I always find it interesting to read what the opposition newspapers have to say after a game. The comment from Adelman was interesting. Whenever they lost Webber during the season, everyone was predicting doom and gloom, but they always played well until he returned.
Without Amare, Suns still just fine
After Phoenix wins, the Kings remark that the team should do well without the center.
FRESNO - Amare Stoudemire
stood outside the Los Angeles International Airport in mid-September, waiting for a limo and looking plenty healthy doing it. The Phoenix Suns superstar was in Southern California to film "The Wheel of Fortune" for NBA week and later would lose miserably.
Less than a month later, Stoudemire's luck had only worsened, as he underwent microfracture surgery on his right knee that will keep him out of action for at least four months. The Suns' standing in the Western Conference, as a result, seemed doomed.
But don't buy that vowel just yet.
In a 100-88 preseason win over the Kings at the Save Mart Center, the Suns showed why having a healthy MVP is still reason for respect. Point guard Steve Nash ran the familiar full-throttle operation, with little changing but the names since he orchestrated a 62-win campaign last season. This time, the ones finishing weren't Quentin Richardson
, Joe Johnson or Stoudemire, three scorers all departed. It was Raja Bell, James Jones and high-flying holdover Shawn Marion, with Nash finishing with 15 points and nine assists. The Suns - who face the Kings again Wednesday night in New Mexico - led by as many as 20 points.
"They're still the leading scoring team in the league," Kings coach Rick Adelman said. "They still have Nash, and Marion, and those type of people. It's not going to be as good without Stoudemire, because he's such a good finisher. But I still think they can be a very good team.
"People are underestimating the fact that, even though they lost a very good player, they still have talent. We were able to succeed without one of our better players a couple of times (in the past)."
With two preseason games left, Adelman unloaded his bench as he may not the rest of the way. Down the stretch, he'll likely turn his focus to the core rotation in preparation for the Nov. 1 regular season opener at New Orleans/Oklahoma City.
While the young ones didn't quite match the sizzle of the Suns, they showed some flair. Second-year shooting guard Kevin Martin started in place of a resting Bonzi Wells, logging 42 minutes and scoring 15 points on 7 of 14 shooting and nine rebounds. Adelman, however, said he wants more from Martin on the defensive end.
"I think he's right," Martin said. "I played good 'D' at times, but got a little lazy at times because I got tired. I've learned to fight through that."
Francisco García played the role of small forward for 36 minutes, but he hit just 4 of 14 shots and had no rebounds.
With backup point guard Jason Hart missing his second game with a hip pointer, point guards Ronnie Price and Luis Flores had long-awaited playing time to let their battle unfold.
With four games and a quarter under his belt, Price finally looked comfortable. A scoring point guard during college at Utah Valley State, the rookie hit 4 of 8 shots, including two three-pointers, for 12 points. Flores was 3 of 8 from the field in 14 minutes. He played well defensively on Nash and even stripped Marion in the first half when, seemingly alone, he was streaking on a first half fastbreak.
Rookie forward Eric Sandrin showed his athleticism in the fourth, soaring to slam a Martin miss.
The starter at the power forward spot continued to rotate, this time belonging to Kenny Thomas after he didn't play against Portland on Saturday night. Thomas shot 2 of 8 in 33 minutes, though he grabbed nine rebounds and had five assists.
And the Suns - with the help of 16 points from Marion and 15 from Bell - stood up just fine without Stoudemire.
"Steve Nash took control of that ship, they've got shooters who can hit from anywhere, and that's all they need," Wells said. "I think they'll be able to hold it down until Amare comes back. They're still a playoff team."