Suns on the Rise in Phoenix

No they do not have the best record in the NBA, the Dallas Mavericks can lay claim to that. But at 30- 8 (.789 PCT) and having won 26 of their last 28, the team from Phoenix is running like a finely tuned racecar. The team has 6 guys who are averaging 10 or more points per game, the club is averaging 111.4 points per game and field goals at 50% and 3-pointers at 40%!

Perhaps the best news for the Suns concerns the play of forward/center Amare Stoudemire, who suffered a season ending injury in the third game last year. Stoudemire is back and playing some of his best ball ever, shooting 60% from the floor, pulling down 9.1 rebounds per game and averaging 18.1 points each contest. In a recent game against Cleveland he had 5 blocked shots, grabbed 13 rebbies and hit for 17 points.

Stoudemire’s return has taken the pressure off of forward Shawn Marion. Although not as dominant as he was last season (he doesn’t have to be), Marion is playing fine ball, averaging 19.4 points per game, 9.5 rebounds per game and 2.14 steals per game. Against the Grizzlies this past week he had a double-double, scoring 22 points and swiping 13 rebounds. He also posted four steals and knocked in two three-pointers.

In the shooting guard position, Raja Bell has hit 41.4 PCT from downtown and averaged 15.1 points per game. Forward/center Boris Diaw recently came within one rebound of scoring a triple-double, hitting for 19 points, throwing around 11 assists and taking in 9 rebbies.

Point guard Leandro Barbosa is having a fine season, averaging 16.3 points a contest, while the primary man at point, Steve Nash, is having a typical great season. Nash, who had a double-double with 12 points and 15 assists in a recent game with the Grizzlies, is averaging 19.5 points per game and 11.3 assists per game. His 3-point conversion average is 49.5% and he’s hitting field goals at the rate of 52.6%!

In November the Suns were 1- 5. They looked like they might be the Western Conference’s version of this year’s Miami Heat. So what happened?

Stoudemire, who at first was playing a back-up role, was put in as a starter and took off. He is not fully back yet, but he’s looking good and gaining strength every game. Marion is accepting, so far, Stoudemire’s production and does not seem threatened by it. He could be, but as of now everything seems just fine. Nash is a true leader both on and off the court and is able to keep these guys together. If these guys are down 15 points early in the game chances are they will battle back and Nash is the ultimate battler.

So the Suns have won 11 in a row and look determined to go all the way this year. They’re playing with intensity and a chip on their shoulder. They lost to Dallas, the best team thus far in the Western Conference, in the Conference Finals last year after knocking off the Lakers and Clippers, both in seven games! It took Dallas six games to eliminate the Suns. This season these Suns may just rise to the top and become NBA champs.

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