87

Feb. 24, 2013

97

US Airways Center
Marcin Gortat
21 PTS, 12 REB, 3 BLK
Kawhi Leonard
16 PTS, 9 REB, 3 STL
GAME PHOTOS BOX SCORE & STATS COACH/PLAYER QUOTES
22
Number of points the Suns held the Spurs' Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili to on Sunday.

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Lucky Number Stats

Suns Defense Can't Do It All

By: Stefan Swiat, Suns.com

The Suns were well-aware that the Spurs were an offensive force coming into Sunday’s contest. The NBA leader in victories ranks fourth in the NBA in scoring, fourth in three-point field goal percentage, first in assists and second in field goal percentage.

But in the second of their three meetings between the two clubs this season, it wasn’t that the Suns couldn’t contain San Antonio’s attack, it was that they couldn’t find their own offensive rhythm.

Phoenix shot just 36 percent from the floor, including 25-percent shooting from behind the arc in a 97-87 home defeat.

“In basketball when you don’t have a go-to guy or a guy that you can throw it into that can give you 25 points a game, the ball has to move side to side,” Suns swingman Jared Dudley said. “They do it, they have two or three All-Stars and that ball moves from side to side, pick-and-roll and if one guy doesn’t have the shot, they swing it to the corner.”

On the bright side, the Suns held San Antonio to just 29-percent shooting from three-point land and 44-percent shooting on the night. In fact, Phoenix outrebounded the Spurs by 11.

Offensively, Suns point guard Goran Dragic and center Marcin Gortat connected on some nifty pick-and-rolls that saw Gortat total 21 points and 12 rebounds in his fourth 20-point effort of the season. Dragic collected 10 points and 11 assists, marking his fourth-straight game in double-digit assists, which is also the longest such streak of his career.

“My connection with Marcin is way better right now,” Dragic said. “We sat down and talked and I expect him to roll every time and I have to reward him for that. And in the last four games probably 70 percent of my assists were to him.”

Coming into Sunday, Dragic has averaged 18.3 points, 12.7 assists and 3.00 steals and dished out a league-high 38 total assists since the All-Star break. This stretch of games is reminiscent of when Dragic took home Western Conference Player of the Week honors last season.

From April 2 to April 7 of 2012 he averaged 20.7 points, 8.3 assists and 2.7 steals to win the award.

“The (All-Star) break was great for me,” Dragic said. “More than physical, it was good for me mentally to rest.”

Power forward Luis Scola was the only other Suns player in double figures with 15 points. On the other end, the Spurs saw six players reach double digits in scoring.

The Suns get another shot against the Spurs on Wednesday in San Antonio. Phoenix hosts Minnesota on Tuesday first.

Patrolling the Paint

Coming into Sunday’s contest, Suns center Marcin Gortat had five games of five or more blocks this season. No Suns player has totaled more than four such games in an entire season since Oliver Miller did so in 1993-94.

Thus far this season, the “Polish Hammer” has 11 three-block games this season after totaling a career-high 13 in all of 2011-12. And his attendance has been perfect.

Gortat has started 133 consecutive games and has appeared in 177 consecutive games since being acquired by Phoenix. Not only has he not missed a game as a member of the Suns, he is the only Suns player to start every game this season.

Oscar Choices

With the busy schedules of NBA players, it’s not surprising that very few Suns had seen the movies nominated for Oscars this year. It’s also not shocking that the player that had the most definitive opinion on the Academy Awards was Channing Frye.

Frye, who has been sidelined this season with an enlarged heart, thinks Argo is going to take home Best Picture honors. But with that being said, and although he thinks Argo is going to win in most of the categories, he’s rooting for Django Unchained for Best Picture.

He turned to the Silver Linings Playbook for his Best Actor and Best Actress choices, making Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence his selections. The 6-11 power forward also likes the film for Best Screenplay.

Lastly, he predicts Life of Pi will capture Best Cinematography.

Quotable

“It doesn’t matter who’s playing,” Hunter said about the Spurs missing Tony Parker due to a bruised arm. “They’re like plug and play with their rotation.”

Notable

Although he partook in his first practice Saturday, newly-acquired Suns center Hamed Haddadi was inactive for Sunday’s game. Coach Hunter said that the 7-2 center was “winded” from not playing recently and was dealing with some ankle issues… Markieff and Marcus Morris became the first and only other set of twins to play together in the NBA since the Dick and Tom Van Arsdale teamed together on the Suns. In fact, the Van Arsdales made their debut 36 years and four months to the day before the Morris twins. Ironically, both the Van Arsdales and the Morris brothers totaled 18 points apiece in their debuts.

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