Suns News

Newsroom Notes: Carter Impresses in Debut, But Suns Fall Short

Carter showed his versatility on the offensive end against the Sixers.
(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)
By Stefan Swiat,
Posted: Dec. 29, 2010

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. While the Suns’ Vince Carter didn’t disappoint in his first impression, his team’s defense did disappoint Wednesday, giving up 123 points as the Suns fell 123-110 to the visiting Sixers.

Although he shot only 8-of-20 from the floor, Carter showed the entire repertoire on the offensive end, drilling threes, posting up and slashing to the basket en route to 18 points. With this being his fourth debut with a new team in his career, he managed to make it his second-highest-scoring debut ever, falling short of his 23-point outburst with New Jersey in 2004.

Despite his exciting play, the eight-time All-Star did admit to becoming a bit winded though.

“The first couple minutes of the first and second quarter were tough,” Carter said. “Once I got going, I was fine.”

Suns point guard Steve Nash already has seemed to have a developed an innate chemistry with Carter. On a couple of occasions, Nash found Carter when he was open for just a split-second in the post.

“Vince is going to add a lot to our team,” Nash said. “He’s a terrific player, he’s skilled and he’s going to do a lot for us.”

Besides Carter, the other two players that came with him from Orlando, Mickael Pietrus and Marcin Gortat, also performed well. Pietrus shot 5-of-8 from the floor and 3-of-5 from downtown to total 15 points, while Gortat totaled 13 points, six rebounds and two blocks on 5-of-7 shooting.

Nash got everyone involved offensively, dishing out 15 assists, while committing only four turnovers. The two-time MVP also racked up 23 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the floor.

It also marked just the third time in his career that Nash has recorded three-straight games with 15 or more assists. Grant Hill also pitched in offensively, adding 17 points, five rebounds and five assists.

Unfortunately, the story of the night was the Suns’ inability to get stops when it counted. The Sixers shot 55 percent from the floor, while also getting to the line 18 more times than Phoenix.

It was the first time all season that Philadelphia won despite surrendering over 100 points. Coming into tonight’s contest, the Sixers were 0-11 when allowing a team to score over 100.

“I guess the most disappointing thing is that—as I said to the guys—we spent so much time working on our defense and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better,” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. “I’m not real sure why because I think we play extremely hard in practice. We do a good job there (but) we just can’t seem to take it from there to game situations.”

The Suns, who now have lost four straight for the first time since January of last season, play host to the Pistons on Friday.

Roundball Reunion

The Sixers-Suns matchup marked a bit of a reunion for the two head coaches. Sixers Head Coach Doug Collins, who is in his first season as the head man in Philly, coached against Gentry for the first time in his new role there.

Gentry was an assistant under Collins in Detroit in the late 90s and the two have remained extremely tight since then.

“I’m as close to Doug as I am to anyone in my life,” Gentry said. “He’s always been like a brother to me. We talk all the time and not just about basketball.”

The two first started to become close when Collins’ son, Chris, broke his leg as a senior in high school and then-Heat coach Gentry sent him some Miami gear to lift his spirits. The pair were already friendly, but when Gentry was let go in Miami, Collins hired him onto his staff and the brotherhood blossomed from there.

“I think he’s the best basketball mind that I know,” Gentry said. “I think he knows the game like no one else does and I think he’s the most passionate person I know too.”

The praise is also returned by Collins, who said that Gentry “coached as well as anybody” last season and was particularly impressed by Gentry’s ability to build a bench, something that the Suns hadn’t had for some time.

When Collins brought Gentry onto his staff in Detroit, he did so because of Gentry’s character.

“First and foremost you want to have people that know basketball, but I want people that I enjoy being around,” Collins said. “You spend more time around your coaches than you do your family.”

They're so close, neither of them like to coach against each other.

A Bit Offensive

As former NBA player Sasha Pavlovic infamously alluded to, “Sometimes offense is your best defense.”

During the hey-day of “7 Seconds or Less” Suns, that was certainly the case. Those teams were just too explosive for their competition.

Last season, with their explosiveness a tad diminished, the Suns tightened up their defense. However, they still led the league in scoring.

This season, the Suns have demonstrated that when they are scoring, they thrive. And although they’re second in the league in scoring, they have been inconsistent in how often they score more than 105 points.

In fact, coming into Wednesday’s contest, Phoenix was averaging 114.8 points in 13 victories this season and 101.4 points in 16 losses. In the last three games, which happened to all be defeats, the Suns have only averaged 98.7 points a night.

Although they scored 110 on Wednesday, they were still unable to break their losing slide. Coach Gentry said that no matter how potent they are offensively, they need to be able to count on their defense to close out games.

“To give up 55-percent shooting and 123 points to a team that is averaging 95-96 (points) is unacceptable,” Gentry said. “It doesn’t matter how good we are offensively, we have to be able to do some things defensively if we are going to win games, make a run and get back into the playoff race.”

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