Suns guard Shannon Brown comes up big again in fourth quarter in win over Cavs.
By RANDY HILLFS Arizona
PHOENIX – If a recent trend survives, the
Phoenix Suns' seasonal battle chant may require a palette revision.
While not advocating the complete dismissal of the "All For Orange" marketing pitch, we do feel a need to mix in an "All For Brown" now and then.
The Brown currently inspiring this potential amendment is Suns guard Shannon, who – for the second game in succession – helped rescue a struggling offense during a late-game salvo.
In Friday's 107-105 triumph over the Cleveland Cavaliers at US Airways Center, Brown knocked in 12 points in the final quarter to finish with 22 and save a potentially crummy night. Joined by point guards Goran Dragic and Sebastian Telfair, Brown helped the Suns come all the way back from a 26-point, second-quarter abyss to even their record at 3-3.
Back on Wednesday in Charlotte, Brown's 6-for-6, fourth-quarter blitz from 3-point range hauled Phoenix to a victory over the Bobcats. He ended the Carolina shift with 26 points, suggesting that – for now, at least – the Suns' committee on game closing may be a bit smaller.
Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry doesn't seem to care where the production comes from, as long as it arrives in time.
"At the end of last year, I thought he played as well as anyone on our team," Gentry said in an effort to remind us that Brown has had his moments.
That's probably true. As a starting-lineup replacement for injured Grant Hill, Brown – a former Los Angeles Lakers stunt double for Kobe Bryant – averaged 18 points per game during a season-closing run.
Unfortunately for Brown, this uprising did little to provoke great interest around the league (including Phoenix) in his free-agent status. The Suns were courting bigger shooting-guard fish, with Eric Gordon penciled in as Plan A.
Based on the number of names associated with the Suns, Brown could be considered something close to Plan E. Hey, we're not here to pretend the Suns came out ahead in this two-guard shopping spree, but it could have been worse.
So Brown's self-confidence and this current opportunity are conspiring to keep him on the floor when games are on the line.
"I think you have to give him some leeway," Gentry said integrating Brown into the offensive flow, "because he can create things."
Creativity certainly comes in handy when – even with Dragic screeching through the lane – the Suns are having difficulty generating offense.
"We just have to do that in the first half," Brown, who has bagged 15 of 25 shots from the field in the first two back-to-back 20-point games of his career, said. "We definitely can't dig ourselves holes like this because we are definitely not going to be able to get out of all of them.
Yep, starting games with more conviction would be nice.
Before Friday's win, Dragic -- who made 9 of 16 shots and finished with a game-high 26 points – said the Suns' adaptation to the Corner-series offense was starting to show.
"It's not just the reads," he said in reference to understanding what the defense is giving and reacting accordingly. "The ball is moving a lot better now."
Translation: more players have started trusting the offensive system to produce scoring opportunities after the ball is passed around a little bit.
Any lessons learned while dropping 117 points on the Bobcats seemed to be lost during the opening stretches of the game with Cleveland. But after getting down 42-16 with 10:47 left in the second quarter, scrappy contributions from Telfair, Dragic and defensive end P.J. Tucker fueled a slow, steady comeback.
"We just got a bunch of guys that don't want to lose," Brown said.
It helps that the length of an NBA game provides plenty of time for redemption.
"In this league you really have to play all 48 minutes," Gentry said. "I mean, we've been there where we're up 14 then all of a sudden we're down 16. My whole thing was don't have long faces. Everyone has to lift each other up and truly believe that we can do this."
With a Saturday night date with the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City, Brown may be required to offer even more uplifting muscle off the bench.