The NBA: Rising Suns

Grant Hill and the Phoenix Suns aren't out of the playoff
race out West, but they're not exactly the favorites.

*The following post is from my current student, 15-year old Karl Francis Batungbacal of 2K (Ateneo de Manila High School). Needless to say, he’s rooting for Phoenix! This is the first ever guest post on Hoop Nut, and I’m delighted it’s from a student of mine! Awesome!

*All images are from the Associated Press.

"He knows how to play, he’s smart and like I said, he’s one of the best ever."
- Timberwolf Ricky Rubio on Steve Nash's performance in a loss against the Suns

Finally! The Phoeix Suns are back to their winning ways with a good victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Even though they're at a mere .438, the Suns are getting there. They defeated the Wolves with,104-95, despite Minnesota putting up a good fight by outscoring Phoenix, 51-46, heading into half time. 

The Suns are improving, yes, but will they be ready for what lies ahead?

Considering their tough schedule this March, it will be a long and hard fight to even get the 8th seed. Even if they do make the playoffs, they might have a hard time getting through the 1st and 2nd seeded teams.

Throw the season away? No.

They might be having a hard time with an aging Nash and Hill, but the bench has been a good help with the addition of rookie Markieff Morris and 3-point specialist Jared Dudley.

From my perspective, the Suns are going to struggle all compressed season long JUST to get to either the 7th or 8th seed.

After the JUMP, key stat-stuffers for today’s games:

OKC over ORL, 105-102
Kevin Durant netted 18 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter as the Thunder rallied from a double-digit deficit to down the Magic. Russell Westbrook added 29 points and 10 assists for Oklahoma City, who earned the franchise's first win in Orlando since March 13, 2004. The Thunder have now won a game in every NBA city. 

PHX over MIN, 104-95
Grant Hill scored a season-high 20 points and the Suns pulled away to beat the Timberwolves for the ninth straight time. Phoenix played its first game since February 22, but showed little rust while shooting better than 53 percent, including nearly 61 percent in the third quarter as they began to take control. Marcin Gortat added 17 points and Steve Nash had 13 points and 17 assists in the win, the Suns’ third in four games. 

LAC over SAC, 108-100
Chris Paul led six Clippers in double figures with 22 points to go along with 9 assists, as Los Angeles used a big second half to down Sacramento. Mo Williams donated 18 points with 5 assists, Blake Griffin added 14 points and 9 rebounds, and Caron Butler contributed 13 points for the Clippers, who have won two of three. DeMarcus Cousins’s 23 points and 10 rebounds led the Kings, who saw their brief two-game winning streak come to an end. 

MIA over POR, 107-93
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined to score 71 points as the Heat, despite not having Chris Bosh, cruised past the Blazers. James had 38 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists while Wade also filled the stat sheet with 33 points and 10 assists, leading the Heat to a season-best ninth straight win. Bosh missed the game due to a death in his family and will also be out for Friday's game in Utah.

Super Scorers (Top scorers of the night!)
LeBron James (MIA) & Kevin Durant (OKC) – 38
Dwight Howard (ORL) & Dwyane Wade (MIA) – 33
Russell Westbrook (OKC) – 29 

Kevin Durant is slowly closing on Kobe Bryant's lead
as the season's best scorer.
Ragin’ Rebounders (Top rebounders of the night!)
Udonis Haslem (MIA) – 14
Kendrick Perkins (OKC) & LeBron James (MIA) – 11 

Dynamic Dishers (Top playmakers of the night!)
Steve Nash (PHX) – 17
Dwyane Wade (MIA) & Russell Westbrook (OKC) – 10 

Steve Nash still leads the league in assists, even
if guys like Ricky Rubio have displayed more flash.

Terrific Thieves (Top thieves of the night!)
LeBron James (MIA) – 5
A LOT with 3 

Boomin’ Blockers (Top blockers of the night!)
A LOT with 3

Sharpshooters (Top 3-point shooters of the night!)
Kevin Durant (OKC) – 5
Mo Williams (LAC) – 4
A LOT with 3

March 1, 2012 First Five
C – Dwight Howard (ORL) – 33pts, 9rebs, 2asts, 2stls, 1blk
F – Kevin Durant (OKC) – 38pts, 8rebs, 5 treys, 3asts
F – LeBron James (MIA) – 38pts, 11rebs, 6asts, 5stls, 1blk
G – Dwyane Wade (MIA) – 33pts, 10asts, 3stls, 2rebs, 1blk
G – Russell Westbrook (OKC) – 29pts, 10asts, 2rebs, 1stl

Dwyane Wade and LeBron James played awesome against
the Portland Trailblazers.
Honorable Mention:
Steve Nash (PHX) – 13pts, 17asts, 8rebs, 1stl
Chris Paul (LAC) – 22pts, 9asts, 3stls, 2rebs
DeMarcus Cousins (SAC) – 23pts, 10rebs, 3blks, 1ast

Daily Zap:

*Game recaps were compiled and compressed from the Sports Network.

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