Preview: Dallas Mavericks (19-27) at Phoenix Suns (16-30)

Time: 7 p.m. MST






Lindsey Hunter calls the Phoenix Suns a work in progress and coming off a comeback victory against the Los Angeles Lakers two days ago, the team has a good reason to be upbeat. Defensive stops and a focused Michael Beasley led the Suns to victory on Thursday. The task of continuing to build upon the brief success is the challenge on Friday night against the Dallas Mavericks in US Airways Center.

See, the Suns have not yet shown the ability to turn confidence from a big win into building momentum. Just last Sunday against the same Dallas team was the perfect example. Two wins to begin the Hunter era sent Phoenix on the road to Dallas, where the Mavericks chopped up the Suns defense for 110 points via 27 fastbreak points and 51 percent shooting.

Furthermore, a fast-paced game between two teams that haven’t found themselves this season – and are lacking in the talent department – saw the Suns turn the ball over 18 times leading to 23 points for the Mavericks.

The Suns might be overconfident five days later. But Hunter’s tone following the victory against Los Angeles wasn’t one of a coach who had thought he’d found the magic elixir.

Hunter will get his second crack at a team for the first time as a head coach. He’ll need to help Phoenix solve a Dallas zone defense that baited the Suns into 17 three-pointers, most of which were out-of-rhythm.

Phoenix got in transition last time out, but taking care of the ball better than the last game against the Mavericks would surely help.

It helps that Dallas is coming off a late Thursday night game against the Golden State Warriors, who pulled off a tough 100-97 victory against the Mavs. So too does the injury to Dirk Nowitzki. He will miss Friday’s game against Phoenix with a strained adductor muscle in his right leg, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Of course, the Suns aren’t in any position to feel good about themselves because of Nowitzki’s absence. Shawn Marion torched them last week, and the ageless former Sun is coming off one of his best statistical games of the year. The Matrix scored 18 points and grabbed 17 rebounds last night, helping out fellow former Phoenix player Vince Carter, who had 22 points – although on 6-of-18 shooting – off the bench.

O.J. Mayo is another piece of the Dallas puzzle who will draw attention from the Suns. The shooting guard that some Suns fans wished for this past offseason has 25 points last night on 8-of-13 shooting to go with six assists and five boards (to them, I say it’s probably good to take note of Dallas’ record, which is only three games better than the Suns’ despite the Mavs getting help from Nowitzki, when healthy).

Jared Dudley speaks out against NBA Player’s Association executive Billy Hunter

Jared Dudley talked to CBS Sports’ Ken Berger about NBAPA executive Billy Hunter’s “shady” actions on Friday. Hunter, after receiving an audit that questioned his actions at his post, was placed on an indefinite leave of absence on Friday.

Most interesting of Dudley’s comments regard how players might have feared voicing their concerns about Hunter’s role and the problems in the NBAPA. The Suns wing appeared to question Hunter’s relationship with some NBA players, including Clippers guard Chris Paul.

“I feel like guys feel like there is something wrong,” Dudley said. “I just don’t know if guys know how to take action and what is the process for doing that. … The people like the Chris Pauls and the [Maurice] Evanses and the [Keyon] Doolings, you felt like they and Billy were so close and tight. If you had a problem, you’d feel like you go to them and then it goes right back to Billy.”

Conflicting reports on the Suns and Josh Smith rumors

[View the story "Do the Suns really want Josh Smith?" on Storify]

Do the Suns really want Josh Smith?

Local reporters in Phoenix, including Paul Coro and John Gambadoro, don’t believe the Suns have any interest in Josh Smith. Alex Kennedy, who reported the news, maintains his stance.

Storified by Kevin Zimmerman· Fri, Feb 01 2013 11:12:27

The stories about the Suns being interested in Josh Smith are ridiculous, there is zero interest there -ZERO!John Gambadoro
@RyGuyAZ @Gambo620 I stand by what I wrote. I wouldn’t have written the article if I didn’t have multiple sources saying the same thing.Alex Kennedy
@AlexKennedyNBA @ryguyaz I triple checked it, Suns have NO interest in Josh Smith. And have never even had a conversation with ATL about himJohn Gambadoro
Kennedy’s HoopsWorld colleague, Steve Kyler, writes that the Hawks have done background checks on some Suns. That, however, doesn’t mean Phoenix has moved toward a trade.
@Gambo620 must be confused lol
@BobbieL_AZ Nothing to report. They aren’t pursuing a trade for Smith. He might be a free agency consideration.Paul Coro
@bagman1980 The idea of trading for him seems to have no legs. He might be a free agency consideration.Paul Coro
In summation, HoopsWorld may indeed be hearing some rumors of a Suns-Smith trade. It’s hard to even understand what Phoenix could offer to make such a deal work, however, and the Suns front office would have to be offered something lip-licking good from Atlanta for any consideration.

  • Scott

    I’m not surprised the Suns aren’t looking for Josh Smith. Nonetheless, it’s good to get confirmation, because sometimes the decision making by the front office is … unpredictable.

  • Scott

    BTW, those who wished the Suns picked Sullinger over Marshall take note: the medical issue, his back, was real. Sullinger is now out for the season with back surgery.

  • DBreezy

    Too bad for Sully. I was one who wanted him or others over Marshall. Sadly, even with a back injury it appears that he may still have a more productive career than Kendall so it could be a lose-lose. Hopefully the injury forces him to go on a K.Love style fitness program as the supposed root of it is management of core muscles affecting the back according to the Celts docs. That seems like the kind of thing that is the speciality of the Suns’ docs, which was one reason I didn’t mind the risk.

  • Ty-Sun

    Yeah, I just read that about Sullinger. This makes me think that Boston may be one step closer to blowing up the Celtics this season. That probably won’t directly help out the Suns but, if they do decide to go that direction, perhaps the Suns could get involved as a 3rd team which could bring back some good – but probably not great – players.

    I know that the Hawks will probably trade Smith before the deadline and I’m wondering if the rumor of the Suns being interesting might not be due to them offering to facilitate such a trade as a 3rd partner instead of going after Smith themselves. That would actually make more sense to me. Of course our FO isn’t really known for good sense so who knows.

  • Scott

    I’m still interested in the Suns trading for Sullinger, FWIW. A medical review will be part of that process, and I believe the Suns staff will know what they can fix and what they can’t.

    In fact, all the better if the Suns pick him up early in the summer and have all summer long to advise his rehab.

  • Harry

    Looking forward to tonight’s game. I may be the only person left rooting for wins on this board. Perhaps Ty-Sun or a few others are also. Regardless, I think the long-term good of the organization is better served winning than losing. If you had a situation like the Spurs tank for Tim Duncan, it would be worth it but I just don’ t see what good will come from sucking. Read an interesting thought the other day. It went something like this. “Teams that tank tend to continue to tank long after the point where they no longer desire to.”

    So, I want to see a smart game from Beasley. Watched the highlight of all his plays from last game. The thing that stuck out was how he just caught the ball and shot. No hesitation. Remember what Yogi said. “You can’t think and shot.” Looking forward to some more good D from Tucker. Could very well be an all-NBA defensive player when the refs start respecting him. Also watching Duds. You have to stop giving up so many wide open corner threes.

    This game along with the next three are very winnable. Suns are 3 1/2 point favorites tonight. Lets get the second game of a big winning streak!

  • Kevin Zimmerman


    Spot on with the Beasley comment. Hunter sort of said in passing that he told Beasley not to think about passing (very different from Gentry, who wanted Beas to be a playmaker). Obviously, that’s made him stop thinking so much, and he hasn’t been pump faking, overthinking too much.

  • Scott

    I’m glad the Suns didn’t win tonight. I appreciated their hard play, though, and I wish Dragic had got his triple double.

    I’m guessing we won’t see Garrett or Johnson till the trade deadline is over …?

  • DBreezy

    While it is a lost season record wise, I did expect that they’d win this one coming off a nice victory vs LA and facing a DAL team without Dirk on a b2b. Oh well, like Scott said they played hard which they’ve pretty much done all season save the Detroit game.

  • Russell Suns fan

    And reality hits again, when it comes to Beasley. Fools gold. If he has streak of good games the Suns have to, I mean to take and advantage and trade him. You can make all the excuses you want for him, he is not the player you want him to be.

  • JD

    Re: Sullinger, he’ll make a full recovery and be ready for next season. That’s probably why they elected for back surgery now. Too bad he couldn’t be had for a trade on the cheap. Boston knows what they’re doing with him.

    Tonight, as poorly as Beasley shot, he actually played OK. He was at least trying to be aggressive and put forth a decent effort. He can’t be on fire every night. Nevertheless, he has a long way to go before Blanks can justify signing him.

  • bk

    I believe the New Orleans is tanking… they only play Eric Gordon at 24 min tonight.

  • Azbballfan

    Beasley had a great game the other day now comes back with a 2-14 showing

    But atleast he played hard

    I see the lakers, mavs and jazz won tonight

    Lakers are gonna have to solve their road woes if they want to make the playoffs

    You cant play every game at home

    A win over a decimated timberwolves team does not impress me

    Hopefully they dont figure it out, i want that extra lotto pick 8)

    Less than 3 weeks to go until the deadline

    we play Golden State, Memphis, New Orleans, OKC back to back, Lakers on the road and Portland on the road the night of the deadline

    Suns went 5-9 last month which is alot better than what their record could have been

    Still the Suns gotta look at the future

    They dont have the talent to win consistently and the front office keeps dragging the rebuilding process along because they wont admit that, and just blow it up and plan for the future

    Looking forward to Golden State game

  • BCrayZ

    Luis Scola is the best player the Suns have.

    Suns are lucky to have him at a bargain basement lottery price.

    Much talk on here advocating trading him, as soon as we are able. Last night, on the back end game of a back-to back, he pulled down 14 boards, while Gortat’s play was soft after he tired early in the game. Frye may never play this game he loves again. With no follow up on Frye, as Babby promised for December & no response to my inquiries from Michael before he left, my fear is that the news is not good for Frye. Even if we get a positive surprise on Channing for next year, Scola’s game would be a good compliment to that of Frye. Suns need to build around Luis. Make him a team captain. Have him encourage his old buddy Jose Calderon to join him here.

    Have Gogi encourage Sarver to take back the Brazilian Blur & Louis A. at vet minimum deals. These signings will solve our 2 guard problems & give us a good energy bench guy back in Louis that will help to build chemistry with the team. Defense is pathetic & Louis will help. So will bringing back Grant Hill. Time to admit their mistakes with these, like they did after trading Gogi, who will be better off playing the 2 guard along side someone like Nash. If the Lakers fail to reach the playoffs, they may entertain trading him back here. Let them have their draft picks back. Nash is much more valuable.Should Dwight Howard walk, the Lakers may want Gortat instead of those picks. Steve & Grant would much rather be here, with their kids. All of these moves could be done for very low cost. That makes it that much more imperative to recognize that if you want to move forward, often times the best route is to learn from experience & then step back. .