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We here at the great Bright Side of the Sun like to celebrate the joys of the Phoenix Suns and commiserate over their misfortune.

We often prop each other up, and occasionally knock each other down. But it's sibling-style knocks and props around these here parts. Each prop up is tinged with a bit a of sarcasm and short-lived back-patting. Each knock down is done without malice, just meant as an impassioned argument with one we take for granted will be there tomorrow regardless.

We have a great community here at Bright Side, one that I cherish even while buried in "family time" out here in the real world. Thank you for giving me a forum for my Suns voice for the past few years, and I hope for years to come. I love you guys.

As I sit here in my pajamas, waiting for my visiting parents to awaken so we can go see my niece (the only one left who believes in the fat red guy flying all over the world in a single night) revel in what Santa brought her, I am reflective of my life as a Suns fan.

Ghosts of Christmas Past

I remember Christmas Day a few years ago when Suns vs. Spurs was still the top-billed game of the day. The Suns hosted the Spurs on that day, boasting the great Shaquille O'Neal at center, Amare Stoudemire at PF, Steve Nash at PG and Grant Hill at SF.

The Suns had just shipped Boris Diaw and Raja Bell to Charlotte for Jason Richardson and Jared Dudley. Neither player made a huge impact that season, though Richardson started at SG the whole season.

The Suns fought hard to win and had the game in hand with a 2-pointer from Grant Hill with mere seconds left. One defensive stand would seal the victory.

The crowd was rocking. We cheered throughout the timeout and the next Spurs possession. Grant Hill had the chance to score the winning bucket AND get the winning stop.

But then Tony Parker drove against Grant, sucked in the defense of Jason Richardson off of Roger Mason in the corner and flipped the ball to Mason for buzzer-beating 3-pointer to win the game by 1.

The crowd was rocking, but as the ball swished the net all 19,023 people went dead silent at the same time. You could have heard a pin drop.

F-ing Spurs.

Shaquille O'Neal tossed the post-game buffet. The team was devastated, and proceeded to lose a bunch of games while freezing out Terry Porter and getting him fired.

Ghosts of Christmas Present

Ghosts are the only thing you'd see in US Airways Center today because the Suns are no longer relevant enough to interrupt their family day with a nationally-televised game.

Robert Sarver is sleeping in, likely wondering what happened to his ticket sales and... well, I have no idea what Robert is thinking today. He can't be happy with the current state of events, nor can he be thrilled with the prospect of adding a ton of payroll again unless it's a sure-fire return to glory.

Bah humbug.

Ghosts of Christmas Future

Maybe Robert is envisioning a great future for the Suns, but it is unclear what "great" means to him. He thoroughly enjoyed the Phoenix Mercury's championships over the last several years, and I know he is a competitive guy who wants his team to win. He still attends all Suns games too.

Hopefully, someone visits him today to show him the grave of the Suns future unless the tide is turned and momentum is shifted. The Suns need a star or two or three in a BIG way.

Let's hope Robert's Christmas is a filled distaste for his empty arena and a resolve to rectify the situation very quickly.

In the meantime, let's enjoy the lives we have and recognize that misery does love company so we all really do love each other. A lot.

Happy, whatever-you-celebrate, Suns fans!

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When all the dust settled last night the glaring tone of the game ended up being technical fouls. Two in particular as Phoenix Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry was ejected in the first half. Did he do enough to get called for a T? Yes, but that quick trigger ejection was rather Grinch like less than 48 hours before Christmas.

"First of all I told the team I had to apologize," said Gentry after the game. "I have to do a better job of keeping my cool in that situation right there."

Here is the full article on SB Nation Arizona.

PHOENIX — It was hard to believe by the end of the ballgame, but midway through the second quarter the Suns trailed the Los Angeles Clippers by a mere three points. That’s when Chris Paul...

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Recap:

The game started with Luis Scola attacking the basket on offense and playing his usual matador defense. The Suns and Clippers traded blows in the early part of the quarter, which was played at a fairly frenetic pace. The Clippers closed the quarter on a 14-6 run, to lead 28-24, thanks to an atrocious display of transition defense by Phoenix. The Suns may have been lucky to be down only four, as the Clippers missed a couple wide open opportunities at the end of the period. Chris Paul, 12 points and five assists, and Blake Griffin, eight points and three rebounds, led the way for LA. Marcin Gortat and Scola had eight apiece for the Suns.

The physicality stepped up a bit in the second quarter as the Suns seemed to take the position that a more truculent effort was necessary to stay in the game. A playful skirmish between Jermaine O'Neal and Ronny Turiaf resulted in double technical fouls with the Clippers leading 42-38. Then Gentry got tossed at the 2:33 mark, with the Clippers leading 50-42, drawing two technical fouls arguing a questionable call against Chris Paul on Goran Dragic. The Clippers finished the half on an 8-1 run after that to take a 58-43 lead into halftime. Meltdown.

Chris Paul led all scorers in the first half with 16 points to go along with six assists and four steals. Gortat had eight points and seven rebounds for the Suns. The Clippers shot 53.5% in the first half on 23-43 from the field. The defensive woes continue... The Suns played well enough on offense to be in the game, but their defense, transition D in particular, sabotaged their chances of staying in the game.

The third quarter was a massacre. The Suns were pillaged and plundered. Elston Turner tried valiantly to stem the tide, but to no avail, as LA won the period 33-17. Blake Griffin finished the quarter with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Chris Paul had 17 points, 13 assists and five steals. Jamal Crawford scored eight points in a 1:21 stretch to give him 22 points on the game. The Clippers increased their prodigious shooting to 58.6%, including 62.5% (10-16) from three point range. The Suns were... no comment.

The fourth quarter was garbage time. Final score Clippers 103, Suns 77.

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Player of the Game:

Pick a Clipper, any Clipper. I guess we could play paper, rock, scissors to determine who gets it between Griffin, Paul and Crawford. Dudley looked like he was playing hard, and had 19 points and seven rebounds, so I guess I'd pick him as the "best" Sun.

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Comments of the Game:

If only we still had Taylor Griffin to guard his brother.

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Brown is in full throttle bomber mode.

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Beasley is out with an illness?

Can "sucks" be defined as an illness?

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As bad as the officiating has been,

most of this has been self-inflicted. Our offensive set looks like that of a kindergarten's.

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Trying SOOOOO hard to add excitement.

This pig can't take any more lipstick!

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Rewatched it.

Flop. This is a physical game, of our instigating, and Dragic cried pointlessly IMHO. Man up!

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Suns cannot get stops, story of the game.

Sh$@, story of most of the season.

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This game is a crime against entertainment.

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The Good:

The Suns managed not to get beat by 40. That's all I got.

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The Bad:

Goran in early foul trouble again. This has become an epidemic. He then proceeded to finish with 7 points (2-8 from the field), ONE assist and three turnovers in 29 minutes. If this whole game hadn't turned into such an embarrassing imbroglio he would be right in the middle of the ugly column. Compared to the rest of the savage ass whipping, Goran fit right in. A disturbing pattern of Dragic getting owned by opposing point guards seems to be more than an anamoly.

Shannon "the Cannon" Brown. He's the guard version of Luis Scola, only much more selfish and slightly more useless when he's not contributing on offense. Watching him play when he's not shooting well is actually physically painful. When a player takes 13 shots, he typically has more made field goals than turnovers, but Brown the trendsetter has never been known to settle for the norm.

Gentry and the Suns let the officiating get in their heads. Right or wrong, and there were definitely some "suspect" calls, as soon as they became querulous they became frazzled and the game was effectively over.

I could go on, but I'm calling it an early night. Just like the Suns did.

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The Ugly:

The entire game from the time Gentry got ejected. That was definitively the defining moment in which the game was absolutely over. I don't know that I'd assert that the Suns actually quit, but they seemed discomfited from that point on and couldn't regain their equanimity. It also doesn't help that the Clippers are a much better team.

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I guess it's another one to throw in the garbage and forget about, but it seems like the garbage can is getting full.

The Suns may not be very good, but they can't annul my Christmas spirit.

Merry Christmas Brightsiders! Catch you on the flipside of the holiday.

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When: Sunday, December 23, 2012, 6:00 PM local time (8:00 EST)

Where: US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ

Watch/Listen: TV: FSAZ, Radio: 620 KTAR

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Last Meeting:

On December 8th, the Suns played 36 minutes of very competitive basketball at the Staples Center against the Clippers. The Clippers, meanwhile, played 48. LA stultified the Suns in the 4th quarter, starting with a 17-4 run, and turned a close game into a blowout loss for the Suns, 117-99. Blake Griffin scored a game high 24 points and dominated the Suns with his freakish athleticism. Chris Paul played well (16 points, 11 assists), while Goran Dragic was pathetic pedestrian (8 points, 5 assists, 4 turnovers). The Suns two best individual performances came from Michael Beasley (19 points in the first half) and Luis Scola (18 points, 10 rebounds), but, ironically, both were on the court for the 4th quarter meltdown.

Team Bios:

Los Angeles Clippers: 20-6

Points per game: 101.1 (9th) Points allowed: 92.2 (4th)

Injuries: Grant Hill and Chauncey Billups are out. Eric Bledsoe is day to day.

Remember that loss to the Clippers back on December 8th? The one I just referenced right above this? The Clippers haven't lost since that game. In fact, the Clippers haven't lost since November 26th. That win over the Suns was their 5th consecutive win in what has now ballooned to a franchise record 12 game winning streak. Five of those 12 wins have been on the road, including victories against the Utah Jazz and Chicago Bulls. The Clippers are good.

LA is led by their all-star duo of Chris Paul (16 points, 9.4 assists, 2.6 steals) and Blake Griffin (18.2 points, 8.8 rebounds), but get solid contributions from many players with seven averaging at least 9.3 points per game. In fact, Jamal Crawford is second on the team in scoring (16.1) coming off the bench and reserve Matt Barnes (10.1) is 4th.

The Clippers last played Friday in a 97-85 victory over the Sacramento Kings. The Clippers have won their last four games by double digits, with an average margin of victory of 16.5 points per game. Like I wrote previously, the Clippers are good.

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Phoenix Suns: 11-16

Points per game: 98.1 (12th) Points allowed: 100.8 (26th)

Injuries: None. Big ups to the Suns necromantic prodigious medical staff.

The Phoenix Suns return home after a tough loss on the road to the Portland Trail Blazers in what ended up being a very winnable game. Damian Lillard turned out to be the difference as the phenom rookie dominated the individual matchup against Goran Dragic. After a scoreless first quarter, he went for a game high 25 points (18 in the second half, including nine of the Blazers final 12 points) and seven assists. The Suns were led by a solid effort from Marcin Gortat, who scored 18 points (9-12 from the field) and grabbed nine rebounds. Despite the fact that the Blazers seemed incapable of guarding the gazelle, Marcin was perplexingly limited to 12 field goal attempts in a game where he was seemingly capable of scoring at will...

Despite their recent improved play the Suns are still rudderless. Quality role players abound, but there is no leader for them to unite around. Too many Indians, not enough chiefs. The Suns have six players averaging double figures, but their best scorers seem to be the worst defenders. Meanwhile, the best defenders struggle to score. Much of this isn't surprising, since the team is deficient in players that have even one NBA skill that is markedly above average. On any given night, if enough of the role players step up the Suns will be competitive and have a good chance to win (especially at home). When they don't, the Suns lose (especially on the road where role players, young players and reserves tend to struggle).

To expound on this, the Suns home record of 9-5, including four straight wins, has been sterling compared to their wretchedly woeful mark of 2-11 on the road. Unfortunately, the Clippers road mark of 8-3 still trumps the Suns home mark. This is going to be a tough game. But not bereft of hope, mind you, evidenced by recent victories against the Utah Jazz and Memphis Grizzlies. The Suns even played the Clippers to a stalemate in LA for three quarters before succumbing in the 4th. No reason to quash the hope that the Suns can improve upon that in the friendly, though far from capacity as Dave informed us in his brilliantly concocted piece, confines of US Airways Center.

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What To Watch For:

Paul vs. Dragic: This matchup was dominated by Paul in the previous meeting. Dragic has tapered off after a better start to the season and is averaging paltry numbers of 13.2 points (on 42.5% shooting) and 6.3 assists for the month of December. He has been torched by Damian Lillard (25 points, 7 assists) and Kemba Walker (27 points, 6 assists) the last two games, though he did counterblast Walker's effort with 21 points (4-5 from three) and 11 assists of his own to record only his second double-double of the season. Goran needs to play better. If there is a player who can be a leader on this team, that's if, then it is Dragic. Hopefully he can start to turn it around tonight.

Luis Scola: Who will show up tonight, Luis Scola or Luis Scola? That isn't actually a paradox, because a player that is supposed to be a steady veteran presence has been anything but that recently. In the last seven games, Luis has recorded two double-doubles with 18 points and 10 rebounds against these Clippers and 14 points and 10 assists against Sacramento. He has also had three games where he scored six points or less and was summarily benched for being a pernicious force (to the Suns) on both ends of the court.

Rebounding: The Clippers are +1.6 in rebounding differential in the league (T-10th) while the Suns are -3.6 (T-25th). They crushed the Suns on the offensive glass 17-9 and were +4 overall in the last meeting. The Suns need to man up in this game and put butts on bodies.

Marcin Gortat/Jared Dudley: Gortat has recorded two double-doubles and is averaging 13 points and 11.3 rebounds over the last four games. The Suns need him to be a presence against the Clipper's bigs. Jared has averaged 16.7 points over the last six games (including three consecutive 20+ point efforts) and has been stuffing the stat sheet with a separate nine rebound and 10 assist effort over this stretch. Look for Dudley to recover from an 0-4 three point performance against Portland, as he has been shooting 46.7% from long range during the month of December.

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Key Stat: The Suns stand at 11-16 (13th place) at the one third point of the season. The last three seasons, only one team outside of the top eight in the Western Conference at the one third point has made the playoffs each year. The Grizzlies (10th) unseated the Rockets (8th) in 2011-12, the Grizzlies (11th) overtook the Jazz (4th) in 2010-11, and OKC (9th) upstaged the Rockets (6th) in 2009-10. The Suns have been 8-14 (12-15 at 27) and 13-14 at the one third point the last two seasons.

Going back to the expansion year of 2004-05, only one team that was 13th place or lower in the Western Conference has made the playoffs. The Sacramento Kings pulled off the feat and ascended from 13th to 8th and lost a first round series to the San Antonio Spurs.

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The Final Word(s):

While it is not preposterous that the Suns win this game, even the most ardent, optimistic fan will probably admit this will be a formidable obstacle. As illustrated by the previous statistical analysis, the Suns have a scintilla of margin for error if they still plan on making a run at the playoffs. No time like tonight to put a foot in the right direction of what appears to be an arduous path.

Plus, the Clippers have to lose eventually, so the Suns might as well play the role (we play roles well) of streakbusters.

Everyone have a happy and safe Christmas!

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