The Phoenix Suns cheerleaders perform in "Star Wars" themed outfits before the NBA game against the Sacramento Kings at US Airways Center  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

When you fail to show up for a game, it's really difficult to win it.

The Phoenix Suns proved that tonight, allowing the worst team in the Western Conference to come in and dominate the second half with their big men. I'm only kicking myself that I didn't actually predict this loss earlier in the preview. I stopped short, mentioning that Carl Landry (20 and 10) and Jason Thompson (8 and 7) were Suns killers. I wanted to say Samuel Dalembert (18, 15 and 3 blocks) too, but I had too much faith in Marcin Gortat and Robin Lopez to keep him in check. And I wanted to say Donte Green because I remember a big game from him a year ago, but his career numbers against the Suns weren't that hot.

The Suns came out flat. Then they went on a big run in the first quarter, turning a 10-point deficit into a 10-point lead in a matter of a few minutes. Apparently, the Suns thought the game was over at that point.

Carl Landry had other ideas.

Carl Landry was the difference in this game. In the first half, he missed all 7 of his shots but pulled down 7 rebounds to offset that. In the second half, Landry blew up for 20 points and 3 more rebounds. His energy and extra effort single-handedly re-inspired the Kings in the second half.

This coincided with the Suns shooting nothing but jump shots. The Suns took a 10-point first half lead - and kept it till the last second - because they'd worked Landry, Dalembert AND Thompson into 3 fouls apiece. Despite the Suns losing the rebounding battle, I was confident at halftime.

Yet, Landry wasn't forced to commit any more fouls, and Dalembert only incurred 2 more. Dalembert knows how to stay aggressive despite foul trouble, which is not the same as Frye with 5 fouls. Dalembert finished with 18 points (including a critical drive on the dribble FROM THE 3-POINT LINE RIGHT TO THE BASKET), 15 big rebounds and 3 blocks. Frye? Oh yeah, he wasn't in the game tonight. Frye collected 5 fouls of his own and turned into a mouse.

The lowly Kings, sporting the league's 26th ranked offense, scored any time they wanted including 8 of their last 9 possessions (the only "stop" being the breakaway where Gortat tipped away an ill-advised alley-oop).

News flash to the Phoenix Suns: That's not going to get it done.

Don't blame this game on Steve Nash. Thanks to his 22 and 18, he's got EIGHT games this season with at least 20 points and 15 assists. The entire rest of the NBA has THREE. And he's not in the All-Star game. Riiiight.

To a lesser extent, lay the second-least amount of blame on Marcin Gortat. He had 20 points and 12 rebounds - the only Sun who put up a fight on the boards. Yet, he contributed to the Suns giving up 18 offensive rebounds. Overall, the Kings outrebounded the Suns 51-36 tonight. Ugly.

Way to make it harder on yourselves, guys. Woo-hoo.

[Note by Seth Pollack, 02/13/11 9:51 PM MST ]

Phoenix Suns Fall To Sacramento Kings, 113-108 - SB Nation Arizona
Suns centers Marcin Gortat and Channing Frye noted that the Kings were attacking the glass with four and five players while the Suns were left with only one or two battling in the paint. 

Audio:

 Game Notes

1st Qtr

  • Some of that good defense on display as Tyreke Evans blows by Vince for a lay up and the hits a pull up J in his face. Pietrus please.
  • Hill on ‘Reke now. That didn't take long.
  • Robin aggressively takes a hook shot and misses. 10-4, Kings. Aggression is always better when it results in 2 points.
  • 17-7, Kings. Time out, Suns. The force is strong with this one (Tyreke, that is)
  • Robin misses again in the paint. Carter cleans up the mess. Somehow, that seems like it should be the other way around.
  • Gortat and Dudley in for Vince and Robin. 19-10, Kings. Let's see what happens next here.
  • Great weakside block from Frye after JT beats Gortat with some nice moves in the paint.
  • Suns on 8-0 run since subs came in. Defense much improved.
  • 3rd foul on Dalembert already
  • Somehow, Beno Udrih can't stop Nash. Probably b/c he's a horrible defender but also b/c it's Nash.
  • 12-0 run now.
  • Garret Siler watching Gorilla light saber duel on video screen during time out. Can't blame him, it was awesome
  • Grant Hill chatting w/ Evans during FTs. Probably asking him about his diet.
  • Really like what I see from Jason Thompson. Wish there were a way to get that guy into a Suns uniform. He does wear #34 though, so that's a problem.
  • 27-19 now. 17-0 run....ended by Casspi.
  • This Suns run btw also coincides w/ Dalembert going out w/ his 3rd foul. That's kind of pertinent information IMHO
  • Can we all just agree that having the ball in the Pietrus' hands at the end of the clock isn't going to end well?
  • Quick 4-0 run for Kings off 5-on-4 w/ Gortat fallen at one end and then Frye inbounds right to Kings player.
  • Dowdell in. 32-27
  • Evans plows in, takes the hit, finishes. He's looking sharp tonight. 11 points.
  • 32-30, Suns

2nd Qtr

  • Kings 7-1 in OReb
  • The scouting report on Dowdell has to be "beg him to shoot as often as possible"
  • Dowdell hits Warrick in the head w/ the pass, picks up the ball, gets confused, travels
  • Dowdell takes charge on the other end because he's a baller like that
  • Every time Evans gives up the ball he looks unhappy that he did
  • Gortat posts up JT and scores. That's pretty cool
  • JT posts up Gortat and doesn't score. That's pretty cool.
  • That MP block on Evans was cool too.
  • Cool
  • Nash and Hill back in. 42-37 so Z's bench held even.
  • Massive Gortat Missed Dunk!!!
  • Very cool
  • Grant's turned down at least two wide open threes so far. He's not having his best game overall.
  • Vince and Robin back in. 48-45, Suns. 2:28
  • Suns got crossed up on that rotation as Robin ended up on Landry. Lopez backed off but Landry still attacked and drew the foul
  • Robin Lopez with the ball on the break. Dunk! Bench was thrilled...and probably relieved he didn't blow it.
  • 57-50 but they are reviewing Kings three at end of shot clock

3rd Qtr

  • Kings only shooting 41% but 11-2 in OReb. Suns shooting 51%. This could go either way from here. Either Suns clean up their mess and run away with it or Kings take heart at only being down 7 and make a game of it. I have no idea which will happen. If I did, I would be in Vegas right now.
  • Grant still looking a bit off tonight, missed a wide open mid-range J that's normally money
  • Dalembert with the slow speed drive and finish
  • 4th foul on JT after Beno and Casspi run the ugliest lob play ever
  • Grant hit that one curling off the screen. He rose up and had about 3 seconds in the air to focus and make sure he made it. Hang time.
  • After Lopez play they did a quick audio sounder of Chewbacca.
  • 63-57. This game feels like it's on autopilot
  • Landry steals an OReb from two Suns players
  • Sweet spin move by Robin. Missed the shot
  • Gortat back in. 63-59
  • There's an impressively small contingent of Kings fans here.
  • There are none
  • Gortat gets schooled by Dalembert who goes right over his back from an OReb and put back. No box out at all.
  • Carl Landry has no regard for common decency. When your defender backs off you, he wants you to take a jump shot, not drive into his chest and get an and 1. Stop it
  • Again, Landry? Stop it, please....
  • 12 points Landry. Enough already, I really don't want to have to write about the Suns losing to the Kings (again)
  • 71-71 btw
  • 73-73 btw
  • 41-25 rebounding. That's without Cousins.
  • Dudley dunk! That's two on the season!!!
  • Don't laugh, he has two more than you do, sucker!
  • 81-78

4th Qtr

  • Big stretch for the bench. Rhyme time!
  • Dalembert has impressed me with his offense in this game. I don't remember him having that much game.
  • Wow, great chase down block from MP on Evans fast break
  • Turnover, Zabian. 82-81 Kings
  • Another nice steal from Z and then another nice pass ahead from Dudley for a fast break for Warrick (fouled on the dunk attempt, missed both FTAs)
  • Z had Hak open for a lob but missed it. Then threw the entry pass which Landry stole. 84-83
  • Z is 2-7 shooting w/ 3 turnovers.
  • 88-83, Kings, 7:43. Nash back in?
  • Yup
  • Nash's charm forces Kings to bobble rebound out of bounds. He's awesome.
  • Suns look tight and lost. Kings look like they feel they might actually win. They could be right.
  • 5th foul on Frye
  • Donte Greene w/ the three. Dudley can't possibly close out fast enough on that guy - too tall
  • 3-0 run by Kings since Nash back in. Bring back Z?
  • Kidding.
  • 5-0 run now. Not kidding so much
  • Huge three from Hill. 86-93, 5:30
  • Kings throw the ball away. Nash was on the court when it happened therefore he caused it.
  • Beno fouls Nash behind the arc. Go Nash!
  • Suns crowd totally blows MVP chants for Steven and collectively slaps self in back of head.
  • Landry w/ the put back of course
  • 95-91, 4:39. Kings
  • Great Flop, Gortat! Gorflop!!
  • Where are the Suns going to get some offense from? Carter is benched. Got to be Nash/Gortat pick and roll
  • Landry posts up Frye and gets a big hoop. Would be nice to have him on our team.
  • 97-91, Kings. 3:30
  • Nash goes into Nash mode and hits a Nash shot. 97-93
  • Udrih takes a dumb, contested three early in the clock...and makes it. 100-95
  • Donte Greene posts up Dudley and scores. Suns not getting stops.
  • Greene drives and draws the and 1. 105-97, 1:42
  • Another big three from Grant. Still down 100-105, 1 min
  • Dalembert drives on Gortat from the three point line and scores
  • 102-107, 37 sec
  • It's been all isolations by the Kings late and all by guys not named Evans (or Cousins)
  • Nash fouled taking a three. Missed the first one. 104-109, 27 sec.
  • That was funny....you know what I'm talking about (Tyreke's DUMB lob attempt)





Star Wars Night! Luke Skywalker (Nash) needs to keep feeding the ball to Chewbacca (Lopez), C3PO (Frye) and JarJar Binks (Gortat) (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)


BOX OUT! (AP Photo/Steve Yeater)







Need a lot of this tonight. (AP Photo/Thearon Henderson)

The Phoenix Suns face the Sacramento Kings tonight, who are on the back end of a back-to-back while the Suns had yesterday off. I saw Hakim Warrick walking the Scottsdale Fashion Square with some buds, while teammate Marcin Gortat went on a date to the new Aniston/Sandler comedy and Steve Nash probably played with his kids.

Is it just me or does it seem like this is a broken record? In fact, it is a broken record after all. Here's an excerpt from some analysis of the Suns' schedule last fall.

But what's even more interesting, and what's missing from previous schedule analysis, is that the Suns will play a league-leading 20 games against opponents on their second game of a back to back while the Suns are rested!

Read more: http://valleyofthesuns.com/2010/11/16/phoenix-suns-leagues-most-favorable-schedule/#ixzz1Drcbn7Li

In the last three games, the Suns have done the B2B tradeoff. Thursday's game against Golden State had the Warriors finishing a B2B, then Friday's game saw the Suns take their turn on the B2B (one of only 16 on the season for the Suns), and now its Sacramento's turn.

A few big questions lead off tonight's game:

1) Will DeMarcus Cousins play? (Update: Cousins definitely out)

2) Will the Suns take the 4th quarter collapse in last game as real incentive to kick some butt tonight?

3) Will Goran Dragic return?

Hit the jump for more...

Will Cousins Play?

Update: Cousins definitely out

Cousins was removed from the team plane last night, and has been told he needs to meet with the GM Geoff Petrie on Monday morning to discuss the altercation in more (face-to-face) detail. Petrie is out of town on a scouting trip, not returning until late Sunday. Several blog-type outlets have reported this as a suspension, but the team itself has not made any announcement at this time.

Frankly, I hope DeMarcus plays. I have no desire to watch yet another team fail to show up mentally for a game against the Suns. We've had two straight opponents fold up their tents early, and a full-strength Kings squad was likely to be a third in a row given poor record, their last-second loss only 20 hours ago, and the Suns' likely desire to right a wrong.

If Cousins doesn't play though, a pair of Suns killers will get more burn than usual. Jason Thompson (14 pts, 6.6 rebs in 28 mins lifetime against Suns), Carl Landry (16.8 and 7.6 - most against any opponent - in 28 mins lifetime against Suns) will get the bulk of the frontcourt minutes. Thomspon has previously been too long for the Suns' frontcourt, and Carl Landry has been an energetic demon off the bench.

So, I really hope Cousins plays. I want the Suns to beat a full squad with a minimum of excuses. And I'd rather the unknown of Cousins than the "known" of getting hurt by Thompson and Landry.

Here's the stats for the 12-38 Kings


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Tyreke Evans 45 37.7 7.0 17.0 41.2 0.8 2.8 28.2 3.5 4.7 75.7 0.9 4.0 4.9 5.5 3.2 1.7 0.6 2.7 18.3
DeMarcus Cousins 50 26.9 5.4 12.3 43.6 0.1 0.2 27.3 3.1 4.6 67.2 2.7 5.4 8.1 1.8 2.8 0.8 0.7 4.0 13.9
Beno Udrih 50 34.3 5.1 10.3 49.1 0.9 2.5 34.7 2.6 3.0 84.9 0.6 2.9 3.5 4.2 1.7 1.2 0.1 2.3 13.6
Carl Landry 50 26.4 4.5 9.2 49.2 0.0 0.1 0.0 2.8 3.9 71.8 2.3 2.3 4.6 0.9 1.5 0.6 0.4 2.4 11.9
Francisco Garcia 35 23.3 3.5 7.8 44.9 1.3 3.5 37.9 1.0 1.2 83.7 0.4 2.1 2.5 1.2 0.7 0.7 0.9 2.2 9.3
Omri Casspi 48 25.2 3.4 8.4 40.2 1.6 4.1 38.3 1.0 1.4 67.6 1.2 3.7 4.8 0.9 1.0 0.7 0.2 1.7 9.3
Jason Thompson 43 21.5 3.3 6.7 48.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.7 2.6 64.3 1.8 3.8 5.6 1.0 1.3 0.4 0.5 2.7 8.2
Samuel Dalembert 48 20.7 2.5 5.4 45.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.9 1.2 74.6 2.2 4.2 6.4 0.8 1.3 0.3 1.6 2.6 5.8
Luther Head 27 15.9 1.9 4.4 42.9 0.7 1.9 36.0 1.1 1.5 77.5 0.3 1.1 1.4 1.9 0.8 0.3 0.2 1.1 5.6
Donte Greene 42 16.5 2.1 5.5 38.4 0.6 2.2 27.7 0.5 0.9 56.4 0.9 1.7 2.6 0.9 0.9 0.5 0.4 1.3 5.4
Jermaine Taylor 16 9.4 1.9 4.0 46.9 0.2 0.7 27.3 0.4 0.6 70.0 0.3 1.1 1.3 0.6 1.1 0.4 0.1 0.8 4.4
Eugene Jeter 38 14.7 1.8 4.4 40.8 0.1 0.6 14.3 0.6 0.7 84.0 0.2 1.0 1.2 2.9 0.8 0.5 0.1 1.0 4.3
Darnell Jackson 31 9.4 1.4 2.9 48.4 0.0 0.2 20.0 0.5 0.8 56.0 1.1 0.9 2.0 0.3 0.5 0.2 0.1 1.1 3.3
Hassan Whiteside 1 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.0 0.0


 

Will the Suns play with a vengeance?

I'm not entirely sure the Suns will play to avenge their 4th quarter collapse the last time these teams met. The loss was damaging, but mainly self-inflicted. And it was so "far" ago, so far away from where the team is now, that they may not recognize themselves if they recall the last game in prep for this one.

But I sure HOPE the Suns come out with a purpose and a vengeance. The Kings outrebounded the Suns 60-32 in that game. 60-32. Ouch. I hope Frye, Warrick, Lopez and Gortat take it upon themselves to control those defensive boards. I hope Hill, Carter, Dudley and Pietrus take it upon themselves to box out Casspi and Garcia from offensive rebounds.

If the Suns take care of the boards, they will win this game going away.

 

Final Question: Will Goran Dragic play?

I know there's a few Zabian Dowdell fans out there. What Zabian has over Goran is self-confidence and the full knowledge of his complete (though limited) skillset. Zabian plays wihtin himself, and has no fear on the court.

But don't forget Goran's many gifts. He is a skilled passer, shooter and defender. His problem is that he doesn't always play under control and doesn't always have his head clearly "in the moment".

Hopefully some time off will do Goran well, especially while he's watched the second unit play very well lately under Dowdell's controlled leadership. I'll take a peaking Goran over a peaking Dowdell any time.

 

Other links for your pregame pleasure

Suns Attempt To Keep Good Times Rolling - SB Nation AZ

Without Cousins, who dropped 28 points when the Kings beat the Suns in Sacramento in early January, this game will get much easier for the Suns. The Suns have beat the Kings at home 10-straight times.

 

 

Kings vs Suns coverage

Kings vs Suns preview

Sactown Royalty


Sacramento Kings 113, Phoenix Suns 108 The Suns were embarrassed in their first game of 2011. Up 14 in the fourth quarter in Sacramento, Phoenix squandered its big lead and allowed the...

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