Updated: January 5, 2011, 5:32 PM ET

Report: Allen And Mayo Fight

What's Wrong With The Suns?

By John Hollinger
ESPN.com Insider

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.

Take the Phoenix Suns, for instance. Ask anyone in the NBA to make a list of the league's good guys, and Grant Hill, Steve Nash and Alvin Gentry are assuredly going to be someplace near the top. Top to bottom, in fact, Phoenix's locker room may be the most pleasant in basketball.

The Suns' play, alas, has not been. After winning 54 games and roaring to the conference finals a season ago -- losing only after an epic midrange shooting performance by the Lakers, as the esteemed M. Haubs noted at the time -- the Suns suddenly find themselves lost in the wilderness. Heading into tonight's conference finals rematch with L.A., the Suns are just 14-18, and today's Playoff Odds give them only a 10.2 percent chance of returning to the postseason.

What the heck happened? Bad management, basically.

To read the entire column, click here.

Rookie Watch: Hayward Moving Up

By David Thorpe
Scouts Inc.

As part of the rookie orientation program, the NBA should teach the baseball story of Wally Pipp and Lou Gehrig. You remember Pipp, the guy most famous for being replaced for one game by Gehrig, who then went on to set an incredible record of 2,130 consecutive games played. It's a great lesson: Every day is a chance to improve your career. No matter what has happened in the past, an opportunity to play is an opportunity to restart.

You know who's been studying Pipp? I'll give you a hint: He had never scored in double figures this season before busting out with three consecutive games of 17, 11 and 13 points (on 15-for-28 shooting) to go with 14 boards during that span. His team won two of those games in its fight to be a top-four seed in the West. And just before those games, he had been one of the league's lowest-performing players.

Who is he? None other than Utah's Gordon Hayward, who finally looks like the player we saw in college.

To read the entire column, click here.


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