(AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)
I thought it would have been interesting watching the Suns play without Hill and Nash (and Marion, actually) for a game or two to see the way they were capable of adapting to the new situation.
It was somewhat interesting, but most of all was just painful as Utah beat Phoenix 108-86 and held the Suns under 90 points for the first time this season.
Could it that be the way the Suns will look like three years from now? Scary, don’t you think?
The point is that this Suns team can’t play without Nash - it’s just the way they have been built - and generally speaking it’s very difficult to win in the NBA without three of your best players.
With 3/5 of the starting five out, Diaw, Barbosa and Banks started in place of Marion, Hill and Nash. Leandro scored 25 points (on a poor 7-of-18 shooting, inlcuding 3-10 from 3-point range) and Stoudemire had 21 points and 14 rebounds.
The limited roster gave D’Antoni a chance to give some minutes to Banks (38 minutes, 9 points, 3 assists), Marks (5 points, 6 rebounds in 14 minutes), Piatkowski (the usual 3-pointer in 18 minutes) and DJ Strawberry (8 points in 12 minutes). I like the energy DJ can bring on the court even if he entered the game late when the outcome was already decided anyway.
The Suns tried to play and to put some energy on the floor, but in the end, the shorthanded Suns, also missing Shawn Marion (bruised elbow), coming off an OT game the night before couldn’t really challenge the always solid Utah Jazz.
Turkish center Okur scored 22 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, inlcuding 5 on offense. Deron Williams, the second best point guard in the NBA, scored 17 points while dishing 11 assists many of them to his pick and roll pal Carlos Boozer (18 points).
Despite a (longer than expected) series of bad games, the Jazz are one of the elite teas in this League, not to mention last year’s Conference runner-up. Utah opened a double digit lead in the third quarted and held off any chance for a Suns comeback.
The Suns (25-11) will now have a chance to rest a little before facing the Bucks (15-20) at home on Saturday night (7 PM).
Both Nash and Marion could be able to play.
Yours truly, Steve Fan