That breeze you felt if you were outside in the Phoenix area at about 6:45 pm on Sunday evening was the collective sigh of relief from the citizens of Planet Orange. After losing three games in a row and five out of their past six games, the Phoenix Suns were finally able to remember how to play together and how to get the defensive stops they needed to pull out their second win on the longest road trip the team will have this season.
Amare Stoudemire, who has been blasted by the media and many fans during this trip, scored 23 points to lead all scorers and grabbed 5 rebounds. Steve Nash racked up 13 assists to go along with 14 points. Shaquille O’Neal grabbed 11 rebounds and made seven out of nine shots to score 19 points.
But what really helped Phoenix overcome the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night was their late-game defense. How many other times can you say that during this road trip – or even during the first half of the season? The Hawks only scored 19 points in the final quarter and only made five of 19 shots in that quarter.
In the past few games, the Suns’ opponents have shot very well from the three-point line. That wasn’t the case in the Suns-Hawks game. Phoenix held Atlanta to only 22.7% from behind the arc – including keeping Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson to a combined two of 13.
The game started off similarly to several games Phoenix has had on the road trip. They started off with a 13-point lead, gave up all but one point of that lead by the end of the first quarter and also had 8 turnovers in the first 12 minutes. But they finally were able to cut down on the number of turnovers, keeping them “down” to 13 for the rest of the game.
The team now travels to Washington to take on the Wizards for the last game of their trip. What were your thoughts on the Hawks-Suns game? What did the team do to finally get the win? What else can they still work on?