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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Phoenix Rises in the West

The Phoenix Suns have the longest current winning streak in the NBA--six games--and have won eight of their last ten games to climb to second place in the Pacific Division. When Amare Stoudemire went under the knife for microfracture surgery many pundits assumed that Phoenix would plummet in the standings. ESPN's Tim Legler offered one of the more optimistic predictions, saying that he thought that Phoenix could hang around the .500 mark until Stoudemire came back. I discounted the doomsayers in my November 4 post, writing, "Even without the injured Amare Stoudemire, the Suns are a potent team...Phoenix is still one of the better teams in the league." Here is a link to that post:

http://20secondtimeout.blogspot.com/2005/11/will-shaqs-injury-tip-easts-balance-of.html

It should be noted that Phoenix has played eight of its last ten games at home and that two of the Suns' recent wins are against doormats Atlanta and Toronto--but with All-Stars Shawn Marion (19.3 ppg) and Steve Nash (18.3 ppg) setting the pace and four other Suns averaging double figures in points, the Suns are a dangerous opponent for any team. Phoenix averages a league leading 103.3 ppg and, more importantly, the Suns rank fourth in point differential (5.7 ppg), trailing only Detroit, San Antonio and Memphis. The Suns are holding opponents to .429 shooting from the field while making their shots at a .462 clip. That .033 differential is virtually identical to their performance last year (.032). The Suns are getting outrebounded, as expected, but even last year with Stoudemire the Suns were outrebounded by their opponents, albeit by a smaller margin. Look for the Suns to continue to do more than just tread water while Stoudemire rehabilitates his knee.

posted by David Friedman @ 2:34 AM

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