Suns News

Newsroom Notes: Suns Edged by Thunder

Carter was 5-of-7 from downtown after three quarters.
(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)
By Stefan Swiat, Suns.com
Posted: Feb. 4, 2011

With the elusive return to .500 just within their collective grasp, the Suns let a victory slip from their collective fingers on Friday when they surrendered 31 points in the fourth quarter of a 111-107 home defeat to the Thunder.

The Suns had the Northwest Division leaders on their heels the entire night, leading by as many as seven in the fourth period. Although the Suns kept it close until the final buzzer, the momentum was changed with 4:14 to go in the fourth and the Suns leading 97-95.

At that juncture in the night, Grant Hill was whistled for a tough foul call on Kevin Durant and both Steve Nash and Grant Hill were dealt technicals for disputing the call. Combine that with Channing Frye missing his last six shots and Vince Carter misfiring on his last five, the Suns were unable to get back over the hump.

“It was a little disappointing,” Hill said. “All Steve said was that he didn’t say anything and all I said is that he didn’t say anything. I think that turned the momentum.”

Although Carter turned cold late, he was unstoppable for three quarters. After scoring just two points on 1-for-2 shooting against the Bucks on Wednesday, Carter shot 10-of-14 from the floor and 5-of-7 from behind the arc to rack up a season-high-tying 30 points in just three quarters.

Unfortunately for Phoenix, he was just 1-of-7 in the final period and finished with a season-high 33 points to go along with six rebounds.

“Sometimes you feel like you have the hot hand and you are going to keep rolling,” Carter said. “(Missing shots) just happens sometimes.”

Frye nearly posted a double-double with 13 points and nine rebounds, while Steve Nash and Grant Hill each scored 12. Lopez (11 points) and Gortat (10) rounded out the other Suns in double figures.

“We still have a chance,” Carter said of making the playoffs.”There’s a lot of basketball left and I feel like we let this one slip for a lot of reasons, but we’re a very confident bunch. I’m happy to see the frustration here; that means these guys care, we want to win.”

The Suns had their three-game winning streak snapped and dropped them to 4-1 in their last five games against teams with winning records.

Phoenix visits the Warriors on Monday.

All-Stars But No Suns

Unless Steve Nash is named as a replacement, the Suns will not be represented in this year’s All-Star Game for the first time since 2004. In fact, only five times in the history of the franchise have the Suns not sent anyone to the All-Star Game.

In all, the Suns have a 24 All-Stars appearances altogether with Vince Carter leading the way with 10 appearances and Nash and Hill each having seven apiece.

“When you vote you have to look at a player’s who body of work,” Gentry said. “I’m a bit biased, but when you look at what Steve’s done, especially when you consider he’ll be 37 in a couple days, and I don’t think even John Stockton was able to accomplish what he’s doing at that age.”

With Utah’s point guard Deron Williams ailing, fans may have the opportunity to see Nash receive the nod as a replacement just yet.

Polish Connection

For those not familiar with Polish athletics (who isn’t?), Marcin Gortat is kind of a big deal over there. The 6-11 center is considered, by fellow countryman and journalist Lukasc Ceglinski, to be one of the Top 3 most popular athletes in Poland.

Who might the others be? The first is Formula 1 driver Robert Kubica.

Kubica is ranked in the Top 10 in the world in his sport, while the other athlete in the Top 3, female tennis player Agnieszka Radwanska, has been ranked as high as No. 8 in the world.

Phoenix has been a bit of a haven for NBA players from Poland. Besides Gortat, the only other two players from Poland to play in the NBA in the modern era are Cezary Trybanski and Maciej Lampe.

Both of them also happened to have stints in Phoenix. Trybanski played in the Valley from 2003-04 and Lampe played in Phoenix from 2003-05

Present for Nash

What do you get for the man who has everything? Two-time MVP Nash will turn 37 on February 7 and Suns swingman Jared Dudley is considering a multitude of different gifts.

Dudley said that after he signed his five-year extension that he was going to treat Nash for helping him improve statistically enough to get financial security. So the Suns swingman took the two-time MVP out for some expensive dinners to show his appreciation.

Last year, Dudley even bought Nash a pair of Dr. Dre headphones for his birthday.

“With guys like Steve, you don’t get him material things,” Dudley said. “No Gucci, Louis V or things like that. You have to get him something that he needs or will use.”

Upon hearing what Dudley was planning on getting him and if he heeds the advice of Grant Hill, it’s fairly certain that Nash will be happy with his gift.

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