Interim head coach Lindsey Hunter pulled no punches in stating that if there is not effort on the court certain players will not play, and he went as far as naming names. In an ugly loss the ugly side of this game can seep out and Hunter's frustration was evident.

PHOENIX – The Phoenix Suns held the Washington Wizards to 15 points in the third quarter and 14 in the fourth. Closing games like that are recipes for wins but not on Wednesday night in U.S. Airways...

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It was another tough, grind it out performance that was epitomized by P.J. Tucker leaping into the third row after a steal that Goran Dragic created in the third quarter. There is no understatement there, Tucker leaped over two rows of chairs, about six people, and landed on the stairs. That is hustle.

When Tucker got up and walked to the bench the Phoenix Suns clearly fed off of that energy and chipped away at the Washington Wizards lead that was once as large as 18 points.

The toughness of the Suns was on full display as Dragic (18 points 11 assists), Tucker (10 points 10 rebounds), and Luis Scola (11 points 5 rebounds) were going all out in this one. Those three played tough despite the deficit helping them grind it out and cut the Wizards lead to four points with under 8 minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

Grinding and playing tough basketball is quality every team currently in the lottery should exhibit, at the bare minimum at this level, and the Suns did just that. It was not enough to get the win, but showed heart on the court. Something that has been sporadic at best all season.

The Wizards closed out the game with a 88-79 win dropping the Suns to 23-46 on the season.

Tonight the Charlotte Bobcats, New Orleans Hornets, and the Wizards all won, meaning in a round about way the Suns actually won tonight. They get another full game of separation on Washington and own the opposite of a tie-breaker on them in case of a tie. That is a good thing.

Bradley Beal left the game in the fourth quarter with a left ankle sprain, Jared Dudley played despite being under the weather, and they let Shannon Fly. Just another night at U.S. Airways Center.

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Every win by the Phoenix Suns (23-45) is detrimental in their mission of getting the best possible pick in this years draft. That is the carrot that has been dangled all season in-front of the fans with the poor play on the court and accelerated drop in the standings.

Hosting the Washington Wizards (23-43) gives the Suns a peek at a team a few steps further along in the rebuilding process and a chance to move a little higher in the lottery standings.

(Recent) History Lesson

Lost 127-105

In their first meeting either the Wizards coaching staff did an exemplary job scouting the Suns porous three-point defense, or they just didn't guard Martell Webster. His seven made threes tied a career-high and was the fourth time this season he has hit 5+ threes in a game. The game was over early in the second half as the Wizards came out on fire and the Suns didn't.

Head-to-Head (past four seasons including Playoffs)

Suns: 111 PPG (5 wins)

Wizards: 99.8 PPG (1 wins)

Make no mistake, before this season's blowout in Washington the Suns owned the Wizards. As of late they were able to get over 100+ points in every game torching the defense. Those were Nash-led offenses, hence the dramatic change this season.

Head-to-Head (career)

John Wall vs. Suns: 12.5 PPG 4.3 RPG 10.8 APG 2.45 SPG 42.8 FG% (4 games)

Jermaine O'Neal vs. Wizards: 15.4 PPG 8.4 RPG 1.6 APG 2.0 BPG 42.6 FG% (36 games)

Wall averages 10+ assists per game against five teams and the Suns are No. 2 on that personal list for the potential star point guard. He picks apart the Suns, but does not score at a high rate despite the clear athletic advantage for him against the previous regime. O'Neal has a lot of experience against the Wizards in his career from his days in Indiana, Miami, and Boston.

Starting Line-Ups

PG - Goran Dragic v. John Wall

SG - Wesley Johnson v. Garrett Temple

SF - Marcus Morris v. Martell Webster

PF - Markieff Morris v. Nene Hilaro

C - Jermaine O'Neal v. Emeka Okafor

Potential Suns Inactives: Marcin Gortat (Foot)

Potential Wizards Inactives: A.J. Price (Groin) and Chris Singleton (Personal)

Key Match-Up

Markieff Morris vs. Nene

If Markieff is engaged on the offensive end his defense has struggled this year. Taking Nene out of the game is important in beating this team as he is their only offensive threat in the paint. This season Markieff has not been able to put together strings of good games, but off the heels of his solid offensive performance against the Lakers this is a chance to build on one good game. Last time out Markieff got the better of Nene in points, rebounds, and shooting.

Interesting Stat: 0-4

This season the Suns have lost by 20+ a total of 11 times overall. Seven of those occurrences have come on the road, giving the team some level of motivation in the return match-up, but that has not manifested into one win this year. When the team gets leveled on the road they are 0-4 with the chance at some level of redemption losing by an average of 13.7 in those return games.

Meaningless Stat: 10+

Before the loss earlier this season the Suns typically have taken out the whipping sticks on the Wizards to a tune of 10 straight wins, the last seven by 10+ points per game. There is that.

Time: 7 p.m. MST TV: FSAZ If there’s one thing to take solace in what went down on Saturday — a 127-105 thumping of the Phoenix Suns by the Wizards in Washington — it’d be...

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