All the heavy internal baggage the Suns have been lugging during the Big Makeover hasn’t slowed Leandro Barbosa down one bit, thank goodness.
Barbosa is still the fastest thing on sneakers, and he used his speed to burn the Jazz for 25 points in less than 30 minutes, and he did almost as much damage to them when they could catch him than when they couldn’t, as he was a perfect 10 for 10 at the free throw line.
Barbosa, plus a 20-rebound, 22-point effort by Amar’e Stoudemire that gave the Suns total control of the boards were the keys to snapping a four-game losing streak and pulling the Suns back to .500 (5-5) at home.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Jazz not only missed 10 free throws, but also blew two lay-ups very, very late, with the issue still very, very much in doubt. But give the Suns high marks for pulling themselves out of a spin that was starting to alarm even the optimists on Planet Orange.
There’s no telling how much damage a fifth straight loss would have done to their already fragile psyche. As it is, the benching of Raja Bell, who was taken out with more than five minutes to play and was never put back has the potential to cause even more angst.
You also have to give the Suns credit for recovering from another half of disastrous turnovers (11 for 19 points) to cut their self inflicted damage to 5/7 the rest of the way. And while it can’t honestly be said they’re all finally back on the same page, at least they are in the same book.
The bottom line: If nothing else, this win gave the Suns a little breathing room in an atmosphere that was starting to run a little low on oxygen.