Deja Vu (all over again).
The Phoenix Suns ran out of energy early in the second half, giving up 58 points in the second half to a more controlled and consistent Denver Nuggets team. The Nugs were led by Danilo Gallinari's game-leading 23 points, and had no trouble driving the lane and, more importantly, creating foul trouble for the Suns. Both Robin Lopez and Markieff Morris were in foul trouble throughout the game.
The fan energy in the U.S. Airways Center was great early on, led by our own Dragic_is_Magic, Eutychus, and Seth Pollack, among others, who no doubt solely contributed to the combined 5 blocks for Morris and RoLo in the first half. Lopez, starting in place of the injured Marcin Gortat (right thumb), seemed quicker and more aggressive in general. Jared Dudley led the Suns in scoring with 17 athletic points on 5-6 shooting, cementing his starting spot over the more erratic Shannon Brown, who ended up 5-11 and -13.
The glaring problem here is the ability of the entire team as a whole to sustain a decent level of play over 48 minutes. From mid third-quarter on, the team looked pretty listless on both offense and defense. Josh Childress answered Alvin Gentry's call-out with a line of 0/1/1 and -14. Actually, using Childress as a scapegoat for this loss would be wrong. By the end of the game, everyone on the team had a negative +/-.
With only a few days before the season opener on Monday, the Suns still have a lot of questions. Join me after the jump if you really just don't like yourself.
The good (sort of): Hakim Warrick, Markieff Morris, Robin Lopez, Jared Dudley, Shannon Brown
Questions of the day:
- Is Josh Childress just really bad, or nor a good fit with this team?
- Will Shannon Brown's FG% stay at around 20% for the season?
- How soon will Markieff Morris be our starting PF?
- (Related) Will Channing Frye find his shot?
- Will Sebastian Telfair find the floor this season?
Overall, the Suns have problems with cohesion, coordination, and closing power, among other things. Shooting 37% (29-79) for an entire game will always lead to another tick mark in the "L" column. Alvin Gentry has a tough job on his hands; the cast of characters that he has on this team, along with the abbreviated and fast-paced NBA schedule, will create one of the toughest coaching seasons in Suns history.
[Note by Seth Pollack, 12/22/11 10:45 PM MST ]
Adding this postgame video from Dudley and Morris.