Preview: New Orleans Hornets (26-50) at Phoenix Suns (23-53)

Posted by on April 7th, 10:00 am

Time: 6 p.m. MST

TV: FSA

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A run to avoid history requires the Suns win their final six games of the 2012-13 season, and reaching the 29-win mark would equal a total that Phoenix finished with the year before acquiring Steve Nash. A single loss ties them for the worst season since the 1987-88 year, and more than that, well, would historically set this team all by itself.

Phoenix hosts the New Orleans Hornets with that and a potential for a franchise-worst, seven-game home losing streak on the players’ minds. The Suns enter Sunday’s game on an eight-game losing streak.

Update: 3:40 p.m. — Garrett recalled
After a one-game stint with the Bakersfield Jam, point guard Diante Garrett was recalled back to the Suns after helping the Jam secure a No. 1 seed in the D-League playoffs. The rookie put up 32 points, six assists and six rebounds to help Bakersfield to a 106-105 win against the Santa Cruz Warriors on Saturday. View the entire game on YouTube here.

Though Phoenix has lost three in a row to three playoff-bound clubs, quarter-long lapses and failures to execute down the stretches of close games have doomed interim coach Lindsey Hunter’s team. It’s as if Alvin Gentry hadn’t left and if the team was still working through a revamped roster in early November. The difference now is that the team has a better feel for what few assets it has and who is deemed untouchable in the NBA market — if anyone.

So the Suns face a Hornets club that’s at least one step ahead in the rebuilding process. That step, of course, would be the development of first overall pick Anthony Davis, who is coming off a 24-point, 12-rebound performance in a 95-83 loss to the Utah Jazz on Friday. It was the 20-year-old’s third-highest scoring game of the year.

Phoenix also gets a look at a familiar face in center Robin Lopez, who is still averaging solid numbers of 11.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in his last 10 games, and MIP candidate Greivis Vasquez.

More interestingly, the Suns also host offseason offer sheet signee Eric Gordon, who is struggling to live up to the $58 million contract that the Hornets matched. He is averaging 16.5 points per game this year on 40.2 percent shooting from the field in less than 30 minutes per game. And not only is the fanbase in the Big Easy growing louder with its displeasure for him. Gordon was benched in the Hornets’ last game against the Jazz after getting into a shouting match with coach Monty Williams, according to The Times-Picayune.

Hidden behind the aftermath of a loss to the Golden State Warriors on Friday, Hunter’s team got some help in the draft lottery race as the Cleveland Cavaliers surprised the Boston Celtics. That victory slid the Suns to third in terms of the NBA’s worst record by a half game.

Four and a half games behind the Orlando Magic and 5 1/2 behind the Charlotte Bobcats, third might be the best the Suns are able to do.

But Hunter isn’t worrying about the lottery. While it’s widely believed that the coaching job is his to lose following this season, it’s clear he’s doing everything he can to bring the best out of his players despite the current situation. Only decisions coming from the front office can keep Goran Dragic or Luis Scola out of games moving forward.

While the decision to hire Hunter might’ve come controversially, it’s true that some of the Suns who traditionally have played the hardest are continuing to do so for their interim coach. There still appears to be fight in some of the Suns — not enough, but some — and Hunter deserves credit for holding the locker room together to some degree.

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: Draft Lottery · New Orleans Hornets · Phoenix Suns Preview

20 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Scott // Apr 7, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Eh, the Suns probably dodged another bullet with failing to sign Gordon.

    May they be as lucky in the upcoming draft.

  • 2 foreveris2long // Apr 7, 2013 at 11:17 am

    The Suns willingness to take a chance on Gordon post surgery probably means the surgery or 2 knee surgeries Noel allegedly has had since high school on the same knee probably won’t scare the Suns off. I did not want the Suns to sign Gordon because I did not think he would make them a playoff team.

  • 3 Scott // Apr 7, 2013 at 11:40 am

    I think if Gordon could remain healthy, he’d do a better job and possibly be a star or all-star.

    But he has not remained healthy, and I don’t know if that’s on the Hornet’s training staff, Gordon, or bad luck.

    At this point, he’s too expensive to take a chance on.

    BTW, speaking of the Hornets, anyone think Rivers has a good chance to rebound from a bad rookie season like Klay Thompson did?

  • 4 foreveris2long // Apr 7, 2013 at 11:57 am

    The thing with Gordon is he was injured with the Clippers.It seems as though he is injury prone. As for Rivers, I saw games where he looked really good, then other games he was a nightmare. I think he is too small to effectively play the two guard and needs a ton of work on seeing the floor to play point. However the Hornets have at least two other point guards who are better than he is so I am not optimistic he will improve a lot in New Orleans. Actually other than the Hornets coach Williams being family close to the Rivers I don’t know why they drafted him.

  • 5 Scott // Apr 7, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Mmm … Rivers appears to have at least average size and length for SG. He’s 6′ 5″, 205 lbs, with a wingspan of 6′ 7.25″.

    His NBA skill seems to be crafty ball handling. However, he lacks good court vision, so he can’t use that to create for others, and even when creating for himself he tends to get tunnel vision.

    He’s not an explosive leaper or very strong, and he doesn’t like heading to the rim for contact.

    He’s better at shooting off the dribble than off the catch.

    He’s also just a so-so defender.

    It’s possible Rivers can turn this around. He’s only 20, so he’s not even as old as most college upperclassmen. He needs to improve his catch and shoot, he needs to improve his decision-making, and generally become more efficient with his offense. He also needs to become more disciplined on defense and use his quickness and length.

    If he hoped to do more than just get into the league, he’ll probably be working on his game and do better next year. While it’s too early to say he’ll fix his problems, I’d say he’s got a better shot at it than Jimmer Fredette (who is both smaller, has less length, and older).

    I think Rivers will turn it around if he’s inclined to mature and be his own man, no longer in his father’s shadow. I doubt NO has given up on him, but if NO makes him available with his rookie contract, Rivers could be worth the risk.

  • 6 Scott // Apr 7, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    ESPN has Rivers listed at 6′ 4″ while DX has him at 6′ 5″ in shoes.

    I think the actual height is closer to 6′ 4.5″ in shoes, as he’s 6′ 3.5″ in bare feet.

  • 7 Ty-Sun // Apr 7, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    I still think that the run the Suns made for Gordon was mostly just for show. NO couldn’t let him go without getting something in return for him even though, in hindsight, they might have been better off doing so.

  • 8 foreveris2long // Apr 7, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    While some have listed Rivers at 6’5″ ESPN and others have him listed at 6’4″ with his shoes on. This isn’t a bad height but without excellent hops I think he is a bit undersized at the 2 spot. Compare him with a Klay Thompson at 6’7″ and other off guards who are taller with good hops he seems to be at a disadvantage defensively.

    With the above said I wanted the Suns to draft him if certain 2 guards and Henson were not available. I think on the right team he will become a pretty good player. I love his 1st step. I also think he can work on his game and become a good point guard. Anyway I like him and agree he will become a good player I just do not know if it will happen in NO.

  • 9 Scott // Apr 7, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    @Ty-Sun -

    Yeah, but that implies the Suns FO are closer to being masterminds than drooling dolts. Is that possible? :)

  • 10 DBreezy // Apr 7, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Foreveris,

    Gordon was injured at IU as well.

  • 11 Ty-Sun // Apr 7, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    @Scott – That was actually a fairly simple ploy. Make a play for a restricted free agent that you are fairly sure that the other team won’t let go. You loose nothing but you at least look good to the fans as trying to sign an upper tier player. I do think that the FO probably wanted Gordon but probably weren’t too upset when NO matched their offer.

    And on a different note, the Clippers are ahead of the Lakers by 12 at the end of the 3rd quarter. Go Clips!

  • 12 Scott // Apr 7, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    @Ty-Sun -

    For all we know, that was the plan with Dragic as well, except he chose to come to the Suns even though the Suns were offering less money than Houston.

  • 13 bill.thomas // Apr 7, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    Does anyone know anything about a right held by the Cavs to take the Lakers’ pick if desired? This might keep the pick away from us at 14 if it is true. This was mentioned on BSOTS the other day but with little explanation.

  • 14 Scott // Apr 7, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    @bill -

    The draft picks have complicated deals on them. Feel free to sort through it.

    Here is the operative line though:

    “If the L.A. Lakers’ 1st round pick is within the top-14 selections, Phoenix will automatically receive the L.A. Lakers’ 1st round pick.”

    Cleveland

    2013 first round draft pick from Miami
    Miami’s own 2013 1st round draft pick to Cleveland. [Cleveland - Miami, 7/9/2010]

    2013 first round draft pick from Sacramento
    Sacramento’s own 2013 first round draft pick to Cleveland (top-13 protected in 2013, top-12 protected in 2014, top-10 protected in 2015, top-10 protected in 2016 and top-10 protected in the 2017 Draft) If Cleveland has not received a first round pick from Sacramento by 2017, then Sacramento shall convey their own 2017 2nd round draft pick to Cleveland provided it is within the top-55 picks. If it is not, then Sacramento’s obligation to Cleveland shall be extinguished. (Cleveland-Sacramento, 6/30/2011)

    2013 first round draft pick from L.A. Lakers
    Cleveland has the right to swap the least favorable of their own 2013 1st round pick, Miami’s own 2013 1st round pick and Sacramento’s own 2013 1st round pick (top-13 protected) with the L.A. Lakers own 2013 first round pick (top-14 protected). If the L.A. Lakers own 2013 first round pick is #1-#14, then the L.A. Lakers’ obligation to Cleveland shall be extinguished. [Cleveland-L.A. Lakers, 3/15/2012]

    LA Lakers

    2013 first round draft pick to Phoenix
    The L.A. Lakers will send the least favorable of their own 1st round pick (top-14 protected), Cleveland’s own 2013 1st round pick, Sacramento’s own 1st round pick (top-13 protected) and Miami’s 2013 1st round pick to Phoenix. If the L.A. Lakers’ 1st round pick is within the top-14 selections, Phoenix will automatically receive the L.A. Lakers’ 1st round pick. [L.A. Lakers-Phoenix, 7/11/2012]

    2013 first round draft pick to Cleveland
    Cleveland has the right to swap the least favorable of their own 2013 1st round pick, Miami’s own 2013 1st round pick and Sacramento’s own 2013 1st round pick (top-13 protected) with the L.A. Lakers own 2013 first round pick (top-14 protected). If the L.A. Lakers own 2013 first round pick is #1-#14, then the L.A. Lakers’ obligation to Cleveland shall be extinguished. [Cleveland-L.A. Lakers, 3/15/2012]

    Phoenix

    2013 first round draft pick from L.A. Lakers
    The L.A. Lakers will send the least favorable of their own 1st round pick (top-14 protected), Cleveland’s own 2013 1st round pick, Sacramento’s own 1st round pick (top-13 protected) and Miami’s 2013 1st round pick to Phoenix. If the L.A. Lakers’ 1st round pick is within the top-14 selections, Phoenix will automatically receive the L.A. Lakers’ 1st round pick. [L.A. Lakers-Phoenix, 7/11/2012]

  • 15 Scott // Apr 7, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    BTW, wasn’t that an interesting use of being sent to the D-League? Maybe the D-League actually called the Suns and asked for Garrett.

    “Update: 3:40 p.m. — Garrett recalled
    After a one-game stint with the Bakersfield Jam, point guard Diante Garrett was recalled back to the Suns after helping the Jam secure a No. 1 seed in the D-League playoffs. The rookie put up 32 points, six assists and six rebounds to help Bakersfield to a 106-105 win against the Santa Cruz Warriors on Saturday.”

  • 16 Examine: Brand New Orleans Hornets (26-50) at Phoenix Suns (23-53) | Ties // Apr 7, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    [...] Examine: Brand new Orleans Hornets (26-50) at kunne Phoenix Team (23-53) Just one reduction ties them for any most detrimental period since the 1987-88 yr, and much more than which, well, would certainly in the past arranged this particular team all by itself. Phoenix hosts the New Orleans Hornets with this along with a potential for a franchise-worst,… It was the actual 20-year… Reading more on Area from the Team [...]

  • 17 foreveris2long // Apr 7, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    Utah is standing tall so far against Warriors. Jazz up 8 at half time. DBreeze good info, I forgot about his college injuries.

  • 18 Azbballfan // Apr 7, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    Gordon is a good player but he was not worth a max deal

    too many players these days think they are worth max deals

    there might be 5 guys in the NBA right now that deserve the max

    having Gordon clog up the hornets cap space to the tune of 4 years 58 million is better than the suns spending that, especially since they are so terrible on defense in rebounding that even an elite scorer isnt going to take you very far

    I hope the Jazz win and pu the screws on the Lakers with a few games to go

    Hopefully, resigning babby doesnt come back to haunt us and he goes out and gives josh smith a max deal

    it is much better to rebuild through the draft then become a marginal playoff team with two huge cap clogging contracts that will be hard to trade at the end of their duration

    If the Suns won 30 more games next year they will still be only 500 which is something like 7th or 8th seed garbage

    2014 draft looks to be a lot better than the 2013 one and Babby and Blanks need to put their heads together and get us a 2014 pick

    No one on the Suns should be kept except Dragic and Johnson

    unless someone wants to return for a reasonable deal, get em outta here

    that includes hunter as well

    somebody that gets into the head coaching position for basically political reasons (i.e. buddy with lance blanks or sarver or babby, no actual nba coaching experience at all)

    better be a damn miracle worker

    The Suns looked bad under Gentry but have looked pathetic for most of the time under hunter, not counting miracle victories over the rockets and spurs

    Dudlely, JO, Frye, and tucker all deserve to play on better teams

    i dont trust this front office to handle a top 5 pick, even in what may be the worst draft since the 2000 draft

    we need a coach and a system that works and a front office with more than a basic understanding of how to evaluate talent

    this is the 3rd straight crap season from a team that was on the cusp of the finals just a few years ago

    both Morris twins and Marshall look like career backups

    if a decent deal comes along involving them i would pull the trigger

    Marcus barely plays so what was that trade for?

    Markieff is shooting almost as bad as Beasley

    and Marshalls a great passer and has great size but brings little else to the table

    cant defend, rebound or score

    i would love for the Suns to prove me wrong and have the Morris twins become 15 and 8 guys and Marshall to really improve but how realistic is that?

    The Suns have not developed an allstar since Stoudemire, a player they took 10 years ago

    in fact you could argue all the Suns draft picks they let go, became much better as soon as they got away from the Suns player development staff

    if Babby really wants to finish the job he started when he was he hired, he needs to gut the team, again

    Fans dont care about marginal playoff teams that have ran out of cap space

  • 19 foreveris2long // Apr 7, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    Jazz Win!!!!!!

  • 20 Azbballfan // Apr 7, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    Woohoo!

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