THE SCOUTING REPORT
Ladies and gentlemen, HighTops:
While early in the season the Sun’s where able to compile 21-12 record, since Jan 1st their record has been a modest 12-11. And, their record at home has only been 6-5 after starting off the season with a blistering 13-2 home record. So, it is somewhat surprising that the Sun’s let the trade deadline pass, and choose not to participate.
Through 7 games this month they are scoring a season low 103.9 ppg on 48.3% from the field and 31.6% from 3pt range. Still it was good enough to defeat NOH, DEN, SAC, and MEM on the road and ATL at home. Their two losses came against POR at home and Dallas on the road.
Part of the problem has been with Steve Nash’s health, to the point that Nash was given Saturday's practice off to rest because of abdominal and back pain. In the last 5 games Nash has shot 38% from the field and 32% from 3pt range, which is far below his season averages of 51% and 42%. His PPG dropped from a seasonal average of 17.7 ppg to 11 ppg, while he was able to maintain his average of 11 assists per game. Amare continues to play like someone looking to earn a max contract at the end of the season. In February he’s averaging 24.6 pts and 11.3 rebs on 53.7% shooting and he’s upped his blocks to 1.3 per game. Brook Lopez is also been performing well, since he moved into the starting role 15 games ago. His numbers for Feb. are the highest of the season, 13.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg on 56% shooting up from the seasonal average of 7.8/4.3. He’s also getting to the FT line at a high rate (1 FT per 6 FGA’s) and he’s hitting his FT’s 77%. Jason Richardson has been consistent all season and continued that trend in February with 14.6 pts and 5.3 rebs on 47.7% shooting but only 25% from 3pt range. Grant Hill is Grant Hill, and while his numbers are down this month 10/2.7 he still knows how to score, he’s shooting 56% field and 37.5% from 3pt range.
Channing Frye’s number have dropped off since losing his starting job to Lopez, this month 8.7pts and 3.7 rebs on 40.7% shoot, and his blocks are down to .3 per game. Jared Dudley a 6-7 225 lb 2nd year Forward sees the most minutes off the bench 24.5 per game. He can be counted on to contribute 9.6 pts and 3.4 rebs on 46% shooting. Lou Amundson a 6-9 240 lb 3rd year Forward give the Suns a solid 4pts and 4.7 rebs in 14 mpg along with 1 blk per game. Goran Dragic a 6-3 190 lb Guard gets about 17 mpg backing up Nash. And, while his PPG 6.9 and APG 2.4 aren’t Nash like his 91.7% shooting from the FT line is.
Earl Clark has only seen action in 37 games and averages only about 8 mpg, mostly because of his 36% FG shooting and 1.2 rebounds per game, Jaron Collins has only seen action in 17 games, and Taylor Griffin (the other Griffin brother) has seen action in only 2 games this season.
This is the 4th and final meeting with the Suns this season, and the Sun have won all 3 previous games by an average of 8 pts per game. In our last meeting Feb. 5th in Sacramento Donte and Amare battled to a draw. Donte led all players with a career-high 31 points and Amare scored 30 for the Suns. It wasn’t the typical fast paced game you’d expect, as the two teams combined for 58 personal fouls (Phoenix 30, Sacramento 28) and 79 trips to the free throw line (Sacramento 40, Phoenix 39).
The big change since the last game is the addition of Carl Landry to the Kings frontcourt. While Landry was with the Rockets they played the Suns 2 times. On Nov. 17th, Carl scored 27 pts off the bench in 30 minute of play on 13-19 shooting with 9 rebounds. On Jan. 6th, Carl scored 31 pts on 14-23 shots with 10 rebounds, in 34 minutes again coming off the bench. Of course, the Kings aren’t in the same caliber as Houston, so it’s still to be determined if Landry can perform at the same level with his new team.
The downside of the trades that brought Carl to the Kings, is that we traded away 2 guards and received none in return, leaving us with only 2 true guards. Also, Tyreke is leading the team in minutes played at 37 mpg, in this his rookie season, and is definitely showing signs of fatigue. This and his slashing attack the rim offense, plus the fact that teams are preparing defenses to stop him, can’t be good for our overall offense through the remainder of the season.
PW continues to experiment with his line-ups. We saw Cisco and Landry start against the Clippers, and even saw Joey Dorsey in the 2nd quarter, and in fact, all 12 players saw some playing time against the Clips. So, I can’t hazard to guess whether PW starts Donte or Landry at PF, or Spencer or JT at center. Although the way the defense has performed in the 2nd quarters of the GSW & LAC games, the offense is probably the least of our worries.
The Kings last 4 road games were against opponents with an average winning percentage of .314 and the Kings who are at .327 came away with a 2-2 record. Against the other 5 teams they played this month who had a winning percentage of .500 or better, the Kings were 0-5. Phoenix has a percentage of .589, so the likely hood of a win is slim. Still, it will be interesting to see if Carl can match the success he had against the Suns while he was with Houston. And, if Nash is unable to play, this could be an opportunity to steal one, but either way the Sun / Kings games are always fun to watch.
THE KEY BATTLE
Amar'e Stoudemire vs. Carl Landry. As HighTops noted, Landry has owned the Suns this season. The dynamic is certainly different now, and Stoudemire typically manhandles the Kings (non-Brockman edition). But Landry is the best candidate since Webber to match Stoudemire point-for-point in the frontcourt.
5 PM PT start in the Valley of the Sun. Just one game thread (5), with a post-gamer at 7:45.