April 2007 - Posts

The NBA announced today that the Denver Nuggets' Marcus Camby has won the league's Defensive Player of the Year award.

Camby was about the only bright spot on the Nuggets defense all season, leading the league in blocks (3.3/game) and having the most steals (among centers).  While talking about receiving the award, Camby stated that his goal is to make the All-Star Game next year... he thinks that just because you win the award, you should be in the All-Star Game.  He even stated how much of a travesty it is that he didn't make this year's game, despite winning the award.  All he needs to do is look at the stats of the guys who did make it & he'll realize he's thinking bigger than his britches.

Other 2006-2007 NBA Awards
Suns' Leandro Barbosa wins NBA's Sixth Man Award

NBAStore.com: Playoffs 2007
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LA Lakers

Ok, so the Phoenix Suns didn't really leave the game after the 3rd quarter of game 3 against the LA Lakers, but it sure seemed like it.  After ending the game with a 31-17 lead, the Suns virtually disappeared and let the Lakers have their way with them.  The Lakers used a “trapping defense“ w/ guards Smush Parker and Shammond Williams to surprise the Suns and take game 3.

The final Suns score was 95-89 in favor of the Lakers, who still trail 2-1 in the best of 7 series.

Watch highlights of the Suns/Lakers game on 4/26/07

The defense was horrible in the 2nd half, as evidenced by Kwame Brown's 3 consecutive dunks at one point.  Yes, I said Kwame Brown, the same one who Michael Jordan drafted w/ the 1st pick out of high school for the Washington Wizards.  The guy who's been invisible for the Lakers so far this postseason, stepped up and scored in double-figures to help offset Amare Stoudemire's great game.

After scoring only 15 points and playing “team ball“ in game 2, Kobe Bryant went off on the Suns, scoring 45 points in the victory.  He credits the increased output to “being aggressive“, a concept which the entire Lakers team appeared to have grasped - at least for 1 game.

The glaring issues for the Suns included too many turnovers in the 4th quarter and in critical situations, poor defense, and the complete dissappearance of Shawn Marion in game 3.  I'm not sure if he got paid off or what, but he sure didn't seem to be in the game.  The team also looked lost on offense for most of the game, which didn't resemble game 2's “perfection” route at all.

Fortunately for the Suns, whoever they end up playing in round 2 (yes, they will get there) will be just as tired as they are.  All Western Conference teams have lost at least 1 game, meaning every series will go at least 5 games.

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Yes, a couple of these NBA news items are a little behind in terms of posting dates, but they're still newsworthy and maybe some regulars of the site haven't seen them yet.

  • 2006-2007 NBA Coach of the Year - This year's coaching award went to the Toronto Raptors' Sam Mitchell, for improving the Raptors record by 20 games (best in the NBA). I really have no issues w/ this pick, but there are certainly other coaches who could've just as easily won the award.  Among them, the Mavs Avery Johnson (NBA best 67 wins), the Jazz' Jerry Sloan (lost the award w/ late slide), and the Cavs' Mike Brown for getting the #2 seed in the East, despite having a pretty weak team.
  • Coaches Fired!!! - Yes, the NBA Playoffs just started, but that hasn't stopped a couple of NBA teams from canning their 2006-2007 coaches. Seattle fired coach Bob Hill and Indiana fired coach Rick Carlisle. Coaches that seem to have retained ther position, despite horrible years include: Sacramento's Eric Musselman, Atlanta's Mike Woodson, Minnesota's Randy Wittman, and of course the Knicks' Isiah Thomas.
  • 2006-2007 NBA Most Improved Player - The most improved award went to the Golden State Warriors' Monta Ellis. In the closest voting ever, Ellis edged out the Kings' Kevin Martin for the award by only 3 points. Ellis averaged 16.5 pts, 4.1 assists and 3.2 rbs this season for the Warriors.

Check back again soon when announce the NBA's MVP and analyze each playoff series in more detail.

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The NBA announced today that the Phoenix Suns' Leandro Barbosa has won the league's 6th man award.

After leading the Suns to a victory over the Lakers on Sunday, this has to help boost Barbosa's confidence even more.  The Suns really got a steal by signing him to a long-term deal during the offseason, since he could demand a lot more money on the open market after this year.

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LA Lakers

Unlike last season's start to the playoffs, the Suns took care of business on their homecourt versus the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday afternoon, winning 95-87.  The game appeared to be dejavu for the Suns through about three quarters, as the Lakers jumped out to the lead and held on to it for a good portion of the game.  In last year's first round matchup, the Lakers took a 3-1 series lead, before the Suns stormed back on their way to the Western Conference Finals.

Kobe Bryant had some nice words to say about Raja Bell before the game, but Bell probably took it with a grain of salt, and Bryant probably just said it to get in his head anyway.

Bryant led LA with 28 points in the first half (he ended w/ 39 pts), and combined with the Suns poor shooting, the Lakers looked to have the game in hand early.  Phoenix still ended up shooting only about 43% for the game, but it was enough to get the “W”.  Leandro Barbosa led the Suns w/ 26 pts, followed by Amare Stoudemire (23), Steve Nash (20) and Shawn Marion (16).  Nash, Stoudemire and Marion also finished with double-doubles.

The two teams will play in Phoenix again on Tuesday, w/ games 3 & 4 Thursday and Sunday, respectively.

NBAStore.com: One Store, Every Team

The Phoenix Suns are still playing better basketball than 90% of the league, but at this time of the season it's causing nightmares for many basketball fans.  Having lost recently to both the Kings and the Spurs, while winning against the Nuggets and Mavericks, it's hard to tell which Suns team will show up for each game.

Each game is an unknown - will the Suns play hard and run throughout the game, OR will they play so-so and try to make a late run to win?  While playing hard against the league leading Mavs and winning the last two games of their season series, the Suns threw up a goose egg against the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night.

The loss to the Spurs only added to NBA analysts' arguments (including Charley Rosen) that the Suns are ill equipped to make it to the NBA Finals.  Sure, the Spurs played a good game and withstood a late run by the Suns, but one game doesn't make a season, or predict a team's playoff success.

Don't forget, the Suns did defeat the Mavericks twice within the past month. Despite the resurgence of the Spurs, most experts still think the Mavs or Suns will emerge from the Western Conference and win the NBA Championship.

Based on the Suns performance against the Spurs in the 2004 playoffs, I don't think they're really too worried about playing them in the 2nd round. With a healthy Amare Stoudemire, the Suns should be able to handle the Spurs in 6 games or less. The Suns focus and effort has been aimed at overtaking the Mavs - the team they lost to last year in the Western Conference Finals.  Having one the last two games, Phoenix has made a clear statement that they're not the same team that the Mavs narrowly defeated last year.

Other NBA News:

  • Vince Carter and Jason Kidd both had a triple-double in Saturday night's win over the Washington Wizards. This marks the first time that two teammates have achieved the feat in the same game since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen did it almost 20 years ago (1989). Kidd narrowly missed hitting his triple-double, needing a late free throw to reach 10 points, to go along w/ his 16 rbs and 18 asts.
  • The Minnesota Timberwolves virtually eliminated themselves from playoff contention with a loss to the New Orleans Hornets Saturday night. A win by the Clippers should make it official later this evening. Only one thing to say about the Timberwolves this season... what a shame.
  • The Washington Wizards figure to make a quick exit in the playoffs, despite having the sixth seed. Two superstars were lost for the season in the last week: Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler.
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Dallas Mavericks

The Suns proved on Sunday that they belong in the Western Conference Finals... all at the expense of the Dallas Mavericks, who own the league's best record.

Going into the game down 1-2 in the season series, Phoenix took no prisoners and played the most efficient game of their season in the 22 point victory. Led by their 65% field goal shooting for the game (the NBA high this season), the Suns simply wouldn't allow the Mavs to get back in the game after building a good lead. It didn't hurt that the Suns reserves came in the game and iced it w/ two 3's.

Phoenix rises & falls based on the way Shawn Marion plays, so it shouldn't be a surprise that Marion's outstanding play in the last two games has primed the Suns for a great playoff run. Having not scored more than 17 pts since February 27th, Marion has posted 33 pts (vs. Nuggets) and 20 against the Mavs - both Phoenix victories. Marion finished w/ 7 rbs, 4 asts and 3 blocks to go along w/ his 20 points (8-10 FG).

The Suns Shawn Marion stretches before critical game w/ Mavs - Copyright 2007 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

The game was extremely physical, but in a rare showing, the Suns were actually the ones doing all the damage. Dallas' Josh Howard received a pretty decent cut over his eye late in the game and MVP candidate Dirk Nowitzki landed awkwardly on Marion's foot, effectively ending his day (he did return to the game, but was ineffective).

Phoenix was extrenely effective on offensee, putting up 65% FG for the game and over 80% in the 4th quarter, outscoring Dallas by 15. Considering the Mavs reputation for tough defense this year, it sure didn't show. The Suns shot 57% from 3-point land and 96% from the charity stripe (1 missed FT). 

Steve Nash added to MVP candidacy with 23 pts and 11 asts in the game, Amare Stoudemire added 24 pts on 10-13 shooting, and Leandro Barbosa, getting the rare start, led the team w/ 29 pts.

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