The win over the Grizzlies was nice while it lasted, but immediately after the Phoenix Suns dropped three straight in convincing fashion to fall to 17-34 on the year.
Records are meant to be broken and making history is normally a good thing, unless you are 17 games under .500 and teetering on the brink of breaking apart as they float around the bottom five of the NBA standings all season with no signs of change to come.
@ Memphis Grizzlies - W (96-90)
@ New Orleans Hornets - L (93-84)
@ Oklahoma City Thunder - L (127-96)
vs. Oklahoma City Thunder - L (97-69)
Can it get worse?
Offensively the Suns managed 86.25 points per game, which was the lowest for a four game stretch all season. Even worse than the forgettable seven game losing streak earlier in the season. They shot 43.3% from the field, 28% from three, and turned the ball over 75 times.
On the defensive end they fared well outside of running into the buzz-saw that are the Thunder.
As a unit the Suns defense gave up 91.5 points per game up to the Grizzlies and Hornets (PELICANS), but 112 per game to the Thunder. Those games count into the running total meaning that the defense, once again, was the primary issue allowing 101.75 PPG through four games.
Now it is time for a break.
After the Lakers game the team will likely disperse out to their homes and enjoy the week off. Time to get their minds right, rest up, and get themselves ready for the final stretch of 29 games to close the season.
The Suns are one of three teams without a representative in general at All-Star weekend.
The worst winning percentage in team history before the All-Star Break was 20% back in the teams inaugural season of 1968-1969. That was teams worst year ever in terms of wins and losses. Right now they are at 32.69%, the third worst in franchise history and are the worst Suns team in 25 years. Or since I was born.
A loss to the Lakers on Tuesday would bump the overall percentage to 32.07%, still good for third worst in the teams history.
Two points from Wesley Johnson. You heard me right, two points from Johnson were the unfortunate highlight of a week of basketball. In the waning moments of the the home version of the home and away split between the Thunder Johnson scored with seven seconds on the clock to avoid a franchise low (68) in points for a game.
In that same game the Suns scored a total of 50 points through 40 minutes of action. That is .8 points per minute and has to be in the running for the worst 40 minutes of basketball in team history.
The 50 points were on 22-76 shooting and were accompanied by 18 team turnovers. Break that down further and the team scored .53 points per possession
Lows that nobody wants to repeat or acknowledge, but the offensive ineptitude and futility was at an all-time low for the sport of basketball. The starters were a combined -19.3 in the controversial +/- statistic. It can only get better from here, right?
Analysis from practice can be found here
A look at three different players on the Suns for the week forming a good, bad, and a surprise either way each week.
Player of the Week:
Jermaine O'Neal - 10.0 PPG 5.3 RPG 1.3 APG 1.3 BLKS 75.0 FG%
Easily the most consistent player on the Suns roster this past week was the returning big man Jermaine O'Neal. He was a consistent scorer off of the bench as well as the anchor in the paint defensively. Coming into the season the addition of O'Neal was not earth-shattering, but he has shown game in and game out that he is one of the two or three most important players on the team.
This past week he reminded the team of his value off of the bench as a stabilizer.
Either O'Neal boosted his trade value this week for a contender looking for a veteran big man off of the bench, or, he solidified his value. If only the team could bottle what O'Neal does and serve it the the 22-27 year old talent that gets the lions share of the minutes.
Previewing the Week Ahead:
Tuesday, February 12th @ Los Angeles Lakers (24-27)
Some things are about more than basketball. Some things are deeper and show the humanity of people, humbling us to our most basic core.
This is one of those moments as the Phoenix Suns took time out of their day yesterday to welcome in a kid from halfway across the country and, for a day, treated him like one of their own.
As young Jonah Zahm walked in the land of giants that is the NBA for a day, he was the one with the most heart and courage. It takes a special kind of courage to battle Von Willebrand'd Disease everyday at his age than it does to take a full speed charge from LeBron James or have the ball in your hands in a tie game down the stretch.
In the end those are factors of a game.
On the surface he is like any other shy young 12 year old boy out of his element on an NBA practice court. He didn't blend in with the trees all over the court, however humbled them as he shot (and made) jumpers with them, leading huddles, and interacting with them.
"He has a nice little jumper," said Interim Head Coach Lindsey Hunter. "I talked about him playing."
Jonah had a simple description for all of this, "They are so much taller than me."
He came all the way from Illinois to become a Sun for a day, but build memories for life with these real life giants.
The Make-a-Wish foundation made this happen for Jonah as they have for many kids in the past. All the Phoenix Suns had to do was welcome in Jonah, as they did with open arms. From signing a contract, getting a jersey in the same press conference room that rookies and newcomers are welcomed in, to practicing with the team, today was about memories.
"We were just sharing some Mid-West stories," said Hunter about his time with Jonah.
"He is from Illinois and I lived there the past 20 some odd years. It is always great to share, especially being in the industry we are in. When you can share with a kid like that it means the world to them. I told him I never met a pro athlete when I was a kid so for him to come here and live out one of his dreams was awesome."
That it was as Lance Blanks began the day giving Jonah his jersey.
He was given his own locker next to Goran Dragic who conveniently had a free space available for him with his double-locker. After that he went to the court where he met the team. When practice was over Michael Beasley took the practice ball and made the executive decision that Jonah deserved an authentic NBA ball, not a generic autograph ball. The team signed it and presented it to Jonah at the end.
"My dad likes them and so I just caught on, now they are my favorite team," said Jonah about his love for the team. "Channing Frye is my favorite, but he is hurt though. I like everybody, but him especially."
A jersey, a contract, a locker, and practice made Jonah a Sun for a day. Getting paid would have made that more official, right Jonah, "that would be nice."?
What gravitated Jonah to the Suns, despite being in Illinois, was his dad, a longtime fan. He picked up while watching his dad watch the team and grew a connection to the team, Channing Frye in particular.
Frye is Jonah's favorite player on the Suns, in the league, and ever. His final surprise was an afternoon out wit his favorite player for some lunch and a conversation.
He is excited to get home and share this experience with his friends, family, and a select few. "My grandpa and my grandma at home. And my youth pastor," stated Jonah on who back home he wants to share this with. "Me and him are friends. I will talk to him about it. We are buying souvenirs for people too."
Jonah finished his day off at the game, which was not the ending the team would have hoped for, but the edge had to be taken off with the presence of their Sun for a Day, Jonah Zahm.
The Phoenix Suns, as evidenced once again on Sunday night when they failed to score 70 points, are seriously lacking in talent. As Dave pointed out recently, they do have assets to make trades and so we fully expect these trade rumors to continue unabated right up until the trade deadline at 3:00 pm ET on February 21.
Here's a new one from Paul Coro at the Arizona Republic that links the Suns to the Utah Jazz.
Reports of deadline deals swirl about Phoenix Suns
The Suns also have shown interest in a bigger splash for Utah’s Al Jefferson or Gordon Hayward. Dudley could be a part of either of those deals with center Marcin Gortat likely needed to make one work for Jefferson, a 28-year-old power forward who makes $14 million and is averaging 17.4 points and 9.5 rebounds. Hayward, a 22-year-old swingman, is averaging 13.5 points in a reserve role.
But then here's a conflicting report from ex-ESPN Insider, Ric Bucher:
Ric Bucher's post on San Antonio Spurs | Latest updates on Sulia
Latest word on Utah Jazz and who they'll keep vs. deal between Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap: Jefferson is the like -liest to stay right now, according to several opposing team executives. Consensus is the Jazz can't afford to keep both with Gordon Hayward soon to be eligible for an extension and the belief that Hayward is in the team's long-term plans
However things play out, it does seem like the Jazz will need to make some moves. Jefferson has already been linked to the Spurs but perhaps it will be Millsap who gets gone from the Beehive State. We should never forget that the Jazz are super deep in the front court with Jefferson, Millsap and young lottery talent in Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter.
As for the bigs, I've never been a huge Al Jefferson fan. He's quite talented on the offensive end and he does rebound, but defensively, he's not very mobile. He's basically a lesser version of Zach Randolph in that he lacks Z-bo's range and face-up game.
Millsap is a very nice player, but I don't see him being a great fit on the Suns. He's an upgrade at the PF but not an UPGRADE. Hayward I love, but I doubt the Jazz let him go. He seems to be a great fit in Utah. You know.
Ready. Set. Discuss.