Suns News

J-Rich Comes Up Big, Lopez Returns in Suns Win

Jason Richardson had a game-high 29 points in Wednesday's win.
Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images
By Josh Greene, Suns.com
Posted: Dec. 15, 2010

While most of Wednesday’s early headlines were centered around who was returning for the Suns, a guy who’s been in the lineup all season long helped make the difference for Phoenix vs. visiting Minnesota.

Jason Richardson posted his first double-digit scoring effort in his last four tries with a game-high 29 points in the 128-122 win over the Timberwolves. The energetic victory also snapped the club's season-high-tying three-game losing streak.

“We got that (energy) back tonight, definitely,” J-Rich said. “That’s the type of team we are. If we’re not up with a lot of energy, smiling, high fiving and helping each other out, we’re not good. When we have that energy, we’re at our best. The ball’s going down, and everybody is feeling good about each other. Everybody is trying to help on defense, so we've got to find a way to have that energy every night.”

Entering the game, Richardson had averaged 23.4 ppg in Phoenix’s 11 wins this season. Coming off 18 total points in the Suns' last three games, the shooting guard had 15 points in the first quarter of Wednesday’s game.

Making his first appearance since injuring his knee in the November 14 win over the Lakers, Robin Lopez started for the Suns, collecting 12 points and eight rebounds in 24 minutes.

“I thought Robin did fine,” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. “He got a little winded, but for the most part I thought he was pretty good as far as trying to protect the basket. He did a good job of rebounding the basketball for us. He ended up with eight rebounds, and he finished a couple of plays here and there. I think he’ll get better as his conditioning gets better, but I thought that he had more bounce than he had before he got hurt. I also thought he played with a little more confidence than he did before he got hurt.”

SHOWING LOVE FOR THE HAWK

Hall of Famer, Suns Ring of Honor member and NBA inspiration…

Connie Hawkins legendary accomplishments on the court, not to mention a phone call or two, were major factors in shaping Timberwolves forward-center Kevin Love’s pro aspirations.

Love’s dad (and former NBA forward Stan Love) would regale his then-young son with the Hawk’s exploits, and even go one better by having the playground legend talk to the future NBA big man.

“I was so young at the time,” Love said, “but he would just mention to work hard. My dad would tell me the stories about him in New York City, hanging out with him and what a legend he was. Early on, that’s why I wanted to change my number from 0 to 42. That did it for me.

“I just think about how big his hands were. He could fake the pass and go up with a finger roll or just tomahawk it on a jam. That’s why he’s the Hawk. He was one of the first guys to be able to fake the ball on the dribble and dunk on you. That was special to me. I was mesmerized. Connie was my guy.”

MISSED IT BY THAT MUCH

Channing Frye and Steve Nash fell just short of a pair of personal milestones Wednesday night. The Suns center tied his career best with seven three-pointers, while the All-Star playmaker came up one assist short of tallying his eighth 20-assist game to become the franchise’s all-time leader in that category.

SPECIAL DELIVERY

Chalk it up as an early Christmas gift, but Suns players and the coaching staff all had boxes of fruit waiting for them at their respective lockers Wednesday.

“Those are from owner Jenny Craig,” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. “She’s really thoughtful. She sends me an e-mail every now and again. She says, ‘Hang in there, coach.’”