Suns News

Suns Notebook: Suns Making Trips to the Foul Line Count

Steve Nash has missed only four of his 80 free throw attempts this season.
(NBAE/Getty Images)
By Jerry Brown,
Dec. 15, 2007

Missing free throws had been a curious problem for the Suns early in the season – except for Steve Nash, of course – but that stat has begun to turn around and is benefitting Phoenix as usual.

As of Friday, the Suns ranked seventh in the NBA in free-throw percentage (.783) and were close to leapfrogging New Orleans (.786) and Washington (.788) to reach the top five. By contrast, Phoenix’s opponents were shooting a paltry .712 from the line this season.

Both ends came into play in Wednesday’s 103-98 win over Utah. The Suns made 19-of-21 free-throw attempts (.905) and the Jazz shot more (27) and made less (17).

Not sure free throws are important? The Suns made 8-of-13 free throws (.615) in a four-point loss to the Heat on Monday, and missed five more in 15 chances (.667) against Minnesota in a seven-point loss. But during the preceding five-game winning streak, Phoenix averaged better than 80 percent from the line.

Nash has missed only four of his 80 free throws this season and his .950 percentage ranks second in the league to Chicago’s Kirk Hinrich – who has only missed two but has shot half as many (41). Nash was perfect on his six free throws against the Jazz and hit five in the final 11 seconds.

Grant Hill (.866) is also ranked among the top 20. But Shawn Marion, a career 83-percent free-throw shooter has struggled this season (.686), as has Leandro Barbosa (.686), another 80-percent shooter for his career.

Looking for Leandro

After missing 13-of-17 shots against Miami Monday and appearing to dominate the offensive possessions during his time on the floor, Leandro Barbosa was more tentative against the Jazz, taking a season-low six shots in 26 minutes and scoring five points.

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D’Antoni, who didn’t feel the need to talk to Barbosa after the Heat loss, did seek out the Brazilian guard after the Utah game. “I told him he needs to be aggressive like he always is and not to listen to you (media) idiots,” he said. “And he isn’t listening, so that’s fine.

“LB’s great. And when you look at the tape, he’s doing what he’s supposed to do. He didn’t get many shots up, but I don’t know if he really turned that many down.”

Barbosa admitted his shot feels “strange” for the second time this season and said there were time when he didn’t feel ready to shoot against the Jazz, who guarded him closely around the perimeter.

“My shot isn’t right, it’s not good right now,” he said.

Helping New Orleans

The Suns are in New Orleans for the first time since the Hurricane Katrina disaster and will be pitching in today as part of a league-wide effort to help the city. The team will host about 20 homeless teenagers from the Covenant House at the morning shoot-around at New Orleans Arena, and they will also be a guest of the team at the game tonight.

COPYRIGHT 2007, EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE. Used with permission.