January 2008 - Posts

2008 NBA All-Star Game - New OrleansAs a fan, I always get a little excited as the NBA All-Star Game rolls around each year.  I get to vote, so naturally, I'd like to see the players I vote for get selected as starters for the game.  There are millions of other fans who get to vote as well, which means I probably don't get to see who I want... no biggie.

Each year, as the All-Star starters are announced, arguments can be made for the players that made it, and typically more arguments for those that got snubbed (Peter Vecsey - New York Post).  While I think the fans did a very respectable job this time around, I still feel that a few players are undeserving of their selections.

In total support of Vecsey's column above, the All-Star game should really be a showcase of the league's top talent.  Yes, Jason Kidd and Dwyane Wade are exceptional basketball players, but Kidd can't hit a shot to save his life (or is he tanking to get traded) and Wade can't even beat a Garnett/Allen/Pierce-less Celtics team (Pierce played, but scored less than 10 pts, so he basically wasn't there).  Wade has also been injured and missed a number of games this year - that should be a factor (see McGrady comments further below).

Eastern Conference Starters - Kevin Garnett, Lebron James, Jason Kidd, Dwyane Wade & Dwight Howard (Copyright NBAStore.com)

I voted several times and admit, it was harder to find more deserving Guards in the Eastern Conference, but Detroit's Chauncey Billups surely should've been selected.  It doesn't help that the East only has 6 teams with a winning record either.  Joe Johnson would've been a safe bet also, for his team's near .500 record.

In the Western Conference, it's hard to argue the selections.  The fans even did justice by allowing T-Mac to fall out of the starting spot in favor of Allen Iverson.  McGrady is of the opinion that players who are hurt (or have been for a good portion of the season) shouldn't be starters; I can't argue with that. 

Western Conference Starters - Yao Ming, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson & Tim Duncan (Copyright NBAStore.com)

There are three other positions/players that probably should've been different, but again, it's hard to argue w/ the selections.  I believe Tim Duncan got nominated purely on his history - he's not all that this year (see last night's loss to the Sonics).  With Iverson starting at PG, that leaves out both Steve Nash and Chris Paul - (2nd & 1st in the Western Conference, respectively).  I also don't think that two Nuggets are deserving of starting nods - Denver is tied for the 8th playoff spot in the West.

The reserves will be selected very soon and all of the players mentioned here will surely make it, with the exception of McGrady perhaps. 

For our Phoenix Suns, I do believe that Nash, Amare Stoudemire (C) and Shawn Marion (SF?) will all make the reserve squad.  One can only hope...

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Posted by chowell | 9 comment(s)
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The nation was primed to see the Suns/Bulls game today, but Chicago's poor record forced ABC to modify the 1st game of a doubleheader - showing Celtics/Magic instead (which didn't disappoint despite the absence of Kevin Garnett).  While most Suns fans are use to seeing Steve Nash & Co. run up & down the court, it would've been good to get more national exposure.  Yes, Phoenix has been featured on ESPN and TNT games already this year, but non-cable game would still have been nice.

Shawn Marion dunks vs. Chicago Bulls 1/27/08  (Sampled photo - original (Randy Belice/NBAE Photos))Phoenix will come home from a four game road trip w/ a 3-1 record, including a last second victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.  Shawn Marion's floater (his only FG) was just enough to get the victory.  The Suns lone loss on the road trip came to the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves, who have given the Suns fits all year.

Today's game was fairly close until the 4th quarter, when Leandro Barbosa took over as the Suns went on a 12-0 run to put the game out of reach.  Barbosa only scored 13 pts, but his contributions late in the game were critical.  Amare Stoudemire led Phoenix w/ 24 pts, while Marion put in 15 pts, 11 rbs and fantasy stat building 6 steals.  The Suns' Steve Nash did not score until midway through the 2nd quarter and finished w/ 14 pts and 6 TO's.

The Bulls were led by the suddenly aggressive Kirk Hinrich, who recorded 31 pts in the loss, his second 30 pt game of the week.

The final score was the Suns second lowest scoring output of the season, but still good enough to defeat Chicago.  Phoenix only shot 41% in the game, but Chicago couldn't even match that, finishing with a 34.7% shooting debacle.  Phoenix put up 25 three's, but only hit 5 (20%) - the worst shooter being Raja Bell (only 1 of 8).

Homestand welcome...
The Suns open a 6 game homestand Tuesday against Atlanta and will play the majority of their remaining games this year in Phoenix, where they have excelled the past few years.  Tough tests are ahead, including games against the Spurs and the Western Conference leading New Orleans Hornets.  All 6 games can be seen locally on FSN AZ (Fox Sports Arizona).

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Los Angeles Lakers

The Phoenix Suns are getting a bit healthier after a slew of injuries and illnesses - all of which is good for Suns' fans, but bad for the suddenly desperate Lakers.

After beating Phoenix a few weeks ago and taking over the Western Conference's best record, at least for a few days, the Lakers are hurting at center.  Andrew Bynum, the Lakers up & coming stud, injured his knee and is now out for approximately 8 weeks.  While the Lakers' record seems a bit bloated right now, they do have a better record than the Suns, Spurs and Mavericks... something is hard to overlook, in terms of achievement.  The Lakers are winning... or at least they were.

Kobe Bryant will look to dominate against the Suns, but his supporting cast will need to step up in order for LA to get a win.  Kwame Brown takes over at center, which is kind of like Jessica Simpson winning a spelling bee... it ain't gonna happen.  Look for the Lakers to try and pick up another experienced PF/C to fill the gap left by Bynum.  Kwame is big and..... oh wait, there's nothing else to add here.

Grant Hill is still out for the Suns (appendix), but Marion and Nash should be pretty well recovered from their elbow/shoulder & stomach flu, respectively.

Phoenix has been struggling of late and there are rumors starting to fly... "trade Amare", "trade Marion".  I don't buy it though... I think the Suns are just getting bored.  82 games will take a tole on anyone.

Game prediction... 114-108 (Suns)

Utah Jazz

Fresh of an overtime victory over the Indiana Pacers last night, the Phoenix Suns entered tonight's game against the Utah Jazz extremely shorthanded.  Steve Nash left last night's game with the stomach flu and is not playing tonight.  Shawn Marion landed hard on his hip and has perhaps injured his shoulder, and of course, Grant Hill is out for about 2 weeks w/ an appendix removal.

The Jazz are currently in the 10th spot (Western Conf), but they're still a strong team and will probably dominate the depleted Suns' team. Amare Stoudemire must stay out of foul trouble in order for the Suns to even have a chance.  Boris Diaw starts at power forward, while Marcus Banks starts at point guard and Leandro Barbosa starts at shooting guard.  Guard Raja Bell moves to the small forward.

Good luck guys!

Posted by chowell | with no comments

The Suns learned today that forward Grant Hill will miss about 2 weeks, because of an appendectomy that will be performed Wednesday evening.

Hill has played in every game this season for Phoenix, which is quite a surprise to most people considering his injury plagued past.  The surgery will remove Hill from the lineup for about 2 weeks, but guard Marcus Banks' resurgence may fill the hole left by Grant fairly well. 

 The injury will likely force the Suns to move Raja Bell (or Banks) to the small forward position and insert Leandro Barbosa or Banks into the starting lineup.  If they go another route, Brian Skinner may come in at center and Amare Stoudemire & Shawn Marion which each move down a spot (to PF & F, respectively).

Phoenix should fair pretty well while Hill is gone, but he will be missed and welcomed heartily when he returns.

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