Brooklyn Nets 100, Phoenix Suns 98 -- Remember Joe


PHOENIX — Oh, Joe.

The Brooklyn Nets were tied in overtime with the Phoenix Suns having possession and working with a game clock just long of 24 seconds. Joe Johnson took a long rebound off a Channing Frye miss the length of the court for a floater that left his hands just as the overtime ran dry. Nothing but net. Game over, 100-98, Nets win.

It wasn’t the first big shot of the night for the former Suns guard.

P.J. Tucker hit perhaps what would have been the biggest shot of his life in regulation. After Eric Bledsoe had missed two wide open three-pointers and after Goran Dragic knew he could will his way into the paint to find his teammates for open jumpers, he drove left and, running out of space under the hoop, flung the ball to Tucker on the right corner. Swish. The Suns led 92-90 with 40 seconds left in the fourth.

That’s when Johnson hit his first of two floaters in the lane on Brooklyn’s next possession. Dragic missed a tough floater with the clock seemingly running out. And then, Tucker nearly made the mistake of his career. He seemingly put a purposeful foul on Paul Pierce as the clock was reaching 0.00 and the game tied at 92. Somehow, the officials ruled time had run out. On to overtime.

There Dragic performed masterfully. Trailing by two points, the Suns ran off a miss and several offensive tip-attempts by the Nets. Dragic pushed the break and recorded a hockey assist through Bledsoe that ended on an alley-oop to Tucker, but after a Dragic steal and a failed scoring opportunity by Channing Frye on the right three-point wing, Johnson hit his second dagger of the day.

The end result was more heartbreak for the Suns just days after Portland stole a game from their fingertips in the final seconds.

Age was the Nets’ biggest worry if you went by the pregame questioning. Phoenix no doubt wanted to run and Brooklyn knew it had to play with urgency. It didn’t happen out of the gates.

In the first half, the Suns piled up 18 fastbreak points and behind Goran Dragic went at a pace arguably the most torrid of the season – maybe it was just the Nets looking sluggish. The tides changed toward the end of the first half.

The Nets began a 20-0 run in the final minute of the second quarter and blitzed Phoenix to take a 62-50 lead midway through the third quarter. Hornacek, who started Markieff Morris in place of Frye in the second half, substituted Frye, Marcus Morris and Gerald Green for Eric Bledsoe, Markieff Morris and Miles Plumlee.

Phoenix was back enough to force overtime but not enough to hold out for a second.

How’s the game answer Dave Dulberg’s pregame questions?

How will Plumlee fare better against the more talented Lopez brother?

If we’re going by the first half, Plumlee dealt very well with the bigger Brook Lopez. In general, the Suns that gave up at least three inches at each of the backcourt positions and quite of bit of bulk in the paint did a very good job of pushing the Nets out of the paint. Whether it was Deron Williams of Joe Johnson posting up, Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic held their own.

Back to Lopez. The Nets center missed his four attempts in the first half and had only two points, two rebounds and three turnovers, all while Plumlee collected four boards and had two dunks. But Lopez exploded for 11 points in eight third-quarter minutes.

The onslaught continued as Lopez hit 20-foot banks and 15-foot hook over a helpless Plumlee. He ended Friday evening with 27 points.

Will ‘The Dragon’ be around for crunch time?

Before the game, Hornacek said the Suns’ heartbreaking loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday wasn’t due to missed tips and a blown opportunity in the final seconds. It was how Phoenix reacted once Dragic went down with his facial injury. Suddenly, Portland turned the tables and had all the momentum – and the home crowd with it.

Against the Nets, Dragic finished with 19 points and 10 assists.

Dragic was finally able to play crucial minutes in the second half. He was part of the surge after the first wave of substitutions. As Bledsoe killed the offensive momentum and anything former Suns coach Mike D’Antoni would have called the inertia of the ball, Dragic steadied the ship as the Suns used a three-point barrage via Marcus Morris, Frye and Green to get back into the game.

After helping the Suns to overtime, Dragic got a layup and was fouled — he missed the free throw — with 1:29 left that brought a four-point deficit to two.

Which veteran four finally gets ignited?

It wasn’t the guy you might think. Kevin Garnett’s legs weren’t enough to finish around the rim with Plumlee and company lurking around, and Deron Williams left less than five minutes into the game with a sprained ankle. The Brooklyn point guard didn’t return.

Shaun Livingston took Williams’ place and caused problems, especially for Bledsoe. The rangy point guard continually got to the basket off the dribble and off pick-and-roll action. He scored 12 points to help Brooklyn find itself with a 50-46 halftime deficit despite trailing by 14 at one point. With the starters to begin the third, he had four quick assists as the Nets attacking a sleepy looking Phoenix defense that struggled to rotate to cover Lopez rolling to the hoop. Livingston ended the night with 18 points and six assists.

Paul Pierce also looked competent as a starter. He finished with 14, and despite Tucker tailing him for most of the night played like the Pierce that once donned green.

  • foreveris2long

    Power forward wanted badly. We are building character with these tough losses. I need a drink.

  • SHAZAM

    suns look scared for first time this season

  • Sunsn7

    Entertaining game. Experience won out in this game as I suspected it would.

    Just knew Joe Johnson was gonna hit that runner in the lane. Seen him do it too many times. Tough break but there are more nights like this in store for the young Suns. Im just enjoying seeing the Suns future develop right before us.

    It’s the TENACITY of this young team that is winning over Suns fans. Keep teaching them how to be hard nosed pros Hornacek!

  • Mel.

    Dammit, Sarver. If you’d just signed the guy to a nine-year, $180 million dollar contract, THIS WOULDN’T HAVE HAPPENED.

  • Scott

    The Suns were a noticeably smaller team tonight.

    They woke up Brooklyn, too – as predicted – judging by the play of the Nets in the 2nd half.

    Brooklyn suffers from a surfeit of talent. They haven’t figured out yet who has what role.

    But they’ll get it sorted, and tonight was probably a major step along the path for them.

    Heck, they might even be better off without Williams.

  • Sunsn7

    Oh..and props to Channing Frye for rising up to the challenge of KG & co. Continue working hard on D and that shot will come.

    And PLEASE get Archie Goodwin more minutes. The more this kid plays, the better he gets. He’s like a young Kobe in that the big stage doesn’t intimidate him in the least. He’s gonna be a future all star if he continues working hard.

  • dave:f32

    I said Brooklyn Nets and “wait and see”. Sure enough. Yet you scoffed at the notion, with a book of commentary on your horn-tooting expertise.

    Im a former basketball-playing basketball junkie. Grew up playing, reading, watching, studying…hs, college, nba

    You know who you are.

  • Sunsn7

    Haha who you jawing at Dave32?

  • Luka

    Looks like Markieff Morris has come back to earth the last two games. The Suns are missing that production in the paint.

    Now would be a good time to explore trades for Morris. I know Monroe has been mentioned here. Not really sure who else is available. Let’s hope McDonough pulls another miracle by February.

  • Sillmarillion

    Oh Alex Len, what a great addition to this team…
    With a proper used pick the Suns could have 2-3 more wins this season.

  • EBJM

    Hey Sunsn7, please stop posting your “horn-tooting expertise books of commentaries”, it causes Dave:F32 to posts rants.

    But I still agree with you Sunsn7, the Nets were built to win a TITLE THIS season. They didn’t look any better than the Suns.

    If Dave:F32 feels vindicated with a last-second difficult shot win over the supposedly lottery-bound Suns where Channing Frye holds Kevin Garnett to FOUR points well then, lets all give him a pat on the back!

    All those years of being a basketball junkie, studying, reading, watching H.S., College, NBA playing against Lebron James as a kid has really paid off!

    Man, you should move to Vegas and be an odds-maker for a big casino! I forget, what was the over/under that you predicted? Oh yeah, you went with even odds that gave you and every novice a 50-50 chance at predicting a Nets win! ROLMAO!

    So despite the last second floater by J.J. that enabled the Nets to eke out a victory even though the Suns were in control for three quarters of the game, what did we learn?

    Garnett is still old and washed-up but when matched up against a soft as tissue paper Channing Frye can still rebound the ball.

    Hmmm….Jason Terry scored a whopping THREE points so he still proved he is a has-been.

    Former All-Star Rickey Pierce was very ordinary with 14 points, shooting 25% from downtown matched against P.J. Tucker who played a whopping 83 minutes as a rookie and then was out of the league for FIVE years until one of the worst teams in the league signed him.

    Imagine that, despite the lucky win over who many predicted as the worst team in the NBA, the Nets high-touted trio of recently acquired veterans proved while Danny Ainge is one of the best team Presidents in the NBA.

    He obtained great value for a bunch of has-beens including one who was very close to simply retiring!

    Are you seriously trying to infer that a last-second floater against a lottery-bound team that desperately NEEDS a legitimate starting PF puts them on par with the true title contending Pacers?

    Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

    Even a blind squirrel find a nut every once in a while.

    While you might have barely won this battle Sunsn7 has still won the war.

    Sunsn7 could you ease up on the self-absorbed, horn-tooting commentaries? There are some seriously fragile egos posting here. ROLMAO!

    Everybody, please post something flattering about Dave:F32′s basketball brilliance. I for one don’t want to read another pouting induced rant. He has a habit of misdirecting his anger to the innocent fans here just trying to enjoy the camaraderie of fellow fans that have been posting together for many, many years.

    Oh Dave:F32 you remind me of Kevin, Dave, and all of the writers here all combined into one super-knowledgeable basketball fanatic! I bow in your almighty presence!

    I can’t wait for your next prediction! Who will win? The Kings? The Suns? Pick one, you’ve got another 50-50 chance of being correct! ROLMAO!

  • EBJM

    Greg Monroe 16 points 9.5 boards and a block per game

    Channing Frye 7 points almost 5 boards and a half a block per game.

    The biggest difference? Garnett does NOT grab 14 boards against Monroe.

    Sunsn7 how about a horn-tooting commentary to support the acquisition of a studly PF?

  • HunterSThompson

    I will preface this with saying that I did have a few beers during the game, so some of my perspective may be “clouded”. However, last night was the first game this season I really sensed the prevailing flaws in the Suns roster.

    When the Suns cannot run/break our offense is too heavily weighted/designed from the outside-in, where four guys stand around the perimeter waiting for one of our guards to penetrate and create. EBJM a couple of days ago talked about how the Suns historically build the team this way and last night was a glaring example of an unfinished product in need of some interior presence.

    People can explain away Channing Frye’s softness all day long by repeating the mantra “he spreads the floor”, but with no inside scoring threat or rebounding presence the offense is easy to defend and predictable. The Nets exposed it last night. What makes the outside-in offense even worse is that it puts the burden on the smallest guys (guards) to physically battle and create against both guards and bigs when they get in the paint. Watching Bledsoe and Dragic crash to the floor after acrobatic attempts may be cool in the moment, but that stuff adds up in the debits column when the physical toll of the season is to be paid. Why Slava did not get some time to bang when Plumlee looked overmatched was a bit of a question mark for me…

    On a positive note, Goodwin continues to grow…and seeing him in the same game as Joe Johnson was fun for me. Dragic continues to show more mature PG play than Bledsoe, and I would be in no rush to get rid of him if I was McD. Can these two guys exist on the same roster long term????

    On a broader note, despite the Suns clearly being overmatched talent-wise and not playing their best game, somehow they were a half-second away from winning last night! Impressive and enjoyable.

  • HunterSThompson

    Seeing Shaun Livingston out there last night was pretty cool as well. He was electrifying coming out of college and I was glad to see he is not gone from the game. For those who might be interested in a nice read about his path, check out this Grantland article from a while back. Definitely worth your while.

    http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/8934761/on-career-shaun-livingston-survived-one-worst-injuries-nba-history

  • Sunsn7

    @ EBJM sure…

    “SUNS GET A HANDLE ON JULIUS RANDLE!”

    It works for me

  • Roger

    Can we now talk about who is Suns target in the lottery – Parker, Randle or Wiggins? Or is it too early after the Suns lost two in a row?

  • dave:f32

    @Sunsn7, i dont normally feel compelled to followup or respond to the banter that proceeds a post of mine; i usually just say my peace and move on but… to follow through with this perspective of mine, and to answer ur question w/o name-dropping here is the link:

    http://valleyofthesuns.com/2013/11/10/phoenix-suns-101-new-orleans-pelicans-94-hero-ball-wins/

    Just scroll thru the comments section. I can paste a sampling…

  • dave:f32

    @Sunsn7, i said:
    A more accurate barometer of just how good our Suns are is when they play Heat, Nets, Pacers, Twolves, Raptors and Clippers, Lakers, and Mavericks… Young teams come on strong during the start of season/games but falter late. I def. like the improvements overall. Great job McD n Hornacek! Wiggins or Randle would greatly improve things,
    Oops how could i forget the Grizzlies and Warriors

  • dave:f32

    @Sunsn7, a snippet of a book of commentary on what this person said:

    I guess Dave:f32 hasn’t watched the Nets as the old guys they brought in are doing nothing but holding them back. In fact Kidd has noticed Miles doing so well he has finally relented and is starting to give younger brother Mason some burn.

  • dave:f32

    Yes, i told you so. But, it seems to me this isn`t your first time being proven wrong Lol!

    My point: ur perspective is somewhat limited, and a whole lotta bias. Dont be so dismissive of others` input. Thats all…)

  • dave:f32

    And i whole-heartedly agree with that headline, Sunsn7!!! Six degrees from a championship if we are lucky enough to draft The Julius aka Beasthandle Randle aka The Accelerator !

  • Ty-Sun

    I think I just had a “bill.thomas” flashback.

  • Ty-Sun

    And I have a sudden craving for pastrami…

  • http://none Go Phx

    This team is way too good to have any chance at a top five pick this year. Deal with it.

  • Ty-Sun

    Next up, back-to-back Sac games then Charlotte and Orlando. I think the Suns should be able to win at least 3 of those 4 games and will be disappointed if they don’t win at least 2 of them. But not too disappointed.

    After that comes Miami in Miami. If I had the cash to do it, I would fly to Miami just to watch that game in person.

  • Sunsn7

    @Davef32 I knew who you were talking about, I was just doing some good natured instigation for debate, that’s all.

    Definitely beginning to have an AZCentral feel around here…just hook up some avatars :)

  • Ty-Sun

    Even if that Suns are too good to get a top 5 draft pick, don’t count out McD’s ability to trade up. If Minnesota stays healthy, we should get their pick this year and we are definitely going to get Indiana’s pick. Washington… who knows but they are playing in the East where even a 36-46 record could be good enough to sneak into the 8th seed in the playoffs. In the West, the Suns could finish 44- 38 (which would be great considering preseason expectations) and still be only the 9th or 10th in the standings.

    But in a loaded draft as the experts expect this one to be, the Suns might be better off with 3-4 picks below the top 10 than just one pick in the top 5.

  • Sunsn7

    Yeah Ty-Sun, thats what im thinking. If they dont land a top 5, McDonough will surely utilize assets he’s compiled to see to it that a young potential superstar is acquired in the draft.

    I have the utmost confidence in the direction of the Suns

  • Ty-Sun

    @Sunsn7 – With 3-4 1st round picks this year, the Suns should be able to grab enough really good (if not great) young talent either improve the team or make some trades after the draft.

    In this years draft, a pick in the 20′s could bring in a player better than most drafted in the teens in the last 2-3 years.

  • HunterSThompson

    “If a cat is called a tiger it can easily be dismissed as a paper tiger; the question remains however why one was so scared of the cat in the first place”.
    Paul de Man

  • Ty-Sun

    Okay…

    Hunter S. Thompson supposedly passed away on Feb. 20, 2005.

    After that last post I’m beginning to wonder.

    Have you and Andy Kaufman been hanging out incognito and just fooling us all this time?

  • Smovas

    HunterSThompson, your posts seem familiar to me. Did you use to post over on AZ Central a few years ago?

  • Azbballfan

    I may have only a few more posts for a while

    i am in the process of moving from Mesa, AZ to a small town in Washington state called Ellensburg

    things will be up in the air for a while, so i will just comment on some things i saw

    I just read an article from Fox Sports Arizona that said Len will likely be back playing next week

    if that is true, that will be good news

    we have lost our last two games due to poor defense, poor recoveries, and having no real low post game

    i love plumlee, he gets most of his baskets off of cutting to the rim, on tip ins, and basically beating his man down the floor

    but it seems like the offense totally stalls when the ball goes to a bigman

    the Suns have to figure out how to get good shots without a dominant big inside

    i will suggest running screen and roles on the other team to death

    i wouldnt want anyone taking a 3 unless he is open or its in transition

    the Suns should play fast enough that they can beat teams down the court easily

    i think Hunter S Thompson is right on about the makeup of this team

    i still think the Suns, like the sixers, will end up regressing to the mean, i.e. not making the playoffs

    the NBA is really, really competitive, and most teams adjust through the season

    Suns are doing alot better than what i thought in the first 8 games or so

    Hornacek will be a very good coach, i like what i am seeing from Goodwin

    if we can get Len on the floor consistently instead of Frye it will be a big help in the paint on defense

    i love Frys shot, but he isnt the defender that Len should end up becoming once he gets playing time and confidence

    Go Suns

  • EBJM

    Yeah those old men of the Nets are really taking them to the Finals. It took so much out of Garnett and Pierce to eke out a one point victory over the Suns that they sat out with “injuries” against the Clippers.

    So what did that show us? Kidd figured out what the Suns did Miles, Mason came through with 19/6/1 and Blatche added 19/8.

    Alan Anderson filled in for Pierce and had 15 and shot 57% from downtown.

    Those three had better games against a team projected to be better than the Suns than the old guys did against Phoenix.

    Nets are 3-6 and in 13th place in the 15 team Eastern Conference.

    Yeah, lets watch out for those Nets, they are heading towards a higher draft pick than Phoenix!

  • Voqar

    “Why Slava did not get some time to bang when Plumlee looked overmatched was a bit of a question mark for me…”

    Because he’s terrible? At least Plumlee plays defense (along with reasonable offense for someone who hasn’t played much yet).

    This was another winnable game flushed by what…Frye jacking up incessant horrific shots – sure he finally hit a few but the number of horrible misses readily counter a few makes and then some. It wasn’t just Frye, but shot selection and lack of ball movement killed the suns at times.

    Lack of killer instinct. They were pummeling them and let up, let them come back. Immaturity. You could see it on tuckers 3 near the end – the team was celebrating like they won a ring and the game wasn’t over by any stretch. The confidence isn’t there.

    Yeah, one morris is back to reality and the other had an abnormally good game that still wasn’t all that great since he’s good for multiple boneheaded screw-ups per game.

    You could say this for markieff though, you can’t score if you never see the ball. With Dragic at point for the 2nd unit there’s less ball movement and he takes a lot of shots.

    Passing is infectious and gets people motivated on defense and there were stretches of utterly horrible offense in this game where nobody was passing and it was just horrific one on one after horrific isolation (or whatever you want to call it).

    We have a lot of players who do WAY better on offense on catch and shoot or catch and finish moreso than creating their own shot. Morris is one. Green is another. Frye is another. Tucker too (since he’s either out of bounds, carrying, or traveling if it isn’t a catch and shoot, and he’s not the only one).

    Dragic looks great at times but he dominates the ball a lot and it kind of hoses the offense for the times when he’s not on a roll (which is most of the time).

    I’ve seen morris give dragic flak for not passing to him on a break and I agree (while EJ defended dragic) – you reward the big guy for hustling – you give it up for the thunderous dunk that demoralizes your opponent (or their crowd, or that fires up your crowd).

    Not to mention dragic gets hurt constantly from hard fouls on layups and faking the layup and dishing for the slam eliminates that too.

    I like dragic but I think our starting 5 was better with green at the 2, and it seems like our bench does better with a passing point guard (wft-ever our other PG’s name is – he’s blazing fast and seems to be pass first/pass often).

    It’s tough to have 2 point guards on the floor at the same time when both are excellent scorers that do better with the ball in their hands.

  • dave:f32

    @EBJM:
    One thing you just refuse to understand about the NBA, it doesnt matter what team is playing…
    IT`S ALL ABOUT MATCHUPS!

    You get the impression someone (not me) told you the Nets were goin to the Finals.

    Thats just your mind playing tricks on you cuz ur trying to save face by diverting and distracting. Lol

    Any team can potentially beat any team in the nba on a given night. Its all about the personnel, and more importantly, THE MATCHUPS that will dictate the outcome of the game. EBJM, consider yourself outmatched. ;)

  • dave:f32

    Early Ball Jumper Mumbles

    Excellent Basketball Jewel Marketeer

    Es Blo Jop Moi

    Idk.. Can any of you figure out the acronym that is EBJM?

  • Scott

    I’m not sure why Kravtsov is playing so poorly. Maybe he’s not getting enough practice minutes with the team’s regular rotation players?

    He played in 25 games for Detroit last year, at 9 min / game. In that time, he netted a PER of 14. In terms of this year’s team, that’s higher a higher player efficiency rating than Marcus, Tucker, Frye, Goodwin, Len, Christmas, and Smith.

    This year with the Suns he’s played in 4 games for an average of 4 minutes / game, and his PER is a woeful -1.7.

  • HunterSThompson

    dave:f32 (paper tiger hunter/basketball oracle) –

    EBJM – Earl “Black Jesus” Monroe. Look him up and expand your mind.

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