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Paul Connors - AP
7 days ago:
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, left, of the Republic of the Congo, drives to the basket against Phoenix Suns forward Channing Frye in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Feb. 4, 2011, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Paul Connors)
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I'm going to go ahead and take off my journalist hat and put on my Suns fan hat. This was a soul crushing defeat. The Suns jumped out to a double digit lead over the Thunder and played with balls, grit, determination, and passion. But a series off awful calls by the officials and a cold 4th quarter offensively inevitably did them in tonight.
Vince Carter played 3 quarters of amazing basketball only to go cold when the squad needed him the most in the 4th. The Thunder went on a game clinching 10-3 run, outscoring the Suns 31-20 in the 4th. What should have been a hard fought victory turned into a another notch in the L column for your beloved Phoenix Suns. Jeff Green, Serge Ibaka and Russell Westbrook killed the Suns on this night. And while I don't enjoy tooting my own predictions, I have to admit that I called it when I said that that the key to a Suns victory was to let Kevin Durant get his while limiting the rest of the Thunder to chip in and do damage. Needless to say it didn't happen. The Thunder bench outscored the Suns 36-22, out-rebounded the Suns 18-13, and tallied a +56 to the Suns -66.
The Thunder neutralized Marcin Gortat to 3-10 shooting and a -16. The trio of Gortat/Frye/Pietrus was a combined 9-33 from the field. The real killer for the Thunder was Jeff Green, who capitalized on a plenty of wide open looks to total 28 points. Serge Ibaka hit 9 of his 10 attempts and deftly maneuvered for a handful of uncontested rebounds.
The Suns now sit in the 10 seed, 1.5 games behind Portland and Memphis with a sad 14-11 home record.
And if you were thinking you were alone bitching at your television about some of the calls that didn't go the Suns ways, the Suns beat writer, Mr. Paul Coro tweeted this to confirm your suspicions:
Bad David Guthrie call compounded by Ts for Nash and Hill. OKC ties it at 97 w/Durant going 2 of 4 on the FTs.
And then, just when you were contemplating ordering your Vince Carter jersey, this:
Carter was 11 for 16 before missing his last five shots. OKC 107-103 w/the ball and 32.6 seconds to go.
And there was me who noted:
Durant travels but foul called on Nash, WTF?
No there was no foul, and yes the call was awful.
What are you gonna do? Keep fighting. Can't blame the refs. The Suns could have made more shots in the 4th (5-18) and didn't do themselves any favors by allowing the Thunder 48 points in the paint.
The Bright Side:
It ain't the end of the world, right? The Suns are still in striking distance of that coveted 8th seed. There is still time right? Help me out here BSOTS world. This team proved tonight they can hang with a division leader. We can do this, there is hope, because there is this:
Marcin Gortat smashes against OKC (via outsidethenba)
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Welcome to Loud City
[Note by Seth Pollack, 02/04/11 10:42 PM MST ]
Phoenix Suns Frustrated Over Questionable Calls In Late-Game Loss To Thunder - SB Nation Arizona
"It's hard enough guarding (Durant) one-on-one. He's a great player and I think the world of him as a player and as a person and I enjoy competing against him. It's certainly a challenge. He's a great scorer," Hill said. "He's an honest guy. He said on that play I didn't foul him."
Tons of other quotes in this story, including Nash talking about All-Star snub.
- I like Vince's chances to D up on Sefalosha.
- Westbrook gets in the lane, misses, Thunder get the OReb and score. Not a good start.
- Vince posts up Thabo, spins, draws an iffy foul, and scores. OK
- Before the game I noticed Robin and Russell sharing a moment. They are buds apparently. Pac-10 thing? Both grew up playing in California. Shared comic book passion?
- Great start on defense. Up 18-8, 7:37. Interesting.
- Vince Carter. 11 points. Nice.
- This is Thabo's first game back from injury but still...
- Durant bait the old man into that foul. He's soooo good.
- Vince to the line. Be still my heart. Suns are going to him a lot early. Ride that pony!
- Not the prettiest hook shot, but Robin made it.
- Frye with a couple nice baskets in the paint. Thunder switching and Suns taking advantage in the paint.
- Robin got a solid 8 minutes of run.
- So much for the good defense. 33-29. 10 points for Durant.
- Ibaka and Durant blocking some shots up in here.
- 36-31, Suns
- Warrick getting some run. Lets seem some ENERGY!!
- Rare mistake from Zabian
- Suns 61% shooting in 1st qtr. Thunder 58.3%. D-FENCE!
- Gortat does pass well out the double teams. Good rotations though by OKC but Dudley hit the three anyway.
- 2nd foul on Gortat. Robin's going to get some extra minutes tonight.
- Maynor was working on that floater before the game. Work paid off.
- MP actually passed up a shot...unfortunately, he passed it to Warrick for a mid-range J. You know how that ends.
- 43-41, 7:49. Dowdell not exactly impressing.
- There you go, Hak. Jumped the screen and forced the turnover.
- Good job there by Z to force Maynor to foul him on the break.
- Jeff Green's three => Gentry timeout. 51-48, OKC. 5:00. Nash coming back in.
- I am no country music fan, but I do enjoy the Suns dancers in their little western get-ups. Nice touch.
- Robin, Grant, Steve and Channing back in.
- Robin's got his man sealed under the rim and Vince ignores him and drives it himself. He made it so the bad play is totally forgotten....except I wrote about it here.
- Like Robin's activity. Vince acts his way to an offensive call on Jeff Green.
- Channing Frye curling off a screen takes a pass from Vince and finishes w/ a nice lay up. I don't think I've EVER seen that. And really I never expected to see that.
- There are people in this world whose job is to go up on the catwalk high above the arena and drop sandwiches on people. I love this world.
- Vince now playing dumb. Ignores a long rebound and then has about the least effective close out on Harden ever.
- Gentry put Zabian in for defense and he fouls Westbrook on the jump shot.
- Damn, Lopez called for the foul w/ .7 sec on the clock. Tough one.
- 63-60. No much defense.
- Durant, Harden, Westbrook and Green all in double figures. Thunder shot 62.5%. Got to shut at least one of those guys down.
- That's a YouTube hightligh...Grant goes up, tips the lobs but Durant still finishes the play.
- Suns getting some open threes but not making a lick of them.
- Feels like the Suns are getting away from taking advantage of the mismatches in the paint and just taking jumpers...and missing them all
- Nash has just three points. Come on, Westbrook isn't that good.
- Frye rolls and the pick and roll instead of pops on the pick and pop. This is a very unusual game for him.
- Gortat in for Robin. 69-69. 6 min.
- Pretty impressive move by Green in the post against Frye. I thought Frye defended him well.
- Nash feeds Gortat in the front of the rim but b/c he's not explosive enough, the time it took him to gather and go up, Ibaka was able to recover and block the dunk.
- Then Nash finds Gortat on a nice side pick and roll for a dunk...running and off one leg.
- Kiss Cam back...better than Fist Pump cam? I guess so...
- Charge taken by Carter. I'm told that's his third in three games. Props given.
- 27 points for Vince too. This is probably is best game so far as a Sun.
- Pretty lazy defense by Westbrook on that screen but Nash missed the shot and bailed him out.
- Now the threes are falling. 80-74. Thunder packing it on the Gortat rolls open up the corners.
- People come on, don't get greedy. You are NOT going to hit that half-court shot. Take the three...or even the free throw.
- Serge Ibaka should be in the dunk contest...
- Nash arguing that he was pushed out of bounds on the baseline. He gets that call a LOT. Not this time.
- Suddenly the whistles are blowing like it's a parade of hot girls walking across the court in front of a crowd full of construction workers.
- Wow, what a block from Frye on Harden!
- That got some people fired up!
- Suns get two offensive rebounds through sheer determination. That's the kind of play people will pay to see.
- 87-80. I'm impressed.
- Zabian time...wish that inspired more confidence....and Z drives and turns it over.
- Jeff Green is having a great game. Thunder on a 6-0 run over the last one minute.
- Gentry took the ball out of Z's hands and has Dudley running point.
- Z hits a J. Suns now in zone defense.
- Great block by MP. 92-88 after Maynor misses on of those floaters I mentioned about 90 minutes ago.
- Durant back in for Ibaka. Nash coming in as well at the 8:00 mark. 92-88. Gentry not willing to gamble on Z any more.
- Quick middle pick and roll in transition catches Thunder napping. Gordunk.
- OH HELL NO!!! Kiss Cam AND Fist Pump Cam. I am going to have to speak with someone about this!
- Green misses a wide open three. Sometimes lucky beats good.
- Apparently Russell Westbrook finger gunz are less deadly than Gilbert's
- 97-93, Suns.
- Live by the Vince. Die by the Vince.
- Iffy call on Hill foul on Durant and Suns get two T's for ageing. One for Hill and the other on...Nash? Gentry? Carter? Me?
- 97-97, 4:07. Crowd at least fired up.
- Nash forces refs to call a 5th foul on Ibaka. They might not have wanted to call it but Nash gave them no choice.
- Two FTAs for Nash b/c despite that outrage, the Thunder are in the penalty and the Suns are not.
- Ibaka can hit a turnaround from 10 feet? Really?
- 103-102, OKC w/ Gortat at the line for two. He Lou's it. 1-1.
- Ibaka flies in for the tip-back off Westbrooks miss. Box out?
- Suns go to the zone. Harden misses a wide open corner three. 105-103, OKC. 1:00
- Carter misses a go-to guy shot. Mr. Not So Clutch...I guess.
- Westbrook hits his. 107-103.
- And another shot for Carter. I know he has 33 points but...well...
- Suns force a turnover on the in-bound pass and get Nash a layup. 105-107, 16 sec. Life?
- Well, looks like Durant traveled but got bailed out w/ a Nash foul call.
- 109-105, 14 sec. Suns ball.
- Out of the time out the Suns end up with basically nothing. That will do it.