Newsroom Notes: Suns Edged by Mavs
Posted: Feb. 17, 2011
While the Suns came into the game one of the hottest teams in the league, they still weren’t as hot as the Mavs, who came into Thursday's contest winners of 12 of their last 13. And while they played well against Dallas, they didn't play well enough as they dropped a 112-106 home decision in the NBA’s last game before the All-Star break.
For the game the Suns out-rebounded the Mavs, won the battle of the paint and went to the line more, but they still allowed the Mavs to shoot 52 percent from the floor. Playing against a hot team, the game was going to come down to a couple of key possessions, and those few possessions just didn’t break Phoenix’s way.
“At the end of the day, they made the plays down the stretch and we didn’t quite make them,” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. “We had shots that could have closed the gap and they didn’t quite get in the basket. We had stops a couple of times, but they ended up getting the ball in the basket on second-chance points.”
Orchestrating the attack was Steve Nash, who collected 15 points, 14 assists and five rebounds, while Channing Frye posted a team-high 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting. It was the first time Frye has scored 20 or more in back-to-back games all season.
Suns center Robin Lopez notched his second double-double of the season and his first since October 29, totaling 13 points and 13 boards. But despite his solid play, Coach Gentry elected to play “small ball” late in the fourth quarter, moving Frye to the center spot and Grant Hill to the power forward so he could guard Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki down the stretch.
After out-rebounding the Mavs by eight heading into the fourth period, Phoenix was out-rebounded in the fourth by four. Five of Dallas' 10 second-chance points were in the final period and at critical time for the Suns.
Coming into the evening, the Suns were starting to hit their stride, with only three NBA teams owning a better record than Phoenix’s 12-5 mark since January 12. However, the Suns fell to 6-2 in their last eight contests against teams with winning records.
“I think right now that they’re just a better team than us,” Suns swingman Jared Dudley said. “I think you have to find a way at home to pull out games like this. But it’s good to keep battling and keep getting better because maybe this game doesn’t show up in the win column, but maybe down the road it helps us build toward getting more wins.”
Unfortunately, the Suns' opponent was just a tad hotter and their superstar, Dirk Nowitzki, was a tad more incredible, drilling 13-of-18 from the floor to pour in 35 points. Gentry said that Nowitzki would be in his Top 3 if he was casting his MVP vote today.
“I think what you have to do with him is make him take tough shots, even though he’s going to hit tough shots,” Suns guard Vince Carter said. “I think if you don't get frustrated from that, you’re going to be ok. He’s going to get his points, he’s an outstanding shooter that’s proved that for years and years now and all you can hope you can do is contain him.”
Carter (16 points), swingman Mickael Pietrus (11 points) and Hill (10 points) rounded out the rest of the Suns in double figures. The Suns return from the All-Star break to face Atlanta at home next Wednesday.
As Alvin Gentry was in position to notch his 100th win as Suns Head Coach on Thursday, it made the 56-year-old coach reflect on how far he’s come in just a short time.
Although Gentry was the head coach of the Clippers, Heat and Pistons, when the longtime coach accepted his position as assistant coach under Mike D’Antoni, he never expected to be a head coach in the NBA again. However, tonight’s game was exactly two years and a day from the time Gentry took over as Suns Head Coach.
On February 16, 2009, Terry Porter was relieved of his duties as head coach, creating an opportunity for Gentry to be named the Suns’ skipper.
“I loved working with Mike and Terry and it was one of those things that kind of happened,” Gentry said. “The NBA is a strange thing. You can’t look logically at anything that happens in the NBA.”
To give you an idea of what he’s talking about, his tenure with the Suns has been his most successful as a coach in the league. And it came at a time when he truly thought he’d never get another shot.
“I never really thought I’d be a coach again,” he said. “I didn’t know. I like working in this league and being here - working for this organization - that’s great.”
While Gentry was celebrating his anniversary of being here, another player came in celebrating an anniversary of his departure. On February 6, 2008, Shawn Marion was traded to the Heat for center Shaquille O’Neal.
It’s been three years and 11 days since the “Matrix” last appeared in a Suns uniform. Although still capable of break-out games, Marion’s season-averages for points and rebounds are amongst the lowest of his career.
Although his scoring is the lowest its been since his rookie year and his rebounding is just a hair higher than it was last year and his rookie year, the "Matrix" is still a valuable contributor. In fact, the former Phoenix fan favorite has really won over his current coach.
“I can’t tell you how impressed I’ve been with his approach,” Mavs Head Coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s developed real consistency this year.”
What do you get the “Polish Hammer” for his birthday? Suns center Marcin Gortat already knew.
“I have the perfect birthday present,” Gortat said. “I’m going to play against the team that gave me the best contract ever. That’s the best gift you can get.”
Gortat was referring to the contract offer that the Mavs made to the 6-11 center in the summer of 2009. Later, that offer was matched by the Magic.
He remained with Orlando until being traded to the Suns a couple of months ago. Other than that wish being granted, Gortat said that today was just a “normal day” and that he was looking forward to resting over the All-Star break.
Before playing this season, Gortat never played more than 13 minutes a night.
"I tell everyone that I'm 27," he joked. "But I'm really 34."
Any questions or comments for Stefan Swiat? Click here to send him your comments by e-mail.