They needed that!
What with all the internal second guessing and finger pointing, to say nothing of several ominous-sounding meetings following Saturday’s loss to New Orleans, the Suns were badly in need of a pick-me-up.
Marcus Banks helped lead the Suns to victory against the Denver Nuggets.
And what could put more spring back in your step, more zing back in your strings, more gleam back in your eye, and more swash back in your buckle than burying a very good team under a near-record barrage of threes in a wire-to-wire walloping that made you look like your old selves instead of just old?
Like I said, the Suns needed that.
And when you hit 20 threes (in just 31 tries), shoot 54 per cent from the field, and spread the wealth around enough to keep everyone happy while not only out-gunning but out-hustling the Northwest Division leading Nuggets, questions about chemistry and heart tend to seem irrelevant and immaterial, at least for the moment.
Did this one game cure all of the team’s ills, real, alleged, and/or imagined? Of course not. But it should go at least a little ways toward soothing the team’s jangled nerves. The view here has always been that success causes chemistry rather than vice versa, and there was enough success last night to soothe the most ruffled feelings.
You definitely don’t want the grumbling in the locker room about who’s getting what shots and who’s getting what minutes to gather any momentum. Same goes for confidence-sapping, self-admitted under-achieving.
Confidence, high energy, and devastating long-range shooting have been the cornerstones of this team’s success the last few years, and all three have been in somewhat short supply much of this season despite a 24-10 record, a game and a half lead in the Pacific Division, and at least as many wins as any other team in the loaded Western Conference. But all three were very much in evidence last night.
Granted the Nuggets do not represent the ultimate challenge to any offense. In fact, I found myself wondering at times if my old friend Doug Moe has added defensive coordinator to his bench duties as a Nugget assistant. (When people would complain his high-scoring Denver teams had the worst defense in the league he would say, “Not so. Our opponents do”).
But still, it’s doubtful if any team could have stopped the Suns this night.
Ironically, the three-point onslaught (one shy of Toronto’s league record for the season) was fueled largely by perhaps the two unlikeliest players on the Suns’ roster — Shawn Marion, who has been struggling with his three-point shot much of the year, and Marcus Banks, who seldom gets to play long enough to break anything but a sweat.
But Shawn hit five of his first six from arc city and Banks hit seven of his eight tries. In fact, Marcus didn’t even bother to try a measly two-point shot.
“The Suns got happy and then they got cocky and rubbed our faces in it a little bit,” said George Karl. And then the Denver coach added pointedly, “It will be fun the next time we play them.” (Karl apparently was less than ecstatic with the four treys the Suns dropped on him in the last four minutes, including two in the last 40 seconds).
Banks’ contribution was particularly significant because it may lead to more playing time. Where Coach Mike has been reluctant to use him the last couple of years, he now allows that he’s “beginning to trust” the physically gifted but inconsistent guard.
Bottom line: The MCGB (Most Coveted Game Ball) is for the first time ever being given to an anonymous player (because I’m not sure who made the best motivational speech in the above mentioned meetings).