Suns Coach Terry Porter (pictured) is always stressing defense. But, while he's gotten the team to respond some, he hasn't gotten it to respond much.
Look at Thanksgiving Eve's 110-102 road win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.First of all the Timberwolves are a 3-10 team. Their only big threat is forward Al Jefferson, and he came up big: 28 points and 17 rebounds.While the Suns never trailed in the game and wound up winning by eight points, the Suns' defense, well, sucked. Makes us wonder what Shaquille O'Neal and company are going to do when they play a really good team.
Oh, right, they already have, and the L.A. Lakers and the New Orleans Hornets ate them alive.
The defensive disappearing act had nothing to do with Shaq; he had 10 rebounds to go along with 18 points (pretty good for an old man). And what we're talking about today is rebounds. There's no surer barometer of a team's defensive toughness than how it performs on the boards..
The lowly Timberwolves had 48. The Suns: 36.
LIke we say, O'Neal did his part, but the rest of the team could only manage 26 boards. Arguably the best player on the floor next to Jefferson was Amare Stoudemire. He had three rebounds and 16 points. Three! What's wrong with this guy? Why can't Porter wake him up this season?
Okay, let's break it down further, and this statistic is astonishing. Of the Suns 36 rebounds, three were offensive. What is it about that number? This means the team got three second chances at missed shots. Pathetic.
Meantime, Minnesota had 21 offensive rebounds, which added up to lots of second and third chances at buckets. There were times during the game when the Suns looked like a high school team out there, getting beaten by Jefferson and his crew of scrubs.
This was the second game in a row against a terrible team in which we were amazed that the 11-5 Suns won. Terry Porter, you were a defensive specialist during your NBA playing days. Do something, or the, um, warriors of Planet Orange will be lucky to get as far as they did last year. -- Rick Barrs