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Sunday NBA grades: Phoenix Suns refuse to set, fade into night

Apr 7, 2014, 1:59 AM EDT

Thunder Suns Basketball AP

Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while figuring out why your iPhone battery keeps dying

source:  Phoenix Suns. This team just refuses to go away — looking like their season could be dead they have beaten the Trail Blazers and Thunder, the latter of those on Sunday and it put them in the eight seed one game up on nine-seed Memphis. Phoenix now controls its own destiny — win out and they make the playoffs. The Suns did it taking advantage of some lax defense from the Thunder — the Suns shot 58.4 percent (true shooting percentage of 67.3) and had an offensive rating of 124.9. Goran Dragic had 26 points, Gerald Green 24 and P.J. Tucker finished with 22. It doesn’t get easier for the Suns, they have four of five on the road, but if you watched this team beat the Thunder you can’t doubt them.

source:   LeBron James, Miami Heat. After a sloppy early morning start LeBron’s coffee kicked in and he was a force — 38 points on 22 shots, plus 6 assists and 5 rebounds. He had 12 of those points in the fourth quarter when he went NBA 2K14, hitting ridiculous shots and doing what he wanted no matter how the Knicks defended him. LeBron scored 30+ points in all four games against the Knicks this season, the last guy to do it was some dude named Jordan. LeBron has looked a little tired in some recent games and the idea he would play every game the rest of the way made people double-take (and he should still get a game or two off), but he didn’t look like he needed any rest Sunday.

source:   Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder. It was in a losing effort, but Kevin Durant did all he could to get the Suns a win — 38 points, extending his +25 streak to 41 games. That passes Jordan (Oscar Robertson did 46, he’s next on the list). Durant dropped 13 of his points in the fourth quarter as he led a team trying to pick up a hard-fought road win. It wasn’t enough. Durant’s flaws was the 4-of-15 shooting from three — he was getting good looks, and he can shoot the three, but this became too many.

source:   Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs. San Antonio needs Leonard to play like this in the postseason — 26 points (tying his career high) on a very efficient 12-of-13 shooting. He also played the most minutes of any Spur (as he will in the playoffs), 29:45. No Spur broke 30 minutes. Part of that is Popovich, part of that is the Spurs have the Grizzlies’ number (it’s a bad playoff matchup this time for Memphis). By the way, Manu Ginobili also had 26 points as his Sixth Man of the Year campaign continues.

source:   J.R. Smith, New York Knicks. He tried. The Knicks desperately needed a win to keep their playoff dreams alive and Carmelo Anthony was playing with a bad right shoulder, so Smith did what he could — 10-of-22 from three. That’s an NBA record for three point attempts by a player in a game, and a Knicks record for makes. Smith has 24 made threes combined in his last three games, also an NBA record. It wasn’t enough against the Heat and it looks like the Knicks will be home for the playoffs, but you can’t blame J.R. Smith for this loss.

  1. tuberippin - Apr 7, 2014 at 7:08 AM

    “Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder. It was in a losing effort, but Kevin Durant did all he could to get the Suns a win — ”

    So are there two Kevin Durants, or is one Durant a clone of the other?

  2. nate21prince - Apr 7, 2014 at 7:24 AM

    Another obvious and unbelievable mistake courtesy of NBC Sports Talk. Does anybody even re-read or edit articles before they go live? smh

  3. phillyfan11 - Apr 7, 2014 at 8:48 AM

    It’s called proofreading. Try it some time.

  4. ProBasketballPundit - Apr 7, 2014 at 10:39 AM

    I want the Suns in the playoffs so badly. They’re already a great story, but wouldn’t it become an incredible story if they upset the Spurs or Thunder?

    • 00maltliquor - Apr 7, 2014 at 12:32 PM

      Me too! I’ve been rooting for them hard lately. I had them at the bottom of the Western Conference when I did my own power rankings before the season started and they b-slapped me for doing so.

      I really hope Dirk and the Mavs don’t take that 8 (who really wants to watch them anyways?). The Suns have put in too much work, it’s time they step aside and let the Suns shine.

      • ProBasketballPundit - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:53 PM

        If anybody had Phoenix finishing above 13th in the conference this season they should have had their head checked. Even still, I look at that roster and I can’t believe they keep winning. If Miles Plumlee & Gerald Green were any good you’d think Indiana wouldn’t have been in such a rush to discard them. I’ve always loved Goran Dragic and Bledsoe but I didn’t figure them to be productive starters on a good team. Hornacek must be getting the best out of his guys. And really, I don’t even need to see an upset to be happy about Phoenix; if they could just nab the 8 seed and push the Spurs to six or seven really tough games…

      • 00maltliquor - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:59 PM

        For the record, I hated that Indy traded Plumlee and Green for Scola. I thought it was a bad move when it went down.

      • bigmeechy74 - Apr 7, 2014 at 9:17 PM

        Agree totally. The suns are fun and exciting while the mavs are a cure for insomnia. They are the most boring team in the NBA

    • spursareold - Apr 7, 2014 at 12:46 PM

      Suns aren’t beating either of the top 2 WC seeds in the playoffs. That’s why they have 7 game series. It ensures that 99% of the time, the cream rises to the top.

      • ProBasketballPundit - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:48 PM

        They definitely won’t beat the Spurs. I’m not taking anybody over the Spurs ever again as long as Parker, Ginobili, Duncan & Popovich are together.

  5. spyder9669 - Apr 7, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    Actually Phoenix can easily beat any team in the west in a series. They’ve had 9 or 10 different guys go for 20 pts or more in a game this year. Beat OKC twice in a row. Portland 3 times. Clippers twice. Pacers twice. Tenth best record in the entire league. If they get in they are a serious problem for everybody.

    • 00maltliquor - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:17 PM

      Well said. And you are right, they are a problem for anybody.

  6. peddealer - Apr 8, 2014 at 8:42 PM

    Malt liquor, you and I see eye to eye on Jody High Roller, and as a Mavs fan I must say, I wanted them to tank for the draft….

    Here’s to hoping we somehow, some way, get a real 5 and a real PG back in D Town…

    Missing Chandler and Kidd like whoa?

    Dalembert and Calderon? YUCK

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