Stoudemire Spends 4th Quarter on the Bench as Suns Beat Mavericks
And they did it by benching Stoudemire for the entire fourth quarter.
The Suns won this one with their defense, and went largely with bench players down the stretch, who, on this night, gave the team its best chance to win. That meant that Stoudemire, who led the team in scoring with 22 points while playing just 27 minutes, wasn't part of the plan.
Suns coach Alvin Gentry explained that on any given night, different guys are going to step up and help his team. And he made it very clear not to read anything into the fact that Stoudemire watched from the bench while his team battled its way to a win.
"There's nothing at all in that," Gentry said of choosing to sit Amar'e for the fourth quarter. "He's been a great teammate this year. He understood that we were going pretty good with [Lou Amundson], and the way the lineups were, we were switching a lot of things ... it's just the way it worked out.
"But at the end of the day the guy had 22 points for us, and he helped us win as much as anyone. I wouldn't read anything into that at all, really. Hey, I took [Steve Nash] out and put [Goran Dragic] in defensively. We talked about it the other day: we've just got to do whatever we think we need to do that will help us win the game."
In the locker room, Stoudemire didn't appear to be concerned with his lack of late-game minutes. He was all smiles, and genuinely seemed happy that his team got the victory.
"It's all good," Stoudemire said of his sitting out the fourth. "I brought out the pom poms for the last, for the fourth quarter. They did a great job out there on the court, so I just had to cheer them on."
And had Stoudemire ever sat out an entire fourth quarter before?
"Never," Stoudemire said. "That's the first time. But the guys did a great job and we got the win, which is most important. So we've just got to live with that."
While Stoudemire's elite offensive game is always appreciated, it wasn't needed late in this one. What the Suns did need was to find a way to get stops, and they did so with more defensive-minded energy guys off the bench -- like Lou Amundson, Jared Dudley, and Goran Dragic.
Amar'e may not have contributed in the fourth, but at least he had an excuse. The same can't be said for Dirk Nowitzki, who played seven minutes of the final period, but only got a single shot off and was held scoreless in the game's final frame. This was largely due to the solid defense that Grant Hill and Jared Dudley were able to provide, forcing Dirk out of his comfort zone for most of the night.
"It's a different challenge," Dudley said of trying to guard Nowitzki. "It's not like a LeBron, or a Wade, or a Kobe with the athleticism. He's someone that, his spots are so crucial where he catches it at. I thought [Grant Hill] did an excellent job frustrating him, never letting him get in a rhythm. And all I did was try to beat him to his spots, push him out, and then just stay down and try to put my hands up."
Dudley and Hill combined to shut down Dirk in the final period, and as a team, the Suns held Dallas to just 16 fourth-quarter points, on 28.6 percent shooting from the field.
It was a much-needed win for the Suns. Although the team has struggled recently, Phoenix now owns wins over three of the five 30-win teams in the league this season. Despite what the club was saying afterwards, the fact that they did so with Stoudemire on the bench for the final 12 minutes will undoubtedly raise some eyebrows. Especially as the trade talks continue, and the Suns attempt to get something close to fair value in return for their youngest and most talented asset.