Newsroom Notes: Vintage Redd Sparks Suns
Posted: March 18, 2012
Michael Redd feels something special starting to form in Phoenix with this year’s version of the Suns.
After Sunday night’s 99-86 victory over the Houston Rockets, Redd could’ve spent some time talking about his own performance. After all, he had just set a season high with 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting, and he had sunk 3-of-5 from behind the arc.
Instead, the shooting guard immediately spoke about the chemistry that has formed within this team.
“It’s phenomenal. Everybody genuinely likes each other, and, in fact, we got together last night at my house,” Redd said. “We had a team gathering, and it’s just been fun.”
Redd thought that nights like the last one – when the team came to his house, joked around and ate barbeque – reminded him about how good of a time everyone has been having this season.
It doesn’t hurt that the Suns are now 9-2 since the All-Star break, have won four in a row and, with this defeat of the Rockets, have pulled within a half game of that very team for last playoff spot in the Western Conference. Phoenix is also one game over .500, at 23-22.
The comfort level the Suns have with each other off the court appears to be influencing the way it’s performing on it.
The team’s depth was apparent once again on Sunday, as Channing Frye backed up Redd offensively with 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting. Center Marin Gortat picked up his 25th double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Steve Nash ran an efficient offense with 11 assists and only one turnover.
“We’re just having fun. We’re laughing during pregame, we’re loose and I think it’s translating on the court,” Redd said.
Redd’s offensive outburst came at an opportune time, especially considering that at one point in the first half he accounted for 12-consecutive Suns points.
Through the course of the game, Redd slashed through the lane for layups, hit floaters over defenders and utilized his trademark accuracy from behind the 3-point line.
“That’s kind of the vintage Michael Redd of old. You know, he gets on a roll, and he gets really difficult to guard,” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said.
The other difference in this game was the way the Suns took control early on.
More often than not, Phoenix has had to fight from behind to stay hot during this stretch since the All-Star game, but the opposite took place on Sunday.
This game turned just three minutes into the first quarter, when Houston’s starting point guard and former Sun, Goran Dragic, went to the bench with a pair of fouls.
The Rockets were without a reliable back up, and Phoenix immediately turned up the pressure. The Suns forced 16 turnovers on the night, compared to committing only nine.
Before Dragic left the contest in the first quarter, it was tied at six. From then on, Phoenix limited the Rockets to only seven more points that frame and had built a 13-point lead.
Gentry said afterward that the Rockets were a team that continued to fight, but the Suns staved them off by never relinquishing the lead after that first quarter.
Phoenix now hits the road for four straight games against Miami, Orlando, Indiana and Cleveland.
Suns Bench Returns the Favor
Before the game began, Gentry was fully aware of the fact that his team’s bench had not been successful against the Rockets’ substitutes this season.
“Their bench has been great most of the year,” the coach said. “In our games, they’ve been more than the difference, really.”
During the last meeting between these two teams, five Rockets subs scored in double figures to help the second unit earn 57 points. Meanwhile, the Suns bench only came up with 13 points.
Obviously, Redd sparked the reversal on Sunday, and he was aided by Robin Lopez’s eight points and three rebounds in just over 15 minutes of play.
Backup point guard Sebastian Telfair had five points and four assists without a turnover in nearly 18 minutes of play, while Markieff Morris had four points and four rebounds.
Shannon Brown had five points and banged bodies with the larger Marcus Morris for much of his time in the game. His effectiveness defensively limited Markieff’s brother to just one basket for the Rockets.
In all, the Suns bench put up 47 points compared to 34 from the Rockets.
Markieff Morris never had to guard his twin brother, Marcus, Sunday night, but the two were on the court for quite a few minutes at the same time.
The Morrises were drafted back-to-back this past season after playing collegiately together at the University of Kansas, and Markieff said it was fun that each logged minutes in this game.
The two also chatted afterward, but the Suns forward didn’t want to share all of what was said between the two – as some friendly trash talk may have occurred.
“But we won – that’s all that matters,” Markieff said.
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