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Suns Stuff't - A Phoenix Suns Blog | Page 7

Written by Jamie D. Gilkey | 27 March 2011

For decades there was a popular rallying cry in Texas that went like this - 'Remember the Alamo!!' and there were plenty of people who raced to defend the barricades after hearing that special call.
Well this evening it is time for the Phoenix Suns to reckon with where they stand as the 2010-11 NBA season winds down and our favorite franchise readies to take their stand against the Dallas Mavericks and one of the toughest defenses in the Western Conference.
The Vegas/Reno oddsmakers are touting the game as a close one with Dallas favored by 2.5 points over at the Las Vegas Hilton and our friendly guys behind the counter at Circus Circus Reno carrying the Suns as mere 2 point underdogs. The green eyeshade types are also expecting a fairly high scoring contest with the Hilton's Superbook setting the over/under at 207.5 and our buddies in Reno setting the over/under bar at a slightly more offensive minded 208.5.   
Such nip-and-tuck odds come despite the Suns going going down to defeat 112 - 106 the last time they met Dallas back on Feb. 17th are a real compliment for a Phoenix team that has seen its record sour in recent games as they have won just four of their last ten contests. One of those losses being the most memorable game of the season as Phoenix staged three dramatic comebacks and forced the Los Anegles Lakers into three overtime periods before finally biting the dust 139 - 137 back on March 22nd.   
If these odds play true to form it would mean an exciting game is on tap for ESPN viewers when this hardcourt duel begins at about 8:00pm West Coast time. But to make that happen - Vince Carter will have to get his shot back once again. That's right --- Vince must have a whale of a game tonight or its going to be a long and grumpy night. 
Yes --- we have been big fans of Vince Carter coming to Phoenix --- but we can't afford a repeat of his scoreless and virus infected performance against the New Orleans Hornets on March 25th.  
The last time these two teams met -- Carter hit for 16 points. Not a bad night but the wily veteran wasn't setting any records or blazing any offensive trails. Not like his 33-point spectacular against Oklahoma City on Feb. 4th or his 32-point performance against Houston on March 8th. That's the firepower we're going to need to take Dallas out and nudge closer to the play-off berth that the Memphis Grizzlies so jealously protected in the close call victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
Here's hoping Vince can get it done.Wink
See ya'.           

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Written by Jamie D. Gilkey | 18 March 2011

With Steve Nash getting back up to speed - tonight's home game against the Golden State Warriors presents an excellent opportunity for the Phoenix Suns to put the brakes on the talespin that has staggered them since March 8th and cost Phoenix four straight losses.
While the Vegas/Reno oddsmakers have the Suns as the favorite in this Western Conference rivalry game - they are being quite stingy with the point spread - and that is presenting Suns fandom with an ideal wallet fattening moment. 
Unless - of course - you believe that a play-off minded Suns squad won't be able to win a home game by more than 5.5 points against a Golden State team that has virtually no rep for defense. (That's the spread with our friends at Circus Circus Reno - by far the nicest guys in the sports betting business)
Just looking at the Suns previous performances against the Warriors - they've knocked down three wins in a row this season by an average margin of 14 points - it is hard to fathom where the spread is coming from. 
Surely Golden State has a hard core of loyal followers in the Vegas area - but the Suns have blown apart the spread in each of this season's games. And in their last meeting Phoneix won by 24 points (112-88) despite the spread being a mere 6.5 points. 
So - if you have a few extra greenbacks - let the Suns pay for the steak tonight by betting big and getting ready to collect. Money mouth  
Just make sure you do it nice and legal baby.Innocent
See ya'     

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Written by Jamie D. Gilkey | 16 March 2011

After a startling run that had the hallmarks of play-off ball written all over it, the Phoenix Suns have caught a case of bad gas that has stalled their impressive February/ March move as our team has lost four games in a row. The latest is this evening's almost win that sent a shiver of disappointment through Suns fandom when an impressive 30-point fourth quarter still left us with a 100 - 95 defeat at the hands of the New Orleans Hornets. 
The game saw the Suns hit the Vegas point spread on the mark.
Remember Intrepid Reader - when you are on the losing end - that is not necessarily a good thing. 
The combined Suns/Hornets score was just a shade below the 197.5 that was on the board over at Circus Circus Reno. Just to keep the record clear, the lack of offensive firepower  was closer to what they expected at the Las Vegas Hilton where the line was just 196.5. But - except for you low-ball bettors who now have a little more folding money in your pockets - the first three quarters left us with nothing positive to say about this game as Phoenix scored only 65 points in the first 36 minutes.
Yes - the Suns spent the first three stanzas playing like they had the wind in their faces - leading to a lot of head scratching here at Mission Control.
It was only after the offense began to click - with Vince Carter and Jared Dudley hitting nearly 60% of their seventeen 3-point shots and proving they can be an incredible one/two punch - that the Suns actually made a game of it. Surprised 
Not that we don't have reason to hope for another rise from the dead before the season is out.
After all - the Suns make their home in a town called Phoenix and Steve Nash spent Wednesday evening back in the line-up after being sidelined for the previous two games.
But - as we enter the waning days of the season - something has got to give soon. Very soon.YellYell
See ya'    

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Written by Jamie D. Gilkey | 03 March 2011

Admit it.
During the past six weeks it has once again become fun to be a Phoenix Suns fan. Wink
Sure - we still don't have a play-off spot nailed down and Wednesday's 115 - 103 loss to Boston was a bit disheartening. But we are seriously on the move and so far it has been a great late season run. 
Yes - the Suns winning 11 of their last 15 games has put some extra pep in the step for all Suns fandom and they are feeling it down to their bones. But the wins don't tell the whole story. Sure - we need them - but they aren't the whole ball of wax.
Instead, there is a growing sense around the team that they have a little bit of destiny in them - and that's a good thing.
Just ask Channing Frye how it feels to be the talk of the league after hitting those buzzer beaters that brought home key Suns wins in the waning seconds of two recent games and you'll know what we mean.
Add to that the growing respect being commanded by Marcin Gortat every time he takes the court as the Suns center and adds to his impressive string of double doubles. (Remember - Gortat has achieved five of those in his last eight games)
And don't forget Grant Hill's stunning 34 points, 9 rebounds, 1 block and a steal against the Indiana Pacers back on Feb. 27th. Yep - the kind of performance that makes you want to put him back on the front of the Wheaties box.
Then there is the Suns real Man of Steel - the man who runs the offense and is the true emotional leader of the squad. You know him - Steve Nash.
Nearly 37 years and one month old - Nash is having the kind of year that makes even his long lost cousins proud to know ya'. With an average 16.2 points and 11.3 assists per game, he remains the pride of the franchise. 
And the addition of Aaron Brooks - he was picked up from the Houston Rockets with the trade deadline looming - also adds a little juice to what is an already revamped offense. Just look at his 17 points and 7 assists during 21 minutes on the court against Boston - enough said. 
So while you're waiting for that Friday evening game coming up against Milwaukee on March 4th - just close your eyes, put on those shades, knock down a cold one and enjoy the moment.
'cause the Suns are making their move and the play-offs are within our grasp.
See ya'  Cool 

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Written by Jamie D. Gilkey | 23 February 2011

In a stunning night of post-All Star basketball, the Phoenix Suns pushed above .500 again with an upset 105 - 97 win over the Eastern Conference powerhouse Atlanta Hawks. The win came on the backs of three extraordinary performances by a Suns team that continues to jell as the season progresses. The Suns scoring leader was Channing Frye who carpet-bombed the Hawks for 20 points including four crucial shots from 3-point range. The lanky veteran's attack was a reminder of just how on fire Frye can get from beyond the arc and helped put down a second half Atlanta rally that saw the Hawks outscore Phoenix 50 - 44 in the last 24 minutes of play and threatened to steal this one from the Suns.

Along with Frye finding his range - and Phoenix fandom owes a few Hail Marys for that one - the biggest development of the game for the Suns faithful is the burgeoning relationship between longtime stellar guard Steve Nash and the rapidly blossoming talents of Marcin Gortat. While the chemistry is still brewing, this tandem has the potential to reach the Nash-Stoudemire level and return the Suns to the offensive prowess that it once held as one of the biggest scoring machines in NBA history.

Not to say that we don't miss Amar'e. After all - we tout him for the Hall-of-Fame every night in our sleep. 

But Gortat has been notching-up a string of double-doubles this season (he had 13 points and 12 rebounds against the Hawks) and Nash hit for 13 points in addition to his 10 assists in the unexpected victory. And the pair is the driving force behind the Suns inching toward a possible Western Conference play-off berth. 

We know - the Suns are truly a team for the stout of heart this season. But we sure can dream.Cool

See ya' 

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Written by Jamie D. Gilkey | 13 February 2011

This evening's game against the Sacamento Kings gives the Phoenix Suns an opportunity to climb their way toward a play-off berth - and we're convinced they will exploit it to the hilt. So take your wallet and dash to the nearest LEGAL betting window to put your farm on the line because it is time for the Suns to punish those oddsmakers in Vegas - and Reno - for underrating their hardwood exploits.
Sure the Suns have a slight home game advantage having gone 15 - 11 in the US Airways Center since the season began and that should help them overcome the Kings. But since late January they have been bolstered by something more than that. 
You see - Phoenix is finally starting to jell. And their oncourt chemistry is yielding real results.    
Just look at the impressive roll they have been on during the last two weeks while taking home wins in 6 of their last 7 games. That performance has propelled the Suns above the .500 mark for the first time this season and is putting them within reach of the ninth best record in the NBA West.
With just a few more W's in hand - they can climb into the play-off mix and all of Suns fandom is waiting with bated breath.  
Sure - nothing looks quite the same as last season's play-off crashing squad that took the Suns to the Western Conference finals. But the Phoenix Suns of February are a far cry from the hardwood disaster of two months ago. They have - indeed - come a long way baby.Cool
And - as the Suns have gained in confidence - Alvin Gentry has been given a reason to smile on the coaching bench. So we're convinced that tonight the Suns aren't going to allow a repeat of the 94-89 loss to Sacramento that they suffered back on Jan. 2 and this game will be a textbook case of oncourt revenge. The key will be shutting down the Kings number one asset - DeMarcus Cousins - and reminding the rookie that he will not have another 28-point night at the Suns expense.  
That could lead to a ridiculous number of Robin Lopez fouls early - but with the exception of Friday's 95-83 win over the Utah Jazz - the Suns have learned not to depend on Lopez for much action.
So put your money down and give up the 9.5 points that Phoenix is favored by on the spread. After all - the Suns should win this one by double digits going away. Money mouth  
See ya' 

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Written by Jamie D. Gilkey | 30 January 2011

Sometimes - all it takes is a leap of faith.
And we're not talking about a little hop or a small jump. We're talking a LEAP!

That's what it is all about when Phoenix embarassed the Boston Celtics on Friday night and that's what it will be when the Suns face the New Orleans Hornets on our home court this evening. The Suns have been given some credit by the Vegas/Reno oddsmakers and are favored by 2 points in what looks to be a lightly bet game. The oddsmakers are also expecting a relatively light scoring game with the over/under coming in at just 196.5 points - a number that underrates the scoring power that Phoenix has displayed in virtually all of their home games so far this season.

Yeah - we know - the Suns only scored 88 against Boston but Phoenix did slow down after their lead jumped to double digits.

The Suns have been improving since a very rocky season start and the combination of Steve Nash, Grant Hill, Vince Carter, Jared Dudley, Channing Frye and Marcin Gortat is shaping into a better than .500 roster and Phoenix has taken home victories in 6 out of the Suns last 10 outings on the hardwood. The Suns also have a slight home court advantage (12W - 10L) and an enthusiastic local crowd that should help them if the going gets tough after the 5pm Phoenix time tip-off (8pm EST for those of you in New York).

The Battle of the Guards pitting our man Nash against the Hornets Chris Paul as each offensive leader commands their respective scoring machines will be the headline dual of the night. Nash - who missed getting a spot on the NBA All-Star starting line-up despite being mucho deserving - will be at the helm of what remains one of the most productive offenses in the game today. Look for Grant Hill to join Nash in trying the get Phoenix out to an early lead and the Suns to try some good old fashioned 3-point shooting from Channing Frye and Vince Carter in the early part of the first quarter. 

We're convinced that taking a let-it-fly from outside the arc approach will yield big time points against a New Orleans defense that isn't known for being very formidable. Hey - they gave up 102 against the Sacramento Kings last night and lost 102 - 96 against a Kings team that has only won 12 games all season.

Getting less hype than the Battle of the Guards - but an equally interesting struggle between pros - will be the match-up pitting our centers (Robin Lopez & Marcin Gortat) against the Hornets big man Emeka Okafor. A rebounding beast who is snagging nearly 11 boards a game this season - Okafor is a solid shot blocker who should be expected to dampen the Suns often underperforming inside game.

We wouldn't surpirsed if Lopez is thoroughly schooled by Okafor as the 7-foot RoLo struggles to earn his stripes in advance of the looming trade deadline. But we are confident that Gortat will pick-up from where he left off in the Suns 88 - 71 win against the Boston Celtics back on Friday. In that impressive win against one of the best teams in basketball - Gortat blew the doors off with 19 points and 17 rebounds.

Yes - we finally have a quality center - and he has ARRIVED!His name is Gortat.

So bet the ranch on this one and cross your fingers because we are - dear readers - getting ready for a play-off run and the Hornets are just going to be another casualty as the Suns start cruising down the highway of life in the NBA's Western Conference.

See ya'

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Written by Jamie D. Gilkey | 23 January 2011

While we were on the mark when it comes to the Suns vs. Wizards contest back on Friday - the Suns blew past the point spread and won it 109 to 91 - the afterglow of that impressive win has definitely been snuffed-out by our 1-point loss to the Detroit Pistons yesterday. 
And what a painful defeat it was. 
You see - Phoenix was ahead by 61 - 47 as the thrid quarter came to a close and we only needed just 12 more minutes of decent basketball to stretch our winning streak another game and hit the much vaunted .500 mark for the season. Sure - that's nowhere near last season's overachieveing performance but it is an important milestone nonetheless.
But -with victory firmly in their grasp - our team fell apart with the worst point scoring quarter of the year. 
Oh - the agonyYell  Yell
Yes - of course - it is tough to play two NBA-style games back-to-back and traveling to Detroit has never been a picnic. Especially in the mid-January cold.
But the Suns were not the only team on the court struggling with tired leg syndrome and exhaustion. The Detroit Pistons were also playing the second game of a back-to-back. And coming off a 15-point loss to the New Jersey Nets - the Pistons had an even bigger excuse for going down in flames.  
But they didn't back down.
Instead - led by the consummate professional Tayshaun Prince and his 17 points and 13 rebounds - the Pistons thrilled their hometown crowd and sent the Suns packing.  
It could very well be a case of the Suns old legs catching-up with them in what is definitely a young men's sport. 
That could explain Grant Hill hitting an unusually weak 4 of 14 from the floor and Vince Carter knocking down just 3 of his 11 shots. Channing Frye making just 3 of his 14 attempts didnt help either and let's not forget Robin Lopez re-affirming our profound desire to see him dumped off the roster by scoring just 4 points during more than 14 minutes of playing time. 
Hey RoLo - what's the sake of being the biggest player on the court if you lack basic coordination and the requisite skills to make it in the NBA??
The only bright spots for the Suns were Steve Nash and Marcin Gortat.
Despite the sluggish pace of both teams Nash hit for 14 points and passed for 8 assists. Gortat has been coming into his own since joining the Suns 15 games ago and against the Pistons he contributed 11 points and 13 rebounds in 33 minutes on the court. Knocking down better than 70% of his shots - Gortat had the best shooting percentage of any Suns player all night.  
So - dear faithful - the struggle for a spot in the play-offs continues as Phoenix hunkers down and the Suns prepare to go up against Philly at 7:00pm EST on Monday. 
Yes - the Suns are facing the same Seventy-Sixers team that stunned the Utah Jazz on Staurday with a 96 - 85 win. 
More on that one tomorrow.
See ya'  

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Written by Jamie D. Gilkey | 21 January 2011

Buoyed by the stellar All-Star level performance of Vince Carter against the New York Knicks, Marcin Gortat's 16-point/12-rebound night against Cleveland and the persistent greatness of Steve Nash and Grant Hill, the Suns have begun hitting their stride with a 4-game winning streak.
Sure - they are in a soft spot in their schedule but they currently have the best opportunity they've had for a play-off run all season. There's also a real sense of momentum around the franchise and tonight's contest against the dismal Washington Wizards (they've won only 12 games so far this season) offers Phoenix the prospect of a comfortable win that will put the Suns within reach of a .500 season and move them one-step closer to being within reach of a play-off berth.
Despit that prospect those nasty oddsmakers in Vegas/ Reno are actually carrying Washington as narrow 1-point favorites. In light of the Suns impressive 125 - 108 win against the Wizards the last time these two teams faced-off in December - the logic of such a spread totally escapes us here at www.sunsstufft.com.
Sure- the Wizards have won their last four at home.
But the Suns are on the move - they have the Big Mo coming into tonight - Grant Hill has nailed 20 points or more in each of the last three games and the offense appears to be firing on all cyclinders. So - loyal Suns fandom - it is time to rush to the nearest betting window and bet the whole farm on Phoenix beating both the spread and the Wizards. 
Along with Hill playing like a true offensive wizard and scoring big - look to Vince Carter to recover from his stalled point production against the Cleveland Cavaliers - in a game that saw him hit just one of six shots from the field during 35 minutes of playing time while hauling in 8 defensive rebounds and 3 steals. With an eye toward the NBA All-Star voting that's now at a fever pitch - we expect Vince to push his scoring output to the max.
He may even crack the 29-point mark achieved against the Knicks in Madison Square Garden two games ago. 
Either way - it should be a fun contest as the Suns headliners strut their stuff against a Wizards team not known for their defensive skills.
See ya'    

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Written by Jamie D. Gilkey | 17 January 2011

In the hardwood battle shaping-up today two things are clear - the Suns are facing an uphill contest against the New York Knicks and as 6-point underdogs they really need Marcin Gortat to make his mark down low if they are going to keep it as close as the Vegas/ Reno oddsmakers are suggesting.
Last time these two teams met back on Jan. 7th - Phoenix went through a meatgrinder and lost by 25 points. Throughout that 121 - 96 contest the Suns struggled to tie down former teammate Amar'e Stoudemire and failed to keep that Hall-of-Famer (yes dear reader - we still carry a torch) from making his mark. In the end, Stoudemire's impressive numbers (23 points, 2 blocks and 9 boards) were only limited by his lack of court time.
Who knows what Amar'e could have accomplished against the Suns Swiss cheese defense with just an extra ten minutes of floor time?
Stoudemire's brilliant performance was in marked contrast with Gortat's poor performance (zero point, 5 rebounds, 1 block and 2 turnovers) during 13 minutes on the floor and the equally unhappy showing of Robin Lopez who knocked down just 2 points during seven minutes on the hardwood. Oh - we almost forgot - Lopez also had no rebounds and no shot blocks during his time in the line-up. 
Since joining the Suns - Gortat has definitely upped his production by nearly doubling his point scoring from 4 ppg during his 25 games with the Orlando Magic this season to 7.7 points per contest since coming to Phoenix. The 3-year NBA veteran is also snagging 20% more rebounds with 5.5 rpg and is playing a vital role in what the Suns have for a defense with 1.1 shot blocks per game. But he hasn't shown the ability to truly shine against an aggressive uptempo offense like the Knicks. And until he can keep the pace going on both ends of the court - Phoenix will remain hobbled when it comes to winning the big game.
So - while we don't want to rain on the Suns 2-game winning streak - we are not optimistic about this afternoon's contest and would recommend staying away from those betting windows today. 
Yes - even those great guys at Circus Circus Reno won't be seeing our smiling faces today. 
See ya'     

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