In a surreal matinee affair, a Igor Kokoskov-coached Phoenix squad took on a Phil Weber-led New York team that saw the Suns come up short in an 85-80 defeat.
So while former Suns assistant coach Weber and former Suns assistant Dan D’Antoni exchanged pleasantries with Suns assistants Dan Majerle and Kokoscov before the game, the game proved to be a battle. The contest was tight all along, heading all the way into the final seconds before the victor was decided.
Guard DJ Strawberry had an opportunity to tie the game with less than 10 seconds remaining, but his 3-point attempt was blocked by Knicks guard Mardy Collins. New York grabbed the loose ball before icing the game on two free throws by Wilson Chandler. The Knicks’ swingman finished the contest with 31 points.
However, the bright side of the story for the Suns was the play of “Big Three.”
Strawberry commandeered the point, constantly pushing the tempo and penetrating to the basket to the tune of 21 points and one spectacular dunk in 30 minutes. Alando Tucker continued to display his improved outside touch and prowess on the offensive glass, totaling 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Rookie Robin Lopez also impressed, unleashing some up-and-unders and displaying a bevy of inside moves en route to 15 points and nine rebounds.
Phoenix looks to move to 2-2 when it takes on Portland (1-2) tomorrow at 7 p.m.
Although Suns legend Dan Majerle may have moved out of the broadcast booth, his thoughts and opinions can still be heard by fans. Suns.com TV was able to capture his audio throughout the Suns’ matchup with the Knicks. “Thunder Dan” was connected to a wireless mic system during the contest, allowing his commentary to be recorded as the action unfolded before him. Suns fans can watch the video with all of the audio included exclusively on Suns.com.
MR. X UNVEILED
You may have seen him on our training camp videos, our war room videos from draft night, or in our pre-draft workout videos. He looks like an ex-basketball player and he has GM Steve Kerr’s ear. He stands about 6’3, possesses an athletic build and a friendly demeanor. But who is he?
Well, the mystery of who Kerr’s advisor is was resolved today when the previously unidentified man was revealed as Bruce Fraser. Fraser, a former teammate of Kerr’s at the University of Arizona, has assisted the Suns GM with scouting college players all along the West Coast this past season. With the departure of Vinny Del Negro to the Bulls, perhaps a greater amount of scouting opportunities will head Fraser’s way. We shall see…
For me, coming to Las Vegas is a bit of a media reunion with some of my old friends at the NBA. Some of them are still with the league, some of them have moved on to places like ESPN, but we are all still involved in basketball in one way or another. With all of us experiencing a variety of different things when we are here, great stories are certain to arise.
For example, last night, as former Pacer and Blazer Dale Davis walked by two of my friends, one lady asked, “Is that an NBA player?” A super-confident fan behind her piped up, “Yeah, that’s Kevin Garnett.” He was dead serious…
Another great thing about Vegas is seeing players or coaches you have crossed paths with over the years. Today I saw Albuquerque Thunderbirds Head Coach Jeff Ruland. The T-Birds are the Suns’ former D-League affiliate that both Tucker and Strawberry played for this past season.
A former NBA All-Star and head coach for Iona College (a college near where I grew up in NY), I was fortunate enough to be coached by Ruland for a spell at Five Star Basketball Camp in Pittsburgh, PA. He taught us that there were only four moves in the post a player would ever need. To this day, when I coach kids, I still teach them the same four moves that he showed me. And they still work…