Finally a win. I was tired of the string of preseason losses followed by the LA fiasco. It was time to play Suns basketball and the entire team showed up. Two-time MVP Steve Nash had a solid game, finishing with 20 pts, 11 assts.
The Clippers started the game off real quick, surging to a 10-3 lead. The Suns responded well to make a 6-0 run. It was nice to see some hustle after that slow-as-molasses showing against the Lakers. Amare checked in at 7:30 and proved to be the difference (who would have thought!). He got some early touches and converted on each of his first four shots in the Q. He started with two reverse layups, followed up with a banked jumper and closed the quarter with a turnaround jumper. The two reverse layups would've been monster slams two yrs back but who the hell cares, so long as he's scoring! I should add it was nice to see some soft touch from Black Jesus.
The Suns packed the paint making it tough for the Clippers to score inside and finished the quarter with a 24-20 lead. Kurt Thomas did a fairly decent job on Brand early on but IIRC, he did not jump once during the game (OK I was exaggerating, but show me some hops - you're a freakin' NBA baller!).
D'Antoni had ridiculously some lineups in the game at times. At one point in the first quarter, he played a 3 guard lineup - Banks, Nash, Barbosa - along with Amare and Marion. Yes - Banks and Nash played together. I'd imagine it was to get Banks some time alongside Nash to let him see first-hand how the maestro runs the show. Banks had a pretty ordinary outing as a PG last night but scored efficiently finishing with 13 points on 4-6 shooting. Not bad, considering how he struggled in the preseason. Banks had only 1 assist in 15 mins on the floor but Barbosa made up for that with 4 assists. I guess, Barbosa just needs to be told he isn't the backup PG and he'll do a good job of dishing!
Kurt's night out
Kurt Thomas had a horrible night after the refs started to go after him for so much as breathing Brand's air. He got called for laying in a shot even as Brand almost fouled him. Just a few secs later, he got called again for grabbing a loose ball ahead of Brand. This time KT totally lost it and slammed the ball to the floor, getting called for a T. Can't blame him for that! He fouled out of the game in the 4th Q, having played just 12 mins in the game.
The bright side : We got out-rebounded just by eight, 44-52 in a game w/o much help from KT.
Nash's huge and goofy second half
Stevie had a monster second half, as he decided to take over the game. He had 17 pts and 8 assts in just the second half. Sometime in the 4th Q, the refs made an incorrect call as the ball went out of bounds through Brand's legs (brushing them on the way), as Marion and Brand battled for possession. In trying to remonstrate with the officials Nash did possibly the weirdest, goofiest of his career. The following account doesn't do justice to how outrageously funny his performance was:
Nash had this look like he was saying 'ooohhhhhhhhhhh' and pointing his hands in one direction, squatting like he's defending moving sideways all the while -- only he was doing this after the ball went out and was facing the sideline as he did this.
Even the commentators couldn't hold back their laughter as they played the clip over and over.
Marion goes berserk with his blocks
Marion played the second half like a mad man. He was excellent on defense and scored like he always does, finishing with 27/10. At the 10:30 mark in the 3rd Q, he blocked Kaveman Kaman (couldn't resist that, sorry) two times successively as Kaman tried in vain to make his shot. The defensive work from Marion was easily the second biggest highlight of the night, coming a close second to Nash's theatrics.
Brand contained (so to speak)
EB had scored 30+ points against the Suns in the past 9 games. Last night he was "contained" to to 28 points, thanks to some decent defense.
Positives from the game
- Banks had a decent shooting night
- James Jones finally connected on a 3 pointer
- We shot 52% from the field
- We held the Clips to 42% shooting
- We outscored the Clips in the paint (!) 48-30
- Won despite horrendous 3 pt shooting : 27%