Previous week’s games
12/17/2010 Mavericks 106, SUNS 91
12/19/2010 SUNS 113, Thunder 110
12/20/2010 Spurs 118, SUNS 110
12/23/2010 Heat 95, SUNS 83
Upcoming week’s games
12/26/2010 SUNS @ Clippers, 1 p.m., My45
12/29/2010 SUNS vs 76ers, 7 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona
It’s been just about a week since the Phoenix Suns pulled off the blockbuster trade that sent Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Earl Clark to the Orlando Magic in exchange for Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus, $3 million in cash and a first-round draft pick.
Last night, when the Suns squared off against the Miami Heat at US Airways Center, two of those pieces, Gortat and Pietrus (Carter missed the game with a sore knee), made their Phoenix debut. The results weren’t so great.
The Suns struggled mightily offensively despite getting many open looks. It just wasn’t the Suns’ night. If you weren’t Jared Dudley, you couldn’t buy a basket. Pietrus and Gortat failed to have much of an impact, but they each showed flashes as to why the Suns picked them up.
Gortat was the main piece of the trade for the Suns. His addition to the Phoenix roster gives the Suns two legitimate centers for the first time I can remember in my lifetime. It’s quite the luxury to be able to have either Robin Lopez or Gortat on the floor at all times.
In last night’s game against the Heat, the Polish Hammer only pulled down four rebounds, however, he seemed to really get in there and fight for every missed shot. On the offensive side of the ball, Gortat only scored four points, but I actually felt like he showed he has more of an offensive game than advertised.
While Gortat’s first game as a Sun was mediocre at best, and even that’s a stretch, there were two things in particular that I really liked. The first was his mobility. He’s actually much faster and agile than I realized. He seemed to get up the court quickly, which will make it easy for him to fit in with the Suns’ style of play. The best thing that caught my eye from Gortat is what happens when he scores. Anytime he scores a basket, the US Airways Center’s PA plays “Hammer Time.” You can’t beat that.
Pietrus’ debut wasn’t much better. He struggled with his shot, missing all four of his three-point attempts. On the plus side, Pietrus kept active on the offensive end, which allowed him to get wide open for those three-point shots. They didn’t fall last night, but he’ll hit those shots. He’s coming back from an injury that has had him out since mid-December and he’s trying to mesh with a new team, so we knew rust would be there.
Defensively is where Pietrus will really make an impact. Even in the relatively brief 13 minutes he played last night, you can see how much of a pest he is on defense. He stays right up in the face of the offensive player and allows him no room to operate.
While last night’s game may not have been the best indication of it, this trade will benefit the Suns greatly. The defense will be much improved and the offense won’t miss a beat (you can disregard the 83 points Phoenix scored last night — that won’t be the norm).
The next four games for Phoenix are very winnable and we should see the debut of Carter. I anticipate these games will give the Suns the chance to work in the new guys and get in a rhythm. Then the push for the playoffs begins.