But I have. I had no choice after watching the game tonight. The worst thing I can say about the Suns after tonight's game? Steve Nash has a mullet. Not the type you see at the rodeo or anything, but a mullet, nonetheless.
OK, that is not enough to make feel even remotely good about tonight, especially since I have not heard anything more about Felton. He left the game with a knee injury, and was helped off the court while not putting any weight on it. Not good, not good at all. That seems like a good segue into the points of focus following the game.
1. Choosing the Queen City Hoops Greatest Lineup Ever was easy tonight. Only 2 lineups that played significant minutes had positive adjusted +/-…but this one had a margin of nearly a point: Jared Dudley, Jeff McInnis, Jermareo Davidson, Matt Carroll, and Walter Herrmann at 1.57 on offense to 0.67 on defense. This group singlehandedly (10 handedly?) kept the game from getting too out of hand, and they did it through hot-shooting: 8 of 12 from the floor, while holding Phoenix to 4 of 10 shooting.
2. The offense has gotten progressively worse with each game. In the opener, against the Bucks, the team was 1.11 points per possession, and then against Miami, 1.03ppp. Tonight, it was all the way down to 0.87ppp. You may be thinking that is because Raymond left – it wasn't. The offense was better without him tonight actually, at 0.78 ppp with him on the court, and 0.98 without him. He shot poorly (4 of 11) and was not creating for his teammates tonight (only 3 assists). With that said, the whole team seemed to struggle with the swarming defense Phoenix was playing, with too many drives into traffic and forced jumpers.
3. The offense continues to struggle with Jason Richardson on the court. For the season, the team scores at 0.95 ppp with J-Rich on the floor…and 1.15 with him off it. I know, I know, give it time, they are still meshing. It will be nice when they start to perform better than last year's offensively inept squad though.
4. Jared Dudley (and the other JD) showed some things. Jared showed off his vast array of floorbound scoring manuevers, and battled his way to double digit rebounds in only 20 minutes on the court. The team was at 1.05 ppp on offense with him tonight, and 1.20 ppp on d – I know that a fair amount of that was against the bench of Phoenix, but promising anyway. Jermareo finished the game only shooting 3 of 10, but he showed nice touch on a couple of turnaround jumpers and managed to grab his fair share of boards. All in all, the rookies more than held their own tonight (and probably earned some more playing time going forward). Almost forgot, but I was quite impressed by Jermareo's defense when he got switched onto Barbosa in the 2nd quarter: He stayed with Leandro step for step coming off a screen, and when Barbosa put up a shot on his drive, Jermareo promptly swatted it out of bounds…without fouling. Impressive footwork to keep up with the Brazilian Blur.
5. I think I wish Amare had played. Because Diaw caused trouble all night when he was on the floor. His quickness and size caused trouble for Emeka or anyone else guarding him, as he finished the night with 15 points and 11 assists. At least with Amare, Emeka can stay in the paint where he is comfortable. But Boris was comfortable starting his offense from anywhere inside the 3-point arc and the Bobcats big men did not respect his mid-range jumper, which he burned them with a couple of times. Overall, Phoenix scored at 1.24 ppp with him on the floor, but only 1.00 without him.
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