Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Who says that regular season basketball is worthless?
If you were one of the 18,422 in attendance tonight (and let’s be honest, many more will say they were), you got the pleasure of bearing witness to maybe the most vital Phoenix Suns victory in quite some time. Taking down the mighty Oklahoma City Thunder by the final score of 122-115, the Suns moved into sole possession of the Western Conference’s eighth seed, and are nipping on the heels of the Dallas Mavericks for the seven spot. Everything seemed to gel just perfectly on a night where it was ecstasy to be a Suns fan.
Staying true to their mantra all season long, a different player stepped up on this evening and took over. The all-out hustle plays of P.J. Tucker can easily go unnoticed by box score readers, but only those that take the time to watch can truly appreciate what Tucker brings to the table.
Finishing the night with a stat sheet-stuffing specialty, Tucker did it all: 22 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks in 40 minutes played. Not to mention, he displayed his sharpshooting abilities, knocking down four of his five attempts from behind the arc. Efforts may have been futile to guard Kevin Durant, but when dealing with skills of the Gods, mere mortals must stand in awe.
When trying to offset the obscene production of the opposition, it cannot be a one-man show. Had it not been for the outlandish offensive contribution off the bench from Gerald Green, or the typical excellence of Goran Dragic, this victory would not have been possible. Long gone are the days in Phoenix of a pick-and-roll reminiscent of Stockton and Malone; these are the days of being humble and displaying humility. (The words of Dionte Christmas via Twitter, not mine.)
For those that like this sort of thing, it wasn’t just the Morris’s physical features that were identical tonight—both went for exactly 10 points and four rebounds. With the Harrison brothers dominating the college game over in Kentucky, and with the Suns ample draft choices, reuniting more twins may not be such a far-fetched idea.
Even if you only watch Phoenix Suns basketball, chances are you’ve heard of this Durant fellow. He has some talent, a chance to be a major player someday. He went for a cool 38-point and 11-rebound effort, but struggled mightily from long range, going 4-for-15. His teammate, and partner in crime, Russell Westbrook, also couldn’t hit from deep. The crafty point guard only hit two of his nine, rendering the duo worthless outside of the lane. (A.k.a. the key to beating the Thunder)
On paper, this is just game 77 of 82. For nearly 77 reasons though, this game meant so much more. It was beating a potential first-round playoff matchup and letting them know you won’t be steamrolled over just based on their name value. It was playing in front of a packed house and reminding the loyal and devoted fans that even though every sportswriter in America picked you to finish in the lottery, you aren’t interested in this fad of tanking. Hell, it’s even reminding Carmelo Anthony that should he feel like coming out West, this is a nice place to play when the team is competitive.
Despite nearly giving the game away up in Sacramento, the Dallas Mavericks held on by the slimmest of margins to maintain their half-game lead on the Western Conference’s seventh seed. The Memphis Grizzlies drew the harsh card of having to play in San Antonio, where mediocre teams go to die.
Phoenix takes the court Wednesday down in the Big Easy as they clash with the Pelicans, who don’t have much to play for. Anthony Davis has been battling an assortment of injuries, so his status for the contest becomes paramount. Regardless of who is in the lineup for New Orleans, the Suns need to leave Louisiana with a victory.