HOUSTON — Marcus Camby pulled down 18 rebounds in the first half on Friday night and gave the Suns something to talk about during the intermission.
“It was a discussion,” said coach Alvin Gentry. “Very much a one-way discussion. I think the point was well-taken.”
On the receiving end of the “discussion” were Gentry’s big men, center Marcin Gortat and forward Channing Frye. It was suggested that perhaps someone could possibly do something to make collecting rebounds a little more difficult than plucking daisies on a spring day for Mr. Camby.
So the Suns played with more energy, more urgency, more desperation and Camby didn’t get a single rebound in the second half, while Phoenix got a 112-105 win.
“We just got yelled at,” said Gortat, who finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds. “We just came out harder. Let’s say the first half was just a warmup. There’s not a situation with the team. We’re all committed to winning games.
“Yes, let’s call it a discussion. But there were no issues, no problems at all. I already talked to him four times as soon as the game was over. If the guy grabs 18 rebounds in one half, then someone is not doing his job, someone has got to get yelled out. Unfortunately, it was me. Really, it was a funny situation, a story that you can put in a book.”
If the Suns continue their amazing stretch drive, it could eventually be a chapter in a real-life fairytale. Phoenix appeared dead in the water just over six weeks ago, sitting at 14-20. But now the Suns have reeled off 17 wins in 8 games and are sitting just one game behind Houston for the final playoff spot.
“It was hard not to think of this as a must-win game,” said Steve Nash.
It’s hard to not think of the stretch run of the schedule that way for the Suns. Starting tonight in San Antonio, Phoenix will play six of its last seven games against teams with records above .500, all of whom have something at stake in the West race.
A few days ago, the Rockets appeared to be in good position, but stumbled twice at home. Denver has been up and down. Utah lost on Friday night in New Orleans. The door could be open for the Suns.
With Grant Hill back in the lineup just two weeks after knee surgery, with Nash on top of his game and feeding Gortat, Jared Dudley stepping up and the long-suffering Michael Redd just happy to be able to play and contribute again, would you really bet against the surging Suns?
That’s worth another discussion.