Court Awareness: Sunday review

There are some games where the Phoenix Suns go through the motions and wither when their opponents begin put pressure on them.

Then there are games when the Suns face teams incapable of putting pressure on them, as was the case when they beat the Toronto Raptors 117-113 early Sunday afternoon.

Bleacher Report

Monday's action analysis



Besides Nash's 18 assists, the Suns got 25 points on the break and 56 points in the paint. Those are discipline stats and toughness stats that indicate that the Raptors didn't put up any resistance against Phoenix.

You could argue that Jermaine O'Neal was supposed to provide some of that discipline and toughness and it's not Toronto's fault that he's injured.

Yes it is. Toronto knew the risks when they traded for the brittle O'Neal in the offseason. They took a chance with O'Neal knowing he had missed 38, 31, 12, and 40 games the last four seasons. Did they expect him to expect him to suddenly transform into a rock-solid pillar of good health?

And why is it that Chris Bosh is referred to as a superstar, but he's always getting blown by off the dribble or muscled around in the post?

The Raptors are a mess, and the Suns offense obliterates defenses that don't have their act together.

Booming Wade quiets Thunder

If you ask any NBA team, they'll either tell you they want to make Dwyane Wade a scorer, or they want to make Dwyane Wade a passer.

Against Oklahoma City though, Wade was both, and Miami's offense ran smoothly even without an injured Shawn Marion.

In the first half, Wade was mostly left with single coverage by Oklahoma City's defense, which appeared to be content on letting Wade get his while slowing down everyone else. 21 first half points later for Wade, and Oklahoma City changed tactics, shadowing Wade with help defenders from the wing on every drive. All that did was allow Wade to drive a step and kick to Mario Chalmers and Daequan Cook for open three after open three.

The best NBA players are the players that overwhelm all but the best individual defenders, and still manage to make plays when defenses overload on them. In this case, Wade's scoring owned the first half, while his distributing dominated the second.

And all good teams need their role players to produce. Udonis Haslem turned in his usual blue-collar performance with 11 points, 15 rebounds, three assists, and innumerable correct rotations, solid screens, and crisp reverse passes.

Yakhouba Diawara filled in for Shawn Marion by going 4-6 from downtown. If Diawara can continue to shoot well, then Miami's bench will get a huge lift, with Daequan Cook already shooting well and James Jones returning from injury.

For the Thunder, the game was a loss, but they played hard which is all you can expect from them. And since the loss was sandwiched between two wins over potential playoff teams in Utah and Detroit, and two upcoming road games against bottom feeding Golden State and Los Angeles Clippers teams, the Thunder don't have to hang their heads.

At least with wins over the Warriors and Clippers, the Thunder can announce that they aren't the worst team in the NBA. And for a franchise struggling through such an unstable season, the small achievement will do wonders for the confidence of their young athletic trio of Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, and Russell Westbrook.

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: January 19, 2009