0

Dwane Casey and Jeff Hornacek Named Coaches of the Month

Image by Nick Olejniczak via Flickr

The Toronto Raptors' Dwane Casey and the Phoenix Suns' Jeff Hornacek were named Eastern and Western Conference Coaches of the Month. They've had quite different seasons, but the starting point for the success of both is the same.

0

San Antonio Spurs–Utah Jazz: Spurs Give Jazz Rude Awakening in Game 1

Playoff basketball and regular season basketball are two entirely different beasts. That is a lesson the Utah Jazz had to learn the hard way in The Alamo State on Sunday. The San Antonio Spurs welcomed

0

Hornets Move to 11-1, Next Five Games Will Tell Us A Lot

New Orleans Hornets Chris Paul warms up before the Hornets NBA game with the San Antonio Spurs in New Orleans on March 29, 2009. (UPI Photo/A.J. Sisco) Photo via Newscom Photo via Newscom

(Source: Yardbarker.com)

The New Orleans Hornets have played 12 games this season. After an ugly 75-71 win in Sacramento this evening, they’ve won 11 of those games. However, it still doesn’t feel like Chris Paul and the Hornets are getting the respect they deserve. Maybe it’s because the Hornets aren’t filled with stars. But as they have shown thus far this season, having hard workers like David West and Emeka Okafor more than makes up for that lack of star power at multiple positions. Continue Reading

0

Dalembert Dealt to Sacramento

After a poor season for both teams, the Philadelphia 76ers and Sacramento Kings agreed on a swap that sends center Samuel Dalembert out west and Andres Nocioni and Spencer Hawes back East. From the AP report:

PHILADELPHIA – Samuel Dalembert got his wish.

The Philadelphia 76ers traded Dalembert to the Sacramento Kings on Thursday for Andres Nocioni and Spencer Hawes.

Dalembert asked for a trade last year because he was unhappy with his role. Now, he got it.

“We are excited to add two players in Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni who will help us immediately and provide us with additional frontcourt depth,” Sixers general manager Ed Stefanski said in a statement. “Spencer is a young seven-footer who will provide us with versatility at the center position, while Andres will provide us with a tough veteran presence.”

Dalembert was Philadelphia’s longest-tenured player, but he played for seven different coaches and never developed into a dominant force after being drafted in the first round in 2001. The 6-foot-11 center averaged 8.1 points and 8.3 rebounds in eight seasons with the Sixers and often was mentioned in trade rumors.

He joins a team that was 25-57 and had the second-worst record in the Western Conference.

The Kings acquire a solid defensive presence and a mammoth expiring contract all in one, and they deal Hawes probably to make room for a big man in the draft like DeMarcus Cousins or Greg Monroe.

The Sixers continue the rebuilding process and get rid of their disgruntled center.

0

Dalembert Dealt to Sacramento

After a poor season for both teams, the Philadelphia 76ers and Sacramento Kings agreed on a swap that sends center Samuel Dalembert out west and Andres Nocioni and Spencer Hawes back East. From the AP report:

PHILADELPHIA – Samuel Dalembert got his wish.

The Philadelphia 76ers traded Dalembert to the Sacramento Kings on Thursday for Andres Nocioni and Spencer Hawes.

Dalembert asked for a trade last year because he was unhappy with his role. Now, he got it.

“We are excited to add two players in Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni who will help us immediately and provide us with additional frontcourt depth,” Sixers general manager Ed Stefanski said in a statement. “Spencer is a young seven-footer who will provide us with versatility at the center position, while Andres will provide us with a tough veteran presence.”

Dalembert was Philadelphia’s longest-tenured player, but he played for seven different coaches and never developed into a dominant force after being drafted in the first round in 2001. The 6-foot-11 center averaged 8.1 points and 8.3 rebounds in eight seasons with the Sixers and often was mentioned in trade rumors.

He joins a team that was 25-57 and had the second-worst record in the Western Conference.

The Kings acquire a solid defensive presence and a mammoth expiring contract all in one, and they deal Hawes probably to make room for a big man in the draft like DeMarcus Cousins or Greg Monroe.

The Sixers continue the rebuilding process and get rid of their disgruntled center.

0

What’s next for Amar’e Stoudemire?

Phoenix Suns forward Amar’e Stoudemire announced today that he will, too, join the free-agent powwow with the other megastars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Joe Johnson.

After his team bowed out of the Western Conference playoffs despite a valiant effort against the Los Angeles Lakers, one has to wonder — what’s on the docket for STAT next season?

A few months ago, it was a foregone conclusion Stoudemire would depart Phoenix this summer. The last two seasons, his name was rumored wildly at the trade deadline, too. Thanks to the team’s overcoming a midseason lull and the aforementioned run through the postseason, no one’s so sure anymore.

That said, Stoudemire’s destination next season will largely depend on whether he can command a maximum salary from any given team. Will the Suns, clinging to the coattails of Steve Nash’s remarkable career, pony up and pay Amare the maximum? It remains a question.

Stoudemire will be an offensive force no matter where he plays. His explosiveness and athleticism paired with a solid shooting touch out to 18 feet make him a dynamic threat. Not withstanding his exceptional ability, there are questions about his character (his work ethic, in particular), his rebounding, his defense, and, most importantly …

The status of his knees. Stoudemire has played very good basketball in the wake of his microfracture knee surgery, a procedure that can be damning to the success of NBA players. Amar’e has dealt with it swimmingly so far, but as he gets older, it may become a much larger issue.

If Stoudemire decides to leave Phoenix, it would be a big blow to the long-term future of the franchise. While Nash plays through his final years, he’ll struggle to continue to lead a team without a true companion like Stoudemire — someone who pairs perfectly with the point guard in the pick-and-roll game. They’ll be confined to the lottery for years to come and will have to begin a lengthy rebuilding process.

On the contrary, the team that brings him on board will be in for quite a bonus. But if he wants to play on a true contender, that team will have to be solid on the defensive end already. The problems against the Lakers front court was evident, and unless Amar’e plays alongside a true defensive paint presence, it will be more of the same for that new team.

Assuming everything goes well for STAT in terms of his health and the condition of his knees, the future is bright for him. He still about eight or nine years left in his career, and for most of that, he will be an offensive dynamo. His decision this summer has a much larger impact on the Suns and any team he might join than it does on himself.

Maybe the other big stars have some advice for him.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
0

Suns win on the strength of fundamentals

The Phoenix Suns played picture-perfect basketball in Game 4.

The Phoenix Suns have made the Western Conference Finals a lot more interesting than most could have hoped for after the Los Angeles Lakers took a commanding 2-0 lead in the series.

Behind the support of its home crowd, Phoenix took Games 3 and 4 against the defending champions after looking weak, uninspired, and apathetic.

I’ve already written about coach Alvin Gentry’s timely decision to have his squad try a zone defense on the Lakers, but in Game 4 on Tuesday night, that defensive scheme wasn’t what won the game for the Suns.

No, it was a return to fundamentals, instead, that sparked the Suns to a series-squaring victory.

When you think about Phoenix Suns basketball, fundamentalism isn’t the first thing that comes to mind for most. They run, they shoot a lot of threes, they have no back-to-the-basket post scorer, and they tend to “relax” on defense. But Tuesday’s game was a good illustration of how an unconventional team like Phoenix can win by embracing the basics of basketball.

This approach to the game manifested itself if three primary ways: (1) a balanced scoring effort; (2) superb bench production; and (3) exceptional shooting discipline leading to streaks.

In the usual Suns game, the offensive production is funneled through Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire, as they effortlessly run the pick-and-roll play for easy points. Throw in the occasional outburst from Jason Richardson, Grant Hill, or Leandro Barbosa, and that’s the typical makeup.

On Tuesday night, though, that wasn’t the case. The team’s leading scorer was Stoudemire, but he put up a modest 21 points. Steve Nash contributed only 15. More importantly, though, the Suns had six scorers in double figures, and everyone who played in the game posted no fewer than 6 points.

Spreading the wealth with that kind of ball distribution allows the whole team to get in to a groove, preventing the Lakers from keying in on anyone in particular on defense. Usually, Phil Jackson can sit back and expect his team will defend Nash and Stoudemire while not having to worry about anyone else. In Game 4, everyone was hitting shots, so it spread the Lakers’ defense thin to the point that it couldn’t keep up.

In a similar vein, the Suns’ bench played brilliant basketball against the Lakers. Led by a gritty performance in relief of Nash by Goran “Enter the” Dragic (8 points, 8 dimes), the Suns drilled the Lakers with 54 bench points and were absolutely on fire from the perimeter. At one point in the game, Channing Frye, Leandro Barbosa, and Jared Dudley hit consecutive threes to ignite the crowd and knock LA back on its heels — it was a meaningful turning point for the game.

The solid play by the reserves allows Nash and Stoudemire to get their well-deserved and much-needed rest without a cause for concern. In the fourth quarter, Gentry even elected to stay with his second unit a few minutes longer than usual because it was playing so well. That’s a good sign for your team.

Lastly, the Suns used the power of momentum to their full advantage. I mentioned above that streak of back-to-back-to-back three-pointers; those weren’t lucky shots. Phoenix spread the floor very well, creating space for the shooters on the perimeter. Each one of those shots was sufficiently open.

But it takes rare confidence for Barbosa and Dudley to fire off those long-range bombs after Frye’s make. They sensed the opportunity to create some distance between the Lakers and themselves, and they took advantage. They knew they could hit the shots, and they had the power of the crowd behind them as further encouragement.

If the Phoenix Suns can continue to pair this fundamental execution with their effective zone defense, the Lakers have to be careful. Sure, the series is going back to the Staples Center, where the Lakers play much better than they do on the road. That won’t stop the stranglehold that the Suns’ zone has on their paint production, though. If the perimeter players can find their rhythm from the outside like they did in Game 4, the Lakers won’t stand a chance.

It’s the Phoenix offense at its best — with a twist of defensive prowess and fundamental execution.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]