This one showed just how versatile the Suns are. First they built a 15-point lead playing Chicago’s game, and when that evaporated, they proceeded to win going away in the fourth quarter by playing their game during a 20-4 burst brilliantly orchestrated by Steve Nash.
Shawn Marion led the Suns’ charge against the Bulls in the second half. (NBAE Photos)
Granted, there were a few times in between when they played nobody’s game, but even considering those few lapses you’d have to say both the team and the crowd responded to Coach Mike’s scolding after the win over the Knicks.
Nash, a little bit like a maestro who had misplaced his favorite baton early on, more than made up for it with seven fourth-period assists and some other great floor play that didn’t find its way into the assist column but set up some easy hoops nonetheless.
And beating the Bulls any way you can is nothing to sniff at. Granted they are only 1-6, but they are the best 1-6 aggregation I’ve seen in these parts in quite a while. This is a tough, tenacious, talented team that seems to have temporarily lost its way. (At least I think it’s temporary.)
Nash didn’t do it alone in the fourth period. Shawn Marion scored 11 of his 21 points in those final 12 minutes, and Boris Diaw, who really struggled in the first three periods, had 7 of his 10 points, including some of the most pivotal ones, plus two assists. And isn’t it amazing how when Nash cranks up his A game players around him starts looking great?
The Suns hit 71 percent from the field in that fourth period and in the process improvedto 7-2, which put them in a four-way tie for the best record in the West.
While they hang their hat on their scorched net offense, their notorious M-M (as in much-maligned) defense deserves a goodly portion of the credit this night. And Amare Stoudemire, who many believe his helping “D” may be the key to the team’s title hopes, led the way with 6 of the Suns’ 10 blocks in just 26 minutes.
Coach Mike, who grudgingly allowed his team played “okay” against the Knicks, and said the crowd wasn’t even that good, upgraded the team’s play to “pretty well”, and the crowd’s effort to “really great”.
But he also kept the pedal to the metal on the fans. “This is a community effort,” he said. “If we’re going to win the title it’s not just going to be the 12 guys on the team. It’s going to be everybody.”
In other words, if title aspirations fall short, it’s going to be on your head too.