(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)

(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)

The Suns didn’t shoot particularly well, but they made the shots they had to make, and, just as significantly, made the stops that had to be made to escape with their 13th straight home victory over a two-season span and 11th straight over the Raptors over a six-year span.

Oh, and might as well get this one in while we still can – the Suns have the best record in the entire NBA!

But it was far from easy.

Even doing all of the above right, plus getting another uncanny performance from Channing Frye (aka The World’s Tallest Sniper), who was 6 for 8 from three-point range, the Suns had to survive a last-minute big-shot barrage by big-shot specialist Hedo Turkoglu, who hit a three and a two to keep Toronto in it, and rimmed out a 25-footer that would have ended his franchise’s long journey to nowhere in the desert.

He might have made that one too except that the Suns did as good a job as can be done on him in those circumstances, with Coach Alvin switching personnel and forcing Turgolu to fall back to fire. It’s not that he can’t make that shot, mind you. It’s just that this time he didn’t.

But in the end this one was more about Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire than the Raptors. Nash dribbled his way to the hoop for the winning three-point play, and Amare had his best offensive night of the year with 30 points.

Impressive as Amare’s numbers were though, Coach Alvin was able to tell us with a perfectly straight face that we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Those weren’t Coach’s exact words, of course. After all, he is a college man. But that was pretty much the gist.

And indeed, Amare really isn’t all the way back from the serious eye problem that sidelined him most of last year. But three things have made him very effective while still very much a work in progress: No 1, he’s playing more for wins than numbers. No. 2, he’s contributing more on defense than back in the day when he was 100 percent. No. 3, his work ethic.

Nash, of course has been playing back to his year BEFORE last form. And although he’s been kind of moved toward the back of the class behind a handful of brilliant young point guards, he’s still very much money in crunch time. His winning drive last night was the kind of play he often couldn’t make last year because there just wasn’t as much room for him to somehow dribble to daylight — which is really his signature move.

As for Frye, what we have here is a perfect example of the kind of the good things that can happen when a hitherto unsung (barely hummed, in fact) player finally finds a team that is a perfect match for his specialty and vice versa.  And as a bonus, even though truthfully he doesn’t help much as most big men in some other areas, he doesn’t hurt either. He doesn’t take shots that aren’t there, and he doesn’t throw a monkey wrench, or even a small screwdriver, into the offensive flow.

The then there’s Jared Dudley, definitely one of the DoRight Dudleys (sorry ’bout that).  He’ll probably never have the numbers that make headlines, but this 6-7 guard is a gritty all-purpose defender with a knack for making things happen at both ends of the court. And as far as I’m concerned, Coach A. was preaching to the choir when he said Dudley “played a whale of a game” against the Raptors. In fact, it was about as effective a 4-point, 2-assist, 5-rebound game as you’re likely to see. And the guess here is you’re likely to see a lot more just like it from him.

The bottom line: Not the smoothest of victories perhaps, but given the caliber of the opposition and the nail-biting circumstances, one of the most impressive ones this early season.

  • JOHN SERPE

    Joe, the “Thrilla in Phoenilla” sorry, I had to. Jared Dudley, how do we keep this guy out of the starting lineup, and do we dare? All I have to say is LA who? Suns still get a little sloppy but I’ll take the hustle and heart. Amare put it together, but the fumbles on the passes to him are starting to concern me, the eye or maybe the goggles. Clark needs to start toughning up, come young man your in the NBA now, show something. All around you have to be excited by this team. We need one more piece, but didn’t we all say that before Shaq? You just hate to tweak the chemistry.

  • JOHN SERPE

    Joe, the rumor is Golden State is shopping Monta Ellis. Would we, could we tamper with the chemistry? Any thoughts on Djuric and Clark going to the Warriors? Problem is you just know any such deal would undoubtably come around to including Barbossa. Just Arizona dreaming thats all.

  • Jay

    Hey John,
    We need Grant Hill to start! He is older and it is harder for him to get his engine going if he is sitting the bench. Besides, Jared is a great piece for us coming off the bench. I do think in some games they might need to get him in a little earlier. As far as clark, he is a very tough player. However, he is going from a transition inwhich he was always the man to a role player. I truly love this team that we have!!! I think all the pieces are there. They just need to lower the amount of turnovers they have per game. Also, we need Barbosa taking more shots when he gets into the game. I remember when he won the NBA 6th man, he averaged 19 points coming off the bench!!!

    P.S.
    John I don’t know if you have notice, but it seems like Amare has taken a back seat this year. In many games he has been the third high score. I think he is more of a team player and that has done great for us. Keep faith in this team

    Jay

  • Dave

    This was a fairly poor performance by the Phoenix Suns, considering their start to this season. Every knows about Toronto and how they will never amount to be more then if, a mediocre team (I have read about this-must suck to be a Toronto fan)I mean for how bad the Toronto Raptors are, being one of the worst teams in the eastern conference they almost pulled out a win against the Suns! Yes the Suns, a team which is thought to be a powerhouse in the western conference. This is an example of a team that the Suns should be able to blow out-no offense to the Toronto Raptors. The first ten games for the Suns have been played, if they repeat this kind of rubbish that I saw against Toronto they won’t stay in the top of the west for long.

  • Jay

    Dave,

    Its the NBA, any team on any given night will give you hard times. However, Phoenix had to show poise with the game comming down to the last seconds. Have you notice that we have not lost a close game yet. Even including the Boston Celtics!!! As long as we can keep it close, we have a chance!!!

    Jay

    P.S.
    Keep supporting the Sun!!!

  • JOHN SERPE

    Phoenix Suns, where amazing has happened. Down 15 in the first quarter in the last couple seasons spelled LOSS!! Not this year and the reasons are more toughness, heart, chemistry, defense and the unique ability to run or post up. Suns in the past never needed to play defense all four quarters, the problem was we never played it in any quarter. That changed this season. When you start looking at all the recent injuries teams are having coupled with the chemistry problems of others, this may be the perfect storm for a hungry Suns group looking for that first title.

  • JOHN SERPE

    A real stinker at New Orleans Joe. Come on, the Suns looked like they were wearing weights around their ankles. Completly unexcusable performance by our team, and also by the refs, who blew at least a dozen calls in this one, horrible, horrible officiating. Hope this was just a momentary lapse, since December’s schedule is brutal. Put this game in the soon to be forgotten vault, horrible just horrible.