January 30, 2011 By
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.
And although the bump they hit at the end last night almost turned into a pothole that came agonizingly close to becoming one of those can-you-believe-it nightmares, the fact is that until those last two and a half minutes the Suns turned in one of their smoothest and most complete games of the year.
Gone was the offensive hesitation that’s plagued them so much during the second get-acquainted stretch of the season. This night every seemed to be where he was supposed to be, and ball and player movement flowed accordingly.
And while the glass half-empty crowd may want to wring hands over an 11-point lead with 2:21 to play turned into a cliffhanger that would have gone into overtime if Grant Hill had not blocked a Marcus Thornton layup, the most meaningful thing to take away from this one is how the gears that have been clanking finally started meshing.
While it didn’t have quite the marquee value, this win was in many ways more impressive than the one over the Celtics, who not only seemed to mail in their effort here but didn’t even bother to put a stamp on it.
And maybe the most encouraging thing of all is that in Marcin Gortat the Suns may have finally found the true center they’ve been searching for much of the last four decades. Gortat (aka The Polish Hammer) has been a double/double performer since coming over in the trade with Orlando, and last night he delivered 25 points and 11 boards (and also blocked two shots) in a breakout performance. Figure in Robin Lopez’s 10-6 night, and the Suns got 35 points and 17 rebounds from the center position.
The Suns are still not out of the woods or into the playoffs by any means, but they are only two losses out of the eighth spot in the West, and a case could be made they have more talent and are healthier than any of the other three teams vying for the spot.
As has been duly noted, it was about this time last year that the Suns and launched a drive that carried them all the way to Game Six of the Western Finals, and while there is certainly no evidence they can mount that kind of run, you certainly have to like their chances of finishing above .500 and in the playoffs.
If nothing else, their play the last two games should lift some of the gloom that had settled in Planet Orange.
The bottom line: Happy Days Are Here Again (at least two and counting)
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