There's so much to talk about with this Suns team this season. There's hardly been a stretch of more than a couple of games where you felt like things were falling into a predictable pattern and you could guess with a lot of accuracy how the team would perform in certain situations.
That lack of consistency in all things Suns hasn't helped the team find it's way to a winning record. But on the bright side, it leaves plenty of fodder for us to talk and write about. So there's that.
The consensus from Grant Hill and Alvin Gentry after today's practice -- another fairly long one by Suns' standards -- was an overall sense of satisfaction with the first 43 minutes of the Kings game and disappointment in the final five minutes.
There wasn't nearly the consternation with the small line up that us arm chair experts seemed to have. That could be because they know better than us (as if), but it also could be because they know all the other options are even worse so they have to put on a brave face.
Either way, here's what Grant had to say about playing power forward, " I enjoy the idea of playing the four."
Hill said he needed to make some adjustments such as finding someone else to inbound the ball after made baskets so he could still leak out and create havoc early in the offense but overall he was pleased...with the lineup anyway.
"It worked against Detroit but didn't work last night. Obviously, the rebounding thing was disappointing. Just losing period. It's getting old. That was a tough one."
Gentry said that Hill did a great job on Jason Thompson and even tough Carl Landry had 12 rebounds, the Kings power forwards combined to only go 7-21. Hill wasn't sure if the Suns would start small against the Lakers big, skilled front Gasol/Bynum court but he was sure that group would be on the floor together at some point.
Gentry did suggest that one reason for the small lineup is the lack of consistent scoring from Channing Frye.
Frye's three-point shooting has fallen from 44% last season 35% this season. He is still taking exactly 4.8 threes per game in both years and his made threes have only fallen from 2.1 to 1.7 per game. The percentages can be a bit misleading.
"He still creates space on the floor, but we would like to have more production from him. It helps our offense tremendously when he's making shots," Gentry said.
And as we all now know, when Fyre scores 15 or more points, the Suns are 6-1.
The other big topic was confidence and staying positive.
Phoenix Suns Struggling To Plug Holes And Stay Confident - SB Nation Arizona
The Phoenix Suns have lost to three teams with a combined winning percentage of .306. The team is understandably frustrated and is trying to remain positive and regain their confidence.
And here's an interesting admission from Gentry.
Phoenix Suns Still Searching For Go-To Scoring Option, Gentry Says - Desert Dirt - SB Nation Arizona
"We have to have someone we can throw the ball to in the post area that we can count on either getting us a basket or getting to the foul line," Gentry said.
More Notes and Quotes
It should be noted that Robert Sarver, Lance Blanks and Lon Babby were all at Suns practice today. It should also be noted that WWE is in town and were setting up for their show tonight.
I can't say there's a connection between those two things, but I can't say there isn't.
You might be asking yourself how exactly did the Suns blow a 12-point lead to the Kings in under six minutes. Who screwed up? How bad was it? Here's your quick answer: Vince Carter screwed up three defensive plays and missed two open shots; Pietrus missed two open shots and failed to box out; Gortat scored the only bucket for the Suns and had a great block but also made a bad foul. Hill missed two open shots as well.
For the Kings, the real star was Francisco Garcia. He had two big offensive rebounds that led to four second chance points and he hit an open jump shot. He also drew a foul on Carter and got to the line but missed both shots. That's six points Garcia was responsible for. Omri Casspi hit two open threes for another six points. Cousins had the three-point play and a nice assist as well. Finally, Pooh Jeter hit two shots but he also missed two.
For the most part the Suns offense wasn't bad, they just missed very open shots and the Kings did a good job taking the ball out of Nash's hands and packing the lane. This wasn't like the Bulls or the Blazers games where the Suns had turnovers and were completely baffled on offense. They just missed shots.
Defensively, the Suns did an OK job with the exception of Carter's blown play on the final dagger three from Casspi and the failure of Carter and Pietrus to box out Garcia on two separate occasions which lead to an extra four points for the Kings. The Kings hit all their shots and the Suns hit none.
For those who thought Vince Carter could replace Jason Richardson, he's done a good job in this one game by both blowing a key defensive assignment and also failing to box out at a critical point. Well done.
Because I was up anyway, here's a break down of all the plays with pictures.
We will pick things up at about the 5:30 mark with the Suns up 12 (87-75).
1) Nash is playing off the speedy Pooh Jeter and gives up the kind of pull up jump shot that most guards can take against him. To be fair, Jeter hadn't played in the game at all until the 4th quarter and hadn't yet hit a shot before nailing this one. 87-77, Suns.
2) The Suns come down and run a Nash / Gortat pick and roll that had been pretty effective most of the game. The Kings rotated well and walled off a lane to the hoop so Marcin stopped and tried a little shot in the lane. He was open but missed. 87-77, Suns
3) The Kings come down and Garcia drives and instead of playing solid defense, Carter tries to get the charge but is too slow and fouls. Garcia misses both free throws. 87-77, Suns. 5:05.
4) The Suns come back and get a wide open 8 foot shot for Grant Hill that misses. 87-77, Suns. 4:48.
5) Jeter tries another shot but misses. Garcia beats Pietrus to the ball and grabs the offensive rebound and gets the easy put back. 87-79, Suns.
6) The Suns get an open three-point shot for Carter in the corner. Miss. 87-79, Suns. 4:15.
7) The Kings work the ball inside and Cousins kicks out to Casspi in the corner for an open three. He makes it. 87-82, Suns. 4:04.
8) The Suns get Pietrus an even more open corner three but he misses. 87-82, Suns. 3:44.
9) The Kings advance the ball quickly and the Suns defense isn't set. Garcia gets and hits an open 16 foot shot with just a few seconds off the clock. 87-84, Suns. 3:37.
10) Out of a time out, Carter drives the lane and finds Gortat for a little baseline shot. This will be the only Suns basket in the final 5 minutes. 89-84, Suns. 3:18.
11) Jeter takes another pull up shot that misses. On this picture look at the top of the screen and notice Vince Carter guarding Francisco Garcia.
12) Garcia comes all the way across the lane and when the ball bounces out after Gortat and Cousins fight for it he's there for the rebound. Look where Carter is.
13) After the Garcia rebound, Jeter takes another shot, this time he makes it from 17 feet. 89-86, Suns. 2:34.
14) Grant Hill gets a wide open 18 foot shot but misses. 89-86, Suns. 2:07.
15) Gortat makes a great play on Cousins and blocks the ball out of bounds. He then comes back on the next play and leaves his feet too soon and fouls Cousins who somehow makes the shot while falling down. He hits the free throw as well. 89-89, tie. 1:48.
16) Here the Kings play great defense and the Suns end up with a shot clock violation. At one point Nash has Cousins switched on him but passes up the shot and then late in the clock Gortat passes to Nash instead of taking the shot at the buzzer. This was the only really bad Suns offensive possession. 89-89, tie.
17) Jeter takes and misses another shot and the Suns rebound. Phoenix gets Carter an open three and he misses. 89-89, tie. :42.
18) On the key defensive play of the game, Vince Carter is caught not paying attention and he's sagged off Casspi. He doesn't see the pass going to Casspi until it's too late to close out and effectively contest the shot. Casspi nails it to give the Kings the lead. 92-89, Kings. :25.
And finally, Gentry giving Carter the WTH look after the shot goes in.
19) On the final play, the Suns try to get Nash open but the Kings switch the screen. Nash drives and kicks to Pietrus but Casspi recovers and chases him off the shot. Pietrus decides not to drive and get an open two and instead sidesteps and takes a three but Casspi has recovered and Pietrus is forced to shoot the ball high to avoid getting blocked and it sails over the rim. Ball game.
Perhaps Nash should have gone to the rim instead of kicking out and Pietrus certainly shouldn't have forced another three but it never should have come to that final shot.