Hill Posts 21 Points as Suns Drop Home Opener
Posted: Oct. 29, 2010
They say the third time is the proverbial charm.
For Grant Hill, it would be the third game of the season.
The veteran forward racked up a team-high 21 points in Friday’s home-opening 114-106 loss to the Lakers at US Airways Center.
Going a game-high-tying 10-of-17 from the field in 34 minutes, it was Hill’s first regular season 20-point effort since March 6 vs. the Pacers. He entered Friday with a total of 13 points through the first two games of the season.
“I’m just encouraged by this week,” he said. “About a week ago, we got our butts whipped in the preseason against Denver, but we hadn’t really found our way. We hadn’t really played with a lot of spirit, and we are starting to do that. We did it for 42 minutes in Portland, and we did a great job last night. We came out and competed tonight. “
The Suns fell to 1-2 on the week, but saw some definite improvement Friday over their disappointing preseason showings. There were 18 lead changes vs. Kobe Bryant and Co., with the Suns winning plenty of the mini battles on the night, including points in the paint (50-42), second chance points (14-10) and fastbreak points (21-15).
“We’re not going to play the Lakers every night,” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. “If we play with that kind of effort and if we execute like that and we rebound just a little bit better, we’ve got a chance to be pretty good. We still have guys trying to learn and be in the right spots and do the right things.”
Robin Lopez collected his fifth career double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds, while Goran Dragic and Jared Dudley combined for 25 points off the bench. Jason Richardson added 17 points, including 4-of-10 shooting from the outside.
“All I asked the guys to do was to play hard and play with great effort,” Gentry added. “They did that tonight. We see where we have to get to if we want to be in the championship mix.”
A MINI KNICKS REUNION
Before the game, former Knicks teammates Phil Jackson and Neal Walk took a few minutes to exchange pleasantries. Friends since their playing days in New York back in the 1970s, the former Suns big man is a fan of his longtime friend, who has 11 championship rings to his credit with the Lakers and Bulls.
“Phil’s a basketball junkie,” said the center-turned-Suns photo archivist. “He loves it, and he has had great success. Eleven is a magical number.”
“I love him dearly. It was a blessing to have met him 35 years ago, and it’s been a pleasure knowing him all this time. As a player, he was rough and rugged. He could hurt you just by walking by.”
The five-month layoff between seasons did little to extinguish the longtime rivalry between the Suns and Lakers. Phoenix has won 13 of the last 25 regular season meetings in the 214-game, all-time head-to-head series.
“A lot of the rivalry generates from the fans,” said Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson. “There’s a lot of the L.A. population that comes out to root for the Lakers, and it irritates the (Phoenix) faithful.
“There will always be rivalries in the conference and the division. Teams (going) for the top spot are always going to compete for it. That develops it all.”
GENTRY ON ODOM
“He was 20 years old when I had him (with the Clippers), but he’s become the player everybody thought he’d be when he was drafted. He’s in a real good place (now). He’s confident with his role. He’s versatile, and he’s (great) out on the perimeter and guarding guys inside.”
NOW OPEN: FLEXPRINT CLUB
The Suns not only tipped off their home schedule Friday at US Airways Center, they also unveiled the new FlexPrint Club – an exclusive hospitality area designed to enhance the gamenight experience for courtside ticket holders.
The official ribbon-cutting ceremony took place pregame in front of the Casino Arizona Pavilion entrance to the club amid representatives from the Suns and FlexPrint, Inc., as well as the likes of the Gorilla and the Suns Dancers.
The multi-year marketing partnership between the two organizations not only includes naming rights to the courtside club, but also the designation of the “Official Document Technology Provider of the Phoenix Suns.”
“We’re thrilled to begin our new partnership with FlexPrint and look forward to benefiting from their expertise and innovative approach to managing our print needs,” said Suns President and CEO Rick Welts.
Among the FlexPrint Club’s new amenities: complimentary valet parking, a private arena entrance and complimentary dinner and beverage service.
“We feel FlexPrint and the Suns share the same belief that clients deserve the highest level of service at all times,” said FlexPrint CEO Frank Gaspari, “and the FlexPrint Club is really just an extension of the first class service we deliver to all of our clients.”