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The Other Side: Phoenix Suns


Man, did you know Steve Nash could get up like that? (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)


The Washington Wizards will attempt to get back on track against the high-scoring once again Phoenix Suns. The Suns tried to abandon fun-and-gun when the acquired Shaquille O'Neal and later dumped Mike D'Antoni.

But after the experiment to emphasize defense failed after half a season, General Manager Steve Kerr changed his mind, replaced Terry Porter with former D'Antoni assistant Alvin Gentry and decided to go with what was working -- Steve Nash pushing the tempo and Amare Stoudemire punishing the rim. This season, the Suns lead the league in scoring at 111 points per game, and Nash is back leading in assists with 11 per game.

Here's what else you should know about the Suns.

1. After trading O'Neal and retaining Nash with an extension last summer, the Suns are tied with the Los Angeles Lakers for the best record in the Western Conference at 5-1. They arrive in Washington brimming with confidence after beating formerly unbeaten Boston on Friday.

2. The Suns missed the playoffs last season, largely because Stoudemire went down with an eye injury. The Suns flirted with trading Stoudemire last summer, coming close to sending him to Golden State, but they held on, although he will become a free agent next summer. Stoudemire is saying that he wants to stay in Phoenix, a position that Nash supports.

3. Once considered to have a thin bench, the Suns are winning because of an improved second unit. More impressive, the Suns have played the past three games without former sixth man of the year Leandro Barbosa, who is expected to return this afternoon.

By Michael Lee  |  November 8, 2009; 8:23 AM ET
 
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Next: Suns (5-1) at Wizards (2-4)

Comments

...I think GA needs a good shrink. He seems to be suffering from depression. The battle with Wade was a major downer. Perhaps if he focuses more on running the team and less like Nash the WIz can reach their potential with this squad.

Posted by: oddjob1 | November 8, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

...I meant MORE like Nash.

Posted by: oddjob1 | November 8, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Does anybody think Oberto is a good match-up for Stoudemire?

Let's go with our best five: Arenas, Foye, Butler, Blatche and Haywood.

I'd give Jamison a pair of pom poms and get him into a cheerleading mode.

We can beat them at their own game if some degree of confidence builds in the 1st quarter.

If they stall quickly with Oberto and/or DS on the floor, it will be a rout.

Posted by: Izman | November 8, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

The problem starts and ends with ownership. There is just no accountability for wages paid and guaranteed.

Coaches - good ones - come and go. New players come and go, but the same old malaise remains. There is just no urgency to win. The money's in the bank, no worries. No concerns about tomorrow, I've got mine.

Posted by: glawrence007 | November 8, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

In July, before seeing any part of this season, I said the team would win 38 and secure the eighth spot in the east. That prediction still stands at this point. 2-4 sucks. With the players on this team it is unacceptable. Feels like the REDSKINS. Overpaid, underperform.

Posted by: glawrence007 | November 8, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

All this NATS, WIZ, 'SKINS shyt is enough to make a hockey-hater (that would be me) acquire a taste for the overhyped "sport." At least the ownership of the CAPS has a clue as to how to run a professional sports franchise. They have "IT" as JOHN MADDEN was wont to say. The others don't and it's enough to make a home-town fan puke.

Zero $$$$ to see RYAN ZIMMERMAN. Zero $$$$ to see AGENT ZERO. Zero $$$$ to see ALBERT HAYNESWORTH, all of whom I will say are great players and trying their best to represent themselves, their families and their franchises with excellence.

Ownership is the answer, and in the cases of the LERNERS, ABE POLLIN, DAN SNYDER and his partners, "IT" is sadly lacking. Something should be done in professional sports in this country for long-term season ticket holders.

A minority 1% voting voice in decisions across the board where franchise operations are concerned. Not quite as pronounced as the GREEN BAY model, but a similar situation for season ticket-holders with 10 year's uninterrupted purchases of the expensive seats. Equity for their patronage and loyalty.

At least then, the fans can't claim a total disconnect from decisions to ban signs at games, etc.

Posted by: glawrence007 | November 8, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

38 wins won't get you an 8th seed this year.

Posted by: Utilityman1 | November 8, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Does anybody think Oberto is a good match-up for Stoudemire?

Let's go with our best five: Arenas, Foye, Butler, Blatche and Haywood.

I'd give Jamison a pair of pom poms and get him into a cheerleading mode.

We can beat them at their own game if some degree of confidence builds in the 1st quarter.

If they stall quickly with Oberto and/or DS on the floor, it will be a rout.

Posted by: Izman

I'm with you, Izman. Previously Flip said he wanted to keep Foye and Blatche in their customary off-the-bench roles, but now I'm reading that he's considering starting Foye (which I think means he wants to give Gil more opportunities off the ball, but I digress). Flip needs to go all the way with his new approach and start Blatche to see if the Wiz can avoid quickly falling behind due to Stoudemire taking advantage of his superior foot speed against Oberto.

Posted by: ArmChairQB | November 8, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

If all the preseason musings about Flip Saunders have any merit to them, then I have no doubt at this point that the Wizards will still perform well this season.

Things look bleak now, with Miller and AJ being out. But neither injury is supposedly keeping them out for major time.

And Javaris Crittenton, whom I think, talents is a major intangible fit for this Team has also been out.

I think even though he went down first, he will be the last of the three to return.

Even at that, he might not get the green light from Flip to run the point with Gilbert.

Even with AJ and Miller healthy, I think that things might be and would have turned out differently so far, but Gilbert still should not be responsible for complete control of the point.

I say again and as some has realized, it is no coincidence that Gilbert seamed to excel when Larry H. helped handle the point duties.

Thus, it becomes magnified with pieces missing and Gilbert solely running the point.

I think Flip kinda' realizes this, when he talks about Gilbert pushing the ball and taking his man and attacking. Creating flow and tempo for the Team is what Flip is talking about.

I don't think Gilbert can accomplish this by himself and that is why I keep going back to Javaris Crittenton.

Foye can help, but I think Crit is essentially a better fit than Foye to accomplish what Flip wants.

It may never pan out this way and I could be just blowing smoke, but that is the way I see it.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | November 8, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

"Flip needs to go all the way with his new approach and start Blatche to see if the Wiz can avoid quickly falling behind due to Stoudemire taking advantage of his superior foot speed against Oberto.Posted by: ArmChairQB"

You don't think Stoudemire has a speed advantage over Blatche?

If they play Oberto, it will be because they think he can annoy Amare enough to get him off his game.

Go back to that Boston game. The Celts had the advantage in FGs, but kept putting Phoenix on the line with fouls based on misguided attempts to steal the ball.

Last night against the Nets, Boston had something like 27 steals.

If the Wiz play intelligent defense, they could stay with the Suns, even short-handed.

Posted by: Samson151 | November 8, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

ArmChairQB

We should start our best five. Have Blatche not start is a luxury we cannot afford.

In fact my starting five would be the exact same ones that you propose with the caveat that the point duties should mostly be run by Foye.

And I my first big man substitution of the bench would be McGee.

And keep scoring uptempo style as a major focus.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | November 8, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Samson,

Shockingly, the Wiz have been playing good D this year. Lots of the opposition points have been coming off of turnovers.

Without another ball handler on the floor and with 2 or more non-scorers, the opposition is attacking Arenas and Butler; thereby creating the turnovers.

The Wiz need to establish some rhythm on the offensive end. It's hard to do that without a shooter at the 2 and with Oberto and Haywood on the floor.

Posted by: Izman | November 8, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

"You don't think Stoudemire has a speed advantage over Blatche?"

Blatche is not a greyhound, but he's faster/quicker than Oberto. Pretty hard for Oberto to annoy a guy if he can't stay in front of him. Blatche is a better matchup defensively, IMO and brings more offensive firepower to the table. The Wiz will have to score some points this game.

Posted by: ArmChairQB | November 8, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

@Izman

After looking back I see that you too had already proposed the same starting five as well.

I should have noted that, sorry I missed it.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | November 8, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Newsflash: Oberto will pickup 3 fouls in 3mins guarding Amare, so AB will have to step up and do the work.

Posted by: divi3 | November 8, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Newsflash: Oberto will pickup 3 fouls in 3mins guarding Amare, so AB will have to step up and do the work.

Posted by: divi3

I guess AB starting is a moot point. LOL!

Posted by: ArmChairQB | November 8, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Decisions, Decisions.......??

A/ Redskins Game

B/ Wizards Game

C/ Outside - Sunny and 70 degrees

Which one should I take......??????

Posted by: BulletsFever | November 8, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

"You don't think Stoudemire has a speed advantage over Blatche?"

Blatche is not a greyhound, but he's faster/quicker than Oberto. Pretty hard for Oberto to annoy a guy if he can't stay in front of him. Blatche is a better matchup defensively, IMO and brings more offensive firepower to the table. The Wiz will have to score some points this game.

Posted by: ArmChairQB | November 8, 2009 12:19 PM

Aptly put. Sometimes coaches overcoach.

Going with your best five is a simple tried and true approach.

There is no need to coach the second unit when the first unit needs help.

If you go with BH, Oberto, CB, GA, and DSteve/Young, you are spotting the other Team points. Why?

So you say you are saving Blatche and Foye for second unit consistency. There isn't any if the first unit is continually outplayed.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | November 8, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

If Flip starts Blatche then he has to worry about Blatche getting into early foul trouble.

Instead he starts Oberto so he can get the early fouls and YES if you are starting Oberto you have to start Foye.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | November 8, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

...I think GA needs a good shrink. He seems to be suffering from depression.

Posted by: oddjob1 | November 8, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Very interesting observation, oddjob. I was noticing that he has had no fire and no energy since the second half of the Cleveland game. The Miami game will probably be etched in my mind forever as a game he simply was not interested in playing. To use the word "lethargic" would be a gross understatement to describe they way he looks right now. Depression? Very likely.

Posted by: bpybay | November 8, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I personally think Mike James is going to get the start this afternoon.

Posted by: bpybay | November 8, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Flip starts Blatche then he has to worry about Blatche getting into early foul trouble.

Instead he starts Oberto so he can get the early fouls and YES if you are starting Oberto you have to start Foye.

Posted by: bulletsfan78

What if Oberto doesn't get the early fouls (i.e., Stoudemire scores without getting fouled or Brendan picks up fouls covering for a blown-past Oberto)?
Answer: Advantage Phoenix.

All for the sake of saving fouls on Blatche?

Posted by: ArmChairQB | November 8, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Wiz win today's game! Why? Everyone is writing them off, which is usually when they decide to step it up. No rhyme or reason to it, but it's just the way this team is. Prediction: 115-108.

Posted by: bpybay | November 8, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Check Amare's career numbers against SA and oberto....Spurs usually win, but Amare shreds oberto, career nights consistently.

although technically he is shredding TimVP as well

Posted by: divi3 | November 8, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

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