NBA Saturday: Scola Shines While Suns Set
Luis Scola A Lone Bright Spot In Frustrating Season for Suns
When an NBA team struggles, the easiest thing to do is cut ties with the head coach, which is exactly what the 13-28 Phoenix Suns just did when the going got tough this season. However, sometimes it’s just too easy to look at a guy like Alvin Gentry and say that what’s happening on that struggling team is all the coach’s fault. Sometimes, a roster just doesn’t have the players to make a winning season happen.
Like they say, there’s no circus without some animals.
But whoever receives the blame for this dismal start to the post-Nash era in Phoenix, forward Luis Scola probably isn’t among them. He’s been one of the lone bright spots for this team, putting up a respectable 13.1 points and 6.4 rebounds for the Suns, both which are second-best on his team. Despite his relative individual success, though, he’s having a hard time dealing with all the losing.
“We struggle trying to find ways to win games. We should have our share of wins, but for some reason we are not able to close the game or put up a good 48-minute performance. We always play good for two, three quarters and at some point…” Scola said, unable to finish his sentence. “I just can’t figure that out, and we’ve got to figure that out if we want to win games.”
With a team that has so many young players, though, that could continue to prove challenging. The Suns likely didn’t expect to even have the opportunity to bring in Scola this past offseason, but thanks to the amnesty provision, Houston was able to make him available. At the time, though, Scola wasn’t sure how his offseason would play out.
“I didn’t know for sure what they were thinking, but there was a lot of rumors,” Scola said. “The team usually makes a lot of moves, and we all knew that from day one. I had been there five years so I knew they were very active and at some point this could happen.
“From that point on it was all speculation from my side. I didn’t know what was in their mind, and I thought I was going to stay there for a long time. But I didn’t know for sure.”
Obviously, his days were numbered in Houston at that point, but Scola has appreciated the change in scenery, despite his new team’s struggles.
“I was ready for some closure, and when I knew that they were going to amnesty me I thought it was a good thing because I could finally focus on playing and get some closure and know for sure where I was going to play next season and just move on,” Scola said. “I wish I could have stayed in Houston because it was a good place, but now I am happy in Phoenix. It’s a nice city, great organization, great fans.”
So far this season, the trend has generally been that interim coaches have been very successful in the wake of a head coach firing. Even Bernie Bickerstaff was 4-1 in his short stint as the Lakers’ interim head coach, and there’s definitely a hope that something similar will happen in Phoenix. That would certainly make Scola happy, because all he asks in exchange for his patience and positive disposition is a few more victories.
This circus may not have a lot of animals just yet, but at least Scola himself is a beast. Some of the other guys on this team just need to join the menagerie.
Gerald Green Struggles While Pacers Soar
After getting off to a slow start this season, the Indiana Pacers have really picked up some serious steam and now sit atop the Eastern Conference’s Central Division.
Gerald Green, who had a great partial season in New Jersey last year, was supposed to come in and be a huge part of the Pacers’ success. However, his own struggles, especially on the offensive end, continue. Despite that, Green is happy with his new team and feels as though his contributions to one of the league’s top defenses is a big reason why Indiana is playing so well.
“Last year this team was one of the highest-ranking teams defensively, and this year we’re just trying to do the same thing, if not better,” Green said. “We’ve been consistent trying to hold guys under 70 points per game. We’re trying to play our roles and stop guys, because if you’re good in this league defensively, it’ll take you a long way.”
Green talked more about that top-tier defense, his own struggles and the successes he’s seen from so many of his teammates in the following exclusive interview with HOOPSWORLD TV:
Daequan Cook Better Off in Chicago
It hasn’t been an easy year for sharp-shooter Daequan Cook, as he now sits on the bench of his third team in the last twelve months. Last year, he was a bit player on an Oklahoma City Thunder team that played in the NBA Finals, but he was moved to Houston in the James Harden deal. When the Rockets cut him a few months later, Cook was left looking for a home, and he seems to have found one—at least temporarily—in the city of Chicago.
“It’s been a great experience so far,” Cook said about his brief time with the Bulls. “Guys are very welcoming, and I get along with guys very well. You can see they are really about the team and togetherness on the team. They make sure everybody is involved and in tune with everything going on.”
The difference between Chicago, a perennial playoff team laden with experienced players, and Houston, which features one of the youngest rosters in the league, is stark, according to Cook.
“No question, you can just tell the difference,” he said. “Nothing against Houston, but there are just mature guys in here, some veterans guys and guys who played in the league for so long where you can just tell the difference.”
And that, he said, is a big reason why the transition to his third team in a year has been relatively painless.
“It hasn’t been has hectic as people say it is; it’s just about getting yourself comfortable and in a good zone of where you are going to be,” Cook said. “You try to fit in as well as possible with your team, knowing how important it is for you and the team as well. I feel a lot better here, just being in this environment in Chicago.”
Still, Cook says it wouldn’t matter where he played, he’s still appreciate of his opportunity to remain an NBA player. It’s not something everybody gets a chance to do, and he’s constantly thankful that he’s among those that do.
“There’s a lot of guys that haven’t had the opportunity to (play in the NBA),” he said. “For me to have the experience is a good thing. I’m just looking forward to helping guys out as much as possible.”
So far, he hasn’t had much opportunity to help, but with yet another Bulls injury, this time Luol Deng, he may get an opportunity to see some more minutes. Even if he doesn’t, though, he’s still in the NBA, and that certainly counts for something.