December 10, 2007
As the season moves along, there are going to be a whole host of things that rational thinking (and easy answer, mainstream media) can't account for. That's why you need someone watching the games -- whilst you ply your trade at your local, or while the missus demands something a bit more interesting than Detroit-San Antonio on the tube -- to tell it to you straight.
* The Suns want you to think that it had to do with the fact that Phoenix was finishing up a five-game road trip. They want to remind you that the team had played halfway across the Continental 48 (in DC) the night before, and that their legs were lagging. And they'd be right.
* The Timberwolves want you to think that their young roster worked its tail off to contest shots on the perimeter (Sebastian Telfair, especially), work through screens and make a point to dominate the glass on both ends. And they'd be right.
* Phoenix had beaten the first four squads on this particular road trip by an average of nearly 11 points per game, and Mike D'Antoni's outfit was shot. The late-game jumpers fell flat, nearly to a man; though we should point out that the Suns relied nearly exclusively on perimeter bombs to try and turn the tide late against the Timberwolves. In a close win over the Pacers just a few days before, the team tried to work the ball inside to Amare Stoudemire for high percentage looks - regardless of whether or not he actually took said looks.
* Minnesota dominated the boards, on both ends. Every Phoenix miss ended up in Minnesota's hands, while the Timberwolves had all the chances they needed to try and re-try to put a high-percentage look up against the thinned-out Suns attack. Minnesota out-rebounded the Suns 55-33, with the Timberwolves frontcourt out-rebounding their Phoenix counter parts 39-15.
* The Suns didn't really have an issue stopping anyone beyond Marko Jaric (and that was only for stretches) and Al Jefferson. It was the extra points thrown in by Jefferson (six offensive rebounds) and Craig Smith (five offensive caroms, 7 of 11 shooting) that created a gulf even the Suns couldn't overcome. Chris Richard helped too, but you've probably never heard of him, so I'm just going to use this line as an excuse to throw in a link to a Crusaders song.
* Phoenix whined a lot. Way too much. It was embarrassing, and Steve Nash led the charge. It's hard to tell if Phoenix lost out on some calls down the stretch because of the way they bitched and moaned throughout the game's first three and a half quarters, but it couldn't have helped.