Not much to really get exited about in this one. But not much to complain about either. The Suns did what they needed to beat the NBA’s unhealthiest team.
Amare Stoudemire scored a game high 29 points in the Suns’ 8th consecutive win. (NBAE Photos)
And although they let the Clippers hang around perhaps a bit longer than necessary that was only because one of their best weapons, the three ball, was misfiring. Other than shooting 24 per cent (4 of 17) from Arc City, the rest of their game was actually in pretty good working order.
All except for Shawn Marion’s that is.
“Pretty good” just doesn’t get it for Shawn, who was a force on the boards with 17 rebounds and a demon on defense (5 steals, 2 blocked shots). In fact, he had his hands on so many Clipper passes and dribble you wonder if maybe his nickname shouldn’t be changed from The Matrix to The Octopus. Oh, and he also scored 21 points.
He gets my game ball by unanimous vote (1-0), but knowing how he loves to play the disrespect card he’ll probable grumble that the Associated Press story didn’t mention him until the second paragraph. (Just kidding, Shawn. Just kidding)
Although the Clippers are minus three starters, including their two best players, they were coming off a victory Wednesday night, and with 38-year-old Sam Cassell leading the charge actually led the Suns by one at the half.
Cassell, who looks like a tall E.T., scored 18 of his 26 points before intermission, and tacked on the other 8 in the third period, sat out the fourth.
Among the most encouraging aspects for the Suns was the aggressiveness of Amare Stoudemire, who gradually seems to be getting his full pop back. Even though foul trouble cut his time to 30 minutes he still managed 29 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
It was also encouraging to see Boris Diaw come alive with 11 rebounds and 4 assists, and good to see Raja Bell back in action. Of course, that meant shuffling the lineup and bringing Leandro Barbosa off the bench after a spectacular run as a starter, but as usual, the Suns adjusted pretty well on the fly.
True, Barbosa was only 2 for 10 from the field and missed all five of his threes, but that was probably due more to the fact that as hot as he’s been the guy was bound to miss a shot or two sooner or later.
The bottom line: The Suns weren’t perfect last night, but they were better than they had to be, and did the thing they do best (and most) — win.
Bonus bottom line: This is not only a better team than last year’s but the best of Coach Mike’s yet.