- December 20
- December 26
- December 30
- January 6
- January 20
- January 28
- February 1
- February 9
- February 26
- March 4
- March 15
- March 25
- April 7
- April 18
- April 24
Season in Review
Maybe the 2011-12 Phoenix Suns were just angry that they lost the final game before the All-Star break by one point. Maybe the team formed cohesion after an abbreviated training camp and preseason. Maybe it was the pick-and-roll effectiveness of Steve Nash and Marcin Gortat. Or maybe it was the continued confidence of Head Coach Alvin Gentry.
Whatever the reason, these Suns reversed the fate of a 14-20 first half by going 19-13 after the All-Star Game. That second-half surge, along with a few memorable milestones, provided the team with plenty of drama as this season came to a close. Scroll through this timeline to find the entire story of the 2011-12 Phoenix Suns via video highlights, all-encompassing articles and behind-the-scenes stories.
Following a shortened training camp and preseason, the Suns began the process of working five new players into the rotation. A few early losses were indicative of a team that was attempting to build cohesion over the course of the month, but the additions of rookie Markieff Morris as well as veterans Shannon Brown, Michael Redd, Sebastian Telfair and Ronnie Price would pay dividends.
Tuesday, December 20: First Preseason Game
The Suns lost 127-110 against the Denver Nuggets, but the team showed its potential depth. A flurry of moves on December 9 brought in guards Shannon Brown and Sebastian Telfair – who would be mentored by his mother's favorite player. Also, in an effort to change with the parts assembled, assistant coach Elston Turner was brought on during the offseason to improve the team's defense.
Monday, December 26: Home Opener Drama
It was only a one-point loss to the New Orleans Hornets, but with a short preseason to form cohesiveness Head Coach Alvin Gentry knew the team was a work in progress. Point guard Steve Nash proved that Marcin Gortat and Robin Lopez were going to be factors off the pick-and-roll, and it didn't hurt that each center received offseason tutelage from Hakeem Olajuwan.
Friday, December 30: First Victory and an Offensive Addition
A return match against the Hornets provided the Suns with their first win of the season, 93-78 in New Orleans. As the rotation continued to sort itself out, reserve forward Hakim Warrick became the team's third different leading scorer in three games when he netted 18 points. A day prior, Phoenix brought on veteran guard Michael Redd – a former scoring machine and All-Star who was looking to bounce back from injury.
Beginning with a stifling performance against the Portland Trail Blazers, the emphasis the team was placing on defense – an effort led by new assistant coach Elston Turner – was beginning to pay dividends. Road wins in New York and Boston during this month were the fruits of this labor.
Friday, January 6: Suns Extinguish Red-Hot Trail Blazers
No Western Conference team came out of the gates better than Portland – which won five of its first six games – but the Suns showed what they could do at home in a 102-77 dismantling of the Trail Blazers. The work that Elston Turner was doing with the team's defense resulted with a top-10 ranking at this point in the season. It also helped limit the Trail Blazers to season lows in shooting – 32.9 percent – and in points with 77.
Friday, January 20: Treading Water Out East
The growing pains Phoenix went through in January proved that the team also had some resiliency built up. To break a five-game losing streak, the Suns had back-to-back wins at two of the tougher venues in the league – Madison Square Garden in New York and TD Garden in Boston.
Saturday, January 28: Facebook Friends See Frye and a Win
The team's third annual Facebook Night took place and fans were witness to a dramatic, two-point victory over one of the Western Conference's best teams – the Memphis Grizzlies – and to a postgame Q&A with power forward Channing Frye.
Steve Nash made history on the first day of the month, becoming the Suns' all-time leader in assists, and he later made his eighth All-Star Game appearance. Rookie Markieff Morris joined Nash in Orlando, as a participant in the Rising Stars Challenge. The team was on the road for the bulk of the month, considering eight of the first 11 games were away from US Airways Center. A second three-game winning streak of the month, however, was narrowly missed as the Golden State Warriors put a damper on the All-Star break with a last-second shot to win the final game of the first half.
Wednesday, February 1: Nash's Historic Night
From his first assist to No. 6,519, Steve Nash provided a blueprint on how to make a career out of playing the point guard position. In this instance, the significance was that Nash passed Kevin Johnson as the Suns' leader in career assists. To make the moment even better that night, it didn't hurt that the team rolled to a 120-103 win in New Orleans.
Thursday, February 9: Mid-Season Honors
One day after rookie power forward Markieff Morris was named to the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, Steve Nash was named to the All-Star team for the eighth time. A play like this, in which Steve Nash tapped the ball ahead to Morris who finished on the break against the Lakers at the Staples Center, showed just how the two could rely on instincts and athleticism to make an impact. Morris also was proving his worth from the outside, as he led all rookies in 3-point shooting percentage at this point in the season.
Sunday, February 26: Nash, Morris Rep Suns at All-Star weekend
If the All-Star game is to entertain, entertainment is what the fans received in the 152-149 victory for the West. Nash deferred to others in terms of minutes, but what really stands out about this particular honor is the path he's taken to get to this point in his career. It was also apparent that in a short time, Markieff Morris had made an impact on numerous NBA stars with his early play.
In terms of making an argument for the virtues of good team basketball, there might not have been a better example this season than the Suns during the second half of this season. The individual members of the Suns seemed to find a comfort level with their roles. Suddenly the team won its first three games in March, and then five of the first six. Ball movement and confidence in each other became the staples of an offense that was pretty potent.
Sunday, March 4: Win Over Kings Caps Three Straight at Home
An increased offensive punch helped guide the Suns to their first win in the second half of the season, a 104-95 victory over a team known for its offensive efficiency this season – the Minnesota Timberwolves. The defense came back a game later and proved it could win a game too by shutting down the Los Angeles Clippers 81-78. After finishing the home stand with a win over the Sacramento Kings, the potential for a good second half allowed people to begin mentioning the "p" word – playoffs.
Thursday, March 15: Back-to-Back-to Back No Issue This Time
A month prior, Phoenix dropped all three games of a back-to-back-to-back, but this time around it reversed that result by winning all three games – beginning with a 120-111 win at Utah. The second game during this stretch may have been the most memorable, however. Gentry chose to sit Steve Nash and Grant Hill in the middle game as a precaution. So it was the bench that sparked the team to a huge win over the Clippers at the Staples Center. The game included, perhaps, the dunk of the year for the Suns – when Morris posterized the man accustomed to doing that to others, Blake Griffin. The Suns then flew overnight to get back home for a game the next day with the Detroit Pistons, which resulted in a 109-101 victory.
Sunday, March 25: Bouncing Back On the Road
The positive vibes from 11 wins in 14 games were carrying the team into Miami, and through three quarters against LeBron James and Co. the Suns were continuing that trend. Markieff Morris was paving the way with great plays like this block on one end and dunk on the other. But the fourth quarter belonged to the Heat, and Phoenix dropped the first of four straight games on the road. The next game was a loss to Orlando, but the squad showed some resolve to bounce back against a solid Pacers team in Indianapolis. One game later, the Suns flew past the Cavaliers with plays like this from the uber-athletic Shannon Brown.
The month opened with so much promise. Five wins in the first six games proved the Suns were capitalizing on momentum built over the course of March. The team was playing well enough to not only beat its playoff-bound rival, the Los Angeles Lakers, but beat them soundly at US Airways Center. The team's winningest coach of all-time, John MacLeod, was later inducted into the Ring of Honor. But for all the good feelings, it came down to one game toward the end of the season to make the postseason. Utah took advantage of its home court and slid passed the Suns.
Saturday, April 7: Lakers Pose No Problem
Going for a season-high 125 points, there was little the Suns couldn't do against the Lakers in this game at US Airways Center. It was once again the bench that led the way for Phoenix, as Michael Redd sparked the team with 17 points and Sebastian Telfair added 13. The team went on to win five of their first six games of the month, and it had Alvin Gentry feeling pretty good. The head coach even went to Graceland while in Memphis. Meanwhile Markieff Morris continued to learn about life on the road, as his rookie season neared its conclusion with one final road trip.
Wednesday, April 18: MacLeod Enters Suns' Ring of Honor
John MacLeod is the Phoenix Suns' winningest and longest-tenured coach in team history. His Phoenix teams were trademarked with a balanced approach between defensive intensity and up-tempo offense. The Suns acknowledged his achievements by placing him in the Ring of Honor during halftime of a game against Oklahoma City. MacLeod was proud not only of the wins, but of the relationship he built up with the city of Phoenix during his years with the Suns. His wife, Carol, was happy to see her husband and the father of their two children honored. Many former players, fellow coaches and most of the people he influenced were present for the ceremony and spoke glowingly of MacLeod on his night.
Tuesday, April 24: Not Quite Enough
For eight straight games, the Suns had won every other game. At the same time, Utah won three consecutive games to keep the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference tight. The two teams then met with everything on the line for the Suns; even Alvin Gentry admitted for the first time that this game was a "must-win." The contest turned in the Jazz's favor, however, as their size controlled the pace of the game. The loss to Utah left the Suns out of the playoffs, but one game was still to play. The final game of the season was Fan Appreciation Night at US Airways Center, and Sebastian Telfair was named the 2012 Dan Majerle Hustle Award winner. The Spurs defeated the Suns, but the conclusion didn't mar what Gentry called his most enjoyable coaching experience.