Previous week’s games
12/26/2010 Clippers 108, SUNS 103
12/29/2010 76ers 123, SUNS 110
Upcoming week’s games
12/31/2010 SUNS vs Pistons, 7 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona
01/02/2010 SUNS @ Kings, 7 p.m., My45
01/05/2010 SUNS vs Lakers, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
“I think we need to be in the gym every day for three hours, learn the rotations and everything from the beginning. There are so many things we are doing bad and I can’t find an explanation.”
This is what new Suns center Marcin Gortat had for his new teammates after Wednesday night’s embarrassing loss to the Philadelphia 76ers at US Airways Center. He didn’t stop there, though.
“I’m trying to get some rebounds and stops, but unfortunately there is not too many opportunities to rebound because the 76ers are scoring 120-something points. It is just frustrating. It is frustrating as hell; I’m not going to lie. It is a reality check for me, going from a team who is winning to a team who is losing, and we are the worst defensive team in the league.”
Clearly, the Polish Hammer isn’t too happy with how things have gone in his first three games on Planet Orange, and he shouldn’t be. The loss to the Heat is understandable. Losses to lowly teams like the Clippers and 76ers aren’t.
Things need to change and they need to change quickly and it must start on the defensive end. Offense isn’t a problem. Some were concerned the Suns’ scoring would take a big hit with the loss of Jason Richardson, but others have picked up the slack. What is so concerning is how much worse the defense has become.
I realize the team needs time to build chemistry with the new guys on board, but lack of chemistry is no excuse for lack of effort. Allowing 123 points to a Philadelphia team playing without its centerpiece, Andre Igoudala, just can’t happen. (Hell, it can’t happen with Iggy).
Despite the Suns’ defense being absolute garbage (and that’s putting it nicely), the Suns are fortunately still right in the thick of things in the playoff hunt. With 50 games to go, the Suns are a mere two-and-a-half games back of eighth-seeded Portland. There’s plenty of time to turn things around.
Gortat said what needed to be said. He was brought here to help on the defensive end, and he’s quickly making it known that he’s not happy with things thus far. Hopefully, this will be the boost the Suns need. When a player, especially a new guy, rips his teammates, it can go one of two ways: the players respond positively, or they block him out and keep him on the outside.
I can’t imagine these Suns players responding negatively. The Suns get their first crack and righting the ship tonight against the Pistons. If all goes well, the Hammer won’t have to come down again.
Start the New Year right with a resolution to see more shows. Here are a few to get your blood flowing in 2011.
For the folks that want some homegrown Phoenix music, the RJM & Friends Fest at the Paisley Violin on Sunday, January 16 is the place to be. The show is only $8 and believe me, you can sacrifice not eating out for one day to save up for the ticket.
Courtney Marie Andrews, Michelle Blades, What Laura Says, The Whisperlights and other River Jones Music Label bands are playing at one of the best spots to see an acoustic show. The show goes all day, with 12 bands taking the stage.
The Paisley Violin is located at 1030 Grand Avenue.
Head bangers, we have your cure, too.
Ozzy Osbourne and Slash are coming to the Comerica Theatre on Wednesday, January 26. Just please don’t tear out the seats while “Crazy Train” plays.
The Comerica Theatre is located at 400 W. Washington St. (light rail at Central/Washington or 1st Ave./Jefferson)
Need a new record to listen to?
Phoenix band Small Leaks Sink Ships‘ Oak Street Basement CD Release show is at the Rhythm Room on Thursday, January 27. This experimental band is putting out its second record and it has been a long time coming. They’ve been named a band to watch by several publications.
Everyone in attendance receives a copy of their new CD with a one-of-a-kind sleeve. Take the opportunity to see Small Leaks in their own home state before they blow up. You won’t regret it.
The Rhythm Room is located at 1019 E. Indian School Rd. in Midtown.
LA-based No Age was set to perform at the Rhythm Room in December but decided to delay the show until Sunday, January 30, with a new home at the Trunk Space. The show is only $10, the stage is closer, and at a venue that’s full of surprises. It’s a win-win.
The Trunk Space is located at 1506 Grand Ave.
So, break open that plastic wrap on your new calendars because January is booked solid with great shows.
Previous week’s games
12/17/2010 Mavericks 106, SUNS 91
12/19/2010 SUNS 113, Thunder 110
12/20/2010 Spurs 118, SUNS 110
12/23/2010 Heat 95, SUNS 83
Upcoming week’s games
12/26/2010 SUNS @ Clippers, 1 p.m., My45
12/29/2010 SUNS vs 76ers, 7 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona
It’s been just about a week since the Phoenix Suns pulled off the blockbuster trade that sent Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Earl Clark to the Orlando Magic in exchange for Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus, $3 million in cash and a first-round draft pick.
Last night, when the Suns squared off against the Miami Heat at US Airways Center, two of those pieces, Gortat and Pietrus (Carter missed the game with a sore knee), made their Phoenix debut. The results weren’t so great.
The Suns struggled mightily offensively despite getting many open looks. It just wasn’t the Suns’ night. If you weren’t Jared Dudley, you couldn’t buy a basket. Pietrus and Gortat failed to have much of an impact, but they each showed flashes as to why the Suns picked them up.
Gortat was the main piece of the trade for the Suns. His addition to the Phoenix roster gives the Suns two legitimate centers for the first time I can remember in my lifetime. It’s quite the luxury to be able to have either Robin Lopez or Gortat on the floor at all times.
In last night’s game against the Heat, the Polish Hammer only pulled down four rebounds, however, he seemed to really get in there and fight for every missed shot. On the offensive side of the ball, Gortat only scored four points, but I actually felt like he showed he has more of an offensive game than advertised.
While Gortat’s first game as a Sun was mediocre at best, and even that’s a stretch, there were two things in particular that I really liked. The first was his mobility. He’s actually much faster and agile than I realized. He seemed to get up the court quickly, which will make it easy for him to fit in with the Suns’ style of play. The best thing that caught my eye from Gortat is what happens when he scores. Anytime he scores a basket, the US Airways Center’s PA plays “Hammer Time.” You can’t beat that.
Pietrus’ debut wasn’t much better. He struggled with his shot, missing all four of his three-point attempts. On the plus side, Pietrus kept active on the offensive end, which allowed him to get wide open for those three-point shots. They didn’t fall last night, but he’ll hit those shots. He’s coming back from an injury that has had him out since mid-December and he’s trying to mesh with a new team, so we knew rust would be there.
Defensively is where Pietrus will really make an impact. Even in the relatively brief 13 minutes he played last night, you can see how much of a pest he is on defense. He stays right up in the face of the offensive player and allows him no room to operate.
While last night’s game may not have been the best indication of it, this trade will benefit the Suns greatly. The defense will be much improved and the offense won’t miss a beat (you can disregard the 83 points Phoenix scored last night — that won’t be the norm).
The next four games for Phoenix are very winnable and we should see the debut of Carter. I anticipate these games will give the Suns the chance to work in the new guys and get in a rhythm. Then the push for the playoffs begins.
The Phoenix Mercury has announced the team schedule for its 15th season, set to tip off in Seattle on June 4, 2011.
Their first appearance at home at US Airways Center will be on Friday, June 17. Tickets are on sale now, with lower-bowl seats starting at just $10. Visit phoenixmercury.com for full details
2011 Mercury home games (all games at US Airways Center)
Friday, June 17: San Antonio Silver Stars, 7 p.m.
Sunday, June 19: Indiana Fever, 3 p.m.
Friday, July 1: Chicago Sky, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, July 5: Los Angeles Sparks, 6 p.m.
Sunday, July 10: Tulsa Shock, 3 p.m.
Friday, July 15: Washington Mystics, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, July 20: Minnesota Lynx, 12:30 p.m.
Tuesday, July 26: Seattle Storm, 7 pm.
Sunday, August 7: Connecticut Sun, 3 p.m.
Tuesday, August 9: Minnesota Lynx, 7 p.m.
Thursday, August 11: Atlanta Dream, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, August 16: Seattle Storm, 7 p.m.
Saturday, August 20: San Antonio Silver Stars, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, August 23: New York Liberty, 7 p.m.
Saturday, September 3: Los Angeles Sparks, 7 p.m.
Thursday, September 8: Tulsa Shock, 7 p.m.
Sunday, September 11: Minnesota Lynx, 3 p.m.
Previous week’s games
12/10/2010 Trail Blazers 101, SUNS 94
12/15/2010 SUNS 128, Timberwolves 122
Upcoming week’s games
12/17/2010 SUNS @ Mavericks, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
12/19/2010 SUNS @ Thunder, 5 p.m., My45
12/20/2010 SUNS @ Spurs, 6:30 p.m., My45
12/23/2010 SUNS vs Heat, 8:30 p.m., TNT
Twenty-four games into this current NBA season and the Phoenix Suns have certainly been up and down. They currently stand in the 8th spot in the Western Conference with a record of 12-12 and are kicking off a tough three-game road trip tonight in Dallas against the streaking Mavericks.
As of December 15, players that were signed during the offseason are now eligible to be traded. The February trade deadline will get here quicker than people think. It’s soon going to be time for the Suns to decide if they’re happy with what they have this year and move forward as is or try and make a move. This is where things get tricky.
Right now, it’s pretty hard to gauge what the Suns have and what they need. Yes, we know more size, better rebounding and better defense would definitely be ideal. With that said, we are just now seeing our first glimpse of how good this current squad can be with a healthy Robin Lopez in the middle.
The results from Wednesday’s game against Minnesota are encouraging. Lopez had 12 points and eight rebounds in just more than 20 minutes. His defense looked pretty solid, and his sized made it much easier for guys like Channing Frye to grab more boards than normal. So much easier, in fact, that the Suns actually out-rebounded the Timberwolves, who are tops in the league in rebounding.
Even if Lopez does continue to improve or even exceed expectations for this season, an extra big body would still be a very nice addition. So, if Lance Blanks and Lon Babby decide making a move is in the best interest of the team, the next step would be to figure out what type of move to make.
Many are already saying it’s time to blow things up, trade Steve Nash and start all over from square one. I’m not one of these people. It’s far too early for a bold move of that nature. In fact, I don’t expect that moment to come at all this season.
The bigger question for me is how soon should the Suns make a move. Do they try and make a small trade now by packaging Earl Clark and possibly a draft pick or someone like Josh Childress for a player of Sacramento Kings forward Jason Thompson’s caliber (I’m not saying the Suns could get Thompson because I’m unsure that the Kings would move him to a division foe) or do they hold off until February to see if something better becomes available?
In February, teams become a little more willing to pull the trigger. Especially teams that think they’re just one veteran away from making a run. Maybe this February some team out there will get desperate and feel like Hedo Turkoglu is that veteran. At this point, it’s still too early to tell.
Odds are the Suns will make a move at some point this season, however, it’s highly unlikely that it’ll be a huge trade, since there really isn’t anyone out there that will want Hedo. Jason Richardson could possibly net some talent, but currently he’s too valuable to the team. My hope is Blanks and Babby are able to work some magic and make a small move that has a huge impact.