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The energy among the team was high all night and it eventually fed into the crowd, who hooped and hollered the Phoenix Suns through a second-half comeback from 12 points down after the second unit struggled once again to find their traction despite playing with high effort.

Wesley Johnson dropped in 17 points (4 3-pointers) in the THIRD QUARTER ALONE as the Suns outscored the Nets 33-20 to take a one-point lead.

The fourth quarter was a seesaw affair, with each team hitting big shot after big shot.

Goran Dragic (31 points, second highest of career, 12 assists and 9 rebounds) was the player of the game for the Suns, just short of a triple double after three quarters alone. He poured in points when the Suns needed them in the fourth as the Nets tried to start flexing their muscle.

Unfortunately, the Suns had a hard time stopping Deron Williams and the Nets in the fourth quarter. The Nets scored on 5 of 6 possessions after the game was tied 87-87 to take a 99-95 lead with two minutes left.

From there, the Suns could not muster enough offense (a missed layup, a missed three and a missed stepback jumper all on the same possession) to tie it up or take the lead before it became a free throw fest.

Gerald Wallace missed one of two free throws, giving the Nets a 100-97 lead with 14 seconds left. With the Suns sporting the league's second-worst three-point shooting offense (and worst overall in recent weeks), prospects did not look good to tie it up.

In fact, they didn't even try a three. Dragic tried to draw a double-team down low for the kick-out but the Nets guarded the line well. Eventually Dragic sank a short jumper to cut the lead to one. After a quick foul, C.J. Watson made both free throws and the Suns could not get off a three-point attempt before Dragic was fouled inside the arc.

Dragic made the first and missed the second, on purpose, but Haddadi missed the lefty layup on an offensive rebound with mere seconds left.

THIS is the kind of loss that's easier to take than laying down against the Wolves, Suns fans.

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Brooklyn, missing former Sun Joe Johnson tonight, came into the game with a 40-29 overall record, and a better road record (18-15) than the Suns' home record (16-19).

Apparently, these Suns seem only to be able to get up for the good teams while they don't even bother showing up against the bad ones.

This is getting to be a pattern, one that makes little sense until you consider how frustrated these guys are with how the season is going. They have been out of the playoff picture since early January, no chance to salvage the season. Their fans don't want them to win, and even the moves by the front office and coaching staff scream of evaluation for next season.

It appears the only time the players are fully engaged is when they get to prove themselves against a "good" team - one that's currently positioned to make the playoffs. Since Hunter took over (signaling the season to be effectively over), the Suns have beaten the Clippers, Lakers (twice), Grizzlies, Spurs, Hawks and Rockets.

If the Suns could put out this same effort against teams like Sacramento, Washington and Minnesota they would have a much better season record.

Wesley Johnson finished with 21 points, his high with the Suns.

Markieff Morris had 15 rebounds, his second-highest board total for the season (though he only had 5 points on 5-18 shooting).

The Nets made 28-31 free throws, just enough to top the Suns on the road.

Time: 6 p.m. MST TV: FSA PHOENIX — No matter how far the Phoenix Suns fall down the Western Conference ladder, interim coach Lindsey Hunter doesn’t want to panic. He took an easy day on...

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The Phoenix Suns (23-47) have been teetering with franchise history all season, but records that a team never wants to break like the least amount of points in a game, and most losses in a season. They are safe in terms of the worst mark ever (16-66), but if they drop the game tonight to the Brooklyn Nets (40-29) they will match the seventh worst mark in franchise history.

For the Nets, they are in a position that they would have never thought imaginable three months ago with an opportunity to win the Pacific Division.

Each team is playing for something different, but something that is equally important to each.

As the Nets climb the standings the Suns are descending the same standings into the high end of the lottery. They are two different teams with different trajectories, which does not bode very well for the fate of the Suns. What interim head coach Lindsey Hunter is looking for is effort and energy from his players, something a few of them are learning the hard way.

(Recent) History Lesson

Lost 99-79

The Suns were able to keep pace with the Nets in the first half last time out, in Brooklyn, and they were even up seven at the half. A barrage of two's in the paint and free-throws brought the Nets back and then allowed them to put the game away as a lid was firmly placed on the basket for the Suns offense in the second half.

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

Suns: 106.3 PPG (4 wins)

Netss: 103.3 PPG (2 wins)

The Nets have won the last two games (104.5-to-91) taking control of this series, but over the past 10 years the Suns have dictated the pace and were the victors in this cross-country series. Before the last meeting the Suns had scored 100+ points in nine consecutive games with the exclamation point being a 161 point effort in double-overtime in 2006.

Head-to-Head (career)

Joe Johnson vs. Suns: 17.5 PPG 5.1 RPG 4.4 APG 1.05 SPG 37.7 FG% (17 games)

Luis Scola vs. Nets: 15.3 PPG 7.2 RPG 2.5 APG 0.5 BPG 56.3 FG% (10 games)

In his career against the Suns Johnson shoots his second lowest percentage overall, but still puts up his normal stat-line. He gets after his old team when they square off. Scola does not do anything special against the Nets traditionally, in fact he shoots it low for his standards against the other New York team and will be an important factor tonight.

Starting Line-Ups

PG - Goran Dragic v. Deron Williams

SG - Wesley Johnson v. Joe Johnson

SF - P.J. Tucker v. Gerald Wallace

PF - Markieff Morris v. Reggie Evans

C - Luis Scola v. Brook Lopez

Potential Suns Inactives: Marcin Gortat (Foot), Jared Dudley (Flu), and Jermaine O'Neal (Strained Left Calf)

Potential Nets Inactives: N/A

Key Match-Up

Markieff Morris vs. Reggie Evans

Over the past few months all Hunter and the Suns have been mentioning and talking about is energy and effort. That is something an individual can control without the help of a coach or his teammates. Some players are giving it and others are not. In this case Evans is pure energy and if Morris does not show up with energy then a role player like Evans could go off and beat the Suns himself, with energy.

Interesting Stat: 0-9

The Suns are 0-9 on Sunday, but score the third most points on this day of rest.

Meaningless Stat: Sweet Sixteen

During their days in college Shannon Brown, Marcus Morris, Kendall Marshall, Dudley, Markieff, and Johnson have all played in the Sweet 16. As the NCAA Tournament currently sits, Johnson (Syracuse), Brown (Michigan State), Marcus and Markieff (Kansas), Marshall (North Carolina), and Diante Garrett (Iowa State) all have something to cheer for still.

(Update: Sorry Diante)

There is that.

PHOENIX — Recently, the Phoenix Suns have turned in drastically different ball games against very different teams. Just last week they’ve blown out the Los Angeles Lakers at home, then...

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If I simply post a poll asking for knee-jerk reactions to this idea of the Phoenix Suns signing Andrew Bynum this summer, I am pretty sure the results will be the same as if I spent six hours researching and writing an impassioned article about it.

So I'm going to split the difference.

The sitch

Bynum will be an unrestricted free agent this summer after being traded to Philadelphia last offseason in the Dwight Howard trade. He has not played a single game all year while recovering from knee issues, and just last week had season-ending surgery to clean up both knees.

The statistical history

Andrew Bynum is a huge man. Clean 7'0", 285 pounds and arms so long they might just touch his kneecaps without bending at the waist. He is a major presence defensively and on the glass, and his ability to catch-and-flush on offense without dropping the ball below his head is quite remarkable.

The stats don't tell the whole story on Bynum. He is a major force, a top-3 NBA player at his position and a likely All-Star in any season he's healthy.

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The injuries

Only once has Andrew Bynum made it through an entire NBA season without missing a game due to injury, and that was six years ago.

Last year was his second-most healthy season, playing 60 of 66 games and making the All-Star team in the West.

The big injury is this year, and it's made Philly a little frustrated.

The cost

Here is the problem. While every NBA team would love to offer Bynum a make-good contract that doesn't guarantee much money, the trick will be to outbid the next-closest team in a league full of owners that want to outbid each other.

Someone will likely offer Bynum a max guaranteed contract, which would start at $16.4 million and could be as long as 4 years with 4.5% raises.

The only team that could offer the 5th year is Philadelphia, but I am skeptical that they would offer a full-guaranteed contract for five seasons to Bynum. With the new CBA, that's less than Amare got three years ago.

But let's speculate for a bit here. Bynum will likely be un-insurable for his knee issues, same as Amare was. Let's guess that no team will offer the max.

Here's what a team CAN do to lower it's guarantees:

  • Offer some of the $16 million a year as "un-likely" incentives. "Unlikely" incentives (a) do not count against the cap and (b) only get paid if the player reaches that goal. This gets tricky. "Likely" is anything the player has done recently. "Unlikely" is something he has not done recently. Unlikely bonuses can only be 15% of the player's salary in any one year.
  • Make year 4 a team option (each contract can only have 1 option year on a vet contract). This would make the commitment shorter if the team were ready to cut ties after three seasons.

Here's what a team CANNOT do to lower it's guarantees:

  • the team cannot make year 1 or 2 a team option; the option can only be the last year of the contract.
  • the team cannot offer a big bonus over and above the max salary in any one season
  • the team cannot offer a mutual option (both have right to terminate)
  • the team cannot have more than one option year

In the end, all it takes is one max, guaranteed offer to trump all these shenanigans.

Should the Suns outbid their brethren to get their All-Star caliber player? Should the Suns be the team that offers the fully-guaranteed contract?

Poll
Would you give Andrew Bynum a 4-year max contract to be the Suns next All-Star?

  394 votes | Results

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