This is more like it.
That’s all I could think after watching the Suns dispatch of the Houston Rockets at home, one night after doing the same to the Sacramento Kings on the road.
This is Suns basketball, and these are the Suns we know and love.
Now, before we get ahead of ourselves, understand that things can’t be this good all the time. As I wrote at the beginning of the season, there will be peaks, there will be valleys, and then there will be more of both. Just ask the defending champion Lakers, who lost to the Clippers the other night. Ask any of the so-called “great” teams, in fact. Everyone experiences it.
Some of you know I write for NBA.com out of Cleveland. No less than Cavaliers superstar LeBron James admitted that every team “goes through lulls.” It’s a long season, James said. You just have to keep the lulls at a minimum, he added, and ride the good times.
LeBron was talking about the Cavs, but it just as easily could apply to the Suns.
I know, it can get frustrating. You want the Suns to truly be among the league’s elite. Sometimes, I think the same thing.
Then I remember the Suns are an impressive 23-13. I remember they have the third best record in all the West. And I remember they’re doing it all despite still being somewhat of a work in progress.
That sounds strange to say about a team that has veterans like Steve Nash and Grant Hill, and even Jason Richardson and Amare Stoudemire. It’s easy to forget that the Suns became younger this off-season, that they now have an average age of 26.7 years.
Yet they are staying together, playing together, keeping their eyes on the big picture. That’s probably the best thing about this year’s team. As former NBA coach Eric Musselman told Suns.com at the start of the season, the Suns have really bought into Coach Alvin Gentry’s system. They really enjoy playing for him.
And few things can beat a group of guys who are having fun.
Just look at the game against the Rockets — who had the Suns down for the count after the Suns blew a 16-point lead. Then the Suns trailed by 16. Last season, that likely would have spelled doom. But these Suns aren’t those Suns.
“There was a point when we could’ve taken a deep breath and fallen asleep but we took a deep breath and picked ourselves up,” Nash said.
These Suns feature veteran leadership, balanced scoring and, believe it, the ability to make a stand on defense. They possess solidarity and resolve, having overcome double-digit deficits six times to win.
Now, more tests await. After a couple of home games (against Miami and Milwaukee), the Suns will hit the road again. Indiana, Atlanta, Charlotte and Memphis aren’t as daunting as the earlier trip that included Boston, Orlando and Miami — but they can’t be overlooked.
It provides the Suns with another opportunity to figure themselves out a little more, to pick up some quality wins and separate themselves from teams hoping to catch them in the West.
Provided they use the previous two games as their guide, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Sam Amico is reporter for NBA.com and regular contributor to Suns.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.