More photos » H. Rumph Jr - AP
We know, Alvin. Three losses in a row. We're as disappointed as you. (AP Photo/H. Rumph Jr.)
Steve Nash shot 11-15 from the field (including 4-4 from three), dished out 15 assists and snagged 5 rebounds. Heck, he even got a steal. But unfortunately for Nash and the Suns, it wasn't enough as the Bobcats outshot, outrebounded, and out-everything'd their way to a win.
There was a period in the third quarter where it seemed like no one in a Suns jersey could miss. There was also a time in the third quarter where it seemed like no one in a Bobcats jersey could miss. Unfortunately for the Suns, those two times were happening concurrently.
And so went the game. After a rather uninspiring first half, the Suns found themselves only down by two points. Not bad, considering the body language and overall play from the home team. All the Suns had to do was come out, play their game, and get some stops. They did two of the three, but left out the most important part: getting stops. After being beat handily in Philadelphia, you'd think the Suns, losers of two straight, would come out on their home floor and give 110%. You'd think.
Phoenix, now losers of three straight games, now sits 4 games out of the 8th seed in the Western Conference. And with 10 games left until the All-Star Break, the team needs to take a long, hard look into the mirror and ask themselves exactly what it is they're trying to do.
The State of the Suns
There comes a time in every losing season where the team in question takes a look at their options. You can blow up the team, tanking your season for a shot at a young prospect. You can desperately cling to the hopes of a playoff berth, praying the teams ahead of you struggle enough for you to sneak in. You can make a trade to try and put you "over the hump."
None of these options, however, look appealing to Phoenix. Do the Suns fall into the "Free Nash" campaign, trading away their future Hall of Fame point guard and face of the franchise? Do they try to use Vince Carter's hugely expiring contract as trade bait at the trade deadline? Or do the Suns stand pat, trying to will their way to what will probably be the 8th seed in the Western Conference playoffs?
I, for one, do not have any answers for you. Sure, I could pull numbers showing why the Suns should roll with Player A over Player B. I could offer some insightful, profound comments explaining what the team should do. But I won't. The Suns simply are not playing good basketball, and I've accepted the fact that this season is not going to be as magical as last year's. We all knew that about 10 games into the season.
However, just because this team doesn't have the chemistry or cohesion that last year's squad did, that doesn't mean that we should give up on the team. There's a difference between a good team in rebuild mode and a team that makes rash decisions to keep the fan base happy. The Cavaliers stood pat after LeBron left, delirious in their rage that the team, as constituted, could still win games. The fan base didn't want someone to fill in LeBron's shoes. They wanted to rub it in LeBron's face when they won games without him. However, with Cleveland sitting at 8-37 and losers of 18 games in a row, it's clear that the team is in a bad place.
The Suns are not the Cavaliers. There is still plenty of talent on this team, and while they may not be contenders (or even truly in the playoff race), there is no reason to panic. The team needs to make moves and retool, but desperation breeds failure. We may not be looking at a smooth road ahead here in Phoenix, but we're definitely not at the point where we just drive the car off the cliff and accept whatever happens.
Yes, tonight's loss was disappointing. In the next 10 games, we'll find out just what it is the Suns are going to be for the rest of the season. And yes, some of us will probably be disappointed with what happens. However, we may just be surprised with what the team does. Until then, all we can do is continue to tune in and support the SUNS.
[Note by Seth Pollack, 01/26/11 10:30 PM MST ]
"I just think it's concentration and discipline, I think we lack a little bit of that at times. We had a good stretch there and then we take a step back a little bit. We don't have the talent or efficiency to not win those battles, the 50-50 battles," Nash said.
"It's not really something you can practice. It's something you have to have the determination to go out there and finish plays. I think at times we lack that a little bit."
H. Rumph Jr - AP
Where'd the ball go?
Thanks to a certain someone being a space cadet today, there's no separate game preview. But that's cool, what more do you need to know about this game other than Kwame Brown is starting and he's been killing it on the glass lately. Yup, that guy.
Here's some more preview madness including some quotes and Vince Carter talking about being 34 years old and giving up an update on his sore knee.
Phoenix Suns Home Stand Starts With Revived Charlotte Bobcats - SB Nation Arizona
As for the Bobcats, they've beaten the Suns four out of their last five meetings including an embarrassing 123-105 game earlier this season. They are a difficult matchup for the Suns according to Steve Nash, who cites their versatile players and their rebounding ability.
Vince Carter, who was on the Orlando Magic last year when they swept the Bobcats in the first round of the playoffs explained the key to beating them. "You have to attack them early," Carter said, "You have to take their confidence immediately. If you don't and let them hang in there it can be a long night."
[Note by Seth Pollack, 01/26/11 6:31 PM MST ]
This was an interesting (and very clear) response from Gentry:
Alvin Gentry Wants Rebounds From His Centers (Yes, That Was A Question) - Desert Dirt - SB Nation Arizona
It's kind of a risk / reward thing like Nash making high-risk passes leading to more assists but also more turnovers. If a guy (Marcin) is going after the ball every time, there will be occasions where he gives up the offensive board. If he (Robin) boxes out almost exclusively he's not going to get many rebounds but the overall team rebounding could be improved.
Before the Suns-Bobcats game I asked Alvin Gentry to weigh in on this great debate. What is he looking for from his centers?