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The Suns’ BIG Problem…

There was a lot to like at the Staples Center for the Suns last night. First, they won the game. Second, they beat the champs to get their record over .500 for the first time this season. Third, there were all those three pointers, and fourth… they won the game. Still, I cannot help thinking that if I were the Phoenix coaching staff I wouldn’t be doing cartwheels this morning. Yes, the Suns won, but they won by five points on a night when they shot 55% from three point land. They aren’t always going to do that. They also won despite allowing Kobe Bryant to come a single board shy of a triple double, and despite giving up 20 offensive rebounds. TWENTY. They only grabbed 22 defensive rebounds. That means that half of the Lakers misses landed back in the hands of the Lakers. A team which shoots 49% is normally going to destroy you if you give it an extra shot every other time down the floor.

This is the Suns BIG problem (pun intended) this season. Robin Lopez was supposed to take a step forward in his third season; nobody expected him to become a dominant low post scorer, but they did expect that he would give the Suns a defensive post presence and 8-9 rebounds a night. Instead, last night he only played 6 minutes before spraining his knee, grabbing zero boards and picking up two fouls. On the season he’s playing 17.8 minutes, down two from last year, while grabbing a measly 4.3 boards.

Outside of Lopez, the Suns just don’t have an inside presence capable of keeping Gasol (17 rebounds, 9 offensive) and Odom (11, 4) off the boards. It was the same problem that the Suns had last year, when Amare Stoudemire was too passive on the glass to keep the Laker Bigs from creating second chance points in the playoffs. Jason Richardson and Grant Hill are great rebounders for their positions, which allows the Suns to compete against most teams, but they are guards, so there’s only so much they can do when the team runs into an opponent with capable bigs.

Last night showed that if the Suns’ shots are falling in record fashion that they can still beat anyone, unfortunately they aren’t going to knock down 22 threes every night, so while there was a lot to like in last nights win, it was also indicative of the fact that this season, the Suns are in BIG trouble (still pun intended).

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