Suns blow another double digit lead as Dallas puts Phoenix playoff hopes half into the grave.

Hey guys.  So that was tough, huh?

After losing to the Mavericks last night the Suns playoff hopes are basically on life support.  Barring a shocking Memphis loss to the Lakers tonight the only scenario that sees the Suns make the playoffs is this:

  • Suns beat Memphis on Monday night - something they haven't done all season even when Marc Gasol wasn't playing.
  • Suns beat Kings on the last day of the season.
  • Dallas beats Memphis on the last day of the season.  This will likely be made 10 times more complicated by the fact that a Suns win over Memphis on Monday would clinch the #7 seed for Dallas so they'd have almost no motivation to roll Dirk Nowitzki or Monta Ellis out for any real playing time. 

If like me you're a Cardinals fan you probably recognize that scenario as the basketball version of 'hope Mike Glennon can lead his 5 win Bucs to a win in the Superdome over the Saints who haven't lost at home all year'.

My advice?  Get in a good place with it.  This is a fun basketball team but by no means was a finished product.  If the Suns don't make it they basically traded 4-6 games with the Spurs for the right to move up 7 spots in the draft.

Saturday April 12th Key Western Conference Results:

Dallas Mavericks 101 Phoenix Suns 98 (Recap) - At the 5:56 mark of the 3rd quarter the Suns led the Mavericks 69-56 and things seemed all awesome.  Over the course of the next 1 minute and 13 seconds Dallas carved 8 points off the lead and continued until the Suns were up just 3 going into the 4th.  That 4th quarter saw Dallas open up a 8 point lead but the Suns hadn't quit quite yet.

Down the stretch the Suns had their chances.  After a missed jumper from Dirk Nowitzki with 52 seconds to go, and the Suns trailing by 2, Dallas fouled Eric Bledsoe about 90 feet from the basket.  But Bledsoe - who had his second straight awesome game (29 points on 11/15 shooting, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, and 4 steals) missed the second free throw and the Suns remained behind.  The door opened for the Suns again when the incendiary Vince Carter missed a three but with a chance to take a lead Gerald Green took an off-balance early offense 10 footer that missed.

Because torture if fun, Monta Ellis missed one free throw on two consecutive possessions and gave the Suns two shots to tie.  On the first try Eric Bledsoe had his layup comfortably rejected by Brandan Wright (who had 12 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks) while the second possession was a Markieff Morris three point attempt for some reason.

Game, set, match.

Current Western Conference Standings:

TEAM W L PCT GB L10 STREAK
1.San Antonio
62 18 .775 - 8-2 WON 2
2. Oklahoma City
58 21 .734 3.5
7-3 WON 3
3. LA Clippers
56 24 .700 6 7-3 WON 1
4. Houston 53 27 .663 9 5-5 WON 1
5. Portland
52 28 .650 10 7-3 WON 3
6. Golden State
49 30 .620 12.5 6-4 WON 1
7. Dallas
49 32 .600 13.5 7-3 WON 1
8. Memphis
47 32 .595 14.5
6-4 WON 2
- SUNS
47 33 .588 15 6-4 LOST 2

Sunday April 13th Western Conference Games of Significance:

Grizzlies @ Lakers - Since the Lakers beat the Suns two weeks ago they've lost 6 consecutive games - 5 of them by double digits to Western Conference playoff teams (Portland, Clippers, Houston, Golden State, Dallas).  So you know, that makes me feel great.  Additional note that makes me feel good - Memphis hasn't lost to an under .500 team since losing the Cavs in overtime on February 9th.  I would be really, really surprised if the Grizzlies front line didn't eat the Lakers for lunch, blow them out, and come to Phoenix fairly well rested.

It’s the small things that decide games in the NBA. That has never been more true than in the Phoenix Suns’ 101-98 loss to the Dallas Mavericks tonight. Eric Bledsoe misses a free throw with a chance...

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Prepare to root for Mike D’Antoni and Steve Nash one more time. And for likely the first time, Phoenix Suns fans might find themselves rooting for the Los Angeles Lakers. With Phoenix’s...

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That 4th quarter.  It hurt to watch.  Back and forth, back and forth.  For the first 8 minutes it was a tennis match with both teams exchanging buckets and staying within a point or 2 of each other.  Then Dirk Nowtizki hit a 3-pointer.  Then Monta Ellis scored off a Suns turnover.  Then Devin Harris scored his first points of the game by hitting a bomb from deep behind the 3-point line.  Just like that the Mavericks had a commanding 8-point lead with 3:03 to go.

But these Phoenix Suns?  They don't stop.  Maybe they can't stop.  Eric Bledsoe (29 points on 11 of 15 shooting) went hard to the hole for 2 points.  Then after a rare and merciful Monta miss (15 of 23 on the night for 37 points), Markieff Morris nailed 2 clutch free throws.  And the following play, the Bledshow continued with a steal and coast-to-coast fastbreak lay-in.  Suns down by 2 with 1:15 to go in the game.

Bledsoe makes 1 of 2 free throws from a loose ball foul: 1 point Mavs lead, 52.7 seconds left.

Vince Carter would miss badly on a 3 point attempt leading to a Bledsoe outlet to Gerald Green, who missed a bunny from about 8 feet.  26.9 seconds left to go.

Dallas timeout.  Phoenix foul.  Monta Ellis hits 1 of 2 free throws.  2 point Mavs lead, 18.7 seconds to go.

Timeout.  Inbound.  Bledsoe.  Blocked.  Monta.  Make 1.  Miss 1.  3 point Mavs lead. 9.4 seconds.

Inbound.  Markieff.  3.  Miss.  Game.

Say this for the Suns.  They left it all on the court.  Goran Dragic was not himself tonight playing on the injured ankle.  That didn't stop Phoenix from giving their all.  Bledsoe finished with 29 points and 6 assists.  Channing Frye came up huge when it mattered most with 21 points.  Everyone tried hard, but they couldn't all deliver.  Markieff Morris, in addition to missing the Suns' last shot missed 5 of the other 7 shots he took for arguably his worst game of the season.  Ditto Gerald Green who was an even worse 2-9 from the field.

Give it up for the Dallas Mavericks.  Monta Ellis was unstoppable unless he was at the free throw line finishing with 37 points.  After a quiet first half, Dirk Nowitzki showed up in a big way in the second half, scoring 21 of his 23 points.  And Brandan Wright had a quiet 12 points but a very loud 11 rebounds and 3 blocks.  Those blocks changed momentum and the course of the game.

For a while the Suns were too stupid to lose.  Maybe now they're just not seasoned enough to win.  With this loss, the Suns need to win out and get some help to make the playoffs.  It's gonna be a long couple of games to finish the season.


First Half

The first quarter started promisingly enough.  Channing Frye hit his first 4 3-pointers to pace the Phoenix offense.  It looked like Phoenix might jump out big, but turnovers (7) led to several Dallas possessions.  At about the 5 minute mark of the quarter, Coach Jeff Hornacek opted to go small, sitting both Channing Frye and Miles Plumlee.  It may be a coincidence, but the Mavs immediately had a field day in the key, scoring 20 points in the paint, courtesy of Monta Ellis (8), Brandan Wright (6) and Samuel Dalembert (6).  Mavs lead after one: 27-26.

The second quarter can be summed up in one word: Bled-Show.  13 points on 3 pointers, strong drives and free throws (17 in the first half).  He led Phoenix to a 31-19 drubbing of Dallas.  The Suns shot 60.0% to the Mavs' 33.3%.  Strong defensive play by the Suns led to 6 Dallas turnovers.  A Monta Ellis (14 first half points)  floater at the buzzer cut the Suns' lead to 11, 57-46.

Second Half

No surprise in the third quarter.  Phoenix left the door open and Dallas came back in.  Dirk started doing Dirk Things and Monta Ellis kept doing Monta Ellis.  The two combined to score 25 of Dallas' 29 third quarter points.  They outscored the Suns entirely, who only managed 21 points in the quarter on 42.1% shooting.  Phoenix held on to a 3-point lead going into the 4th quarter.  Would it be enough?

Blowing 21 point leads in the middle of a playoff race is bad for your health.

In the interest of full disclosure I avoided Bright Side like the plague last night after that game.  In fact I still haven't gone through the game thread or the post game thread because I'm literally terrified to do so.  Love you guys anyway.

But since I'm still sort of a masochist I went and saw the movie Draft Day with Kevin Costner.  My review?  It's exactly what you think but if you want to get a few laughs (its not supposed to be funny) and want to save a few bucks on a masters class in how not to negotiate - then draft day is for you.

Friday April 11th Key Western Conference Results:

San Antonio Spurs 112 Phoenix Suns 104 (Recap) -  San Antonio played without Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, Phoenix played without Goran Dragic and the Suns blew a 21 point lead to lose a game they really should have had. It's almost as simple as that.  Eric Bledsoe turned in a tremendous performance with 30 points (11/16) 11 rebounds and 9 assists while Gerald Green added 27 and Markieff Morris chipped in 20.

The story of the game for the Spurs was Danny Green.  Once the Spurs fell behind Green reverted to 2013 NBA Finals mode and went nuclear - scoring 33 points including 7/10 from three point range.  Tony Parker returned from an injury to score 18 points in just 24 minutes.  I'm too disappointed to continue.

Memphis Grizzlies 117 Philadelphia 76ers 95 (Recap) -  If you expected Memphis to lose this game then you clearly believe in fairy tales.  Nobody played more than 31 minutes for Memphis and 13 different people scored.  The win combined with the Suns loss put the Grizzlies back into the 8 seed in the West.  Something called Casper Ware played 6 minutes for the 76ers and had 4 points while another thing called Adonis Thomas scored 4 points in his 8 minutes.  Bonus points ot anyone who can tell me anything about either of those guys off the top of their heads -  I'm pretty sure they were both in Starship Troopers.

Golden State Warriors 112 Los Angeles Lakers 95 (Recap) -  Watching the Lakers get continually drummed by our Western Conference playoff competition is absolutely infuriating to me.  Steph Curry scored 30 points to lead the Warriors who saw David Lee return to the lineup while Andre Iguodala sat with knee tendinitis.  Everyone sucks for the Lakers.  The easy win for Golden State clinched a playoff berth for Full Squad.

Sorry Coffel - I sort of mailed that one in.

Current Western Conference Standings:

TEAM W L PCT GB L10 STREAK
1.San Antonio
62 18 .775 - 8-2 WON 2
2. Oklahoma City
58 21 .734 3.5
7-3 WON 3
3. LA Clippers
55 24 .696 6.5 7-3 LOST 1
4. Houston 52 27 .658 9.5 5-5 LOST 2
5. Portland
52 28 .650 10 7-3 WON 3
6. Golden State
49 30 .620 12.5 6-4 WON 1
7. Dallas
48 32 .600 14 6-4 LOST 1
8. Memphis
47 32 .595 14.5
6-4 WON 2
- SUNS
47 32 .595 14.5 7-3 LOST 1

Saturday April 12th Western Conference Games of Significance:

Suns @ Mavericks - This is the only one on the schedule tonight and you may have figured out it's a mildly large one.  The King of Density has you covered on the preview so I won't say much other than I really hope Goran Dragic plays.  I really, really hope Goran Dragic plays.  If the Suns win tonight they'll be playing Memphis on Monday for a playoff berth - if they lose they'll be playing to avoid elimination.  For emotional hedging purposes I'll take the Mavericks by 8.

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