Patsy Test: Can Phoenix Suns Manage to Beat Golden State Tonight and Friday?
NBA bad boy Stephen Jackson has found a home in Golden State.
We're not big Mike D'Antoni fans. As electric as his six-and-shoot system was during the Phoenix days, it was a paper tiger that bared its cardboard fangs come playoff time. Plus, the dude began to buy into his own myth toward the end of his Valley tenure. Poor widdle Mikey didn't wike to be second-guessed. Boo hoo.
Still, we'll give Mikey D this much: He could beat the patsies. You don't win 62, 54, 61, and 55 games over four consecutive seasons - as D'Antoni did with the Suns from 2004 to 2008 - without leaving boot prints on the necks of NBA also-rans. He was much-beloved for that killer regular-season instinct, enough for fans to forgive (and/or forget) that D'Antoni himself was the ultimate postseason patsy.
D'Antoni's successor in Phoenix, Terry Porter, ain't gettin' love of any kind in his first year. To put it mildly. While it's too early to run Porter and/or the guy who hired him - Suns GM Steve Kerr - out of town on a rail, the following results shriek for themselves:
Quality wins to date: three (103-98 vs. San Antonio on October 29; 104-86 over Detroit on November 16; 113-112 over then-torrid Orlando on December 12).
Unfathomable losses: seven (83-100 to Chicago on November 7; 109-117 to New Jersey on November 30; 110-113 to Indiana on January 7; 103-105 to Minnesota on January 16; 109-114 to the Knicks on January 21; 76-98 to Charlotte on January 23; 111-122 to the Bulls again on January 31).
Ominous stat: five of those seven dunderheaded defeats have come in the last month alone.
Throw in a couple of earlier squeakers that the Suns probably should've lost - the 97-95 win over Sacramento on November 14 and the 99-98 victory over Oklahoma City on November 25 - and you've got a team that's been trending toward mediocrity, if not outright patsyhood itself, all season.
Following a flurry of closed-door meetings between players and coaches last weekend spurred by their second humiliating L to the pitiful Bulls on January 31, the Suns appeared to right the ship in a rematch against Sacramento on Monday just past, thrashing the Kings by 48. The Suns applied Doc Martens to Adam's apples, and many Phoenix fans probably blew out deep sighs of relief.
The patsy victory does not a turnaround make, and while the Suns February schedule presents a prime opportunity for the team to get its mojo back - nine of this month's 13 games would have been virtual locks for Phoenix in the D'Antoni days - another significant patsy test lies ahead: back-to-back games against the Golden State Warriors, who've been playing .300 or worse ball most of the year but who are more competitive than they appear on paper, especially at home.
Tonight the Suns and their pair of former Warriors, Jason Richardson and Matt Barnes, visit Oakland's ORACLE Arena to match up with Golden State's smokin' Stephen Jackson (originally a second-round pick of the Suns in 1997, the former Indiana Pacers bad boy is having his second consecutive stellar year for the Warriors at 19.8 points, 6.1 assists, and 4.7 boards a game).
On Friday, Jackson and company return the favor with a game at US Airways Center.
Both games tip off at 8:30 p.m. local time. Wednesday's game will be televised on My45 (cable 9) and broadcast on KTAR-FM 620. Friday's game will be nationally televised on ESPN, and will also be broadcast on FSN AZ and KTAR.
For more info, see www.nba.com/suns.
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