Suns Need Overtime to Knock off Nets
By Scott Stanchak, Special to Suns.com
Posted: Feb. 28, 2011
Newark, NJ -- The Western Conference got a little lighter on superstars less than a week ago. Yet, for one more night, the Phoenix Suns had to face a former foe in Deron Williams.
Monday’s game against the New Jersey Nets was Williams’ first home game with his new team since last Wednesday’s deal with the Utah Jazz. It also happened to be the Suns’ lone trip to the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.
Phoenix held a lead for most of the game, although only slightly. In the waning minutes of regulation, the two teams traded being up before Nets forward Anthony Morrow sank three free throws to tie it with 2.7 seconds left. The Suns failed to score, sending it to overtime for a second consecutive night.
The extra period played out similarly to earlier in the game, until Suns forward Channing Frye took a Steve Nash pass and put the ball in from behind the arc with only six seconds remaining. New Jersey had one final opportunity, but forward Kris Humphries’ tip-in at the buzzer came too late.
“We have a great team, man,” said Frye, who also hit the game-winner in Sunday’s 110-108 win over Indiana. “We really have to finish out games though.”
“He consistently hits the big shots,” said forward Grant Hill. “We just have to be a little smarter down the stretch.”
Frye and Hill are both referring to the seven-point lead the Suns had with just over one minute left in the fourth quarter. Losing that lead put a slight damper on the 104-103 win for many of the players, as well as coach Alvin Gentry.
“We’re lucky to win the game,” Gentry said. “Channing made a big shot for us though and we were able to win it.”
Center Marcin Gortat came off the bench to lead the Suns with 17 points, while Nash added 10 points and 15 assists. Nets center Brook Lopez led all scorers with 28 points. Williams finished with 13 points and a game-high 18 assists.
The two-time All-Star was traded to the Nets one day after the Denver Nuggets shipped Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. It was two moves that shifted some of the long thought of power balance in the West to the East. That’s just fine with Gentry.
“I wish we could get Kobe and those guys back East, too,” Gentry joked. “It takes two really, really good players out of that conference, but more so, it makes the East that much tougher.”
Frye said the deals moved some of the bigger names, but that doesn’t mean the talent level in the West is any less.
“The West is still the best,” Frye said. “It’s just a matter of us taking care of us and playing ball.”
The Suns improved to 31-27 win the win. They’re now just a half game behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the final playoff spot in the West.
“It’s important to win these games and get ourselves in the best position as possible,” forward Vince Carter. “If we go out there and win games and take care of our business, everything else will take care of itself.”
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