Suns play like it was last year By Jerry Brown, Tribune October 22, 2005 It was the kind of flashback to last season that brought back fond memories. For a coach and a team coming off a miserable effort Wednesday in Golden State, and for a fan base still trying to get their arms around the long-term loss of Amaré Stoudemire.
For one night, Stoudemire wasn't missed quite as much as the Suns scored in bunches, shored up their defense and collected 29 assists — 28 from their players and one from Seattle, who mailed in a downright miserable game in a 113-81 Phoenix rout at America West Arena Friday night. The Sonics shot 33 percent — they dipped under 30 during the fourth quarter — committed 22 turnovers and were in the game only briefly.
“When you are a little off, you can get beat pretty bad by a team like this,'' Seattle coach Bob Weiss said. “And we were more than a little off.''
But the Suns, now 3-2 in preseason after a second win over the Sonics, weren't going to be beaten anyway. Led by 29 points from Shawn Marion, the Suns never trailed and led by as many as 35 before Mike D‘Antoni cleared his bench of rookies and try-outs. By then, the only drama left was to see if Eddie House (11 points in 10 minutes), would miss a shot. After five straight buckets, he finally did.
“We were much more solid everywhere by far,'' said coach Mike D‘Antoni, who expressed his disappointment at the 108-96 loss to the Warriors to the team in no uncertain terms. “The players took (the loss) to heart and a lot people did a lot of things tonight. We just don't want to take any steps backward.''
Marion added four rebounds and four steals in 28 minutes and was in the flow of the offense right from the start, scoring 12 in the first quarter.
“This was by far the best preseason game
we played,'' Marion said. “I was trying to get the team going early ... and guys were finding me.''
The Suns missed their last two 3-pointers but still made 11 of 24 Friday (.458) and now are averaging 10 treys a night in preseason— the most in the NBA. Phoenix's 28 assists — eight from Boris Diaw, seven from Steve Nash — came on 44 baskets, a testament to the ball movement that was on display.
None of that was apparent in Oakland, when the Suns were embarrassed by the Warriors and were left eagerly anticipating a chance to atone.
“We had to find an offensive rhythm and get into the defense after going to Golden State and basically not even showing up,'' said forward James Jones, who had 11 of his 15 points in the second quarter and continued an impressive, consistent October.
“We wanted to bounce back, compete and get better as a team. This is one you feel good about.''
Veterans Jim Jackson
(10 points) and Brian Grant (eight points, four rebounds in 15 minutes) had their best performances of the preseason.
But the roller coaster will likely be a familiar setting for this team without Stoudemire to lean on and with so many new pieces to find places. The Suns have followed up losses with wins in preseason, something they'd love to continue until the big guy can return.
“If we play with the energy we played with tonight, we'll be good,'' said guard Steve Nash, who chipped in nine points and seven assists.