Newsroom Notes: State of the Suns Address
Posted: Jan. 24, 2012
With the Suns-Raptors game airing Tuesday night, the annual State of the Union address was missed by everyone attending the game.
Without seeing it, one could gather that the President of the United States probably talked about how the country needed to focus on defense, increased production and put itself in a position to succeed economically: essentially the same goals the Suns would like to accomplish as a ball club.
For three quarters the Suns took a step forward towards accomplishing two of those goals, but veered off their path in third quarter, causing them to drop a 99-96 home decision to the Raptors on Tuesday. It was the Suns’ first loss to the Raptors in their last 15 matchups, also their first defeat against Toronto since Suns point guard Steve Nash returned to Phoenix in 2004.
“Well, I mean I think obviously we were struggling for energy and I think that was the key, you know, especially in that third quarter,” Nash said. “They beat us on all the second-effort plays. They made a lot more of the plays, hustling for loose balls or running the floor, little things like that.”
Similar to the nation as a whole, the Suns have been focusing on tightening up their defense, boosting their offensive production, all while staying in sound economic shape for the upcoming offseason. Having already taken strides to improve defensively, becoming the third-most improved team in the NBA in that category, the Suns did hold the Raptors to less than 42-percent shooting for the night.
In addition, it was the fourth-straight contest that the Suns held their opponent under 100 points. Besides moving in the right direction defensively, the Suns also showed flashed of their potency on the offensive end, shooting 58 percent in the first half before falling to 48-percent shooting on the night.
The Suns were led by Marcin Gortat’s 21 points and 12 rebounds, while Nash posted 17 points and 14 assists. Hakim Warrick provided a nice spark off the bench, totaling 17 points in 26 minutes.
Obviously, the last area of focus for the Suns, the economic flexibility of the team, won’t be appreciated until the offseason. But while the Suns are remaining competitive in the West, fans can also look forward to a free agent period where the Suns can be as active as any team in the NBA.
Until then, like all teams around the league, Phoenix will deal with the ups and down that every team has faced with this hectic schedule. Playing on the second half of a back-to-back set of games after a nine-day, five-game road trip, the Suns seemed to run out of gas in the third quarter.
They were outscored 31-19 in the period before mounting a comeback that brought them within two points with 23 seconds less. Although the rally wasn’t enough tonight, Nash and Co. aren’t getting discouraged.
“It’s been a funky season and you got to keep your head down, keep working and keep believing,” the former MVP said. “If you do that long enough some good things will happen.”
Phoenix had won 15-straight games against the Raptors, their longest active win streak against a single opponent, and had swept seven consecutive season series. Ironically, the Suns established that record against the NBA’s lone Canadian team when the league’s most famous Canadian player returned to the Suns prior to 2004-05 season.
Asked whether or not the loss hurt a little more coming against the Raptors because of his heritage, Nash replied, “No. A loss is a loss. I really don’t add anything to it.”
Gortat on the Move
Gortat's streak of nine consecutive double-doubles has only been bested this season by Minnesota's Kevin Love, whose 15-straight-game streak ended earlier this week.
In addition to that feat, Gortat also grabbed 12 or more rebounds in six-straight games, becoming the first Sun to accomplish that since Shawn Marion did so during the 2005-06 season.
Giant of a Fan
Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby, who grew up in Long Island, New York, is very biased about who he’s rooting for in the upcoming Super Bowl. Calling himself a “pathological Giants fan,” Babby said that as a kid, the Giants were the only team in all of professional sports that he was immensely passionate about.
When they were 7-7 this season and fell to a struggling Redskins team, everyone wrote them off.
“There was a lot of panic and a lot of people, including myself, were worried and concerned,” he recalled. “But they showed a patience and an ability to stay the course and be steady.”
After a tough loss Tuesday, it’s a lesson that could prove valuable for Suns fans, as well.
Words of Wisdom
On remaining positive, Nash said. “You have a choice to be optimistic or pessimistic every day. I’m going to be as optimistic as I can.”
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