Did you ever think the Suns would dominate the Spurs in the fourth quarter without Steve Nash?
Did you ever think Nash would be sitting this late in the season in a key game against the Spurs … by choice?
Did you ever think Amare Stoudemire would shoot like Steve Kerr from the perimeter?
Did you ever think the Suns would be this good this deep into the season?
OK, I admit that maybe I can be prone to hyperbole. I mean, let’s face it, Stoudemire isn’t Kerr when it comes to jump shooting (few are) — but Stoudemire has been nearly automatic from 18 feet this season. Throw in the fact he’s not too shabby underneath the basket, either, and it’s no wonder he is averaging 23 points per game on 56 percent shooting.
It’s no wonder the Suns are in a three-way tie (with Denver and Dallas) for the second-best record in the Western Conference playoffs with four games to go. That includes Friday’s biggie in Oklahoma City.
Did you know Nash (age 36) and Grant Hill (37) have missed just one game apiece? Or that Stoudemire hasn’t missed any?
There’s a lot to be said for good fortune in the NBA, and after the previous few seasons, the Suns sure could have used some. Now they have it, and just look at them now. The team whose superstars were supposedly “over-the-hill” just made the dreaded Spurs look old, slow and overmatched.
Of course, it’s always easy to talk about men like Stoudemire, Nash and Hill. It’s always easy to sing their praises.
But how about the recent play of Jason Richardson, Channing Frye and Jared Dudley? How about what Goran Dragic did the other night against the Spurs? How about Coach Alvin Gentry, and how he has kept his team motivated, playing together and believing ALL season, even when the Suns had reason to doubt?
As it stands, the Suns (51-27) have won 11 of their previous 12 games, and 23 of 25. And just when you think they might be slowing down, their 112-101 win over the Spurs marked the 13th time in 19 games they have scored at least 110 points. Not 100 points — one-hundred and ten!
So it’s safe to say the offense is as unified as it’s ever been.
That’s a good thing, considering three of the final four games come against teams that are jockeying playing positions themselves (Thunder, Nuggets and Jazz).
Anyway, back to Gentry. You rarely hear his name mentioned as a Coach of the Year candidate, and that makes no sense. While others may have led their teams to nice and surprising things, no one outside the organization expected the Suns to be where they are today. Credit Gentry, as the players all have a firm grasp of their roles and really seem to enjoy playing for him.
They also really enjoy playing with each other. You could see that on Nash’s face, as he smiled widely while sitting out the fourth quarter against the Spurs and cheered on Dragic, who closed out the game with several big plays.
“I just think that’s what makes us a really good team, just the chemistry and the way everyone pulls for each other,” Gentry said.
Anymore, that may be enough to help the Suns overcome nearly any obstacle. And why not? Team play and passion sure have done the trick so far.