More photos » Steve Dykes - AP
8 days ago: Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash (13) looks on as he is called for a foul during the first quarter of the game against the Portland Trailblazers at the Rose Garden on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)
Forget the reffing. Forget how much you're sick of the Blazers fighting and shoving the Phoenix Suns and ultimately getting the benefit of the calls.
Forget how many bruises Nash is going to have tomorrow (oh yeah, its a back-to-back tomorrow!). Forget that the Phoenix Suns made Aldridge and Roy look good, despite neither of them playing that well on their own.
It's tough for the Phoenix Suns to win when 3 of their rotation players fail to show up to the game. They lost 106-99.
Hakim Warrick forgot his aggressiveness in Phoenix. He had one - one! - pick-n-roll finish in the entire game. In fact, he had more airballs than baskets.
Jason Richardson failed to show up for this game. He collected more fouls than baskets. His head just was not in this game, except for a 1-minute stretch to start the third quarter where he had 4 of his 6 points. Ugh. In fact, his terrible play allowed the Blazers to put a big, physical guy on Nash during key stretches which slowed the offense to a halt.
But the capper, the biggest reason the Suns lost this game: Goran Dragic.
If you think I'm being unfair, you were not watching the game.
Not only was Dragic a -10 in this game, he killed the momentum over and over again. Offensive fouls, travelling calls, missed shots, and NO aggressive drives to the hoop for a hard layup. It's like Dragic had no interest in the physicality of the game.
And worse than all that? Dragic's horrible presence at the start of the fourth - allowing the Blazers to cut a 9-point lead to 2 in only 2.5 minutes - forced Gentry's hand.
Nash had to come back in at the 9:18 mark. And we all know what that means.
Nash loses steam on too many minutes.
From the 4:31 mark to the 0:39 mark, the Suns scored ONE point on 9 possessions. ONE. And that was a 1-for-2 at the free throw line by Earl Barron.
Here are those possessions: block, shot clock violation, steal, offensive foul, missed 3-pointer, missed 9-footer, missed 3-pointer, missed free throw, MADE free throw, steal.
There's 3 really bad things here. (1) bad possessions, (2) too few possessions (stagnant, half-court) and (3) no offensive rebounds!
In fact, the Suns had only 2 offensive rebounds all game. That's just terrible. That's lack of movement, big-time.
Give it up to the Blazers for once again forcing this issue, playing hard defense, and making Steve Nash really, really tired. In the latter, that's taking a page right out of the Spurs old playbook. Wear Nash down and the end of the 4th quarter is theirs.
And that's what happened. Again.
(Of course, these are only regular season games. Before Christmas. They don't erase the wonderful beatdown in the playoffs a few months ago. Playoffs matter most. The Suns have 2 home games left against the Blazers to even this score.)