The Suns came by to celebrate Spanksgiving with us. Somehow I wish they hadn't been quite so generous. It was an exciting game to watch on offense at least...
--We didn't have the experience, endurance, or the guns to make a go at a game like this. That's it plain and simple. No shame in it, that's just reality right now.
--One of the most disappointing things about the game was that we just got physically beat up by the Suns. They're not a team you normally associate with toughness. But they made like bullies tonight and we didn't stop them. We need a lot more grit, not just more talent. Lamarcus' mouth shots and all the shoving they were doing on Zach were prime examples. The Suns also outrebounded us by 6. That's like getting outrebounded by 100 against a normal team.
--We responded only haltingly to the flow of the game. The first clue as to how we should have played came when the officials blew four fouls against us in the first two minutes as the Suns drove in the lane. They were all ready to do the same for us and did on the occasions when we took advantage. The second clue came when the Suns sagged way off us and dared us to shoot jumpers. We happily complied. For most of the night our offense consisted of posting against triple teams or flinging long ones. That's half of why we got toasted. We should expect to see even more sagging defenses in the future so we better learn to cope.
--That said, it should be taken as an encouraging sign that we shot over 50%. We do have some guys with scoring ability.
--It's almost not fair to comment on defense against the Suns because they are so good at burning you, but Mike Rice had a couple of dead on comments tonight. The first was the propensity of the Suns to throw pick and rolls from every angle and how poor we are defending them (a point I've made ad nauseum here.) The second was how when our young guys go to help they lose sight of everything else that's going on, allowing opponents to sneak behind them for easy baskets. Part of that is unclear rotations from third and fourth guys, but we also have to get more aware defensively if we want to play anything besides man-to-man. And right now we don't have enough straight-up defenders to just play man-to-man.
--One of the preview points was that all our guys needed to come with energy. About half did. Unfortunately all of the Suns did. And that, as they say, was that.
--Zach had the most magnificent first quarter I can remember from him in forever. He definitely came out to play. It wasn't just scoring either. You could see it in the way he set picks, directed traffic, went for rebounds, passed, and helped on defense. You could even see it in the bounce in his step as he moved around the court. If he came with that every quarter, or even every night, there would be far fewer questions about him. He lost it by the second quarter under the continuous Phoenix assault and the not-so-favorable officiating. I don't know that he'd have been able to carry us on his back anyway. I really, really want to see that effort brought back and extended farther though.
--Ime Udoka also came to play, albeit much more quietly. I love that guy.
--Lamarcus got elbowed into oblivion tonight and we really saw how weak our interior defense is without him and Joel.
--Travis Outlaw had a very confident and productive offensive evening. Unfortunately his defense left a little to be desired. He did register some other stats also though. I still don't think he's a real power forward but he is showing some baby steps towards consistency overall.
--Sergio hit some shots tonight! 4-of-5 shooting, 9 points, 10 assists, 4 rebounds, and only 2 turnovers in 22 minutes. Also, have you noticed how everyone runs harder when he's in the game? They know they have a chance to get the ball. He got torched on defense too, but what do you expect?
--Jarrett Jack had his usual steady effort. He committed a couple too many turnovers but it didn't hurt us any more than the crappy team defense. I love how Jack's offensive game is developing. I just can't decide whether I like it as much as I dislike what speedy guards do to him on the other end.
--Martell took no shots in the first half and looked horribly passive out there...passive enough to lose him his starting role. Then he came out with energy in the second half and ended up scoring 11 points on 5 shots, hitting 100% from beyond the arc. We really need both halves from him though. I think when people saw his involvement they passed the ball to him more. He needs to get more involved more often and demand that ball instead of letting the game go by until someone notices him.
--I like Magloire's defensive spring tonight. Unlike the youngsters he at least has some idea of how to play a team defense, even if he doesn't always do it. His hook shot looked like a trebuchet trying to shatter the backboard tonight though.
--Mike Rice had a nice shirt and tie combo tonight. Very tasteful.