The Phoenix Suns lost the game, but the bigger story was the Phoenix Suns lost Steve Nash. With 7:28 left in the first quarter, the Nash collided with Tyson Chandler on a scramble for a loose ball and suffered a stinger in his neck, losing feeling in his arm and leg. Paul Coro reports that the Suns believe Nash will be available to play in Oklahoma City.
Once the Suns lost Nash, the game was effectively over. They hung tight for the remainder of the first quarter, taking a 25-22 lead into the 2nd stanza. After that... oof.
The Suns were aggressive early in taking the ball to the rim. That aggression paid off with frequent trips to the line, helping them survive some shaky shooting. Goran Dragic and Hakim Warrick especially went hard to the hole in their first few minutes of action.
And then, well... one of my game notes reads "Are there worse defensive rotations anywhere in the NBA than on the Suns?" While it's true the Suns "held" the Mavericks to 45.3% from the field, it was the rare Maverick that had a hand in his face while attacking the Suns basket. The Mavs' took a 12 point lead into the half and never really looked back.
The Suns had an opportunity to keep things competitive. Dirk Nowitzki went to the bench early in the 2nd quarter after picking up his 3rd foul. So instead of the Dirk Show I had predicted in the preview, the Suns got their turkey roasted by Jason Terry who drove and hit from range with equal aplomb, racking up 18 points on 8-16 shooting.
And while I truly lament the Suns' sieve-like defense, it was their inability to put the ball in the bucket that did them in. There was certainly plenty of visible effort from the Suns, especially the bigs. Hakim Warrick and Channing Frye attacked the glass to the tune of 14 rebounds apiece and the Suns as a team only lost the rebound differential by 3.
The Suns offense was in disarray. With Nash out, the Suns seemed rudderless for the final 3 quarters. Familiar ill-advised shots were in abundance, including but not limited to:
Oh, yes, Earl Clark got 16 "quality" minutes in the second half. And by "quality", I mean allowed to take and miss jumper after jumper after ever-loving jumper. At 3-12 from the field (including 2 shots squashed by Tyson Chandler), Clark brought a new shade of black to the phrase "offensive black hole." On defense, his play was considerably more inspiring. He spent a lot of time covering Dirk and while he didn't slow him down terribly, he stuck with him and didn't find himself embarrassed either.
The final score might say the Suns only lost by 15, but it was a pretty thorough dismantling by the Mavericks. Save for a couple of late 3s by Frye and J-Rich, the Mavs would have walked away with this game midway through the 4th. Not much new to take away from this game. The offense stalls without Nash. The defense gives the French military circa 1940 a good name. I wish I had something better to say about this team, but they did nothing to inspire confidence or hope going into a brutal 3 game stretch against OKC, San Antonio and Miami.
Here's hoping Nash recovers quickly and Alvin finds the right combination of players and minutes to keep things respectful heading into the holidays.