One of this trio ripped the Suns apart and made the mistake of hiring Terry Porter as coach. Can you find the Phoenix GM?
When Terry Porter went away, so did the Suns defense. But apparently, the fast-paced offense that made fans all over the nation love the Suns — before GM Steve Kerr imploded the team and Mike D’antoni went to the Knicks — is back. Before Sunday’s contest against the Celtics, the Suns had scored 140+ points in each contest since the All-Star break, going an impressive 3-0 under new coach Alvin Gentry. Of course, that included back-to-back games against the Clippers and then one against the Thunder, and neither of those teams exhibit what would be anyone’s idea of tight D.
Sunday started off on pace for another 140 point performance despite the Suns missing superstar Amare Stoudemire, who is out eight-to-10 weeks after eye surgery, and the Celts missing Kevin Garnett, who is also out at least two weeks, courtesy of a knee injury.
That being said, the lack of defense for the Suns stuck out like a stupid twist in an M. Night Shyamlanan movie. Despite giving up a monster 38 points to the KG-less Celtics in the first quarter, they trailed by only five thanks to another solid early shooting performance by Leandro Barbosa. The second quarter saw the sizzling Suns cool off, which makes it difficult to stay in the game with their lack of defense. The Celtics continued shooting well, outscoring the Suns 30-21 in the quarter, led by Rajon Rondo’s 14 points, to enter halftime with a commanding 68-54 lead, with eyes on a blowout.
The third quarter featured the trading of baskets by the two teams as the Suns could never cut the lead down under 11, and Phoenix entered the fourth quarter trailing by 13, clearly suffering the loss of Stoudemire more than the Celts were missing The Big Ticket.
The game was essentially over as the Atlantic-leading Celts pulled away and cruised to a 128-108 victory behind 89 points from Rondo, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce. For the contest, Boston shot a ridiculous 63 per cent from the field. Hey Suns fans, at least you’re back to that D’antoni offense you all missed!
By the way, with both Rondo and Allen going for over 30 points, it marked the first time that both members of the Boston’s starting backcourt scored at least 30 in the same game since January, 1977, when — ghet ready for it — Jo Jo White and Charlie Scott turned the trick. How’s that for some retro Beantown love?
Who to Watch
Rajon Rondo, PG: He’s already obviously a must-start in any fantasy league, but Sunday was just more evidence of how fast-rising this young superstar is. And he did it all on his 23rd birthday, no less. With KG out, he picked up the slack, scoring a career high 32 points while also dishing out 10 assists, giving him his fourth double double of the month (including a triple double). With Garnett expected at least a couple of weeks, Rondo will likely up his scoring greater than his season average of 11 (and, in fact, he’s scored at least 15 points in each of the past three games). He also shot an impressive 13-for-18 from the field on Sunday, although he did, as usual, struggle from the line, going only 5-for-9. Unless you are intentionally trying to throw the league, start Rondo and expect a boost in production. Is it just me, or has Rondo become a serious leader on this team of leaders?
Brian Scalabrine, C: Give the big red head some love! He takes a lot of bashes for being a waste of space, but the he can produce when asked upon. With Garnett out, Scalabrine showed he might be somewhat useful, pouring in 14 points and hitting a pair of treys. However, I’d like to see more than two boards from my big man. If you’re worried about rebound production with KG out, Scalabrine might not be the best option as he’s a bit more of a perimeter player, but if he gets you close to 10 points a game, that might prove useful in a very deep league. He might be a reach, but if he continues to have games like Sunday I’d say he’s worth watching, at the very least.
Leandro Barbosa, SG: The Brazilian Blur is finally an offensive threat again after the wheelchair Porter offense was removed. Of course, the loss of Stoudemire and his shifting into the starting lineup sure helps, too. After scoring a career-high 41 against the Clippers in his last contest, Barbosa had a more modest showing on Sunday going for 18 points, four rebounds, two assists, three steals one three-pointer and even a block, to fill the stat sheet. A rarity on a team that doesn’t play much defense, Barbosa will get you some steals with that crazy speed and he’s shown since the break that he is capable of putting up crazy good numbers in the Gentry era. If you have him and haven’t reinserted him into your lineup get your head out of your you know what and put him back in. And if you’re in a shallow league, check the wire to see if he’s been dropped; it’s possible, considering what a disappointing season it’s been up until now for Barbosa.
Louis Amundson, PF: Amundson figures to get a lot of playing time with Stoudemire out, but he better not piss off any more of the league’s thugs like he did to Zach Randolph of the Clippers or he’ll expect another “POW! right in the kissa.” Amundson didn’t see enough PT to be useful e on Sunday, going 2-for-4 from the field for four points and only one rebound. He’s only averaged 3.6 points and 3.3 rebounds this season, but the 26-year-old UNLV product had a nice showing on Tuesday, when he got smacked by Randolph, but still dropped in 13 points with eight boards. Don’t pick him up yet, but monitor the next few games to see how his PT progresses, and if he can average closer to 25 MPG, he might be worth a pick up, especially if you are one of the unfortunate few to have been playing Stoudemire.