PHOENIX – Prior to Saturday night’s game in Phoenix, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said about everything he could to note his team was prepared for the upstart Suns.
“They’re legit,” Carlisle said.
Asked about former Dallas swingman and current Phoenix bench microwave Gerald Green, Carlisle reflected on the youngster growing up as a Mav, moving to Europe and then finding his way back to the NBA. And he was aware of Green’s success thus far in Phoenix.
“He can get hot,” Carlisle said.
Uh, yeah. Green scored 22 points in a 123-108 Suns win just a night after scoring 19 and helping the Suns overcome a 21-point deficit in the Mile High air of Denver.
Like it’s been across the league, games have been hard to predict. Aside from the elite and the tanking that Phoenix surprisingly isn’t a part of, the middle-ground is hazy. Tiers have yet to be sorted out and even within games — as the Suns showed against the Nuggets — there are inconsistencies easily found. Hence all the wacky comebacks.
Carlisle attempted to analyze the current NBA. You could blame the CBA of 2011 for the parity, “if you want to come up with something,” he said. “But the truth is, NBA games are long.”
But there were no comebacks in store on Saturday for Dallas, which made several pushes but couldn’t get over the hump against a Suns squad that only got better as the game grew old.
“There’s a lot of this stuff going on in the league right now,” Carlisle added. “It’s not an excuse.
“I think I had the same quote last year.”
From some fun pregame quotes to the pregame questions.
How does the Suns starting unit respond?
They responded as if they were rested, because they certainly didn’t put forth the best effort on Friday night against Denver. Phoenix led 38-25 after the first quarter thanks to nine points from Bledsoe, seven from P.J. Tucker and six from Channing Frye. But it was against the bench unit that made the huge difference. Gerald Green scored 12 first-quarter points on three three-pointers and three foul shots – if you couldn’t guess, those were on a three attempt as well.
Tucker started out the second half with a transition bucket plus the foul, then hit a corner three-pointer in front of the Mavs bench. Taking from one of Dragic’s own left corner threes earlier on this year against Golden State, Tucker shot a glare the way only he could back at the Dallas bench as a timeout was called.
It summed up the Suns’ swagger that shined bright as it did at the end of the Denver game. Tucker finished added 16 points, seven boards and four assists.
Overall, Bledsoe had the greatest rebound game of all. He scored 25 to go with six assists and hit his fair share of pull-ups along with three three-pointers.
Does Monta Ellis catch fire?
Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki got their fair share of shots but for the most part Phoenix made it tough, holding the duo to 15-of-34 shooting and 40 points. Frye had the tough task of chasing around Nowitzki to start things and, relative to the success had by Markieff Morris and Tucker when they were facing the German one-on-one, did well outside of getting into foul trouble.
The only real problem for Phoenix was lanky big Brandan Wright, who had 19 points and four blocks off the bench.
Does the back-to-back favor young legs, old legs, or neither?
The Suns showed their young legs and it was pretty clear they talked about pushing the gas pedal to the floor out of the halftime break. They scored 20 points in the first 7:38 of the third quarter before a brief lull with the bench unit.
Things got kicked up a notch once again in the forth, where the Suns scored 32 and increased their shooting percentage for the game from 45.7 percent heading to the fourth to 51.2 for the game.