Rolling out a few questions about the end of the Phoenix Suns' 17-game win streak on Monday
Ticketed for streaking
What made the Timberwolves the team that did the deed?
The Big Ticket, Kevin Garnett, (44 points, 11 boards) was unbelievable. The change in coaches also brings a change in philosophy -- you're seeing more Mark Madsen and Marko Jaric too. Randy Wittman didn't get a fair shake when he was in Cleveland, but he's been there and he's a good coach.
This was the second game of a back-to-back for the Suns, the road trip finale on a cold Minnesota night. Could you see this one coming?
The last game of a five-game roadie is always the toughest. This is the kind of place where a streak goes to die.
For the Suns, you could see there was a fatigue factor. They were hot early on, making 11 of their first 20 3-point attempts. Then they made 4 of 13 3-point shots in the fourth quarter. It caught up to them.
Is there a larger issue regarding weariness that the Suns should be wary of, given the fate of last year's most sizzling regular-season team?
I don't buy into the fatigue as much at that level. We're talking 100 games of basketball, including the postseason. Detroit played so well for so long, and then had their worst hoop come in the playoffs.
When we were talking to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich the other day, he stressed how his team had won it all with the top seed and a three seed, so the emphasis on getting the top seed might not be the most important thing. He says the important thing he wants is for his team be playing its best basketball starting at the end of April.
Is it possible we might see some of the Suns' worst basketball soon?
Don't be surprised if you see them lose some games now. Dallas lost three of five after its winning streak ended this year. When you're rolling along, you tend to kind of overlook things, because you're winning, after all. Not to mention they have San Antonio and Utah coming up.
The Suns' picture remains bright. Mike D'Antoni's style suits Nash's strengths. Or vice versa?
Both. Nash is the system. He knows when he needs to be aggressive, and when he needs to get each teammate involved -- he has a great sense of the game. He was phenomenal again Monday, but didn't finish as well. He had three points on 1-of-6 shooting and one assist in the fourth.
What's it like to play against him?
As a passer, you know he will get his teammates the ball and deliver it on target. He can throw quickly off the dribble with either hand. He's knows that when you hit a shooter, you've got to hit him in rhythm, not down at his ankles.
Inspired by him still?
Every time I watch him play, I wish I was 10 years younger. I'd go to the Suns and tell them I'd pay them to play.
Well, looks like you'll have to settle for his two-disc instructional video. He does have three "baller" wristbands (mottos: perseverance, dedication, hustle) on sale for five bucks. Interested?
Good luck trying to do what he does. It's like Jordan putting out a jumping video. I don't know if you can really put to use the knowledge of what to do while you're in the air for that third second.
Looks like you'll just be wanting the wristbands. Hey, how about the Wolves in the playoffs?
I think it's them and the Clippers fighting for the eighth spot. And either will serve as a sacrificial lamb for the Mavs or Suns.
Jon Barry, who retired last year after 14 years in the NBA, joins Bill Walton and Mike Tirico on the call for Friday's Nets-Magic game (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET)
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David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images
Wolves forward Kevin Garnett's deadly moves (18-for-29, 44 points) could not be contained by Suns big man Amare Stoudemire (10 points, four boards) during Monday's win by Minnesota.
Alex (Miami, FL): John, Are the Heat going to make a trade soon? I mean this team is not getting it done. Who is going to help this team out?
John Hollinger: Miami doesn't have the pieces to make any earth-shattering deals -- the Heat have nothing another team really wants unless they're willing to trade Wade, which of course they'll never ever do. So it comes down to small stuff -- trading a future pick for a backup PG, or maybe converting Dorell Wright into a wing defender -- that sort of stuff. I think Miami will be very active at the trade deadline; I'm just not sure what the Heat can do to change the landscape much.
Danny Ainge (Boston): If I get the No. 1 pick, should I take Greg Oden or Kevin Durant? Seems like Durant's game is better suited to complement Al Jefferson than Oden's.
John Hollinger: I agree with you there, but the correct move in this situation is to pick the better player and then make trades with the remaining talent. So if you think Oden is better, draft Oden, and trade either Perkins or Jefferson for another asset you'll end up better off than with Jefferson + Durant.
The Suns know they have room for improvement. They know Detroit was in their shoes a year ago (the toast of the league) and ended up disappointed and hurt in the end.
They know 65 wins means nothing if they aren't the lone team left standing after the giants out West get it on in the playoffs. They know that until they win it all, many will consider their high-octane game mere eye candy, a novelty act.
I was talking with one executive/doubter last week who told me to go back to the Bad Boys in '89 and take notice that only one team since them has won an NBA title without a serious commitment to defense. That team was last year's Heat, and they did at least have Shaq and Alonzo in the middle to discourage interlopers.
Kevin Garnett's 44 helps snap Suns' streak
AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac
Nets guard Vince Carter, left, is congratulated by his teammates after making the game-winning 34-foot, 3-point buzzer shot to beat the Jazz, 116-115.
Quote of the Day
-- Andrew Ayres
Lost in the shuffle of Orlando's eighth loss in nine games was a rare J.J. Redick sighting. The rookie from Duke had one of his longest outings of the year Monday, playing 17 minutes, including the final 16.
Redick's lack of game experience showed in the 93-83 loss Monday to Atlanta -- he finished with two points on 1-for-4 shooting. In this case, his troublesome adjustment to the NBA was made most apparent by what he didn't do -- come off screens firing.
Redick had two occasions where he caught the ball open at the 3-point line -- a shot he drained countless times in college. But tonight, he hesitated both times. The first resulted in a shot-clock violation, and the other in a tougher 3-point attempt off the dribble that missed.
"I had a couple here tonight I should have just shot," he admitted afterward.
That's been par for the course so far in a rookie season where he's rarely played, and not made the hoped-for impact with his long-range shooting game when the minutes have come.
"I don't think there's anything I can really pinpoint," Redick said of his tough sledding so far. "I just don't think I have the experience."
That inexperience explains why he didn't come up firing Monday night. Redick missed summer league due to a back injury and training camp with a foot problem, and has been behind the curve ever since. "I started a couple steps behind everybody and had to play catch up the whole year," said Redick. "But I feel good now and I've felt good for 4-6 weeks."
Of course, beyond that he has all the usual adjustments to make in going from college to the pros -- such as adjusting to NBA defensive rules and concepts, or switching from getting touches on every play in college to seeing the rock a few times a quarter in the pros.
As a result, Redick had played only twice in the Magic's past 10 games even though his back is better. Coach Brian Hill has opted to play veterans Grant Hill, Keith Bogans and Keyon Dooling for most of the season, and said prior to the game that Redick would have to earn his opportunity.
But with Orlando's offensive funk showing no sign of letting up, Hill turned to him in the second half. And he'd like to see him pull the trigger more when he gets open catches. "That's why he's out there, to shoot the ball," said Hill.
The silver lining for Redick is that he may soon get more opportunities. Wings Dooling and Trevor Ariza are hurt, and Hill admitted after the game that the skidding Magic "might have to shake things up a bit" offensively.
While some scouts are skeptical of Redick's ability to defend, rebound and otherwise make an impact, that's all predicated on his first displaying NBA-caliber shooting. So the first hurdle is getting his sweet stroke in working order. With added game experience, the hope is that he'll come off those screens firing the way he did in Durham a year ago. And if Hill is serious about a shake-up, we may soon have our answer.
-- John Hollinger in Atlanta
• The Nuggets fell to 12-12 at home. They're 10-8 on the road and hit the halfway point of their season Saturday with a better road record for the first time in franchise history.
• Dick Bavetta officiated his 2,200th consecutive game, the Jazz-Nets in Salt Lake City.
• Wolves coach Randy Wittman said injured G Rashad McCants is getting "pretty close" to coming back from microfracture knee surgery. Wittman wants to see McCants in a few more practices before he puts the second-year player in a game.
-- The Associated Press
January 30, 1994
January 30, 1996
-- ESPN Research