Suns' philosophy paying off at free-throw line - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Suns' philosophy paying off at free-throw line

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Posted: Sunday, November 9, 2008 8:05 pm | Updated: 11:13 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Steve Nash has been at the controls of the best two offenses in the NBA over the past decade in both Phoenix and Dallas. The points have come in twos and threes, stolen from the opposition with a combination of nimble feet and quick thinking.

So when the Suns scored nearly half their points from the free-throw line in Saturday's 104-96 win over the Bucks in Milwaukee, Nash felt like he'd stepped into "The Twilight Zone" as he watched the Suns march to the charity stripe 54 times.

"It's crazy. It's a big difference for us," Nash said. "We've never really lived at the line by any stretch of the imagination since I've been back, and to get to the line so often is definitely a big change. It's nice."

The Suns made 44 of the 54 free throws, the most in each category in nearly eight years (Feb. 21, 2001, at Orlando). But with both Shaquille O'Neal and Amaré Stoudemire inside and opposing defenses choosing to foul over giving up a layup or dunk, it probably won't take eight years for it to happen again.

Stoudemire lived at the line during Phoenix's 3-1 road trip to the East. He made all 15 attempts while ringing up 49 points against Indiana on Tuesday and got 18 more (making 16) in Friday's loss at Chicago before leading the parade against the Bucks (18-for-20).

"At this pace, Amaré is going to break all kinds of records," Phoenix coach Terry Porter said. "But it's tough for other teams. Bigs down (low) have to stay connected to Shaq, and when (Amaré) is catching that ball up in that elbow area ... that's a lot of ground to cover."

Stoudemire is the first player in the league to attempt 15 free throws in three straight games since Orlando's Dwight Howard in 2007. If he does it against the Grizzlies, he'll be the first to do it four straight times since Allen Iverson turned the trick for Philadelphia in 2001.

"I encourage them to keep fouling me, because I'm going to keep knocking them down," said Stoudemire, who would become the first player in Suns history to shoot at least 15 free throws in four straight games. "It just reminds me to keep attacking the basket. Points are points."

But there is a drawback.

The Suns are still trying to find their offensive rhythm, still trying to kick the tempo up a notch and combine their old "ball-finds-energy" side with their half-court game down low.

"That's free opportunities at the basket. It can stop (opposition) runs, and it can get us through some stretches where the offense is stale," Nash said. "But it chops up the game some. It takes away some of the things that we're good at."

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