Newsroom Notes: Suns Win 12th Straight at Home Over Nuggets

By Stefan Swiat,
Posted: Nov. 15, 2010

The saying goes, “Live by the three, die by the three.” But despite shooting 4-of-20 from downtown Monday, the Suns still managed to live, scrapping and clawing their way to a 100-94 home victory over the Nuggets.

Coming off a huge win against the Lakers where the Suns nailed 55 percent of their three-pointers and came within one trey of the NBA record for most makes in a game, the Suns only shot 20 percent from behind the arc Monday. It wasn’t their shooting they needed to prevail, it was their bench and their defense.

“Overall, I thought that it was our best defensive effort of the season,” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said.

Down 81-73 in the third period, the Suns used a lineup of Hakim Warrick, Goran Dragic, Josh Childress (10 points and eight boards), new-to-the-starting-lineup Channing Frye and starter Hedo Turkoglu to rip off a 14-1 run to take a five-point lead with 5:56 left in the fourth period. Phoenix, which trailed by as many as 15 in the second period, never looked back after that.

Turkoglu and Warrick found a nice chemistry between each other, finding one another on pick-and-rolls, as well as on post-ups and skip passes. Warrick finished with a game-high 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting in 26 minutes, while Turkoglu added nine points, but a huge three-pointer with 2:50 seconds remaining in the contest.

Overall, it was a balanced attack that saw four Suns starters reach double figures for just the second time this season. Channing Frye (15 points), Steve Nash (15 points and seven assists), Grant Hill (14 points) and Jason Richardson all pitched in on the offensive end.

It was another particularly impressive showing for Hill, who despite being 38 years old, came into Monday’s contest averaging 20 ppg a night on the second half of back-to-backs. Although his 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting was key, his defense was even more important, limiting Denver’s Carmelo Anthony to 16 points on 6-of-17 shooting through three quarters.

“It was a good lesson for this team,” Hill said. “We can have a great win last night and not have an emotional letdown today. It wasn’t as pretty, it wasn’t as effective, but we grinded it out and got stops and did what we had to do.”

It was the Suns’ second-double-digit comeback of the season, which caused them to improve to 1-3 on the second half of back-to-backs.

The Suns improve to 6-4. They face Miami on Wednesday.

Call in the Reserves

Despite the fact there are two new players on the Suns’ second unit from last season, Phoenix’s bench still ranks third overall in the league in scoring. What makes it more intriguing is that the bench hasn’t even reached its potential yet.

After averaging 11.2 ppg last season, Channing Frye is down to 6.9 ppg this season, although he’s showing signs of breaking out of his early-season slump recently. Jared Dudley, who averaged 8.2 ppg last season, is also coming in below his average, scoring at a 6.6 ppg pace this season.

Although those two key reserves not firing on all cylinders just yet, the Suns’ bench (40.3 ppg) ranks just behind the Sixers (43.4) and the Cavs (42.8) in scoring production. While they’re on the court, Phoenix’s reserves are nearly doubling the output of their opponents this season: 40.3 to 21.7.

Like they did last season, the subs are going to be asked to not only maintain a lead while they’re in the lineup, but also increase it. It’s an advantage that few teams possess, almost like a superb second line in hockey.

With that being said, Coach Gentry still believes that there’s room for improvement there.

“We’ve still got to figure out exactly what we are and who we are,” he said. “We are having our moments and stuff, but I think we still have to get to the point where, 20- 25 games into this, we’ve got a really good idea of consistently what we are going to be defensively, how we’re going to rebound the basketball and (finding) the combination of the guys we’ll have together at the end of the game.”

Lopez to Miss Several Weeks

Suns center Robin Lopez will miss several weeks after spraining the MCL and PCL in his left knee. Lopez suffered the injury in the second quarter of Sunday night's road victory over the Lakers.

Coach Gentry told reporters that the front office could be interested in signing a veteran big man in the interim, just as long as that player could contribute.

The Stanford product has started all nine games for the Suns thus far this season, averaging 5.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in 17.8 minutes per game.

Trey Bien

Just in case no one was paying attention to the Suns’ road win over the Lakers on Sunday, Phoenix drilled a franchise-record 22 treys, falling just one short of the NBA record.

The record was set by the Magic on Jan. 19, 2009, which received three three-pointers that night from Hedo Turkoglu. Last night, Turkoglu had five.

Since Steve Nash returned to the Valley in the 2004, he’s led the Suns to three of the top 5 best three-point shooting nights in league history. On April 17, 2006 against the Hornets, the Suns nailed 20 from behind the arc, duplicating that effort against the Nuggets on Jan. 7, 2008.

In last night’s contest, Richardson buried a team-high seven three-balls, Turkoglu registered five, Frye four, Dragic three, Nash two and Dudley one.

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