Postgame Central: Suns vs. Bobcats - Dec. 19, 2012


Dec. 19, 2012


US Airways Center
Goran Dragic
21 PTS, 11 AST
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
25 PTS, 12 REB

Bobcats Can't Keep Up With Suns

By: Stefan Swiat,

All the signs were there for a letdown game.

The Suns came into Wednesday’s contest winners of a season-high three-straight games and facing a Bobcats club that had dropped 12 consecutive games, including one to the Lakers on Tuesday night.

But the Suns did no such thing, executing their game plan to a T and cruising to a 121-104 victory over the visiting Bobcats.

“We were playing really well on defense and on offense,” Suns point guard Goran Dragic said. “The ball was circling around, everybody got their touches and we were making shots. SB (Shannon Brown) was huge tonight and our defense was solid."

The Suns blew the game wide open in the second quarter, racing out to an 18-point halftime lead and notching their highest-scoring first half of the season. Not only did the Suns drill 54 percent of their shots from the floor, but they connected on a sizzling 7-of-12 three-pointers in the first half.

Reserves Sebastian Telfair and P.J. Tucker came off the bench to power the Suns, with Telfair pouring in 11 points on 3-of-4 shooting from downtown, while Tucker scored 10 on 5-of-6 shooting from the field.

“They did a tremendous job in the second quarter,” Suns head coach Alvin Gentry said. “They’re the ones that got the separation for us.”

Besides the offensive outpouring in the first half, Phoenix also clamped down on defense. The Suns forced the Bobcats, who came into the contest ranked eighth in the league in least turnovers committed, into 12 uncharacteristic first-half turnovers and just 41-percent shooting from the floor.

In the third quarter, Suns shooting guard Shannon Brown took over like he did earlier this season against the Bobcats, shooting 7-of-10 from the floor and scoring 18 of his season-high 26 points in the period.

“It’s much easier for me,” Suns point guard Goran Dragic said of Brown’s offensive outburst. “I just passed him the ball and he got me assists.”

On the night, Dragic totaled 21 points and 11 assists, while swingman Jared Dudley added 20 points of his own. Luis Scola (12 points), Telfair (11 points) and Tucker (10 points) rounded out the rest of the Suns in double figures.

The 121 points were a season-high for the Suns, who accomplished that feat by shooting 55 percent from the floor and by draining a season-high 17 3-pointers.

“I thought we shot it well because we had good ball movement,” Gentry said. “We were taking it from the strong side to the weak side and we had their bigs in rotation, so we were able to get some 3s with our feet set.”

The Suns finished a homestand 4-1 for the first time since the 2007-08 season and became the first team since the Pistons last March to win four-straight games after falling in seven consecutive contests.

The Suns visit the Trail Blazers on Saturday.

December to Remember
Dudley is currently experiencing the third-best-scoring month of his six-year career. He came into Wednesday averaging 14.3 points a game this month and averaging 16 points, four rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.8 steals a night since returning to the starting lineup.

He poured in 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor and 4-for-8 shooting from behind the arc Wednesday. It's the first time in his career that he's scored 20 or more in three-straight games.

Balanced Attack
The Suns are one of only six teams that have six players averaging double-figures. Dragic, Brown, Scola, Michael Beasley, Marcin Gortat and Dudley are all averaging 10 points a game or more this season. San Antonio, Minnesota, Denver, Charlotte and Cleveland are the other clubs that join Phoenix in that group.

New Lineup
It seems that the Suns are beginning to settle on a rotation. The Suns’ starting lineup of Dudley, Scola, Gortat, Brown and Dragic is now 4-0.

Better yet, they’ve started the first and third quarters well every game but one.

“We’ve done a fairly good job of executing and I think we’ve done a fairly good job of playing unselfish basketball,” Gentry said of the starting five. “And on the defensive end, for the most part, we’ve done pretty well.”

It’s Official
Without much publicity or fanfare, it appears the NBA has hired two more female refs. Brenda Pantoja, who officiated a Suns-Blazers preseason game in November, worked the Suns’ regular-season contest against the Bobcats on Wednesday.

Pantoja and Lauren Holtkamp join current full-time female official Violet Palmer as the only female officials in the league.

According to Yahoo! Sports, the two new refs are “on assignment,” and have yet to be granted full-time status like Palmer. The only other female ref to have ever worked an NBA game was Dee Kantner.

This is good news for Pantoja, who made it to the “the show” earlier than expected. During the preseason, veteran official Bill Spooner said that it was going to be unlikely that she receive a call-up this season.

But it looks like she’s continuing to break even more ground.

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