Before we dig into this bloody business, it's important to note that the Suns have not been plagued by turnovers this season. In fact, their ability to NOT turn the ball over has been one of the few bright spots on an otherwise blah start to the season.
The Suns are fourth-best in the NBA with a turnover rate of 12.8 per 100 possessions. They are behind Toronto, Philadelphia, and New York -- all teams, ironically, that the Suns have fallen to in the last week.
Here's the nine turnovers from the first quarter on Sunday. They have eight more for the entire game so you could argue this one issue caused the loss (although I don't fully buy that).
Turnover #1: One their second offensive possession less than a minute into the game, the Suns come down and run a high pick and roll with Dragic and Gortat. The defense collapses with Morris' defender helping in the lane. Instead of kicking out to the open Morris for a three, Dragic tries to force the ball to Gortat in the lane and travels.
Turnover #2: At about the ten minute mark, Shannon Brown beats his man to the middle but has his head down and barrels right into the chest of Kurt Thomas who was camped out just below the free throw line long enough to have the paint transfer to the soles of his shoes. The game was 6-4, Knicks at this point.
Brown was the only starter with "just" one turnover. The rest had two each. Brown only played four minutes in the period
Turnover #3: The Suns run a nice little play designed to take advantage of the Knick tendency to switch picks (just like Woodsen's Hawks teams used to do). Brown sets a cross screen for Gortat's man (Chandler) coming across the lane and Ronnie Brewer switches on to the Polish center who has good post position with a guard on his back.
Beasley, however, throws a horrible entry bounce pass that skips out of bounds. That's about the 7:55 mark with the Suns already down 13-6.
Turnover #4: About a minute later with the Suns now down 16-6, Gortat sets a ball screen for Beasley who denies the screen and drives past Melo. Melo, however, comes around from behind and swipes the ball. This was a pretty nice little steal from Anthony.
Turnover #5: About 30 seconds later (Suns down 18-6), Dudley tries to throw an entry pass to Morris who has J.R. Smith on his back after another Knicks switched screen. Smith does a good job battling Morris which forces Dudley to pass the ball a bit high. Morris should have still grabbed it but seems to take his eye off the ball and it gets away from him.
Turnover #6: Michael Beasley is advancing the ball after a rebound and around the half court line picks up his dribble to advance the ball to Goran but Goran isn't looking for the pass and the ball goes out of bounds. 5:44, Suns down 18-6.
Turnover #7: Dragic and Gortat run a high screen and roll. Morris is spaced behind the three-point line but is too close to the middle and when Dragic tries to bounce him the ball, Brewer easily reads the plays and gets the steal.
Turnover #8: With about 3:33 left and the Suns down 21-10, Morris runs down the floor and barrels into Steve Novak as he tries to get good post position. Offensive foul.
Turnover #9: Dragic and Gortat run a high screen and roll. Instead of trying a bounce pass, Goran lobs the ball to the rim for what should have been a dunk but the lob is off and hits the rim and Gortat touches it for an offensive basket interference call. Suns down 21-14 with 1:45 to go.
That's it folks. Do you see a pattern here? Both of Morris' turnovers were just dumb. Beasley's too. Goran made a couple of bad passes.
The Suns were down by seven before the third turnover and down by ten by the fourth. But the Suns defense, at least statistically, didn't suck. New York shot 39% from the field (25% from three) while the Suns shot 46.7% in the first quarter. Those numbers will win you games, but the Suns only had 15 FGAs to the Knicks 23 thanks to those lost possessions.
So yeah, nine turnover in the first quarter killed the Suns in this game. Of course, getting outscored 35-22 in the second quarter and giving up 56% shooting and four threes didn't help either.
Dude, Bright Side of the Sun is on the FaceBook.
The Suns would have won this game if only Jermaine O'Neal (thigh bruise) had been able to play. Or perhaps if the start time hadn't been so early on a Sunday. Maybe they would have won if they weren't on the tail end of a very long road trip. Or perhaps if they had only held on to the ball a little better (17 turnovers). If they were only able to stay with the sneaky-fast Steve Novak as he camped out at the three-point line and took uncontested shots.
So close. So close.
Not really that close at all. Down 15-points within the first few minutes and unable to capitalize on foul trouble for Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith and mouth trouble for Rasheed Wallace (ejected after 1:25 minutes of floor time) the Suns were quickly in their familiar early hole. It must be very warm and cozy there since they go to that place so frequently.
As they are prone to do, Phoenix clawed to within six early in the second but that guy who never hits a three (Novak) went 3-5 for nine points and Carmelo Anthony mixed in some incredibly difficult shots with a stupendous missed dunk (also nine points in the 2nd) to power the Knicks to 35 points in the period.
Except it technically wasn't, unfortunately, ovah quite yet.
The third quarter featured some Mad Brown Bombs (13 points) and a heavy dose of Melo (also 13 points). The rest of the professional basketball players that played all combined for a total of 34 points evenly distributed among both teams.
Math quiz: Based on the previous information, how many points did each team score in the quarter.
Hint: 30 each.
In the fourth, the Suns made it kinda exciting (except we knew they were just teasing). The perimeter defense improved and so 46% shooting from three was replaced with 0% (0-3) and as a result, the Suns won the quarter 27-17.
"Too little, too late" comes to mind.
Bassy played the entire quarter and looked sharp(ish) with 8 of his 11 points but the lead was too big and the Suns not talented enough to make it closer than a four-point margin. But at least they beat the 11.5-point spread! Victory!!!
Some bullet points on how you lose a game:
- turn the ball over 17 times (giving up 23 points) while the other guys only give up the ball 8 times (10 points)
- get beat 20-12 on second chance points
- let Raymond Felton add his own efficient 23 points to Melo's inefficient 34 points
- Steve Novak (12 points, 4-9 from three)
- shoot 48% from the field and lose because you have a team that can't play defense worth a lick
|Final - 12.2.2012||1||2||3||4||Total|
|New York Knicks||24||35||30||17||106|
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Next up, Memphis. How hard could that be?
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