Newsroom Notes: Suns Run Out of Magic Against Orlando
Posted: March 13, 2011
The age-old axiom says that over time, the one constant thing in life is change. While the actual time may not have changed today in Arizona, the Suns-Magic game reflected how true that axiom really is in the NBA.
A year ago, Suns fans were rooting for Jason Richardson as Phoenix was on the verge of making an incredible run to the Western Conference Finals, cheering only for Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus on their fantasy teams. Now, Richardson is wearing all-black for the Magic, and Suns fans delight in how Gortat is racking up double-doubles off the bench.
And while the Suns have defeated the Magic eight-straight times in Phoenix dating back to 2001, that trend changed today too, with the Suns dropping a 111-88 home decision to Orlando on Sunday. It was Dwight Howard’s first win against Phoenix in the Valley of the Sun.
“36 points in the second half aren’t going to beat anyone,” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. “We’re not going to hold a team to 35 in the second half. Our offense has to be much better than it was.”
Playing without injured starters Steve Nash and Channing Frye, the Suns trailed by 11 at the half. But it was a 13-point third period (a season-low in third-quarter output) that did the Suns in.
Phoenix shot a mere 4-of-19 in the quarter. For the night, the Suns only shot 39 percent from the floor, were outrebounded by 17, scored 10 less second-chance points and were outscored by 20 in the paint.
“I think we were just a little flat," Suns point guard Aaron Brooks said. "I think with Dwight (Howard) in there, de does a great job protecting the paint, which makes you a jump-shooting team.
"You have to aggressively go at them sometimes and we didn’t do that. We settled for jump shots and we were missing.”
Howard erupted for 26 points and 15 rebounds in 34 minutes, while Brandon Bass scored 17. Former Suns forward Hedo Turkoglu tallied 13 points and seven boards, while Richardson posted 10 points and eight rebounds for Orlando.
Besides the time not changing, the one other variable that remained constant for the Suns was that they relied heavily on their point guard for offensive production. But with Steve Nash suffering from pubic symphysis irritation, Brooks received his first start as a Sun, collecting 19 points and 10 assists on 8-of-14 shooting.
Brooks racked up 19 points and seven assists by halftime, which is the type of aggressiveness his coach wants to see.
“He has to look for his shots,” Gentry said. “We want him to be a scorer.
“I think he wanted to be a facilitator in the second half, but he’s still learning. He’s still trying to figure out this system and the guys he’s playing with because he’s only had three practices and two of them have been short.”
Marcin Gortat shot the ball well against his former club, registering 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting, while former Magic swingman Mickael Pietrus scored 14 on 4-of-12 shooting and former Magic guard Vince Carter added 11. Jared Dudley was the only other Sun in double figures with 10 points.
The Suns play on the second half of a back-to-back tomorrow against the Rockets in Houston.
It wasn’t that Vince Carter was looking forward to playing the Magic... that much. He just didn’t plan on arriving to the arena that early.
Somebody forgot to inform the Suns shooting guard that the time doesn't change in Arizona. The former dunk champ arrived "very" early for today's game, receiving some additional time to get prepared for the contest.
Nash Misses Game
Missing his first game since November 20, Steve Nash sat out Sunday’s game against the Magic with a pubic symphysis irritation. The two-time MVP took a step backwards physically last game against the Nuggets, causing him to miss practice Friday.
Coach Gentry said that Nash is “day to day,” noting that he won’t completely be healthy until the season is concluded. No. 13 was listed as active, although he didn't appear on the bench during the contest.
The Suns' playmaker worked out with his personal trainer in an effort to get back on the court quicker.
Big Brother vs. Little Brother
Jared Dudley and Jason Richardson go back a long ways. They played together in Charlotte in 2007 and some of 2008 before the two were traded to Phoenix together in that same year.
At the time, Richardson was the name in the trade, while Dudley was unheralded. Since then, the two helped anchor a Suns team that went to the Western Conference Finals.
Richardson, a 10-year veteran, provided the scoring punch, while Dudley provided the timely shooting and all-around play. The two remain close; like a big-brother, little-brother relationship.
So little brother decided to take a poke at Richardson via Twitter, asking his fans to send photos of Dudley dunking over J-Rich on a video game. Dudley is currently using the winning photo for his Twitter account’s “avatar” photo. J-Rich, who is used to Dudley’s shenanigans, responded via Twitter with this:
@JaredDudley619 havin people tweet pics of him dunking on me in 2k11. A bruh that's the only chance u have, cause I will get a flagrant 6.
Dudley said that he was looking forward to trash-talking with his former perimeter pal when they matched up against each other. If J-Rich were to hit a tough shot, JD said that he’d yell out, “That’s not his game!”
Earl of Orlando
Former Suns forward Earl Clark is playing in his first contest against the Suns since being traded away from them on December 18. Since arriving in Orlando, Clark has received more consistent playing time than he did in Phoenix, although most of the minutes coming when someone else was injured.
“I’m somewhere where they want me to be here,” Clark said. “So that’s a good thing.”
It’s just a couple days past the one-year anniversary of Clark and the other young Suns players performing Kool & the Gang’s “Ladies Night” at the 2010 Suns & Stars Gala. At this year’s gala last Friday, the young Suns players got a pass on performing (a.k.a. losing all credibility) in front of all of those who attended.
Upon learning this, Clark immediately asked friend and Suns rookie Gani Lawal if it was true. Lawal had to break him the news that in fact, yes, Lawal would be able to keep his dignity another day, while Clark would continue to live in shame for his (how should we put this?).... a somewhat off-key performance.
Any questions or comments for Stefan Swiat? Click here to send him your comments by e-mail.