There are few things more enjoyable in pro basketball than watching the Phoenix Suns these days. And that’s coming from a guy in Cleveland.
I’m talking about the previous two-plus weeks, as the Suns have won eight of their previous 10. One of those losses came by a measly three points in San Antonio (113-110 on Feb. 28). The other was a close one against Utah (116-108 on March 4). Overall, in the past 10 games, the Suns have outscored the competition by an average score of 108.4 to 99.7. That’s almost 10 points a game, folks. That’s what we call domination. Not a bad way to go considering the world champion Los Angeles Lakers are coming to town. It comes after the Suns’ longest break of the season, a whopping five days that was much-needed.
That’s because the Suns’ guards have resembled a MASH unit lately, as Steve Nash (back, abdomen) and Goran Dragic (ankle) have been banged up. Also, Leandro Barbosa had surgery in late January to remove a cyst from his right wrist.
But, as was reported earlier on Suns.com, all three are expected back in time for the Lakers.
“I’m very hungry to come back and help my teammates,” Barbosa said. “I don’t know if I’ll have the same minutes I used to have, but I’m just going to help the team. The bench is playing great, and I just want to add to that.”
The news gets even better when you consider the frontcourt, especially Amare Stoudemire. Anyone who has been following the NBA knows all about what Stoudemire has done lately — having scored 30 or more points in eight of the previous 17 games. In the four March games, he’s averaging 27.3 points and 9.3 rebounds.
So it’s safe to say, like the entire team, Stoudemire is playing close to his best basketball when it means the most. And remember, it was less a than a month ago when it seemed like Stoudemire would get traded away. Now, he is become the type of player who could lead the Suns on a Cinderella-type run through the playoffs.
Today, the Suns are 40-25 and holding tightly to the sixth playoff seed in the Western Conference. They’re also a whisker away from stealing the No. 4 seed from Utah, and if the Suns keep playing they way they have been, they WILL steal it.
And whoever thought we would be saying that this late in the season?
L.A. BACK ON TRACK
The defending champion Lakers snapped a three-game losing streak Tuesday, having beaten Toronto on a jump shot by (who else?) Kobe Bryant with 1.9 seconds left. Interestingly, both of the Lakers’ games against the Raptors came down to a final shot by Bryant (he missed a chance to win it at the buzzer last month in Toronto.
The Suns are 1-2 against the Lakers this season, having won the last matchup back in December. Reserve forward Jared Dudley had one of the better games of his career, coming off the bench to supply his usual dose of energy and score 19 points.
The Lakers (47-18) hold a seven-game lead over the Suns in the Pacific Division. But now is the time for the Suns to make up some ground, as they play five straight, and six of their next seven, at home.
Sam Amico covers the NBA for NBA.com, and is a regular contributor to Suns.com.