They say records are made to be broken. I just don’t think they quite intended them to be broken this fast. A month after setting a new franchise record with 15-consecutive wins, the Phoenix Suns somehow topped themselves winning an amazing 17 straight in January.
Former Sun Joe Johnson and his Hawks are in town to face the Suns on Friday night. (NBAE Photos)
Of course the guys are going to downplay it, but don’t be so easily fooled. What this team is doing is spectacular and deep down they know that, they have to. No, they probably don’t focus on it as much as those in the media or the fans do (they don’t have the time), but you can’t help but look at a 33-2 stretch and not be impressed with yourself.
Best of all, this Phoenix Suns team is having fun, a lot of fun. So whether or not they’re acknowledging the fact they’re playing terrific basketball, they’re certainly enjoying it. After all, how can you not enjoy a win over the San Antonio Spurs? Especially a contest which you won playing their style of basketball, scoring just 16 points in the first quarter of play. Amaré Stoudemire was unstoppable in that game and a line of 24 points and 23 rebounds more than brought back memories of his dominance against the Spurs during the 2005 Western Conference Finals.
Perhaps the best thing though was seeing him do it on back-to-back nights this week in Denver and Portland. The latter of the two contests going into overtime no less! He and Leandro Barbosa really delivered in that game, helping this team to a win despite the fact they were without the services of Steve Nash.
While you obviously prefer having a two-time MVP in your lineup to not having a two-time MVP in your lineup, I really think these past two games have helped make this team become so much stronger, particularly the guys who are stepping up off the bench. Barbosa is looking like a completely different player on the court, while Marcus Banks has shown potential to be a spark thanks to some impressive speed of his own. Pat Burke meanwhile came in the first half in Portland and made some nice contributions from the paint. The fact that everybody is playing and that anyone’s number could be called at any point has really made this a stronger team one through twelve, something which has been evident at practice. Practices are running longer, guys seem to be participating in shootaround for as long as possible, signs of a true championship contender.
I talked to Marcus today after shootaround and he says this team by far has the best chemistry he’s seen on a ballclub. Nash meanwhile perhaps paid them the ultimate compliment a while back calling them the best team he’s ever been a part of. For a guy who has played on some pretty successful teams, that’s really saying something.
Joe Johnson and the Atlanta Hawks make their way to Phoenix tonight meaning the “boo birds” will be out in full force. I joined the organization the year after Joe left so never got to work with him, but I heard he was a nice soft-spoken guy always willing to give a few minutes of his time.
That said, I don’t feel the guy warrants the treatment he’s gotten when returning to the US Airways Center. While I don’t necessarily respect Joe’s decision to leave the Suns for Atlanta, and love to see the fans involved in a ballgame, there are plenty of guys out there who have done worse. The guy didn’t want to feel like the fourth wheel on a championship team, he wanted to help build a new one. And it’s not like he got a nice contract from the Hawks and hasn’t done anything since, he’s proven himself more than worthy of helping the organization rebuild. It’s also not like he went to a team like the Lakers or Spurs who are known rivals of the Suns, that decision would’ve definitely made him worthy of hearing it from the fans.