Wolves vs. Suns Gameday
Final 110-102 Suns
The Suns took control early and never looked back in the eight-point victory that pushed their record to 11-5 on the season. Minnesota dropped to 3-10 as the team could not capitalize on Jefferson’s 28 points and 17 rebounds. Phoenix benefited from balance scoring from its starters. Nash was incredibly efficient with 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting in only 27 minutes while adding six assists.
More postgame coming soon...
Third Quarter 80-72 Suns
The roller coaster third quarter featured the Wolves closing the gap at the 9:44 mark to ten points. Phoenix then rallied with an 8-0 run and Jefferson was sidelined with five minutes left in the quarter with four fouls. As Wolves fans started to feel a blowout on the horizon, the squad battled to within eight points to close out the quarter as McCants nailed a 3-pointer in the final seconds.
Halftime 59-43 Suns
It ended like it started. Foye missed a lay-up to close out the second quarter and the Wolves were outscored 8-2 to start the period. Nine Minnesota turnovers led to ten points for Phoenix as the Suns continue to shoot lights out, 62 percent from the field. While Stoudemire has been held to just seven points; Shaq, Bell, and Nash have combined for 31. Wittman received a technical early in the quarter and Collins picked up three early fouls. If the Wolves have any chance at eliminating a 16-point deficit, the team will have to slow down the inside scoring from the Suns. At the half, Phoenix recorded 30 points in the paint with only four turnovers. Minnesota seems to be struggling with outside jump shots, which has led to several empty possessions. Wittman will surely address the defensive that allowed just under 60 points and the offense that failed to protect the basketball.
First Quarter 28-23 Suns
The scorching Suns ended the period shooting 68 percent from the field and a five-point lead. Nash and Bell led Phoenix with eight points a piece with Nash recording four assists. After struggling early in the quarter, the Wolves settled down to finish 40 percent from the field. Al Jefferson hit 4-of-5 for Minnesota with eight points in the quarter. Telfair entered the game with 2:56 left in the first and provided a bit of a spark with his quickness.
Pregame News and Notes - 6:30 PM
Just 30 minutes to game time and I almost collided with Mark “Mad Dog” Madsen in the tunnel heading to press row. Safe to say, an injury to Mad Dog would have been more newsworthy than the loss of a Web writer. However, I’m just happy to keep my perfect record intact with game coverage…a four-game mark that would make even Brett Farve jealous.
The Suns pulled out the alternate orange and grey uniforms tonight. Bad move. In my opinion, Phoenix owns one of the worst jersey’s in the league. This is the second time a visiting team has decided to wear the alternate uniform against the Wolves. Philadelphia decided to go with its red uniforms and Minnesota treated the home fans to a victory that night, this could be a good sign for tonight.
Pick-and-roll will be a main focus from both teams this evening. Terry Porter and Randy Wittman both addressed the importance of effectively running the offense and defending the pick-and-roll throughout the game. My Phoenix correspondent put it bluntly, “Everybody in the league knows Shaq is the worst pick-and-roll defender in the league.” If the Wolves expect to put together back-to-back wins tonight, the pick-and-roll will be a key to victory.
Suns Pregame Audio
Voice of the Opposition
Get the inside scoop for the Suns and Wolves match up with a scouting report from morning show radio host, Doug Franz in Phoenix.
Doug Franz - KTAR Sports 620
Wolves Shootaround Audio
June of 2008 signified a change to one of the most exciting teams in the NBA. Check that, the change occurred four months previous of that date. The Phoenix Suns abandoned the run-and-gun offense with the trade for future Hall of Fame center, Shaquille O'Neal last February. The deal sent four-time All-Star Shawn Marion to the Miami Heat as new general manager Steve Kerr made a big splash in the desert. The Suns then fell to the Spurs 4-1 in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs. A month later, the door would officially close for the Mike D'Antoni era as the head coach jumped on a plane East to take over the New York Knicks. Kerr then tabbed Terry Porter the new headman in Phoenix.
Last year, the Suns struggled at times to adjust to Shaq's presence inside the lane. For the 2008-09 season, the mission is clear for the Suns, capture a championship with the veteran roster and then rebuild around Amare Stoudemire for the future. Through fifteen games, Phoenix has witnessed a surprising increase in Shaq's production along with an offense that still ranks sixth in the league at 99.7 points per game. Grant Hill, Boris Diaw, and Leandro Barbosa come off the bench to present a strong second unit. Steve Nash is the clear leader of the squad and continues to find a spot on the top assist leaders in the league at eight dimes a game. Phoenix owns a 6-2 road record with losses at Chicago and Utah.
Randy Foye is fresh off a career performance in the win over Detroit. Wednesday night, Foye will face one of the premier point guards in league history against Nash. The former two-time MVP is a crafty guard for the Suns and creates easy, open shots for his team. Late in games, in clutch situations, Nash is always a deadly threat to hit the long ball along with shooting 90 percent from the free throw line. Raja Bell starts at the shooting guard position and can be a deadly 3-point shooter. Bell also possesses the skills to defend some of the top shooting guards in the league but mainly his skill set revolves around spot-up shooting. Mike Miller will have a size advantage and both players like to use screens to get open looks at the basket.
Stoudemire finds a spot on the highlight reel just about every night. As one of the premier power forwards in the league, Stoudemire's offense flourished with the addition of Shaq at center. Stoudemire has a deadly first step when facing the basket and recently added the ability to hit jump shots from the free throw line extended. This season, the All-Star forward leads the Suns with 22.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Al Jefferson will have a difficult task with Stoudemire's speed and strength. On the defensive side of the floor, Stoudemire is good for a block per game. Tonight will provide a great litmus test for Jefferson as a defender because his offensive skills are will documented.
The Suns placed Shaq on the bench for the Oklahoma City contest last night. Phoenix found a way to win the game in the final seconds behind a Matt Barnes 3-pointer. Porter has implemented a system of sitting O'Neal at various points during the season so the 36-year old will have fresh legs at the end of the year. Jason Collins will look to slow down Shaq tonight as O'Neal scored 19 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in the win over Portland last Saturday. Phoenix ranks first in the league in field goal percentage and O'Neal is a reflection of the high ranking. During Tuesday's practice, the Wolves coaches worked with Collins on his outside shooting to draw O'Neal out of the lane. If Minnesota can execute this in the game plan, the Wolves offense will greatly benefit tonight.
Steve Nash, PG
Raja Bell, SG
Matt Barnes, SF
Amare Stoudemire, PF
Shaquille O'Neal, C
Randy Foye, PG
Mike Miller, SG
Ryan Gomes, SF
Al Jefferson, PF
Jason Collins, C