January 2007 - Posts
This was suppose to be a winnable game for the Phoenix Suns, but Kevin Garnett had a differing opinion. Minnesota's “Big Ticket” delivered a monster game against the Suns, leading the Timberwolves to an unexpected 121-112 victory. In an typically un-Garnett fashion, KG almost single-handedly beat the Suns, finishing with 44 points and 11 rebounds. His dominance in the 4th quarter was quite unexpected, but good to see nonetheless (for a lifetime KG fan). Garnett almost scored at will against a weak Suns frontcourt, hitting turnaround after turnaround - he scored 15 points in the 4th quarter alone, almost willing his team to the victory.
"People who say he can't carry the load, take a look at this game film," new Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman said.
Raja Bell finished w/ 26 pts for the Suns and Steve Nash added 20 and 18 assists, but it wasn't enough to get the win; Shawn Marion contributed a respectable 24 pts & 10 boards. The Suns were seeking their 18th straight win and a perfect record in January, but were denied by the ferocious Timberwolves (ok, maybe hungry). Despite the Suns best efforts late in the game, missed shots and KG's dominance were too much to overcome.
"Better to lose that way than to lose when we beat ourselves," Steve Nash said. "Kevin (Garnett) was sensational. We just didn't make shots at the end at the clip Kevin was making them."
The loss aside, the Suns are still the best & hottest team in the NBA right now. I almost wonder if the loss will help them focus more on the championship run vs. the winning streak and constant talk about how a fast-break team can't continue winning (especially in the playoffs). Nash has been bothered nonstop by the media lately, and has seemed pretty upset w/ the commentary quite frequently. Too much emphasis was put on the Suns winning streak and not enough talking about their defense (highest avg margin of victory in the NBA) and their chances of winning the title.
Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw barely showed up for the game... combined, they tallied a total of 22 pts and a whopping 4 rebounds; one less than Minnesota guard Randy Foye was able to get. Amare only took 5 shots from the field - yes, only 5. He wasn't in foul trouble and he wasn't turning the ball over too much, so I'm not sure why he held back against one of the guys he's compared to most frequently (high school to NBA drafted players). Amare usually has great performances against the guys that he's trying to show that he's better than.
The Suns will attempt to start a new winning streak Thursday on national TV against the San Antonio Spurs.
Borrowing a line from Limp Bizkit, the Phoenix Suns Keep rollin', rollin', rollin', enroute to their 17th straight win. The winning streak is the longest in Suns franchise history and one of only 5 streaks in NBA history of 17 games or more. Phoenix is only 4 wins away from having the 2nd longest winning streak in NBA history and 17 victories away from overtaking the L.A. Lakers streak of 33 straight wins in 1971-72 (ok, so they're half way - but they're only the 5th team to get this far).
Led by a spectacular game from Steve Nash, the Suns cruised over the Cleveland Cavaliers for a 115-100 win (in Cleveland). Sunday afternoon's game marked the return of Lebron James who missed Friday's game w/ a sore toe. James' statline doesn't exactly reflect the injury, but I'm sure the rest helped him; he finished w/ 30 pts, 9 rbs, 5 asts and 2 stls, while shooting over 50% from the field - only 50% from the charity stripe however.
Despite the gaudy win streak and 1st place in the NBA right now, the Suns still maintain that winning during the regular season isn't the team's objective. Team leader Steve Nash says that the streak is great and all, but the Suns won't be happy until they get to the NBA Finals and win the championship; anything less will be unacceptable.
"People don't talk about the 33-game streak, they talk about who won the championship that year," Steve Nash said, noting the Lakers won the league title in '71-'72. "I don't feel unbeatable. We've got a lot of improving to do."
Nash and Shawn Marion both finished w/ 23 pts to lead the Suns, but Nash's 15 assists and zero turnovers were much more impressive.
With the Suns routing each of their opponents since late November (only 2 losses after Nov. 20th), it will be interesting to see how many players All-Star coach Mike D'Antoni will pick from his own squad to participate in the main event: Nash, Marion and Amare Stoudemire could all end up going. I'm sure he wants to reward them for their play, but he may want to consider letting them rest as well so they can keep playing deep into the season.
The Suns will face the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight, as they attempt to win their 18th in a row.
Friday night's game against the Milwaukee Bucks should've been a walk in the park for the red-hot Phoenix Suns, winners of their last 15 straight games. Unfortunately, the Bucks had a little more fight in them than Phoenix might have expected and the game was close throughout.
Fortunately for the Suns, they had Raja Bell on their side and his 3-pointer w/ less than a minute left sealed the deal on a 98-90 victory; the Suns 16th straight win. This is the second winning streak of 15 games or more for Phoenix already this year (before the All-Star break), something only the Chicago Bulls have done in the past (twice w/ Michael Jordan).
Bell finished 7-11 from beyond the arc, accruing 27 points in the process to lead the Suns. All 5 Phoenix starters finished in double-figures. Shawn Marion's season high 23 rebounds led the Suns and Steve Nash's 16 assists helped put points on the board.
Surprisingly, it's the Suns defense that probably won this game. Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion played well down the stretch, including a play where Marion blocked a shot and forced a 24-second violation on Milwaukee (less than 2 minutes to play). The block came just after Amare was called for an offensive foul on the other end, resulting in a costly turnover.
Six Milwaukee players scored in double-figures, led by 21 from guard Charlie Bell and 18 from newcomer Earl Boykins.
Both teams sucked from the charity stripe and their FG% weren't that great either. Phoenix hit 13-20 FT (65%) and shot 43% from the field overall; Milwaukee shot 12-21 (57%) from the line and finished w/ a 41% FG percentage overall.
The Suns look to continue their hot streak Sunday afternoon against one of the Eastern Conference's best teams, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland should have Lebron James back in the lineup; he missed Friday night's game w/ a sore toe.
Other NBA News:
- Jamal Crawford scores 52 pts in a Knicks victory over the Miami Heat. Crawfors overshadowed a 37 point night by Dwyane Wade. Shaq was semi-effective in his 2nd game back.
- Wizards defeat the Pistons; now rule the Eastern Conference.
- Newly acquired Stephen Jackson may miss some games w/ the Warriors; he was found guilty of violating his probation in the gun shooting incident (back in Indiana). The Pacers are happy to have washed their hands of him no doubt.
- Kobe Bryant reaches 18,000 points for his career; youngest player ever to accomplish this task. The next quickest to 18k were Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan.
Phoenix won it's 15th straight game last night (over the Knicks) to reach 34-8. Combine that with Dallas' loss to the Chicago Bulls tonight, and the Suns are now tied w/ the Mavs for the league's best record (Mavs are 35-9). The official NBA standings will most likely show that the teams are tied, but Phoenix will have the edge with one less loss.
The Suns struggled against the Knicks last night, allowing Eddy Curry to score 21 points in the first 15 minutes of the game. Fortunately, Curry was a no-show the rest of the game and Phoenix was able to catch-up and take the lead before halftime.
Steve Nash finished the game w/ 14 assists and 20 points, while Amare Stoudemire led the team in scoring (30 pts), despite getting in foul trouble early in the game and playing reduced minutes.
The Phoenix Suns have been getting top billing around the league lately, including being featured on 3/4 of the New York Times sports page this week. If you haven't seen a Suns game yet, you're missing out on the most entertaining team in the league. Compare it to watching a boring ass Sonics-Grizzlies game and you'll be glad you watched the Suns. After watching them, all of the other teams will look like they're in slow motion.
In Amare news... NBA analyst Charlie Rosen put up a story on FoxSports about how Stoudemire gets all of his points from Nash - well no duh!! Everyone on the Suns benefits from Nash's play, including Amare. STAT is still recovering from last season's knee surgery, but he's getting better every game he plays. Fortunately, the Suns don't need him to be the Amare of the 2004-2005 playoffs, they just need him to play a little defense, score, and pull down about 10 rebounds a game; that's enough to get the Suns to the NBA Finals.Buy One, Get One Free at Fathead.com!
NBA Rumors & News
- Timberwolves axe head coach Dwane Casey after 20-20 record.... Seriously, do you really thing any other coach could've done that well w/ the sorry team Minnesota puts on the floor every night? Besides KG and Ricky Davis, the team is pretty weak. The Western Conference is awfully tough - the Wolves would lead the Atlantic Division by 3 games w/ that record.
- Gilbert Arenas named All-Star starter - A late surge of fan voting will put Arenas in the game as a starter. His ballots eclipsed Vince Carter; also a deserving All-Star (but not a starter). The Eastern Conference starters, pending injuries, will be: Shaquille O'neal, Chris Bosh, Lebron James, Gilbert Arenas and Dwyane Wade. Shaq has played a total of 5 games now... he doesn't deserve to play in the All-Star game, let alone start - this is what's wrong w/ All-Star voting. (Buy NBA All-Star apparel & merchandise)
- Western Conference All-Stars - Yao Ming (injured), Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Tracy McGrady and Kobe Bryant. Seriously, where's Steve Nash in this mix? I wouldn't be surprised if Mike D'Antoni (coach of the West) moves Duncan over to center and inserts Nash in the point guard spot. Recent Western Conference switchover, Allen Iverson just missed out on starting, but he would've started in the Eastern Conference ahead of Gilbert Arenas had he still been w/ the 76ers. (Buy NBA All-Star T-shirts & Jerseys)
Based on the Phoenix Suns' record this year, head coach Mike D'Antoni will be the designated coach for the Western Conference in the upcoming All-Star game being held in Las Vegas, NV. While Avery Johnson's Dallas Mavericks have the better record right now, Johnson isn't eligible to coach 2 years in a row, so the spot goes to the team w/ the next best record - the Phoenix Suns.
Congratulations to coach D'Antoni for the selection!!!
Several days ago, this game actually looked like a good one... Kevin Garnett & the near red-hot Minnesota Timberwolves vs the Phoenix Suns, winners of their last 12 straight games. Ok, so Garnett threw a punch at Antonio McDyess in Detroit a few nights ago and Ricky Davis leaves the bench - end result - both players are suspended for 1 game and the Suns have a cakewalk on their hands. (Buy Kevin Garnett jersey)
Enter Shawn Marion & Amare Stoudemire, who pretty much had their way w/ the rest of the Wolves front-court players. Marion finished w/ 17 pts and 20 rebounds, while Amare had 25 pts and 8 rebounds. Shawn Marion's numbers become more amazing when you consider the fact that he didn't even play the 4th quarter - he sat out w/ the Suns handily ahead. Overall, six Suns players scored in double-figures en-route to their 13 straight victory, making Phoenix only the 8th team in NBA history to win 13 straight twice in the same season. (Buy Shawn Marion jersey / Amare Stoudemire jersey)
Rookie Randy Foye led the depleted Minnesota squad w/ 25 pts. Troy Hudson and Trenton Hassell contributed 22 & 20, respectively.
Phoenix starts a 5-game road trip Tuesday in Washington against Gilbert Arenas and the Wizards.
Other NBA News:
- Carmello Anthony set to return for the Denver Nuggets tonight vs. the Memphis Grizzlies.
- Richard Jefferson to have ankle scoped... may not return to New Jersey lineup anytime soon.
- Dallas Mavericks defeat the Miami Heat in rematch of 2005-2006 NBA Finals. Miami was w/out Shaquille O'Neal.
- Jason Kidd rumored to be on the trading block... divorce headlines leading to much speculation.
- Corey Maggette's agent request trade by February deadline... Clipper's owner not likely to approve.
I have been living in Phoenix since 1997, but have been following the Phoenix Suns since the 89-90' seasons when I first got interested in NBA basketball. In addition to watching as many Suns games as I can in person and/or on TV, I also am a season-ticket holder for the Arizona Cardinals. They just got a new coach, so hopefully my tickets will be worth something this coming year.
Growing up in Salt Lake City, UT, I was a fan of the Utah Jazz and still am to this day, though not as much as I use to be. My family had 1/3 of the season's home games in Salt Lake, so I got to go to a lot of great NBA games, including several NBA Finals games between the Jazz and the Chicago Bulls. Utah's coach, Jerry Sloan, is not one of my favorite NBA people, but he's done a good job staying the same for over 20 years. I think he & his coaching staff are personally responsible for several lost playoff games for the “let's remove the hot shooting guy“ roster changes during the game.
Back to the Suns now... My favorite players, both past & present include: Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire, Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd, Michael Finley, Antonio McDyess, Charles Barkley, Dan Majerle, Kevin Johnson and Jeff Hornacek. The latest Suns team is simply a joy to watch; their style of play is a eye-opening peek into what the NBA should be. Let's get rid of the one-on-one style of play that's taken over the past 15 years and let's go back to the “team game“, the way basketball was intended to be played.
You can read more about me on my MySpace page. I will caution you though... turn down your speaker volume before you go there.
Trades in the NBA don't get much bigger than the 8 player deal that went through today between the Indiana Pacers and Golden State Warriors. Not only was money involved in the decision to push this trade through, but style of play and lack of productivity also factored into the decision.
So who was involved?
Indiana Pacers get:
- Mike Dunleavy
- Troy Murphy
- Ike Diogu
- Keith McLeod
Golden State Warriors get:
- Al Harrington
- Stephen Jackson
- Sarunas Jasikevicius
- Josh Powell
Now let's get into the details of why this trade went through and what it means to each team.
Basically, the Warriors are trying to play the same style as the Phoenix Suns, only Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy don't seem to get it. Those two players just got huge contracts and they're not playing like they deserve them. On top of that, Dunleavy, who most thought would thrive in the uptempo style, has struggled to perform up to those expectations. Ike Diogu was stuck on the Warriors bench and was never going to get significant minutes on the court, despite his great talent and abilities; an early injury was likely to blame for him losing out on minutes throughout the season.
The Indiana Pacers are struggling to stay around the .500 mark, despite the abundant amount of talent they have on the roster. Stephen Jackson was a headcase and still is, so good luck for Golden State now. If he doesn't get jail time for his role in a club shooting, there's something wrong w/ our legal system. Al Harrington is the surprise player in the trade to me, especially since he spurned the Atlanta Hawks in the offseason to sign w/ the Pacers, who he played for his first few years in the NBA. It will be very interesting to get Jermaine O'Neal's reaction to the trade, considering he's been lamenting over Indiana's record the past few weeks and hinting at a trade (himself).
Overall, I think the trade is going to benefit both teams - the Warriors had dead weight on the bench and now those players are on a team where they'll probably be able to help. The Pacers' slower game style should work well for Murphy and Dunleavy. Adding two potent scorers to their lineup won't hurt Golden State either; expect Harrington and Jackson to start and/or play heavy minutes throughout the season.
As far as fantasy stats go, it's probably a safe bet to start playing Murphy again and to possibly pick up Dunleavy on waivers; both of their numbers should go up. Al Harrington was already a good fantasy player and I see the situation in Golden State helping him even more. Ike Diogu should get a shot in Indiana, but he'll have to play well quickly or he'll be the odd man out again like he was for the Warriors.
In a game that resembled a high school track meet, the Phoenix Suns outlasted the Memphis Grizzlies 137-122. Led by Amare Stoudemire's 42 pts and 9 rbs, the Suns simply had more in the tank than the Grizzlies did. (Buy Amare Stoudemire Jersey)
Memphis, previously a slower tempo type team under Mike Fratello, has been given the green light by their new interim coach Tony Barone. The new style of play is great to watch on TV and good for fantasy basketball team owners, but it hasn't panned out for the Grizzlies so far - they're sitting in last place in the Southwest Division.
Steve Nash and Boris Diaw both finished w/ double-figure assist totals (15 and 10, respectively) to lead the high scoring affair, which included 6 Suns players finishing in double-figure scoring (would be 7 players had Diaw scored 1 more point). Phoenix shot 55% from the field and 41% from behind the arc; Memphis shot 58% from the field and 37% from behind the arc. The difference in the game was really the Suns ability to take more shots than the Grizzlies did (90-84) and take a few more free throws than Memphis.
Phoenix has now won 10 in a row for the 2nd time this season, and is tied w/ Dallas for the least amount of losses; they're just 2 wins away from being tied for the league's best record.
The Suns play a tough game at Houston on Wednesday. The resurgent Rockets are playing extremely well right now with Yao Ming out w/ an injury; Tracy McGrady is leading the team in nearly every aspect. (Buy Tracy McGrady Jersey / adidas T-Mac Shoes)
The NBA had a number of interesting stories this week...
- Chris Webber waived - The Philadelphia 76ers agreed to a buyout w/ F/C Chris Webber yesterday. Webber is making more than $20 million per year, so this wasn't cheap for Philly to undertake. The former fab-five member is reportedly going to sign in Detroit - his old stomping grounds.
- Michael Redd injured - Superstar Michael Redd was injured and will miss the next 4-6 weeks. Redd is the latest NBA star to get hurt. He joins a group of other NBA All-Stars and top players on the injured list.
- Tony Allen tears up knee - Up & coming talent Tony Allen of the Boston Celtics tears ligaments in his knee on a meaningless dunk after a foul call. Boston is already missing Paul Pierce, Wally Szczerbiak, Theo Ratliff and Delonte West. This latest injury leaves the Celtics w/ very little scoring power.
- Earl Boykins traded to Milwaukee - The Nuggets, eagerly awaiting Carmello Anthony's return, traded point guard Earl Boykins and Julius Hodge to the Milwaukee Bucks for Steve Blake. This trade was nothing more than a salary camp move (Denver is now $500k under the luxury tax threshold)... the Nuggets could use Boykins energy and scoring off the bench. I think they'll really regret this decision as the season winds down. Boykins was expected to lose significant minutes w/ Allen Iversion, JR Smith and Carmello Anthony splitting minutes at the guard positions. The Cleveland Cavaliers are upset about the deal because they've been trying to acquire Early Boykins since last year... I guess they should've offered more or shut their mouth.
- Shaq returns to Heat practice - Along w/ Antoine Walker and James Posey, Shaquille O'Neal returned to Heat practices this week. There's still no timetable on his return to a real game. So Walker and Posey get deactivated for being out of shape. Do you really think Pat Riley would do the same thing to Shaq (who is out of shape)? I doubt it...
Led by Steve Nash's 21 assists, the Phoenix Suns defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 109-90 on Thursday night. Nash's impressive night allowed him to become the first player in 9 years to record two 20+ assist games in the same season. He only finished w/ 4 pts on the night, but he didn't need to score for the Suns to beat the Cavs. Steve had 14 assists by halftime... he only played 30 minutes the entire game. (Buy Steve Nash jersey)
Lebron James led the Cavaliers w/ 34 pts, but got little help from the rest of the team - Drew Gooden was the only other Cleveland player in double figures (11 pts). (Buy Lebron James jersey)
For the Suns, Amare Stoudemire started very strong, but ended up w/ only 17 pts. Both he and Nash played 32 minutes or less in the game; that has to be considered a positive... it will allow them to be stronger the next game. Phoenix had 5 players scoring in double figures, but no player scored more than 19 pts. Amare and Shawn Marion led the Suns w/ 13 & 11 rebounds (respectively).
Nothing else really stands out from this game... the Suns simply dominated the game from start to finish. They stayed far enough ahead in the game, allowing them to rest their starters for significant minutes.
Phoenix plays the Orlando Magic and budding superstar Dwight Howard on Saturday night in Arizona. In the Suns last game against the Magic, Amare schooled Howard and the Suns left Orlando w/ the victory. I look for Howard to make a better effort this time; the Suns will win a close game... 112-108. (Buy Dwight Howard jersey)Buy One, Get One Free at Fathead.com!
Something's been eating at me ever since I saw Pat Burke screw up Raja Bell's chance to make history w/ 3-pointers in consecutive games.
Who is this guy? Why are Suns fans cheering the hell out of him everytime he steps on the floor?
I haven't seen anything (of his game) to warrant the attention he's been getting from the fans. He hardly ever plays and when he does, all he does is shoot the ball - he doesn't play team basketball. Let's check his stats... 2 pts, 1.5 rbs and 0.4 asts per game. Does that sound like someone that deserves a standing ovation w/ 2 minutes left in the 4th quarter of a blowout? No. Think about it... why is everyone cheering for him? It's almost like “Rudy“ (Notre Dame fame) for the Suns.
I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that the white-collar people at the game are cheering for Burke because he's the only other white player on the Suns team besides Steve Nash (a real fan favorite). He's also white (yes, Nash is too), so maybe that has something to do with it, but overall it makes no sense. Pat Burke must be the only player on the court that all the high-rollers at the game can relate to.
Sit this guy at the end of the bench. Quit cheering for him. Quit pumping his already elevated ego.
Spend your time rooting for a quality player like Kurt Thomas, Steve Nash, Shawn Marion or Amare Stoudemire, not some 12th man.
Updated 1/25/07 (more to prove my point)
Ok, so I've gotten several emails from folks reading my blog about how good a player Pat Burke is... are you kidding me? Here's a snippet from someone who calls themself “jordan“:
alright buddy... first of all pat burke is the probably the most all round good player to ever play the game... he can shoot from anywhere on the court... he's one of the best dunkers in the league hands down... he can d up kobe with his eyes closed... and about the raja bell thing... if you watch that clip on youtube you'll see that raja bell has his hands on his hips, even the anouncers say it and they're saying he doesnt want the ball.. pat burke wanted to pass cause hes a good guy and wants his teammates to do well but when they dont want the pressure he takes it all on his back and scores at will... p.burke is unstopable, end of story.
Unfortunately, it's not the end of the story...
Pat Burke can “d“ up Kobe Bryant w/ his eyes closed? Shoot, I don't think Pat could guard Dikembe Mutumbo on a fast break. About Raja Bell in the game he was going for the record - yes he was tired, and yes the announcers stated such, but he was still on the court for one reason (D'Antoni's choice) - to get the 3-point record. Burke made no attempt to get Bell (or anyone else for that matter) the ball, because he was too busy hoisting up his own shots.
And finally, I compared Pat Burke to “Rudy“ from Notre Dame when I first wrote the article... I have since read the chapters in the :07 Seconds or Less Suns book, which says the exact same thing, except the writer used the term “handicapped“ when referring to the issue.
I could do this forever.... there are still people out there trying to tell me that Pat Burke is the greatest player in the NBA. I couldn't disagree more... Here's the latest comment from “mike“:
So anyways i was looking at your column and it appears that you dont like pat burke. I'm assuming this is because he didnt pass it to raja bell and bell didnt get the 3 point in consecutive games record. First of all who the hell wants to look at the record for nba 3's and see raja bells name there. i'd rather see the name of a good player and not some douchebag whos only good because of steve nash. obviously pat burke is a genious and knew that so he didnt pass the ball to bell because he didnt want to ruin the record books. plus he drained a 3 because hes the best player currently in the nba. he definitely deserved the standing ovation and whats wrong with the movie rudy? it's probably the best movie of all time. finally, if you don't think pat burke could d up kobe with his eyes closed you shouldn't be writing sports columns.
I have no problem with this guy's comments about Rudy being a good movie; the movie was great... I was comparing Pat Burke to Rudy though, not dissing the movie.
Pat Burke is averaging 2.2 points per game, while shooting 33% from the field. He has only appeared in 10 games so far this year (out of 44). Are you telling me Mike D'Antoni has the greatest player of all time sitting on the bench and he doesn't even know it? Give me a break... Someone be honest and say why you like the guy (over anybody else).
As far as Raja Bell's name goes, what the hell is wrong w/ his name being in the record books? We have guys like Rasheed Wallace in there for most technical fouls, Dennis Rodman in there for most groin kicks to a camera man, etc... Give a guy credit for improving his jump shot and working to get better offensively. It's not all because he plays with Nash either... look at his numbers the past few years. He played with Nash in Dallas for 1 year... guess how many points he averaged there? 3 points per game - only his rookie season was lower. His scoring increased each year he played in Utah, and now 2 years with the Suns. He is a career 41% 3-point shooter - hardly a one year wonder (he shot 44% last year).
Another factoid, according to FoxSports.com (who's wrong apparently) - Pat Burke's birth city is Cape Coral, Florida.... several of you have commented he was born in Ireland
[edited Pat Burke's nationality 1/21/07.. thx Pat for the correction. NBA.com or Wikipedia had the wrong info when I wrote the story apparently.]
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