More photos » Steve Dykes - AP
Channing wants to know what went wrong. We have the answers.
The Phoenix Suns struggled to put points on the board while Steve Nash was resting during Tuesday's game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Goran Dragic got much of the blame, but how much of it was really his fault? What really went down in Portland that took the Suns bench out of their game and led to Nash coming back in without his typical six minutes of rest in the fourth quarter?
I went back and looked at each offensive play by the Goran-led Suns bench and found the following:
1. :30, 23-26. Blazers in zone. Frye flashes to high post trying to find Warrick on baseline but he's covered. Frye shots (miss) at end of the clock
2. 12:00, 23-29. Blazers in zone. Suns try and post Childress against Aldridge. Childress backs out, faces up and gets past LMA. Pryzbilla helps, Josh kicks to wide open Warrick for baseline 17ft shot (miss)
3. 11:19, 23-31. Dragic uses high Warrick screen, gets into the lane and draws help. Find Warrick at the front of the rim. Blazers foul to prevent dunk
4. 10:29, 25-31. Blazers in zone. Hedo flashes to middle, draws Pryzbilla, misses open step back 17ft jump shot
5. 10:20, 27-31. Dragic strips Mills in the back court. Suns swing ball against unset defense. Dudley hits open three
6. 9:52, 30-34. Blazers in zone. Hedo flashes to middle, draws Pryzbilla, misses open step back 17ft jump shot
7. 9:12, 30-37. Dragic uses high screen from Warrick. Blazers defenders get caught up going under screen. Dragic misses open 17 foot jump shot
8. 8:46, 30-39. Dragic uses high screen from Warrick, gets into lane and draws help. Nice bounce pass to Dudley cutting baseline, Cunningham with great rotation and block
9. 8:28, 30-39. Blazers in box and 1 zone. Warrick flashes to middle of lane, draws Pryzbilla, spins to attack rim and loses ball
10. 7:12, 32-41. Blazers zone. Childress cuts baseline, gets pass from Hedo for layup
11. 6:41, 34-43. Blazers zone. Hill finds seam to attack but steps out of bounds on initial move
12. 6:23, 34-43. Blazers zone. Dragic fakes pass to Hill open the corner and attacks Batum, gets into the lane for layup attempt. Camby blocks from behind
1. 11:33, 75-69. Dragic uses high screen from Warrick and drives the lane. Help comes, Goran kicks to Dudley in the corner who hits an open three
2. 11:13, 78-72. Dragic uses high screen from Warrick. Blazers switch. Warrick dives to front of the rim. Dragic swings to Hedo for hi-lo pass to Warrick in paint. He's fouled by Aldridge who rotated over
3. 10:46, 79-75. Dragic uses high screen from Warrick. Mills fights over screen and fouls Dragic as he tries to turn the corner. It could have been an offensive foul on Dragic who didn't use the screen well enough to gain separation from Mills
4. 10:37, 79-75. Dragic uses high screen from Warrick. Blazers switch, Dragic drives the lane but Aldridge cuts him off without help. Dragic kicks out to Hedo iso against Batum, probes and goes nowhere and swings back to Dragic iso against Aldridge. Dragic travel on the catch / dribble
5. 10:10, 79-77. Dragic pass to Barron (in for Warrick for defense). Barron hands off to Hill who gets to free throw line for open jump shot (miss).
6. 9:33, 79-77. Dragic on the fast break after Hill steal. Dragic offensive foul
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.)