play these guys trade values up, kind of inflate their stats a little so you can gauge something good out of them, but seeing as Scola can’t be traded, I want him to continue to start, 1 because I love the passion he plays with, and 2 because I want the guys to see how he plays and bring the same intensity and learn how to play when undersized.

  • 24 IowaPhXfan // Jan 25, 2013 at 10:59 am

    @ Cody

    Agree completely. Yeah Scola can’t be traded until July I believe, if they want to keep him around for veteran leadership and hustle by example then that’s fine, he’s only costing $4M/yr and probably wouldn’t return a ton in trade anyway.

    Dragic a poor man’s Ginobili is a very good example. He is great at back-cuts and getting through small spaces. Very flexible. Almost could see him excelling at off-guard. He tends to think too much of how he ‘should’ be playing since he’s pg.

  • 25 Cam // Jan 25, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Watched the whole game from beginning to end in Spanish with my 1yr old twins. A few things I noticed, that a few people have also commented on so far.

    1. Dragic is starting to look real confident. He had a few minutes in the middle of the 4th where he seemed a little hesitant but otherwise he looked in control and aggresive.
    That being said he also got bailed out and got assists on plays that most definitely would have been turnovers if not for a little luck.

    2. Scola, Gortat, and Morris played solidly. Gortat started the game with some nice jumpers from about the 12-18 range, smooth and silky. Hopefully that pumped his value up a little. Scola is going to be great trade bait this off season, unless the FO is planning in keeping him to mentor our young bigs. Markieff looked good when he was inside and had some nice strokes from the outside. He made a couple aggresive plays for the ball on the boards that made me think that he actually could become a serviceable starting PF if he is surrounded with some stud talent aka Shabazz.

    3. Beasley had an up and down game. I don’t understand how he can have a few plays where he is aggresive in the low post, and even if he doesn’t convert, he gets decent looks, and then he will have a stretch where he just chucks up the ball like he’s Shannon Brown. I clearly recall a break in the 3rd where he got the ball at the 3 point line and just threw it up, hitting the front of the rim, and then he had the opportunity to get the rebound if only he had followed his shot, instead he just stood there.

    4. Lastly, Shannon Brown. What can I say about the man except WTF. Yeah he has his share of exciting plays and unreal jumpers in the face of defenders, but then he throws up a 3 with 2 minutes to play, the Suns up by a couple in a tight game, and about 15-20 seconds on the shot clock. Are you kidding me right now. At what point do you just release a player because it seems like he just doesn’t get it. He better be gone at the trade deadline or in the offseason. He’s going to single handedly lose at least 5 games this year because of stupid plays like last night.

    After all that, honestly, in the last 5 minutes of the game I caught myself rooting for te clippers to make a 3 and then stopping myself and getting angry because I should be rooting for the Suns to win. I’m having very mixed emotions about this team. The fan in me wants tosee them win, but the realist in me knows they need to lose to get a solid pick so in the long run they win. Even after the game my wife kept asking me if something was wrong. I know I’ll get bashed for rooting for losses but at the same time I want to win and in the long term this will help the Suns IMO. It’s really hard to be a Suns fan right now. I don’t even want to know what Charlotte fans have been going through. F that. Go Suns.

  • 26 Ty-Sun // Jan 25, 2013 at 11:05 am

    The vets have been around long enough to know the score. For some of them, this stretch of games before the trade deadline is their “playoff” run. The exits of Gentry, Turner and Majarle and hiring of Hunter are pretty clear signs that the Suns are finally serious about significantly changing this franchise.

    Whether for good or bad, there will be change.

    Only Scola is completely safe from being traded by the deadline. Some of the vets might be trying to prove they’re worth keeping, some of them might be trying to prove to other teams that they’re worth trading for.

  • 27 Forever is2long // Jan 25, 2013 at 11:07 am

    I said the other day I would defer commenting on the coaching for about 5 days after the noneymoon may have worn off. However Cody I agree with you Dragic is balling under the new regime.

    While I disagree with Barkley a lot, he acknowledged Marshall should play because there may be problem with the pick if he does not perform well. While I think Marshall is a bust, I suspect he will initially get minutes when the game is one sided. If he shows decent skills then he will graduate to quality minutes. Considering he shot 31% in the D-League I can understand why there is not a rush to throw him to the wolves. Could you imagine him trying to slow down Bledsoe last night?

  • 28 john // Jan 25, 2013 at 11:14 am

    15 minutes a game for a guy like Marshall (who sucked it up in the D League) is insanity. There’s an extremely good chance it would be good for him in any way (people will realize he doesn’t belong on an NBA court, could destroy his psyche to get worked over every night) plus it could be terrible for the Suns to expose him as an awful player for future trade considerations.

    You don’t throw people out there before they’re ready just for the heck of it and just for the sake of losing. It has just as much (or more) chance of backfiring as it does of providing any benefit.

    And I didn’t say that every veteran has a right to be on the court. I said the veterans on this team have the right to be on the court. The ONLY swappable position, in my opinion, would be Dudley, and that simply isn’t going to happen because he’s the most liked guy on the team in the eyes of the fans. You can’t swap Gortat (because there isn’t anyone to swap him with). Swapping Scola would be useless as you’d just be letting an untradeable asset rot on the bench (plus, he’s the second-best player on the team). I don’t really care about the SG spot, as the Suns don’t have anyone who can fill that role any better than Tucker (unless you want to try to argue that Dragic could play the 2 with a rotation of Telfair and *gulp* Marshall at the 1.

    Three, probably four of the spots don’t deserve a shake-up in the slightest because it’s unlikely it would prove beneficial in the long (or short) run. 5, 4, 3, and 1. Sure, throw Wes in at the 2. Try a rotation with some other guys. I don’t care if you try those guys out, but you just spout off 15 minutes like that’s nothing. That’s over 30% of the game.

    And, btw, if the front office thought like me, the Suns wouldn’t be in the situation they’re in, I can guarantee that. I would have blown this thing up years ago, and I wouldn’t have bothered to sign vets that would be minimal difference makers during the rebuilding process.

    We’re not that far off in our line of thinking, but you seriously overestimate the quality of the young guys on the Suns. They’re terrible, and throwing terrible players out there to get slaughtered every night does no one any good.

  • 29 john // Jan 25, 2013 at 11:25 am

    My second sentence is supposed to read “…would NOT be good for him…” obviously.

    Sorry I rambled a lot there, but I am having a really hard time understanding the reasoning behind playing guys who don’t belong out of a fear that the veterans will be able to get this team’s record good enough to destroy the pick.

    First, it was the veterans who got the record all the way to the bottom of the West. Trust me, they’re capable of getting it back there. Second, I think the Suns only have a decent chance at catching 2-4 teams in the standings that they’re currently behind. Sacto in the West and Orlando, Toronto, and Detroit in the East. They’re not going to catch Cleveland, Charlotte, or Washington in the race for last, and NOH is really tough to tell either way.

    Worst case scenario, this team ends up with somewhere around the 8th or 9th worst record in the league. Best case scenario, they end up around 4th. Regardless of whether or not they play the veterans or the young’uns, they will likely end up in the 5-7 range. It’s not destroying anything to allow the vets to play. It puts a more entertaining product on the floor, and none of the young guys who aren’t getting minutes are likely to turn into anything at the NBA level.

  • 30 Greg // Jan 25, 2013 at 11:55 am

    @IowaPhxfan

    I like Goran and think he has plenty of talent, but have you watched the games this year? Crafty he is, but when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands he is not effective, nor productive. Goran is the type of player who needs the ball in his hands because he makes stuff happen. Last night he was scoring, passing, getting the line like we haven’t seen this year. His success was due to Hunter completely trusting him with the offense and the rest of the team, for one of the first times this season, bought into Goran completely running the show when he was on the court. 14 free throws will not happen often, but if he can shoot between 6-8 a game, and hit 75% of them, Goran’s numbers will be closer to his second half with Houston last year. A 17 ppg 8 apg type pg, I will take it.

  • 31 Cam // Jan 25, 2013 at 11:59 am

    Damn John. I might be a little pessimistic about the Suns and their players but you can be downright depressing sometimes (pertaining to your second post there). I do agree with you in the fact that Sarver and Co. should have moved toward a rebuilding phase a lot sooner. And it’s true, playing the vets is what got the Suns here in the first place. Could it have been scheme too though. This team is running through Scola and Gortat allot more at the high post these last two games. I’m not saying that the Suns would’ve been playoff bound, but the ball seems to be moving around better as of late.

    Also, don’t count out Cleveland. Their team has some pieces and they aren’t as easy a beat as some may think. I watched their game against the Celtics and I must say, Irving is exciting. He made Rondo and Bradley look foolish on the court.

    Oh, and the Celtics may arguably be worse off than the Suns. They have an aging core of veterans on higher than market value contracts and not much young talent. Other than Sullinger, Bradley, and Rondo, everyone else is overpaid for their services or downright old. At least the Suns have some cap flexibility. Only bad long term contract the Suns have that I can think of is Beasley’s, value wise. Go Suns.

  • 32 3-Dub // Jan 25, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    @Kevin Zimmerman, so many typos for the second straight post. Gotta keep this the best
    Suns (if not sports) blog out there!

  • 33 john // Jan 25, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    Guys, look at the time Zimm (I don’t know him, but I feel like this has to be his nickname) posted this. 12:38am. A little slack could be cut, maybe.

  • 34 3-Dub // Jan 25, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    @John For sure. Schmitz and Schwartz would always do the same thing then edit it the next day. Gotta keep that high quality going! This post read like one of our European starters wrote it at times:p

  • 35 john // Jan 25, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    Haha, indeed. Maybe VotS could get Dragon to guest-write a few columns?

  • 36 Fan in Chi Town // Jan 25, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Great win for the Suns, but i have a complaint about the crowd…..Where was everyone? No enthusiasm from the onlookers. That was very disappointing.

  • 37 IowaPhXfan // Jan 25, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    @ John

    I understand the younger players aren’t very good…that’s kind of the point of playing them. Like I said I will wait until after the trade deadline to debate anymore who should be playing. Maybe some of you actually live in Phx and just really enjoy seeing the team win 1 out of every 3 games. I would probably be a little more sensitive to a ‘suck for luck’ strategy if I lived there too. I’m glad you agree this thing should’ve been blown up years ago, last year at the latest. Can’t believe it took scraping bottom for them to finally realize it, thank GOD we didn’t end up with Eric Gordon or who knows they’d probably think we still have a chance at playoffs at this point. Ugh.

    @Greg

    Yes, I have watched many games this year, and yes I loved when Phx got Goran. I looked at his advanced stats and saw tons of potential as a great pg. I still think he has that potential. I am just saying, I don’t think Goran’s scoring ability has been utilized near enough, and if they keep him at pg and just let him create more on his own then that’s fine, last night was what I thought an average night would be for Goran. I really did. I’m just saying you have to adapt to the current situation, it drives me mad, it’s like watching D’Antoni trying to force his square players into his round little system holes and it blowing up in his face. Make Goran your go to scorer, meaning he can still have the ball in his hands plenty. But just let Marshall/Garrett initiate the offense and see if there is any potential there. Times have changed, there no longer has to be an exact 1,2,3,4, 5 in your offense. If you still think that way then you’re stuck in the past and going to have circles ran round you by the likes of MIA, OKC, LAC, GSW, HOU, etc…. would having another guy on the court that can actually dribble be a bad thing? Only thing I’m worried about is that my strategy would actually make the team function much better and ruin our draft pick, ha.

    My rotation AFTER trade deadline:

    Dragic/Marshall/Garrett
    Wes/Garrett/Brown(if couldn’t trade)
    Beasley/Morris/Wes/PJ
    Scola/Morris/PJ
    Zeller/Scola/random young big guy in trade

    I think the above team isn’t much worse than what we currently have, sadly.

    Trade Gortat & Dudley for sure. Unless there is literally no offers that give you young players and draft picks.

    Who cares if we get slaughtered every night this year? Seriously? You think OKC gave a crap that they were getting beat every night 4 yrs ago when that was part of of the plan?

  • 38 john // Jan 25, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    “Damn John. I might be a little pessimistic about the Suns and their players but you can be downright depressing sometimes”

    Haha, maybe so, but that doesn’t mean I would EVER consider not rooting for them or supporting the team. I don’t care how bad it gets, I’m always a Suns fan.

    @IowaPhXfan

    “thank GOD we didn’t end up with Eric Gordon or who knows they’d probably think we still have a chance at playoffs at this point. Ugh.”

    Agreed. I thought it was great the Suns got their name out there during the free agent frenzy, and I thought it was a good idea to extend the offer sheet because it had such a high chance of being signed by NOLA. But, in the end, I’m very happy NOLA did match as expected, because Gordon, while good, is not enough to put this team into anything resembling contention.

  • 39 Cam // Jan 25, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    @John
    Everything said in jest of course. Go Suns.

  • 40 Ty-Sun // Jan 25, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    As an interesting side note, I just read this today:

    “O.J. Mayo said he joined Dallas because Chauncey Billups told Mayo that (Dallas coach Rick) Carlisle would fix his game.”

    Perhaps it’s true, perhaps not. It at least suggests that Dallas might have been Mayo’s 1st choice even though he visited Phoenix before Dallas when he was a FA.

    Getting either him or Eric Gordon would have looked good to the average fan but either would have been an expensive band-aid this season. The max offer to Gordon probably was a PR stunt since there was a very high probability the NO would match it. But it was a pretty good PR stunt for both the fans and other NBA players.

    Sarver has such a bad rep as being cheap that sending the message out that he is willing to give out a max contract offer couldn’t hurt, even if he knew he would never have to pay up on it.

  • 41 IowaPhXfan // Jan 25, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    List of 2013-2014 teams over $60M (most likely cap figure for next season) in guaranteed contracts already:

    Lakers, Nets, Magic, Heat, Knicks, Celtics, Bulls, Blazers, Warriors, Thunder, Nuggets, Grizzlies, Wizards

    If we trade Gortat & Dudley that puts us at only about $30M guaranteed for 13-14….meaning we can take on some horrible contracts from teams that are in very bad situations, in exchange for either draft picks or young cheap players contracts.

    Example: Trade Gortat & Dudley to Wizards for Okafor & Ariza & 2013 1st rd pick. Saves the Wizards tons of money for next year in the luxury tax (probably ~$20M), gives them 2 good value contracts and also good pieces to go with young players, Phx basically gets 2 bad contracts and a top pick, the top pick is all that really matters. Would give Phx potentially 2 top 3 picks and the Lakers pick. So 3 very cheap rookie contracts, then in 14-15 Okafor & Ariza come off the books allowing you to sign big free agents to go with top picks from past 2 years. Maybe Wash laughs at the offer? I don’t know. Depends how much they value the draft and also how much they care about luxury tax.

    The point is, somewhere in this list of teams is an owner panicking about paying an extra $15M in luxury tax if he is $10M over the cap in 13-14. We are in an ideal situation to take advantage of these teams. We have cheap contracts to offer teams that can all contribute (Gortat, Dudley, Brown, Scola in offseason).

    BTW the crazy Russian owner of the Nets is truly going to show in 2013-2014 that he is made of money… already has $85M guaranteed. If they are $25M over the cap, he will have to pay ~$60M in luxury tax. $60M!!! Guess if you’re worth billions it doesn’t phase ya… by next year the Nets will have 3 of the worst contracts in the NBA in Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Gerald Wallace.

    Sorry about all the numbers games…but follow the money and you can almost predict the future for a lot of these teams. As long as the Suns don’t screw this up, we should be the one everyone wants to trade with knowing we have trade pieces and also we have lots of cap space for next few years.

    -IowaPhXfan

  • 42 Scott // Jan 25, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    @IowaPhXfan -

    The owner of the Nets will make money, no doubt, even though he’s overpaying on salaries and tax. It’s a strategy you can use when you’re in a big market.

  • 43 IowaPhXfan // Jan 25, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    @Scott

    True. But the Nets don’t have a huge TV deal like the Lakers. Lakers are making about $150M/yr via Time Warner, the Nets just took their deal to arbitration a year ago and got it doubled to $20M/yr via YES network. Indeed, they have sold a bunch of private suites in the new arena and apparently 10,000 or more season tickets. That is all nice to cover start-up costs for this new brand of a team. But $20M/yr in tv money doesn’t cover up many bad contracts. I doubt the billionaire Russian is worried, I’m sure he was looking at a 5 yr plan to get a quick 20% return on his investment. Smart business man, go huge on a new arena, sell a ton of season tickets, sell all the “Vault” suites which go for $550,000/yr (there are 11 total)… adds up to a lot of revenue right out the gate. Genius business strategy.

  • 44 Harry // Jan 25, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    Kevin,

    I apologize for my comment last night. Not only was it incredibly arrogant/unkind, it was also incorrect. I actually come here because I enjoy the articles and think they’re well written and thought out. I’m not trying to make excuses, I was just frustrated because there is just so much negativity about this team right now and I don’t share that sentiment. I read your summary in a negative tone and my emotions got the best of me. Again, I’m truly sorry.

  • 45 Forever is2long // Jan 25, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    I just finished reading a pretty insightful article about the Suns coaching change. Of particular interest is the father of K. Marshall was supportive of the change because he thought his son, who Hunter worked with daily, would be the immediate beneficiary of the move. According to the article when Marshall did not play against the Kings, Marshall’s dad tweeted something along the lines of trade him. I guess Marshall only played a grand total of 11 minutes under Gentry.

  • 46 Scott // Jan 25, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    @Foreveris2long -

    So that really IS Marshall’s dad posting on VotS? :)

  • 47 Forever is2long // Jan 25, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    Scott, that is funny man. I think USA today did the article and it was near the end where they threw in a few tid bits regarding Hunter getting the job which was allegedly strongly endorsed by Father Marshall (not a priest to my knowledge) and then he allegedly changed allegiance when Kendall did not play against the Kings.

  • 48 john // Jan 25, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    Maybe he should have taught his son to play basketball better.

  • 49 foreveris2long // Jan 25, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    Absolutely John

  • 50 Keith // Jan 25, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    Agree with everything John says. Disagree with everything Iowa says. Horrible attitude and way to think. Finally, don’t even think about trading Dudley. If you have to to get a star, sure, but otherwise it would be incredibly dumb to move him.

  • 51 Scott // Jan 25, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    Here’s the link to the article Forever is talking about:

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/2013/01/24/phoenix-suns-lindsey-hunter-los-angeles-lakers-dwight-howard-golden-state-warriors-nba-a-z/1863269/

  • 52 DBreezy // Jan 25, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    Just finished watching the game, as Reggie Miller said the honeymoon is on! In all seriousness though, outside of more energy and more historically typical shots from Beas, I haven’t seen a lot of changes under Lindsey although they’ve finished two games in a row late which certainly counts for a lot this season. Beas’ play the last two games is encouraging to me on some levels, but frustrating on others. I say that as someone who wanted the Suns to take a one year flyer on him last season in trade for Lopez whom I felt Babby/Blanks had no intention of retaining. Time will tell if Hunter is a better coach than Gentry, but Alvin certainly supported Beasley in a way that he has never been supported in his career by Spo, Rambis or Adelman. So why didn’t he play with this energy level from the start of the season? Seems to easy to blame it on a guy who supported him and makes it hard for me to expect it to continue.

    On the Marshall question, I think they have to play him whether it’s now or after the trade deadline. Telfair is clearly the better player at this point, but he’s in the last year of his deal. Bassy probably wants a multi-year deal and probably sees the writing on the wall with the team having not only a 1st round pick at the point, but another guy in Garett. From the team’s standpoint if you still believe in Marshall, you have to get him some PT vs regular season NBA guys during meaningful moments of the game. I’m sure he’ll play in SL again, but that’s just not the same for a guy who will likely be a rotation player next season.

  • 53 DBreezy // Jan 25, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    On another note, I was glad to hear Barkley call out Blake Griffin and him not being impactful to the game. I harped on this last year on AZC, but ignoring injuries I still think I’d rather have a young Amar’e than Griffin.

    Blake’s a better passer and rebounder than Amar’e was or is, but Amar’e was always more a killer even when he had no clue what he was doing. There is no way in hell that young Amar’e would let a combo of Scola, Gortat and Morris make him look that meek outside of two plays. It would be one thing if Blake just missed shots, but he wasn’t even aggressive and that ankle likely wasn’t as bad as the toe injury Amar’e quietly played through among others. I just don’t know what Blake is doing sometimes. He doesn’t always roll to the hoop on S/R’s, he passes up most jumpers, and he largely didn’t even think about doing anything on the box last night. I’m not a Clipper fan, but it’s kind of frustrating to watch him just kind of float out at there at times with his talent, choosing to try and intimidate with that dumbass stare vs taking hearts on the court like a young Amar’e did.

  • 54 hawki // Jan 25, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    @ DBreezy

    “that dumbass stare”
    You hit the nail on the head David….Griffin’s IQ might not be as high as the Clippers point total last night.

  • 55 Robert Sarver // Jan 26, 2013 at 2:59 am

    I build winners.

  • 56 DBreezy // Jan 26, 2013 at 10:02 am

    I forgot about that classic quote Robert. Sarver still isn’t the most media savvy guy as he demonstrated last week, but he has come a long way from we he said that largely by staying out of the spotlight more often.

  • 57 Kevin Zimmerman // Jan 26, 2013 at 10:20 am

    @Harry,

    It’s all good. Definitely have to look the article for what it is as a game recap. The Suns played well and won; it’s a reflection of the guys on the court and even Hunter. The Suns’ situation as a whole, I think we mostly agree, is not a good one.

  • 58 Forever is2long // Jan 26, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    Scott, thanks for finding the article for all to see. DBreezy I said after the firing I would wait 5 games to judge Hunter. The only noticeable change I can detect is Dragic is more aggressive in scoring and attempting to penetrate.

    As for Marshall, yeah they have to play him but my guess it will initially come when the Suns are down by 10 or more maybe in the 1st half of a game or certainly when we are down a lot late in a game. I suspect Hunter is trying to gain the confidence of his core players before attacking the Marshall issue. He should get a few looks tonight and or tomorrow. However it could be really ugly watching him try and guard Tony Parker or Collison.

    As for Griffin, yeah I too think Amare was always a money player though rebounding was his nemesis. I think the most glaring difference is in the playoffs when the tempo slows and Blake seems more shy in shooting his jumper. However Blake is so young I suspect he will be better than Amare by the end of his career if he stays healthy.

  • 59 DBreezy // Jan 26, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    Foreveris,

    Griffin should be better, but I don’t know if he will. His jumper looks nowhere near as nice as Amar’e’s did even by his third year, he isn’t as fierce, and he doesn’t have that quick first step.

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