Newsroom Notes: Point Guard Duo Leads Suns Over Spurs
Posted: Dec. 15, 2009
The Suns’ 17-game home winning streak was on the line Tuesday night against the Spurs, but the Suns kept it alive, capturing a 116-104 victory over their long-time nemesis.
Suns forward Amar’e Stoudmire started off hot and stayed that way. After torching the Spurs for 18 points and eight boards as the Suns cruised to a comfortable 67-52 cushion at the half, he went on to total 28 points, 14 boards and three steals for the contest.
“I don’t know what it is about playing them, but there’s always something interesting in the game,” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. “I thought we did a good job just hanging in there and we won the game with our defense, really. I think we made stops when we needed to and scored, which took some pressure off our offense.”
The defense was solid, but the moral of tonight’s story turned out to be that two point guards were better than one, with Steve Nash and Goran Dragic totaling 43 points between them. Steve Nash had 14 points and seven assists in the first half, finishing with 25 points and 13 assists for the game.
Chants of “MVP” could be heard echoing around US Airways Center for the first time in two seasons. But the way Dragic played, the chants could have been for him.
“Steve did a great job of going one-on-one and scoring from the outside,” Stoudemire said. “When they switched (on the pick-and-roll), we tried to take advantage of them inside. It was tough for them to figure out what they wanted to do against us.”
Wiith Leandro Barbosa out with a sprained left ankle and Jason Richardson playing through a severely bruised wrist, Dragic played the part of backup point guard and shooting guard for Phoenix tonight.
The sophomore guard gave a spirited performance off the bench, notching a career-high 18 points, including 4-of-5 shooting from downtown. Dragic, who was drafted by and then traded by the Spurs on draft night, greatly outplayed fellow second-year backup George Hill.
The Spurs' Hill finished with seven points, five assists and five fouls in 24 minutes.
“It’s a lot of fun to see him develop,” Nash said about the backup point/2-guard. “He’s learning every day and it’s just good to see a good kid do well. Tonight, not only did he play well but he made some big plays in the fourth quarter and it was exciting to see him do it.”
The Suns, who led by as many as 20 in the game, let the Spurs back into it. They got as close as 93-90 in the fourth period before pulling away.
Channing Frye did his best to lure the Spurs’ big men out to the perimeter, nailing 3-of-4 from behind the arc to finish with 15 points and eight caroms. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak to San Antonio, including two straight losses at home.
Frye to Host MS Event
The Suns, in partnership with the Arizona Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society will host MS Awareness Night when the Suns battle the Wizards at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 19 at US Airways Center.
Suns fans interested in attending the event are encouraged to purchase tickets at www.suns.com/msawareness. A portion of the proceeds generated from the event will benefit the Arizona Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and their efforts to deliver vital information, programs and assistance to all Arizonans affected by MS.
Following the game, those that bought the special package will be invited to join Suns center Channing Frye for a private meet-and-greet. Frye, who along with his mother, will take a photo of the group and speak about how MS has personally affected their lives.
“MS kind of hit home,” Frye said. “My mom’s sister has MS and another aunt of mine has had MS too. Ever since I got into the league I felt like that was one of the main foundations I was going to try to be active in as much as I could.
“I think everywhere I’ve been I’ve had an MS night. Hopefully we can get it to be league-wide and hopefully for now we’ll have a great turnout and bring some more awareness to a terrible disease.”
In addition, the special night will feature exclusive activities including early entry into the arena to watch the Suns’ warm-up and a unique photo opportunity with the Suns Dancers prior to tip-off.
STAT Tweets With His Peeps
On Tuesday, Amar’e Stoudemire was on hand for the second annual @PhoenixSuns Tweet-Up, presented by Arizona Grand Resort. Fans who bought tickets through Twitter were able to receive early-entry into US Airways Center to watch the Suns’ warm-up, discounted pre-game “Twitter Tailgate” concessions, an exclusive Suns Tweet-Up t-shirt and group seating with fellow tweeps.
STAT stole the show on and off the court Tuesday.
(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)
“I think it’s great for the fans,” STAT said. “I enjoy doing it because fans get an inside scoop of what we’re all about what we do off the court.”
In addition, various “tweets” sent by the @PhoenixSuns followers during the night were displayed on the big-screen in-arena, as well as on the live game broadcast on FS Arizona. Some also won prizes for having the best “TwitPics” sent out throughout the night.
“I think the fans are the probably the most important part of playing basketball,” he said. “This is a fan-based league and it’s very important for us to reach out to our fans and let them know we care about them and what we do off the court is for them.”
Not only did STAT show for the event, but there were also guest appearances by Jared Dudley and Gentry. Dudley started off the proceedings by filming the “tweeps” for his Twitter video station he dubbed “JMZ.”
At one point, he grabbed a fan with a “Studley” headband, put him in a headlock and signed his headband. That set the stage for STAT, who fielded questions about basketball, travel, his family and music.
The four-time All-Star also donated signed Stoudemire shoes, an autographed basketball and a 2009 All-Star jacket. He was then followed by Gentry, who entertained the fans with his comedic wit.
After a series of questions for the coach, one fan asked Gentry how he’s able to manage his temper despite all of the stress he's under. Gentry responded jokingly, “Did you see the Denver game?”
Good news for the Suns. Yesterday, super sixth man Leandro Barbosa began his first day of jogging.
“I did 60 percent of my body’s best,” Barbosa said. “I ran for about 20 minutes. I keep improving on everything that we do so hopefully I’ll be back soon.”
Barbosa said that it hurts when he runs on the treadmill but the more he gets warmed up, the better it feels. Tomorrow he’s hoping to try sprinting for the first time.
Barbosa sprained his left ankle on Nov. 29 in a road game against the Raptors. Counting the contest against the Spurs, he’s missed eight games.
He also missed a few games earlier this season with a bruised wrist. The Brazilian Blur is currently taping the wrist because it’s still ailing him.
Hopefully instant-energy-man Louis Amundson won’t be joining LB and J-Rich as one of the walking wounded. The UNLV product, who totaled four points, four rebounds and a block in six minutes, left the game with a mild left ankle sprain and never returned.
He claimed the ankle was “too sore” to play on, but there wasn’t much swelling at the game. Amundson already missed a couple of games earlier this season by spraining the same ankle.
The 6-9 jumping-jack plans to be ready for Thursday.
“We better have him,” Gentry said smiling. “We really need him right now.”
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