Yeah, we don't recognize our team either.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Yeah, we don't recognize our team either. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Ugh.

Did the Phoenix Suns even play a game tonight? I ask because I was at the arena, looking for them, and didn't see my favorite team play at all.

Oh sure, there was a basketball game going on. And there was a team in Suns uniforms. In fact, I'd even lay wager that the guy pretending to be Steve Nash could have won a lookalike contest.

I'll back off the sarcasm once this Suns team proves it wants to win more than the other team on a consistent basis. 

Kudos to Portland for being the better team right now. The Blazers deserved to win all 3 games this season. The Suns deserve nothing.

Them's fightin' words, you say? I'm not worried. The Suns don't know how to fight back anyway. All I'll get in return is a shocked face and open palms as they walk back down to the other end of the court. No worried about hard fouls. Or any contact at all, really. So I'm good. 

Need I go on?

OK, I will. That was a waste of my season ticket money - hard-earned, I might add. The moment I gave up on the game? How 'about that drive by Cunningham to the basket where NO SUNS PLAYER even attempted to provide help defense. I mean, that drive developed so slowly even I could have provided help defense if I wanted. Unfortunately, I reacted as fast as the Suns players did. You're welcome, Dante.

Officially, the Suns won the rebounding battle 39-36, but does anyone who watched that game REALLY think the Suns won on the boards? Me neither. Steve Nash was the Suns' leading rebounder with 7.

Officially, the Blazers shot only 49%, but they made 90% of the ones that mattered.

Officially, the Suns only lost by 7. But they were never in the game after the first 5 minutes.

This Suns team has no fire. No extra effort. They're all sleepwalking through the game, somehow letting balls slip through their fingers on offense and forgetting to check their man on defense.

Ugh.

 


Final - 12.10.2010 1 2 3 4 Total
Portland Trail Blazers 28 33 26 14 101
Phoenix Suns 22 31 20 21 94

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Post game audio:

 

 

 

Phoenix Suns Say They Need To Find The Missing Fun After Loss To Portland Trail Blazers - SB Nation Arizona
"The difference I think this year, is there are a lot of new guys so there's not a lot of continuity. The guys that have been here have to really try and make those new guys feel good and feel like they're important, that there's no pressure and just go out and play and have fun," Nash said.

 

[Note by Seth Pollack, 12/10/10 10:42 PM MST ]

 

Game Notes

1st Qtr

  • Suns program cover depicts Jared Dudley dunking. JRich taped it to JD's locker before the game w/ a note saying "Photoshop?"
  • JRich 3 to start, that's nice to see
  • When Nash is hitting that pull up J over the big, the Suns are nearly impossible to guard
  • 2nd foul on Barron
  • Good rotation by Barron to cut off Roy's drive but Blazers find LMA in the post
  • 17-14, POR
  • Camby blocks Barron leads to run out dunk for LMA
  • Nice job finding Frye against Miller on the switch. Blzrs switching everything so need more of that
  • Dragic in early, 3:47. Trying to get him more time w/ starters to get into the game a bit before rest of bench comes in
  • 21-16, Blazers
  • Another turnover, another run out for Portland
  • Kiss Cam fail
  • Scouting report on Barron is out. Don't guard him
  • There you go Goran...a few minutes in the game and he scores. He just needs a minute or two to warm up
  • Not a great start to the game. Suns really can't lose this one
  • 28-22, Portland

2nd Qtr

  • Hedo needs t o shoot more, so he does. And misses
  • Then he goes Peyton Manning w/ the downfield strike to Warrick for a dunk
  • Nic Batum makes the same facial expressions as Boris Diaw
  • Nash back in at 10:30 to play with Dragic. That's new
  • Wow, nice move by Rudy to go right by Goran
  • Goran initiating the offense w/ Nash on the floor...drives baseline and finds wide open Warrick for dunk
  • Getting stops here...Blazers with just 5 points in four minutes
  • Ooops...Portland rattles of a few quick point. 39-34, Portland
  • Looks like Childress is going to be the odd man out as Gentry tightens his rotations. I can't argue with it, Goran's a better option as the back up two right now
  • Suns not looking all that good on either end. 49-42, Blazers
  • Nash was wincing and holding his...groin area...after that play
  • Still hits a three when the Blazers ignore him completely at the arc
  • Wesley hits a three...time out Suns. 56-45, Portland. Another double digit deficit to make up. 2:07 left in the half
  • JRich missed his one easy layup for the game...contract obligation fulfilled
  • Nash playing way off Wes to squeeze Roy so Roy passes to Wes for an open three
  • Two or three times now Frye has lost LMA cutting on the baseline
  • 61-53

3rd Qtr

  • 64% shooting for Portland, wow
  • Suns try to run a lob for Frye but the Blazers totally had that read...they look like a very well prepared team. 4th foul on Barron. That's two fouls in 20 seconds. I guess that hurts the Suns...
  • Suns body language sucks
  • Brutal missed layup by Barron...this is starting not to be funny anymore
  • This really is an impressive performance by Portland...you have to give them credit here on both ends
  • Time out Suns. 75-61, Portland
  • I really thought the Suns would man-up for this game. This one hurts
  • The Suns production people trying to get the crowd pumped enough to chant "D-fense". Crowd most interest in sitting quietly and politely watching their team get punked
  • Dragic in for JRich, 75-63, 6:17
  • Only 6 points for Jason....the slump continues
  • Watch Warrick after the shot goes up....he just stands there watching it. Not fighting for position, no effort to rebound. Nothing
  • 76-65, Portland. 5:12
  • Suns getting but missing shots
  • Blazers just killing the Suns with baseline cuts by the bigs
  • Nash coming out, Hedo in. Steve's frustrated and really not doing a good job leading the team right now
  • Josh in the game now for some defensive energy but Warrick getting killed on the perimeter. Reaches in and fouls instead of moving his feet
  • 87-73, Suns getting punked at home by the Blazers. Ugh....

4th Qtr

  • Nice block there to start the quarter
  • Nope, doesn't ignite anything. Blazers scoring at will in the paint
  • 90-79, 8:30
  • Gentry pissed about something that Suns aren't doing on offense...calls Goran over to set him straight
  • Roy goes right by Dudley to get to the rim
  • Blazers too good defensively to give up a lead here
  • Suns go over two minutes without a score. 94-79, 6:00
  • Suns starters plus Hedo, minus Barron back in
  • JRich got and missed an open transition three that would have tied the game. Hedo missed another one but at least Hill got the OReb and put back
  • You hate to just blame missing shots, but the Suns have missed a lot of open shots. These coming days off are much needed
  • 94-85, lead under 10 for the first time in forever. Portland missing now but so are Suns
  • Suns finally, FINALLY, playing with some desperation and effort. Why wait until now?
  • Suns get the ball back on a reversed out of bounds call but turn it over...Roy fired back w/ a tough pull up 2 in the lane. 96-88, 1:06
  • 101-94. 8 points for JRich
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Comeback time


Where have you been, Jason? (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Don Ryan - AP

Where have you been, Jason? (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

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Let's get it on!

Coaches Notes:

  • 1st of 8 keys to the game in locker room -- be prepared for full court pressure
  • Asked if this was an extra important game, Gentry said they are all "must wins"
  • Gentry talked about how hard it is to play off the bench and to come into the game cold and deliver right away but the guys have to develop that mentality. This is a produce and play type rotation
  • When Robin comes back, Gentry said it's unlikely he wold immediately move back into the starting lineup but things can change. Again, Alvin said that Robin is not the calvary
  • "When you have 5 guys at 2 positions, it doesn't work out. Mathematically, it doesn't work out. " 


Let's take this one, guys! (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

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Let's take this one, guys! (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

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No one is going to cheer harder than I will at the game tonight.

 

Unfortunately, the most that's going to accomplish until the fourth quarter (unless the Phoenix Suns reverse their trend of allowing 10+ point second-half leads to opponents at home) is garner derisive sideways glances from my fellow ticketholders from the Sun city or Gilbert area. One problem with expensive tickets is that the original fanbase who bought them 20-25 years ago are now much older than their prime.

But I digress.

We get Portland again. Fancy that. After tonight, the Suns will have played Portland 9 times in their last 40 meaningful games (playoffs and regular season), splitting the first 8 right down the middle. Seems like a lot, doesn't it? Will, it is.

I think each team knows what to expect from the other. And as usual, the winner will likely be the one with the most surprise performances from its supporting cast. Camby can get 20 rebounds, and Roy and Aldridge can fuddle their way to 25 points and the Suns will still win. But if Rudy and Matthews get 30+ between them, and another 1-2 rotation players make an outsized contribution, then the Suns will end the game with frustrated looks on their faces and a lot of heavy practices on the horizon.

Portland used their collective hard work and will to beat the Magic last night. I's a bad thing for the Suns that the Blazers' collective morale is sky high right now, but it's also a good thing for the Suns because Portland will have a hard time maintaining this inspired play.

Teams like Portland and Phoenix hover around .500 for a reason.

Portland's problem is offense. Phoenix's problem is defense. Both are one of the worst in the league.

Portland is 23rd in PPG (95.3), 28th in FG% (43.3%) and 24th in 3-pt% (33%). Yet, they are 16th in offensive efficiency because they are #1 in the league in offensive rebounding. Their entire offense is based on second-chance points. Ruh-Roh for the Suns on that stat.

For the Suns to win, they need to REBOUND THE BALL on Portland's misses. Duh, right? I know, I'm a genius.

Oh, and a certain SG needs to get his stroke back. Has their ever been a more extreme hot/cold player on the team the past decade than Jason Richardson? When he's hot, you think he'll never miss again. Until he does.

A little housekeeping:

I am out of town on business today without my laptop - using the hotel lobby computer right now - and will return to Phoenix just in time for the game tonight.

I'm writing this preview at 8am and pre-scheduling the first and second-half game threads for tonight. If there's big Suns news during the day today, this preview post will have no idea it happened. I'm hoping Seth or Wil or someone will make sure you are properly informed, though. 

When I get home after the game I'll write a first-person recap of what will hopefully be an exhilirating win. Talk to you all then!

Lots of gameday stuff: Trail Blazers vs Suns coverage

And check out our friends over at Blazersedge

[Note by Seth Pollack, 12/10/10 3:31 PM MST ]

Safe travels, Alex!

Here's my game preview that not surprisingly focuses on the need for the Suns bench to play well.

Phoenix Suns Schedule Revenge Game Against Portland Trail Blazers - SB Nation Arizona
The Suns face the Blazers at home for the first time this season. They were in both games in Portland, but lost in the fourth quarter each time. The Suns will hope to take advantage of a tired opponent who played the late TNT game last night before traveling to Phoenix.

and then also some reaction to the Earl Clark trade rumors (that aren't likely to come true so don't get to excited/depressed)

Earl Clark For Solomon Jones Trade Rumor Analysis - SB Nation Arizona
There's a minor trade rumor reported by Hoops World that the Phoenix Suns are talking to the Indiana Pacers about trading Earl Clark for Solomon Jones. Clark and Jones are both 6-10 forwards, but they are very different players. 


Trail Blazers 101, Suns 94 PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns’ starters carried them in Tuesday’s loss to Portland, and the bench brought them back in Wednesday’s overtime loss to the...

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