Preview: Phoenix Suns (17-33) at Oklahoma City Thunder (37-12)

Posted by on February 8th, 12:04 pm

Time: 6 p.m. MST

TV: FSAZ

Suns

Suns

Thunder

Thunder

The Suns get enough reminders how far the franchise has fallen.

Tonight’s visit to Oklahoma City, however, provides the first half of a potential double-slap reminder of what was. Like the Suns of seven years ago, the Thunder find themselves vying with the Spurs (39-11) for the regular season title of best in the West. Like the old Suns, the Thunder have a talented, young core.

Like the once-good Suns, OKC is somewhat altered after losing a key piece of that young core (Joe Johnson/James Harden) before the group could realize its potential. And like that old Phoenix team, the Thunder have rebounded well enough with replacements (Raja Bell/Kevin Martin) to stay in the title mix.

Meanwhile the Suns — now several replacements removed from their original contending core — continue to play musical chairs when the moment for someone to step up arrives. Last week it was Michael Beasley. Against Memphis, it was Goran Dragic. At Western Conference-worst New Orleans, nobody.

Phoenix can’t afford the latter to happen again, not against a Thunder team featuring two players who excel at “stepping up” to the point they sometimes get in each other’s way.

The Suns would love for another awkward Durant-Westbrook exchange, one of the reasons Oklahoma City has won just six of its last 10 games, including a defeat to lottery-bound Cleveland.

Of course, Phoenix doesn’t have Kyrie Irving. At this point, they’re not sure which version of their own players will show up on any given night. Will it be Dragic that punches in and out for quiet 14 points and eight assists? Or will it be “The Dragon” that single-handedly won two games against a more-than-solid Memphis team?

Dragic’s consistency and P.J. Tucker’s emergence make for feel-good stories, but the Suns’ recent wins prove more is needed. Beasley’s 27 points were just enough to topple a then-struggling Lakers team. Dragic’s 15 fourth-quarter points helped steal another victory at Memphis’ expense.

Against New Orleans, no one answered the call. Subsequently, the Suns offense was out of service, mustering a meager 84 points.

In other words, more than the usual or expected is needed from someone, anyone, if Phoenix hopes to give OKC a loss to be embarrassed about.

In the process, the Suns could erase some of the embarrassment from Monday.

Matt Petersen

Matt Petersen has covered sports for websites and publications for six years, and currently works as the Sports Web Editor and sports reporter for The Deseret News in Salt Lake City. Matt lived in the Phoenix Valley until 2009, when school and a wife brought him to Utah. He completed his B.A. in Communications and Journalism at Utah Valley University, going on to be a sports reporter at The Daily Herald in Utah before moving on to his current job. Matt has covered the Suns, Jazz, and Arizona Cardinals as well as NCAA and high school sports throughout his career.

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Tags: Goran Dragic · Los Angeles Lakers · Memphis Grizzlies · Michael Beasley · Oklahoma City Thunder · Phoenix Suns

11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 ojai1980 // Feb 8, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    I hope to see a little burn for Garrett tonight, especially if the game gets out of hand early. I haven’t been able to see him play so it would be nice to see him on the court. Go Suns.

  • 2 4everis2long // Feb 8, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    Ojai, it would be nice as I think he is better that Marshall. The problem as you are no doubt aware is the Suns spent a 1st round pick on Marshall so getting him playing time is a priority. Actually I can barely watch Marshall play as there just is no excitement to his game.

  • 3 PhxSunsFanInLA // Feb 8, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    @4everis2long I think his game will get better with time. I see him being a 13 ppg 10 apg kind of player. He just needs time and hes got plenty of that in phoenix so why criticize him in his first year?

  • 4 4everis2long // Feb 8, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    @PhxSunsFanInLA  @4everis2long PhxnlA, help me see the same picture you are watching. What part of Marshall’s game has lead you to the opinion he will average 13 points a night in the NBA? Is it his acceleration, quickness, pull up jump shot, cross over dribble or athleticism that has you believing he will be a double double guy in the NBA? I am just curious.

  • 5 ojai1980 // Feb 8, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    @4everis2long @PhxSunsFanInLA
    I think if Marshall

  • 6 ojai1980 // Feb 8, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    @4everis2long @PhxSunsFanInLA
    I think if Marshall can be efficient from the field and be a good floor general I would be happy. Hopefully he can become a strong backup PG for this team. I’m just worried that this team/FO is more worried about saving face. If Garrett gets no floor time I would be curious to see if its because they don’t want to admit they made a poor draft choice. No one likes to give up on 1st round picks but plenty of times players just don’t pan out. Conversely, there are times where 2nd round picks/undrafted players can bring more to that same team. Go Suns.

  • 7 TySun // Feb 8, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    @PhxSunsFanInLA  I just don’t see Marshall ever becoming a 13/10 player in the style of offense that Phoenix plays.  If Phoenix slows down it’s offense and turns to a more deliberate half court game, maybe.  Marshall isn’t slow but he also isn’t fast or quick..  He’s just not athletic enough for a fast paced offense and he’s never going to be more than an average defender for the same reasons.

  • 8 bkkkkkkkk // Feb 8, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Two consecutive loss against OKC should take the Suns to the destination spot #15 in the west. Followed by beating Lakers in the next game that would be a nice drama to trigger the Lakers to do some insane trades before the trade deadline. Wait and see.

  • 9 BoomShakaLuka // Feb 8, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    Lou Amundson has just been released by the T-Wolves. Suns need to sign him so he can show Gortat, and Morris how to play hard.

  • 10 DBreezy // Feb 8, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Wow that was quite a performance tonight by the boys. My only question is why didn’t Lindsey waive the surrender flag earlier and put in Johnson?

  • 11 DBreezy // Feb 8, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    @BoomShakaLuka
    Kieff just needs to watch how his fellow alum Nick Collison plays to understand what he needs to do.

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