Newsroom Notes: Suns Start Strong, Fade Late to Double-OT Loss
Posted: Nov. 24, 2010
The day before Thanksgiving, the Suns lived up to the spirit of the holiday by giving back a game they all but won. After leading by as many 23 points, the Suns dropped a 123-115 double-overtime home decision to the Bulls on Wednesday.
“You have to finish the game, and we didn’t finish the game,” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. “It doesn’t matter how you play early on, you have to be consistent the whole way through. And we weren’t very consistent.”
The Suns stormed out to a 36-17 lead at the end of the first, shooting 64 percent from the floor and holding the Bulls to 26-percent shooting in the period. They maintained control the entire first half, receiving a nice boost from reserve Hakim Warrick, who racked up 17 of his season-high 23 points against his former club in the quarter.
The Suns scorched the Bulls for a season-high 62 points in the first half. Unfortunately, that didn’t last long.
After not turning the ball over once in the first period and just five times heading into the fourth, Phoenix coughed up the ball eight times in the final period. The Bulls, who are coached by defensive mastermind Tom Thibodeau, held the Suns to just 17 fourth-quarter points.
Chicago, which appeared sluggish after losing to the Lakers in L.A. last night, found its second wind behind 35 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists from Derrick Rose. Luol Deng was equally as deadly, racking up 26 points and 10 boards, while Kyle Korver drilled 3-of-7 from long range to total 24 points.
The Suns led wire-to-wire before giving up their first lead on the first basket of the first overtime. It was the first OT defeat of the season for the Suns, as well as the first time they’ve lost once leading by double figures (now 5-1).
“It’s a tough one to swallow, to have them down that much and to come back and lose like that,” Suns guard Jason Richardson said. “We were being aggressive, came out of the gates moving and doing all the things that we were supposed to and I think we got just a little bit lax. I thought we had the game in the bag, but in the NBA guys keep playing until the final buzzer.”
Steve Nash racked up 14 points and a season-high 16 assists, while Grant Hill continued his stellar offensive tear by erupting for a team-high 27 points on 12-of-20 shooting. The Suns totaled six players in double figures, with and Jason Richardson (20 points), Channing Frye (16 points) and Hedo Turkoglu (10 points and 10 rebounds) also contributing.
Tied for the fewest home games played by an NBA team this season, the Suns host the Clippers on Friday.
Hakim the Dream
One could see during the summer that Hakim Warrick was going to become a fan favorite. When someone has a penchant to dunk all over opposing players, fans usually get behind him.
While Warrick has already made some cameos on SportsCenter thus far this season, he’s doing more than just manufacturing highlights. Currently, despite coming off the bench, he’s the Suns’ fourth-leading scorer (11.6 ppg) and tied for third on the team in rebounding (4.3 rpg).
Amongst reserves in the league, he is second in free-throw attempts and is fifth amongst the entire league in field goal percentage (58 percent). In 15 appearances this season, Warrick has scored 16 or more points seven times, despite zero starts. That’s something he only accomplished 10 times all of last season.
On Wednesday, he posted a season-high 23 points on 7-of-12 shooting to go along with seven rebounds. He scored all but four of those points in the second quarter.
Warrick says that this is as comfortable as he's been during his NBA carrer. So what’s the difference been in this, his sixth NBA season?
"Playing with a guy like Steve, you know he's going to find you," Warrick said. "I just have to go out there and be aggressive and finish."
The former Syracuse star played with Memphis, Chicago and Milwaukee in his career, which were teams that had a great deal of change with their personnel. One of the reasons Warrick really wanted to come to Phoenix was that he knew that the team was going to have the same head coach and run the same system for the forseeable future.
When Warrick signed his deal here, he knew exactly what was expected from him and what role was going to be.
"I always felt that this system was right for me," Warrick said. "Being in this system and around these players has only helped me."
Although he's content with his play, Warrick still sees room for improvement. He's focusing on becoming more consistent with his outside shot, rebounding better and increasing his strength.
Top 5 Point Guards
By taking an informal poll in the Suns’ locker room from point guard Goran Dragic and defensive ace Jared Dudley, we compiled their list of Top 5 point guards in the NBA. Without naming Steve Nash, which they originally both did in their Top 5s, they named who they thought was the toughest ones to guard.
Dragic’s Top 5 consisted of Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook. The Slovenian was a big fan of Rondo.
“He’s not known for his shooting but he does everything else so well,” Dragic said. “His passing and rebounding are great.”
Dudley had the same list, although not in the same order. He respected Williams’ defense and crossover, but stated that Rose is not only the quickest point guard, but quickest player in the league.
“There’s him and then there’s everybody else,” Dudley said.
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