Daily Lies & Statistics: Like a Phoenix rising… from Arizona

A five-game slate in the NBA saw three close games and two blowouts, and intrigue in all five. Let’s start with the Suns, who improved to an NBA-best 7-1. Steve Nash delivered an eye-popping line with 21 points and 20 assists, and Phoenix has officially returned to the Suns we knew and love in fantasy. Let’s see: Shaquille O’Neal goes to Cleveland and now the Suns are better and the Cavs are worse… I’m not suggesting anything here. Just the facts, reader.

"Gimme that spatula! The Suns are back, baby!"

But wait. Shouldn’t Amar’e Stoudemire also be better without Shaq and his team clicking? Not so fast. Amar’e finished with just 17 points and six boards in 40 minutes and is averaging 19.0 and 8.5. Is it the eye? Is he a decoy now? Will he ever regain his dominating 25-10 form if the Suns continue to win playing like this? These are all questions that will make anyone who took Stoudemire in the first round squirm with discomfort (sorry, Greg).

Meanwhile, Jason Richardson is averaging 28.3 points and 5.3 three-pointers in his last three games since going scoreless against Orlando last week. Ride this wave, hop on this train, and any other cliched metaphors that fit.

Let’s shift over to the Golden State Warriors, who laid a 146-105 whoopin’ on Minnesota, meaning everything is fine in northern Cali now. Nacho fast with extra cheese: Yahoo’s Marc Spears is reporting that the Warriors players are now fed up with Stephen Jackson‘s act and want him traded as soon as possible. Jackson seems surprised. Me, I would love nothing more than for both Jackson and Don Nelson to be led out of the arena with sportcoats over their heads.

In New York, the Jazz avoided further embarrassment by not quite blowing another big lead and holding on to beat the Knicks, 95-93. Toney Douglas scored 21 off the bench for New York, giving the fantasy world pause and making us wonder if he can’t usurp the disappointing Chris Duhon. Games like this can’t hurt, but he filled the Nate Robinson role tonight, in essence. Robinson will return shortly from an ankle injury.

Many started Larry Hughes this week and were rewarded with four steals, two blocks and five assists in 41 minutes, but in typical Hughes fashion were made to endure a 3-of-12 shooting night. The minutes are the key though. He’ll be pretty good.

San Antonio beat Toronto without both Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, and by scoring 131 points at that. Manu Ginobili could probably get 36 every night if he really wanted to. Either that or he’s turning into Batman. There’s no doubt that George Hill (24 points, 5 dimes) is going to be good whenever Parker is out, but that might not be much longer.  Chris Bosh continues to tear it up with 32 points and 10 boards, plus 15 of 17 free throws. Of course for the split second I had this game on, Bosh bricked one after hitting his first 13. I need to get off the grid until April.

In the final game of the evening the Hornets surprised us by trouncing the Clippers, 112-84. Eric Gordon didn’t play, and Al Thornton was back in the starting lineup. This scenario was apparently like catnip for Devin Brown, who led all scorers with 25 points and hit five of eight 3s. I have no idea what to tell you about Brown, other than he’s probably solidified the starting shooting guard position in New Orleans. Chris Paul hit two more threes himself, so he’s finally getting it going from downtown. When is this bum going to start blocking shots?

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