An Encouraging Loss

(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)

Call me a cockeyed optimist (feel free to insert your own punch line here), or maybe an Alibi Ike, but offhand I don’t remember a more encouraging loss for the Suns, or at least a less discouraging one.

I know, I know. Any loss is a loss is a loss. And granted, when you take it out of context this one is no exception. However, when you put it the proper context (i.e. — mine), a much brighter picture emerges.

Translation: Considering they were playing their third game in four nights against a well-rested team many still consider the best in the NBA, and when you further consider that even by their own reckoning they are at least a month away from finishing the assembly of their new personnel package, the Suns actually hung surprisingly well with the Lakers.

(To digress for a moment, conspiracy buffs note darkly that when the teams meet the Lakers always seem to be well rested and the Suns always seem to be playing their third game in four nights, and the buffs do not seem to consider this a coincidence. But that’s another column.)

In the final statistical analysis the Suns actually wound up being hoisted on their own pet petard, the three-pointer, with the Lakers outscoring them 36-27 from arc city. But they didn’t have as big an edge on the boards as you would expect, and the Suns actually scored four more second chance points.

However, upon further review, there was ONE cloud in an otherwise mostly silver lining, namely and to wit that off this first look the reigning NBA champions actually seem to have even more firepower this year than last, as demonstrated by their ability to make the Suns pay for double teams down low by burying all those threes.

But that ill omen to the contrary notwithstanding, citizens of Planet Orange have to be greatly encouraged by the play of Robin Lopez and Goran Dragic. These two works in progress made significant improvement last year, and were expected to be even better this year. And so far they have been.

Lopez, as evidenced by his 14 rebounds and 17 points, seems to be fulfilling his promise to give the Suns help in an area they have need help for as long as even the oldest citizen of the Planet (i.e. — me) can remember.

As for Dragic, he always seems to give the Lakers fits. Who can forget how he drove them to distraction (although alas not to defeat) in Game Six of the Western Finals here last year, leading a rally with his dash and daring do that almost forced a Game Seven?

Last night he came off the bench to keep the Suns afloat with 10 second period points and finished with 15 in less than 19 minutes. But even more impressive than the numbers was how his bursts of energy made the Lakers almost seem like tired old men at times (the operative word there, of course, being “almost”.) And while it borders on the sacrilegious to even THINK about, let alone say it out loud, I can’t shake the notion the Suns might have had a better shot at an unexpected W this night if he had played a little more and Steve Nash had played a little less. (Hey, I said it was a sacrilege.)

On the other hand, Grant Hill offered yet more evidence there is a fountain of youth and that he has the map to it, scoring 21 points while chasing Kobe Bryant around and making him work for his 25. Not bad for an old gaffer who was deemed ancient two years ago and washed up four years ago.

The bottom line: Yes the Suns miss Amare, but not so much the ship be sinking. If fact, it’s actually more see-worthy than I expected it to be in the aftermath of his departure.

Thoughts on the Suns' Win Over the Jazz

(Melissa Majchrzak)

Random thoughts following the Suns’ 110-94 victory Thursday at Utah:

* While everyone seemed excited about the arrival of Hedo Turkoglu (and rightfully so), Phoenix may also prove to be the perfect landing spot for Hakim Warrick. The 6-foot-9 forward finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds against a Jazz team that is stacked at his position.

* Warrick finds ways to get open and has always finished well near the basket, no matter where he’s been. With someone like Steve Nash to deliver him passes, it’s highly likely Warrick will top his career-best scoring average of 12.7 points per game, accomplished during his second season with Memphis. [Read more...]

A Phoenix Suns Wedding

So I got married a few weeks ago, and I wanted to assure Suns fans the team was very much present, as can be seen in these photos (check out my shoes), and the audio clip Suns arena announcer

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

. [Read more...]

Dragic's Sneakers Are Being Auctioned Off

In an attempt to allow fans the opportunity to capture a piece of history, an auction was started to do such a thing. [Read more...]

A One-Man Season Preview of Your Phoenix Suns

(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)

2009-10 record: 54-28

How it ended: Quite surprisingly, as a team that no one expected to make the playoffs advanced all the way to the Western Conference finals, before losing to the eventual world champion Lakers in six games. Still, you could make the case that the Suns were the second-best team to reach the NBA’s Final Four last season.

Coach: It’s a well-known fact that the guys thoroughly enjoy playing for Alvin Gentry, and in the NBA, that can carry you a long way. Especially since the Suns have adopted many of Gentry’s traits — by playing with confidence, intelligence, chemistry and professionalism. [Read more...]

Vote for the Suns as the Valley's Best Sports Team!

(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns have been nominated for “Best Valley Sports Team” based on voting conducted by Arizona Foothills Magazine! The voting has started and runs through November. [Read more...]

Vote for the Valley's Best Annual Gala!

Fans pose with the Suns and Kool & the Gang at last year’s gala.
(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)

Phoenix Suns Charities Suns & Stars Gala is up for Best Annual Gala based on voting conducted by Arizona Foothills Magazine! The voting has started and runs through November. [Read more...]

My45 to Air Suns Tip-Off Special

With everybody gearing up for the Suns’ season, there’s no better way to get pumped up for it than watching the Suns 2010-11 Tip-Off Special. [Read more...]

Suns Preseason Jambalaya

(Christian Petersen/NBAE/Getty Images)

Right now Alvin Gentry feels like a chef with the recipe for Jumbalaya staring him in the face.  A lot of ingredients are sitting on the counter, now he needs to figure out the directions and how to stir them together.  He was a master chef last season and hopes to whip together another culinary masterpiece.

You, of course, start with the main ingredient, Steve Nash.  Over the past 10 seasons, Steve’s teams have averaged 55.4 wins per season.  Only two active players have averaged more: Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki (who, I might add, won many of his games with Nash). So the chance for a successful regular season are obviously high.  Nash came into the preseason as fit as ever. He will have to work harder to create points as he now operates without Amar’e Stoudemire.  Steve and Robin Lopez have proven that they can be a highly effective pick and roll combo. Still,  it is evident so far in the preseason that Nash, who turns 37 this season,  will face even more trapping defenses and double-teams without that monster in the middle and potent low-post scorer.  Expect his turnovers to be higher early in the season as some of the new players like Hedo Turkoglu and Hakim Warrick figure out their spacing on the floor. [Read more...]

Win a Grant Hill Meet-and-Greet

It’s been seven years since methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) nearly took Grant Hill’s life. Since then, the Suns forward has dedicated himself to raising awareness to the deadly Staph infection through his involvement in Stop MRSA Now.

As part of the Stop MRSA Now sweepstakes, CLICK HERE for your chance to enter to win a trip to Phoenix for a meet-and-greet with Hill and to watch his Suns in action for a night. The sweepstakes ends October 29, and there’s no purchase necessary to enter.  [Read more...]