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February 20, 2009

Stoudemire Out Eight Weeks

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 9:05 pm

That sound you just heard was hopes crashing in Phoenix. The Suns will lose All-Star forward Amar’e Stoudemire for approximately the next eight weeks after Stoudemire underwent surgery for a partially-detached retina. Obviously, the timing could have been better. Stoudemire suffered the injury days after Phoenix decided to keep him and make a run the rest of the way after replacing Terry Porter with Alvin Gentry on the sidelines.

Even taking into account the level of opposition (a squad decimated by injuries and Zach Randolph‘s misguided anger), the Suns putting up 140 points in back-to-back wins over the Clippers Tuesday and Wednesday had to be considered a sign they were ready to make some noise over the final two months. Stoudemire–who scored 42 points Wednesday in the game where he was poked in the eye and injured–was an enormous part of that. Without him for an extended period, I don’t see how Phoenix can make the playoffs.

If the Suns are going to stay competitive, it’s by going small. I’d like to see power forward manned by a combination of Matt Barnes, Jared Dudley and Grant Hill over the next two months. That opens up playing time for the perimeter trio of Steve NashLeandro BarbosaJason Richardson I suggested earlier this week ought to see more action under Gentry. Barbosa got the start Tuesday with Richardson suspended and scored 24 points; Wednesday, that group played 10 effective minutes together. During their Tuesday podcast, John Hollinger and Bill Simmons piggybacked off that idea and made the comparison to the 2006-07 Warriors, who had Richardson and Barnes. Nash fills the Baron Davis role and Barbosa plays Monta Ellis. Especially when Shaquille O’Neal is not in the game, that could be an effective up-tempo lineup for Phoenix. Alas, it would have been completed by Stoudemire’s ability to run the floor as the center. Sigh.

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