10-23-2009, 11:30 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Grant Hill: Amar'e making unbelievable strides
Sacramento power forward Jason Thompson, all 6 feet 11 inches and 250 pounds of him, was at the free-throw line at US Airways Center on Tuesday night when the Suns' Amaré Stoudemire loudly chimed in from the lane.
"I've got a mouse in the house at the other end," said Stoudemire, officially an inch shorter and a pound lighter. The classic line for a size mismatch in the post drew a dismissive "pffft" from Thompson, who later fouled out in 22 minutes of play.
"That lets your teammates know that you're totally in tune," Stoudemire said. "You're ready to go. It lets the opposing team know that we got a problem on our hands."
Stoudemire has been as confident in his comeback, often stating how he has improved since he started playing in voluntary pickup games about six weeks ago. A better indication of Stoudemire's return to form might come in that vocal swagger and other Suns' observations.
"Amaré was the best I've seen him, getting back to attacking the basket," forward Grant Hill said of Stoudemire's 27-point effort Tuesday. "Early on, he's sort of been finding his rhythm and shooting a lot of jump shots. But when he's attacking the rim and getting to the free throw-line and mixing and matching, doing both that and shooting his jumper, he's a load. He was STAT. . . . He's getting his comfort level so that's reassuring."
Stoudemire often went inside and scored 17 points from the free-throw line Tuesday night. In his highest scoring season (2004-05), he averaged 10 free-throw attempts. Of the 12 field goals Stoudemire did get off Tuesday, only four were jumpers.
"You can see he's making unbelievable strides," coach Alvin Gentry said before the team left Wednesday for Thurday's preseason finale vs. Portland in Vancouver, British Columbia. "He had some pop back.
"He's still got a way to go but he's getting there. As long as he's working as hard as he is right now, I don't have any doubt that he'll return back to his true form."
Stoudemire said his conditioning is fully back.
"I'm just starting to feel the way I normally did," Stoudemire said.
The Suns have been interested in center Jarron Collins so a report in the (Portland) Oregonian that he will come to Phoenix for a tryout makes sense. The Suns appear apt to sign him to a non-guaranteed contract if one of the 17 teams ahead of them in the waiver order does not claim him first.
Collins, who played eight years in Utah, will be waived Thursday by Portland and head to Phoenix. Collins, 30, is 6 feet 11 and 249 pounds and averaged 4.3 points and 3.1 rebounds in his career. With Robin Lopez out until late November, Phoenix does not have a true center and would be interested in Collins as a smart player who can guard the bigger centers.
The Suns will open a Saturday intrasquad scrimmage for free to the public as part of a fan festival that will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at US Airways Center.
The event will include a 1 p.m. scrimmage, activities, the Gorilla, Suns dancers, Verve Sol Patrol, and Hairy and Hairyson. Donations of non-perishable items for St. Mary's Food Bank are encouraged.
There will be one-day offers on a four-game ticket pack and discounts for the Oct. 30 home opener vs. Golden State