Your five word recap:
1st Quarter: Niiiiiiiiice. Ish.
2nd Quarter: Meh.
3rd Quarter: Eek!
4th Quarter: Ugh.
How nice was it to see the Phoenix Suns jump all over a quality opponent right off the bat? That first quarter was beautiful. Active hands were in full effect. The Suns held the Dallas Mavericks to a miniscule 20% from the field. Meanwhile, the Suns were filling it up at the other end to the tune of 56.6% shooting. Pretty awesome, right?
And yet... only a 9 point lead? Let that marinate for a moment. The Suns held the Mavs to 5 (f-i-v-e, five) field goals in the first 12 minutes the game and could only walk away with a 9 point lead. Was anyone else nervous about that? (This is called foreshadowing.)
The Suns built that first quarter cushion on the backs of Marcin Gortat's 12 points, Channing Frye's 6 rebounds and the ageless Steve Nash's 7 assists. And a whole lot of terrible shooting from a discombobulated Dallas offense.
In the second quarter the bench held serve fairly well. The Mavs threatened to tie on a couple of occasions, but the Suns had an answer at every turn, carrying a 5 point lead into the half. The 3rd quarter featured more of the same. Dallas threatened, the Suns pushed back buuuuut... that lead dwindled from 5 to 2.
And then, well, do we even need to talk about Phoenix Suns' 4th quarters at this point in the season? SPOILER ALERT: They are not good, particularly if the first 3 quarters have been marked by any sort of lead or display of basketball excellence. This time, their offense called it a season, packed their bags and headed to St. Bart's or Svenborgia or wherever rich millionaires (or at least, their offensive stylings) go to take money baths with supermodels.
The gory details are so: after making a game of it for 3 quarters, the Suns' offense collapsed entirely. Also, stop me if you've heard this before... ex-Wildcat Jason Terry hit a couple of clutch shots before turning over the reins to ex-Sun Jason Kidd for a couple of coffin nail three-balls. On the other end, the Suns made... wait for it 5 (f-i-v-e, five) whole field goals in the quarter. Of a possible 17 attempts. The also missed 5 free throws of a possible 11 and were a putrid 14-23 on the game. One last bit of suck before I get on with the individual kudos and immolations: the Suns shot a season low 1-16 from behind the arc for the game.
Marcin Gortat: The Polish Hammer was almost all-world. He finished on the roll and sunk 20-foot jumpers, finishing with 20 points and 15 rebounds. He also played some spot defense on Nowitzki and managed not to get torched. He was less successful against his Dallas counterpart as Tyson Chandler was good for 16 points and 18 boards. Win some, lose some, big fella.
Jared Dudley: Like Gortat, Dudley made the most of his start, tallying 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists and somehow no turnovers. I say "somehow" because while his energy level is yards better than his predecessor's, his ball-handling and athleticism are not. I cringed at every cut to the hoop he made in traffic and yet, he either finished or dished. Keep hitting the gym, young man and you're due for a massive payday.
The Suns defense: Maybe it was just one of those nights, or maybe it was the harassing defense from a variety of Suns, but Dirk Nowitzki was damn near a non-factor in this game. 15 points on 19 attempts? I'll take that. As a team they held the Mavericks to 38.1% shooting. Keep in mind that Dallas is the best shooting team in the Western Conference.
Light yourself on fire:
Any Sun Who Took A Free Throw Not Named Jared Dudley or Marcin Gortat: The new starters were a perfect 10-10 from the stripe. Everyone else? 4-13. This is where the game was lost (not really).
Any Sun Who Took A 3 Pointer Not Named Vince Carter: 1-16. This is where the game was lost (for reals, this time). Vince made the only trey. STFU and GTFO, h8trz.
Especially the Sun Name Channing Frye: I'll give Channing his due. He hustled in the paint and collected 10 rebounds and notched 2 blocks. He also failed to notch a single point, missing all 4 of his shots, including perhaps the single worst attempt to draw a foul on a jump shot I have ever seen in a critical part of the game. With the Suns trailing by only 3 points with a minute left in the game, Frye got the ball outside the arc. With 17 seconds left on the shot clock Chandler (?) defending well (good position, arms mostly straight up), Channing attempted the if-I-move-my-arms-into-his-arms-while-in-a-shooting-type-motion-maybe-I'll-get-the-call maneuver. Or maybe you'll get an airball and a turnover and cost the team any chance of getting back in the game. Fail.
The Bench Mob: Aside from Josh Childress, who displayed all the energy and slashiness a fan could ask for in 22(!) minutes, the bench was a complete bust. Vince Carter, Hakim Warrick, Aaron Brooks and Robin Lopez combined for 17 points (on 6 of 16 shooting), 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 8 personal fouls.
So, with 10 games to go, the Suns are... no closer to being in the playoffs than they were when they had 12 games to go. They're further away in fact. I'm not saying the season is now officially a lost cause, but I am saying that SBNation Arizona has a fantastic blog devoted to the Arizona Diamondbacks called AZ Snakepit and with Opening Day only 4 days away, it's never too early to bookmark it. (But come back here. We've got fun stuff planned for the
lockout regularly scheduled and no longer than usual offseason.)