Next Year

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“Next Year”, alas, came early for the Suns this year. And it is my sad duty to report that the beginning of “Next Year” got off to an even more dismal start than the tag end of this year.

Although mathematically still alive in the playoff hunt, even the players themselves acknowledge the rest of the season is all about looking ahead to the future. And the preview we got last night was not a pretty sight.

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Back On the Right Road

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It was good to see all the repaired parts back in place, and even better to note the engine seems to be running at pretty much the same 12-4 speed it was before the carburetor and one of the pistons broke down.

This wasn’t necessarily a GREAT win, but it was an absolutely not only a MUST win, but a MUST pump-some-mojo-back-in-the-tank-for-the-closing-weeks-of-the-playoffs win.

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Old Habits Die Hard

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No excuses. No explanation either. At least I don’t have one.

The Nuggets, a team with no names but lots of game, did unto the Suns as even the most star-studded rosters have been unable to do since the All-Star break. And give Coach George Karl credit for putting his post-Melo trade pieces together in such impressive fashion that the team has gone 7-2 since losing Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups.

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Suns Begin Playoff Charge

(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)

Easy comes hard for these Suns.

Granted, 105-97 doesn’t seem all THAT hard, but after building an 18-point lead largely with reserve power, the Suns found themselves in a 92-92 struggle for survival with 4:50 to play before FINALLY nailing down the victory with an 8-0 run.

Still, as Coach Alvin, speaking for every coach who has ever drawn an X or an O on a blackboard, says, “There is no such thing as a bad win,” and one of the good things about this one is that it drew the Suns into a tie in the loss column with Memphis for the bottom rung in the Western Conference playoff ladder. [Read more...]

Hill of Fame

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When Coach Alvin praises Grant Hill, he is definitely preaching to this choir. And after last night’s squeaker over the short-handed Jazz he was singing them to the high heaven.

After giving due props to Channing Frye’s career night, Mickael Pietrus’s clutch play at both ends of the court, and another routine 20-14 night by Steve Nash, Gentry got down to the crux of the matter and, not incidentally, the real key to this victory.

Coach started off slowly, saying, “I can’t say enough about Grant Hill”, but then proceeded to give it a very good try.

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Suns Reach .500 With Win Over Warriors

(Christian Petersen)

Historically, reaching the .500 plateau has never been cause to break out the bubbly and have street dancing break out in Planet Orange. And indeed, there were no streamers and balloons floating down from the ceiling at US Airways Center when the final horn sounded in the victory over the Warriors that brought the team back to that level for the first time since December 19th.

But put it in proper context (i.e. where the Suns were just a few short weeks ago), there is cause for at least a few attaboys for what symbolically at least signifies a wiping the slate of all the woe and raising the prospects for a bright future. [Read more...]

Thunder Overtake Suns Despite Carter's 33 Points

(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)

Some nights you get old Vince Carter, some nights you get the Vince Carter of old. And some nights you get both.

This was one of those “both” nights. Carter was his unstoppable old “Vinsanity” self through three periods as he scored 30 points on 10 of 14 shooting, including 5 of 7 threes. But alas, in the fourth quarter Father Time, or maybe the law of averages caught up with him, and he went 1 for seven and missed three threes, and thus a very good chance to beat a very good, albeit very young Oklahoma City team and climb back to .500 for the first time since December 19th slipped away.

Oh well, easy come easy go. Or in basketball-speak, you live by the three you die by the three. [Read more...]

Happy Days Are Here Again

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On Planet Orange, familiarity breeds content. And as the re-retooled Suns become more comfortable with each other, it’s starting to show up on the floor and the scoreboard.

Suns Can't Hold Back Bobcats

(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)

Pretty interesting game between two South of the .500 border teams. But alas, as is the case more often the case in this the winter of Planet Orange’s discontent, the finish was anything but pretty.

Even when they hit 16 threes, their point guard scores 27 points, goes 4-4 on threes, and has 15 assists with only one turnover, their two newbies, Vince Carter and Marcin Gortat, combine for 38 points, and they get more than their share of good bounces, especially off the offensive boards, and commit only 9 turnovers the Suns still can’t win.

The obvious question is why? And the short answer is that these Suns are like an infielder who plays every hop right on a ground ball except the last one.

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Steve The Terminator

When the talk around the NBA turns to great “closers”, Steve Nash’s name doesn’t seem to come up nearly as often as it should, and sometimes not at all.

He is given due props for his playmaking, uncanny ability to out-think defenses, and almost unparallel productivity for a point guard his age. While all of the above is true, I’m here to tell you he is also as deadly a clutch shooter as there is in the game today.

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