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...]

Jermaine O’Neal on Ailing Daughter


Suns center Jermaine O’Neal rejoined the team Monday after heading back to Boston to be with his ailing daughter, Asjia, last week while she underwent surgery to repair a leaky heart valve. O’Neal said she was released from the hospital Monday and is expected to make a full recovery. After being by her side throughout the week, the center spoke about how the experience affected him personally.

As a parent, you try to be as mentally strong as you can for your kids.

But my daughter taught me a lot about strength over these past six days. It’s hard to see your kids go through what she went through the first two or three days.
It was pretty difficult for her, me, my wife and all the family members that were there. I don’t think there is anything that you can do that prepares you to see the emotions of your child going into surgery. [Read more...]

Court Report: Suns Vs. Nuggets

Time: The Suns host the Nuggets on Monday at 7 p.m. at US Airways Center.
Records: Suns 22-41 (fourth in the Pacific Division) vs. Denver 42-22 (second in the Northwest Division) [Read more...]

Q&A With Assistant Coach Dan Panaggio

Assistant coach Dan Panaggio joined the Phoenix Suns’ coaching staff when Lindsey Hunter took over as head coach during the midpoint of the season. Panaggio, who grew up in upstate New York, has enjoyed a variety of roles during his lengthy career in basketball. Not only was he Coach of the Year in the CBA, but he also coached in college and acted as an NBA scout. Most recently, he was the head coach of the Shanghai Sharks in China, a team which is owned by former NBA All-Star Yao Ming. [Read more...]

Court Report: Suns Vs. Hawks

Time: The Suns host the Hawks on Friday at 7 p.m. at US Airways Center.
Records: Suns 20-39 (fifth in the Pacific Division) vs. Atlanta 33-23 (second in the Southeast Division)
Matchups:
PG: Goran Dragic (14.1 points and 6.9 assists) vs. Jeff Teague (14.5 points and 7.2 assists)
SG: P.J. Tucker (5.5 points and 4.1 rebounds) vs. Devin Harris (8.9 points and 2.7 assists)
SF: Jared Dudley (11.2 points and 3.4 rebounds) vs. Kyle Korver (11.3 points and 4.0 rebounds)
PF: Luis Scola (12.8 points and 6.2 rebounds) vs. Josh Smith (17.4 points and 8.7 rebounds)
C: Marcin Gortat: (11.4 points and 8.6 rebounds) vs. Al Horford (17.1 points and 10.1 rebounds) [Read more...]

Suns-Celtics Game Day Breakdown

(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)

Time: The Suns host the Celtics on Friday at 7 p.m. at US Airways Center. [Read more...]

Frye’s One Heart Raises Awareness

(Courtesy of Sportique.com)

Facing a life-threatening ailment will give a person perspective. For Suns power forward Channing Frye, it’s a perspective that he now wants to share with everyone.

Diagnosed with an enlarged heart that prohibited him from playing basketball this season, the 6-11 Frye has been forced to do something that he hasn’t done for a long time: nothing. That’s because if Frye does too much, he could be endangering his life.

Besides spending loads of time with his family, occasionally hitting the links and practicing yoga, Frye’s seemingly infinite amount of downtime has caused him to reflect and reexamine his life. His new perspective forged by his health condition has led him to want to raise awareness about an issue that can often go undetected.

“I just got back from shoulder surgery and I had never felt better,” Frye said. “For me it was just shock and awe because I couldn’t believe that this was happening to me.

“I just want people and parents with kids playing sports to just get tested. It only takes 15 minutes.”

Frye, whose friend works for the apparel line, Sportique, sat down with the company to see if the two sides could help each other out. The Suns standout, who said that the shirts are so comfortable that it’s “like putting a rainbow on your body,” decided to team with the designers to launch “One Heart” t-shirts to make people more conscious of heart issues.

A percentage of the proceeds will benefit the Frye Family Foundation, which will make people – especially young athletes – mindful of potential heart problems. While heart troubles can be triggered by cultural influences such as too much caffeine, lack of sleep, bad diet and overexertion at work, it’s the randomness in how it affected Frye that he wants people to become more educated about.

If an adult or kid is incredibly active, Frye believes that they should spend the extra 15 minutes and have an EKG performed. For Frye, it made all the difference.

“Even if we save one life because of this,” Frye said. “My job would be done.”

To order a “One Heart” shirt, click here for the men’s shirts and click here for female’s shirts. By using the code “ONEHEART” when you order, you can receive a 25 percent discount.

Hunter Prophetic, Dragic Helpful in Suns Win

No one will ever confuse Lindsey Hunter for Carnac the Magnifisent but he did seem to have a bit of a clarvoiant moment in Portland during shoot around Tuesday.

When asked if he’d be making any changes to his starting lineup, Hunter, in a joking manner said, he wasn’t worried so much about the start of the game.

“Finishing games is the bigger concern for us,” the interim head coach said with a smile. [Read more...]

Brown Shares Thoughts on Buss

The passing of Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss was felt not just in Los Angeles but around the entire NBA Monday. From players to rival executives, words of condolence and praise for one of the most successful owners in league history poured in from across various media platforms.

One member of the Suns that was directly affected by Buss and his leadership was guard Shannon Brown, who played two and a half seasons in a Lakers uniform.

“It’s so sad to hear it,” Brown said. “My thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family.” [Read more...]