The once-again run-and-gun Phoenix Suns looked great again Wednesday night, scoring 140 points or more for the second game in a row against the dog-ass Los Angeles Clippers.
This time, the score was 142-119, and supposedly on-the-trading-block Amar'e Stoudemire scored 42 points of that and pulled down 11 rebounds. We think we even saw him play a little defense.
It was as if Stoudemire were saying to owner Robert Sarver and GM Steve Kerr, "You better not trade me!" In any case, we'll find out what happens with potential Suns trades by this afternoon, the NBA deadline for moving players this season.
Though the game at Staples Center in Los Angeles wasn't the family-size can of whup-ass the Suns opened up on the Clippers Tuesday night at US Airways Center, it became a rout all the same in the fourth quarter.
Again interim head coach Alvin Gentry played everybody in Suns purple-and-orange by night's end, including backup 6-4 point guard Goran Dragic, who dunked for the second night in a row. He's dunked three times this season, which Suns broadcasters joked is three times more than starting point guard Steve Nash's done in his career.
Dragic had 12 points in 21 minutes, and showed confidence running the team that had been lacking under fired head coach Terry Porter. Infamous for nervously turning over the ball, Dragic had only one botch against the Clippers.
The Slovenian rookie was among six Suns in double-figures. Jason Richardson had 17 points and 7 rebounds in 29 minutes, Nash had 21 points and 12 assists in 27 minutes, Shaquille O'Neal had 16 points and 6 rebounds in 26 minutes, and Leandro Barbosa had 13 points and 4 assists in 21 minutes.
It was just the kind of minutes veterans like O'Neal and Nash need to be playing, and hope springs eternal that the Suns bench can continue to play well against good teams coming up soon on the schedule.
The 13-42 Clippers were short-handed (starting center Marcus Camby's injured and his backup, Zach Randolph, was suspended for two games for punching Suns backup forward Lou Amundsom Tuesday night), so no celebration's in order. That is, the Suns aren't suddenly guaranteed a playoff spot because they twice-in-a-row pummeled a bad, under-manned team. They remain in ninth place in the Western Conference, a game out of the playoff picture.
But hope's been reborn, because the Suns had lost to plenty of bad teams under Porter. With the coaching change, they're playing with passion again. We'll see it it lasts.
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They play the lowly Oklahoma City Thunder a home Friday night before 41-11 Boston hits town for a Sunday afternoon game. Kevin Garnett and his Celtics are tied with Cleveland for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
If Gentry can motivate the now 30-23 Suns to show up big-time against Boston, Nash & Co. may agan be a force to reckoned with in the West.
All this depends, of course, on what happens with Stoudemire today (Kerr told the Arizona Republic he didn't "anticipate" a trade). With this return to the old-fast paced Suns (albeit with the Shaq component mixed in), we hope Amar'e stays.