SUNS KNOW HAWKS WILL LOOK TO SOAR


For the second-straight contest, the Phoenix Suns will be looking to ground a team with payback on their minds. After the Rockets came out firing against them on Wednesday night, the Suns are expecting a similar attack from the Hawks on Friday.

After finishing the month of February with four-straight wins, the Suns managed to snap Atlanta’s streak with a 92-87 victory at US Airways Center. The Hawks then proceeded to lose five of their next six outings, and could now be without the services of their star swingman Josh Smith.

“It doesn’t matter who they have,” Suns Head Coach Lindsey Hunter explained. “We have to go in playing with the mentality that they’re at full strength.”

“They’re a good team and their record shows that,” Suns guard Goran Dragic said. “When a guy like Josh Smith is out, other guys step up, and they’ve got lots of guys who can do that.”

While the Hawks may not necessarily be playing for their playoff lives like the Rockets were on Wednesday, they are fighting for position. The ballclub currently finds itself seventh in the Eastern Conference playoff race, but are still within striking distance of home court advantage in the first round.

As far as whether or not the Hawks remember that March 1 loss to the Suns specifically, the playmaker said he knows from experienced that will most likely be the case.

“I can say from being on playoff teams in the past that when you lose against a bad team, players and coaches get mad,” Dragic said. “And coaches will emphasize, ‘Remember what happened the last time’ which is why he have to be focused. They’re going to be looking to put us away right from the start and we have to fight and make sure that doesn’t happen.”

“When a team has a record like ours and we beat you, opponents do kind of say, ‘Wow, you’re not supposed to beat us,’” Hunter explained. “But we’re going to keep fighting, I’m going to keep pushing our guys as well as myself every day.”

CENTER OF ATTENTION

Having played the last 13 seasons in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, there aren’t many big men more qualified to dissect Al Horford’s game than Jermaine O’Neil. On Thursday, Suns.com asked the former Eastern Conference All-Star to break down what it is that makes the Hawks star one of the more unique centers in the league.

“I think where he’s excelled is in his ability to pick and pop,” the Suns center explained. “Most centers aren’t used to guarding pick-and-pop players, but Horford does a really good job of both hitting jumpshots and finding ways to get to the basket. I think that’s where he’s able to take advantage of a lot of mismatches.”

Lindsey Hunter agreed with O’Neil’s assessment, and said he considers the Hawks big man to be a little old school in terms of his play.

“Al is a throwback player,” Hunter told Suns.com. “Nothing fancy but still gets the job done. He works extremely hard and that’s helped him to expand his game over the past few years.”

Horford’s hard work has been especially paying off as of late, and when he takes the floor against the Suns on Friday will be coming off of a 14-point, 14-assist performance against the Lakers.

NICE GUYS DON’T HAVE TO FINISH LAST

On Thursday, Lindsey Hunter was asked whether it’s possible for swingman Wes Johnson to develop a killer instinct as a scorer despite being such a nice guy. Hunter said he not only thought it was possible, but also compared him to a former teammate with whom he played in Detroit.

“I’ve seen several guys with the same demeanor who turn out to be phenomenal scorers in this league,” Hunter said. “Just look at Allan Houston. A guy like that could light you up, and that’s what we’re trying to get (Wes) to become.”

Is There Ever “Just Another Game”?

As sports fans, we tend to be a fickle bunch. For example, if given the option of watching your NBA team win in a blowout or on a last-second jumper, can you say with confidence which you’d prefer? The former option means rest for the starters, but the latter option means a lot more excitement. And while a back-and-forth contest might capture your intrigue a lot more than a lopsided victory, it might not be the best thing for your heart. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Being in Houston, I’m finding another dilemma that sports fans often find themselves matched up against. When speaking with athletes who are about to face their former team, do we want to hear the cliché “it’s just another game” answer, or do we want something more? Logically, we should hope that players feel that every game is as important as humanly possible, but following sports isn’t always logical. In fact, it sometimes involves face paint. [Read more...]

Suns Discuss Favorite All-Star Memories

With over 50 years of history, you’d expect the answer to the question, “What was your favorite All-Star memory as a kid?” to vary greatly. After a little Suns.com investigating, however, that proved to be anything but the case.

A large conglomerate of Suns listed thedunk contest as the competition that stood out the most to them, particularly the 2000 contest featuringformer Sun and then-Raptors star Vince Carter.

“Hands down, Vince Carter,” Suns forward P.J. Tucker said of the high-flyer’s victory. “It was the No. 1 All-Star moment of all-time.” [Read more...]

Thunder Not the Only Thing Worth Fearing in OKC

With the second-best record in the NBA, the Oklahoma City Thunder don’t appear to be a team in need of additional advantages. Particularly at home where they are 21-3, the talent-filled roster featuring All-Stars like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook would appear to be enough. But upon further investigation, it looks like there may have been another contributor to the Thunder’s success these past few seasons, one who doesn’t appear on the team’s official roster. [Read more...]

Ten Things About Lindsey Hunter

His No. 11 jersey is retired at Jackson State following a three-year college playing career with the Tigers. Perhaps the most famous athlete to ever come out of Jackson State is former Chicago Bears runningback Walter Payton.

  • Selected with the 10th overall pick in the 1993 NBA Draft in a class that included Chris Webber, Anfernee Hardaway and Jamal Mashburn.
  • Has played with all-time greats including Isiah Thomas and Shaquille O’Neal, and coached by greats including Phil Jackson and Larry Brown.
  • Captured two championships during his NBA playing career – one with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2002, and another with the Detroit Pistons in 2004.
  • During his playing career, Hunter became one of just four NBA players (Derek Fisher, Mickey Johnson and Damon Jones) in history to play in all 82 games for three different teams.
  • When he retired with the Bulls in 2010, Hunter was the NBA’s oldest player at 39. In Chicago, the playmaker was teammates with Derrick Rose who at the time was just 21, and was just four years younger than his head coach Vinny Del Negro.
  • With Phoenix, Hunter becomes the third youngest coach in the NBA behind Orlando’s Jacque Vaughn and Indiana’s Frank Vogel.
  • Lindsey Hunter is the 15th head coach in Suns history.
  • At 6’2, Hunter is shorter than any Phoenix Suns player with the exception of Sebastian Telfair.
  • A collector of automobiles, Hunter owned his own custom car shop in Detroit which specialized in auto detailing and refurbishing.

Pick N’ Pop: Dudley on Epic Movies

In every edition of Pick N’ Pop, Suns.com catches up with a member of the Suns family to discuss personal preferences in all things pop culture. As always, we encourage you to check out our lists, watch the video for some elaboration and weigh in with your opinion in the comment section below. [Read more...]

Pick N’ Pop: Wes Johnson on Cartoons

In every edition of Pick N’ Pop, Suns.com catches up with a member of the Suns family to discuss personal preferences in all things pop culture. As always, we encourage you to check out our lists, watch the video for some elaboration and weigh in with your opinion in the comment section below. [Read more...]

Bassy Homecoming with Mixed Emotions

(Photo Credit: Marlene Hall)

It has been just over a month since Hurricane Sandy left a number of cities, states and countries in shock and devastation. And with the storm taking place so close to the start of the NBA season, for Sebastian Telfair, this past weekend’s stop in New York marked the guard’s first visit to the Big Apple since Sandy took place.

Growing up in Brooklyn, Telfair said he had heard warnings of ensuing hurricanes in the past, but learned after a while that they generally didn’t amount to much more than warnings. An example of this took place just a year ago, when Hurricane Irene caused several New Yorkers to unnecessarily evacuate their homes. But when it came to Sandy, however, Telfair says he knew fairly quickly that this time would be different. [Read more...]

Tucker Returns to Where NBA Career Began

While it would be easy to look at P.J. Tucker’s statistics through the first three games of this current six-game road trip and assume he’s been struggling, the production of some players can’t be defined by a boxscore. [Read more...]

Retro Diary: Suns At Cavs

Pregame Leftovers from Philly

THANKSGIVING AT THE MORRIS HOUSEHOLD

While some may credit hard work and hustle, it may have been a little home cooking that helped Markieff Morris to six first quarter rebounds on Sunday. Back in his hometown of Philadelphia for the start of his team’s six-game road trip, Morris received a late Thanksgiving dinner courtesy of his mom – but he wasn’t alone for the feast. [Read more...]