Gordan Giricek had a breakout game against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night.
In fact, it’s working out so well that Coach Mike, who only a week ago was doing a slow internal burn over suggestions his team might slip out of the playoffs, now feels constrained to try to slow down the suddenly overcrowded bandwagon a bit.
“We’re not as good as we think we are,” he cautioned after the Suns blew the Kings away, “but we are better than we were.”
Shaq has added the inside presence at both ends he was brought here for without sacrificing any of the team’s speed. In fact, there he was Saturday night finishing off a fast break with a lay up after beating everybody down the floor.
And instead of taking away from anybody’s game, his arrival seems to have picked up everybody’s – including the fans.
Last night’s win was the Suns’ fourth straight, moved them up a seed to number five in the West, and positioned them to make a very strong run to regain number one down the stretch. And as far as the Shaq deal meaning Coach Mike was giving up on his fun-and-gun offense, the Suns have averaged 127 points over the last three games in spite of playing their regulars either not at all or very little in the fourth period in two of those games.
What’s more, the team is now scoring the points in mega-bunches – reminiscent of what used to be their trademark.
Take last night for instance. The teams battled on even terms throughout most of the first period of what looked like a pretty interesting matchup. But then the roof fell in on the Kings, followed swiftly by the sky, and before you knew it the Suns had gone on a 28-2 run. The final damage in the period was 42-14, with the Suns shooting 79 percent from the field.
And lest you say, “Yeah, but the Kings aren’t very good,” be advised this is the same team that beat the Lakers in Los Angeles the other evening. Or at least the same players.
But with Amare’s game soaring to even higher levels, Steve Nash back on his, and Shaq looking downright frisky and hustling like a rookie trying to make the club, this was more about how good the Suns have become rather than how bad the Kings are.
Not only that, but Gordan Giricek, the “consolation” prize the Suns signed when Brent Barry opted to stay in San Antonio, came off the bench to score 23 points, grab 5 rebounds, and contribute two steals in 32 very athletic minutes. It also should be noted he hit four of seven threes.
The bottom line: As for Coach Mike’s caution that the Suns are still quite a ways from being as going as they’re eventually going to get, he’s absolutely right, of course. And that’s the good news. In fact, that’s great news if you’re thinking in terms of a shot at the prize the Suns had their eye on but kind of lost sight of last year.