After taking a 104-97 lead with 3 minutes to go last night, the Suns were outscored 10-0 in that game and then got pasted in Phoenix tonight. It wasn't even close, which was a first for the Suns this season. Only a late rush of threes by the Suns gave this game any life at all.

Coming into their 11th game, the Phoenix Suns were one of only two teams in the league NOT to lose any games by more than double-digits points yet.

And they still haven't, losing 113-106. So, that's something.

28 other teams had been pasted by 10+ at least one time already, but the Suns and HEAT. At halftime of the Suns most lackluster effort of the season, it occurred to me that this Suns team looked a lot like the 2012-13 Suns. Lots of midrange jumpers, lots of bail-out shots at the end of the clock. And a disengaged set of players.

Into the fourth quarter, the stagnant nature of the game permeated. When Travis Outlaw scored five point in two possessions, it felt like the kill shot. It was an 18 point lead with about 8 minutes left.

But then Sacramento took their foot off the gas and the Suns suddenly found themselves in the game. The Suns cut the lead to seven and then to six at one point on hero-ball threes.

But it's hard to have a comeback if you're allowing scores to the other team every time down. The Kings started getting into the lane with regularity, forcing foul calls at the end of shot clocks time after time after time. Cousins. Thomas. Vasquez.

And then it was over. The Kings were into free throws for the rest of the game. Vasquez made 9 straight at one point, with Isaiah Thomas sprinkling in two of his own.

While the Suns wilted a night before, the Kings played like seasoned veterans - getting free throws and easy shots any time they wanted.

The Phoenix Suns came out fast and furious to the Kings sluggish pace, with Goran Dragic getting 11 points in the first 4.5 minutes, outscoring the Kings by 3.

But then the Kings turned it one by hustling on the boards, turning several offensive rebounds into 10 second-chance points to keep the game tied at 27-all after one.

The second quarter was not the Suns friend. Led by two rookies, two Morrii and an Ish, the Suns got rolled early in the second, allowing an 8-point Kings lead in the first three minutes. The Suns tried to fight back a few times, getting within three points a couple of times, but the Kings were just playing too well.

This was a 2-7 Kings team going nowhere fast before they encountered a back-to-back against the Suns.

Gerald Green was on fire for the Suns, becoming their only offensive weapon for a while in the second. He had 20 points in the first half alone on decisive jumpers, including 5 of 6 three-pointers.

This time it's the Suns' turn to be down at halftime at home, but thankfully only by 5 behind Green's onslaught of jumpers. Green and Dragic had 33 of the Suns' 50 first-half points.

Archie Goodwin played hard, but was 0-6 in the first half.

Despite what it looked like, the Suns had just as many offensive rebounds in the first half (8) as the Kings. Yet, the Kings created 15 second-chance points on those 8 boards, while the Suns only got 6. Effort.

At the start of the second half, the Kings came out just as focused while the Suns skated along on slow cuts, screens and passes. Things went from bad to worse. After getting outscored by 30 in one stretch against the Nets last Friday, the Suns came out flat in the third quarter again on Wednesday night at home.

These kinds of efforts don't endear you to a fanbase.

It was a 13-point deficit in the third pretty quick, as the Suns scored only 5 points in 9+ minutes against 7 turnovers. I mean, you can't even point out the field goal to turnovers ratio. Or the field goal ATTEMPTS to turnovers ratio. It was the total points to turnovers... oy.

The worst play of the third quarter was Marcus Morris trying to throw the lob from the 3-point line to his brother, who was being fronted under the basket. Marcus apparently thought it was someone else under the basket. When has Markieff jumped from a standstill off two feet even to the rim, let alone when being bodied up? What was Marcus thinking?

Anyway, as you might guess, the ball went untouched out of bounds. Another turnover. Kings ball.

The Suns ended up scoring only 12 points in the entire third quarter. I smell a frustrated postgame locker room coming on.

Then Travis Outlaw made a three pointer and a long two to open the fourth, and more light went out of the Suns sails. The Suns were really hesitant on offense, hesitant on defense. Just bad all around.

At least the Suns won't have the frustration of barely losing in the final seconds this time.

This team on the floor tonight - all 11 guys that have played - have been a collective buzzkill together. Nothing going. No confidence. No brashness. Dragic was all alone on his fast breaks again, playing with the backups as time wound inexscoribly down. No 2013-14 version. Just the same old last-season Suns. A collective Morris night.

The Kings were winning so big and so easy that their fourth quarter lineup included Jimmer Fredette, Travis Outlaw and John Salmons. And they kept wininng.

That's the dregs, folks.

Notes from the first half:

  • Dragic came out on fire while the Kings are little flat-footed. Dragic had 11 points in 4.5 minutes, after only 10 points all previous game against the Kings.
  • Plumlee got to the line (missed the layup) and proceeded to miss both free throws. He hasn't made a free throw since Nov 8. 7 attempts in 4+ games.
  • Channing Frye twice has forced Cousins into a bad shot at the rim, but both times no Sun could grab the rebound. Kings ball, two scores.
  • Frye does not have the legs tonight. Let's hope the Mo Bros show up.
  • Well, Markieff Morris is a -3 already. Technical called against him AFTER the Suns got a foul call. Had 5 fouls and 0 points last night.
  • Finally, Plumlee made an and-one. Let's see if he makes the free throw.
  • Nope.
  • Plumlee is 10-28 on the year at the free throw line. Made nothing since Nov 8. Was 58-55% maker in college, so he should be a little better.
  • John Salmons just pulled down the Kings' fourth offensive rebound - and we're only in the 4th Q.
  • Well, the Kings ran off a good early second Q on the Suns (up 8 after 3 minutes) just like the Suns ran on them last night. Hornacek timeout. See if he can stop the bleeding.
  • Markieff Morris being totally passive in this game - shooting uncontested fallaway 20-footer that must be driving his coach crazy.
  • Hornacek takes Kieff right out of the game
  • And Marcus Morris very content to take his own midrange jumpers
  • It's prooooobably not a good idea to give up so many second chance points. Kings had 10 second chance points in the first Q alone. Cashing in.
PHOENIX — Playing hard hasn’t been the problem. Neither has a lack of depth or talent. Sure, there have been deficiencies on both sides of the floor, but overall, the Phoenix Suns have had no...

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Time: 7 p.m. MST TV: FSA So much for the fast start. After racing out to an impressive 5-2 record, the Phoenix Suns have fallen back to earth a little bit, following three straight losses by a...

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After losing in the final seconds -- for the third time in a row -- the Phoenix Suns try to get revenge less than 24 hours against the Kings as part of a home-and-home series against their Pacific Division foe.

The Suns and Kings are in the middle of a home-and-home against each other. The Suns couldn't hold a solid second-half lead against a bad team, allowing the Kings to tie the game at 95-95 with 6 minutes to play and folding for a 10-0 Kings run to end the game.

The Suns now are on a three-game losing streak, with back-to-back-to-back last second losses by a total of 6 points.

The opponent

The Kings have been bad this year. Eight of their first ten games at home, yet only going 3-7 with one of the worst defenses in the league and a barely better offense.

Yet they beat the Suns once again. The Suns have been bad against the Kings the last few years, especially in Sacramento.

DeMarcus Cousins has eaten the Suns centers for lunch. Cousins went off for 19 first-half points, despite the Suns taking an 8-point lead into halftime, before hurting his shoulder and becoming an afterthought in the second half until he was a difference-maker at the end of the 4th in the 10-0 run with steals, rebounds and scores.

The Suns

The Suns still can't consistently get Bledsoe and Dragic on the court together. Last night, it was Bledsoe's turn to miss the game and Dragic struggled to run the team at the end of the game when it got tight.

Archie Goodwin showed flashes of his summer league self in that second quarter last night - scoring 12 points on 5-7 shooting and making a 3-ball, but also creating three of those shots thanks to his defense with breakaway steals in the second quarter.

In fact, the entire team got hot for a while there during a 19-2 team run that included several threes in a row, including one from 19-year old Goodwin.

Marcus Morris was hot as well, making his first five jumpers and drawing shooting fouls to the tune of 14 first-half points, and 19 for the game overall.

And then there was Gerald Green with his season high

In the "bad" column, we got downside of the big yoyo called Markieff Morris. After being the best player in the WC for a week, he's been really bad for the past week. I mean, really bad. Last night: 3 points, 0 rebounds. 5 personal fouls in 10 minutes of play. Take a seat, young man.

And then there's Goran Dragic, who had almost as many turnovers (7) as assists (8) on the night.

The stats


The Suns are supposedly a much better defensive team than the Kings, and even a little better on offense. A check through the stats shows you why.

The lineups


It's probably going to be a game-time decision on whether leading scorer Eric Bledsoe will play in Phoenix after missing last night's game due to a shin bruise. If he sits, Gerald Green slides into the starting lineup at SG while Dragic becomes the full-time PG.

The key matchup

Any matchup against DeMarcus Cousins is a tough matchup, but the Suns have no success no matter who defends the guy. Cousins is just a beast. So it's not really a key matchup.

Let's say the real matchup is the rookie shooting guards, Archie Goodwin vs. Ben McLemore. It's not that they play against each other necessarily, as McLemore starts while Goodwin sometimes doesn't get big minutes off the bench. But Suns fans will remember that McLemore was at one point considered the #1 prospect in college last season and he was available when the Suns picked at #5. The Suns passed on Ben in order to take Alex Len, and then they drafted Archie Goodwin at #29.

Last night, Goodwin had his best game of the year with 16 points on 7-10 shooting with 2 assists and 2 steals in 19 minutes of play - all career highs (in a 10-game rookie career). Six of his points were on breakaways off a Kings turnover - two of them created by Goodwin himself. Goodwin was very good last night.

McLemore has had a lot more opportunity to play, playing in all 10 games for the Kings and starting four of them so far. Ben has had four games of 10+ points with 6 games at less than 10. When he's good, he's good. But just like any rookie, he disappears as well. He's making 36% of his threes, but just 38% overall.

The prediction

Suns win at home. For the good of their psyche.

The Suns are the only NBA team to lead in every fourth quarter, yet they are tied at 5-5. Does that mean that close games - those that come down to the wire - often have random outcomes that eventually even out?

If so, then the ball is likely to start bouncing the Suns' way again soon.

The Phoenix Suns play the second game of a home-and-home series tonight in Phoenix at US Airways Center after losing last night's game in the final seconds. Let's get the inside scoop on the Kings right here.

The Sacramento Kings are a team in transition, trying to implement a new system with many of the same players who struggled for them in recent seasons.

Today, we have a Q and A with Kings writer Greg Wissinger of SB Nation's Let's see what he has to say about his Kings team.

Dave King: How is Michael Malone's tenure going so far? On the surface, it appears to be a rocky road - a 3-7 start with 8 of those 10 at home already. He came in with a reputation for defense, yet the Kings are 25th in defensive efficiency. Is Malone the right fit?

Greg Wissinger: Malone's tenure is off to a rocky start, but a lot of that has to do with the talent, or lack thereof, on the Kings roster. Malone's biggest challenge has been getting guys to provide a consistent effort for a full 48 minutes. As we saw in Tuesday's game, the Kings are still prone to serious lapses and giving up big runs. A lot of this seems to be residual bad habits from past regimes. I think it's a little too early to determine if Malone is the right fit, but so far I've been impressed with him. He puts his money where his mouth is, and I think he's got the organization's support. Long term, I believe he'll help change the culture.

DK: How has DeMarcus Cousins been so up and down, from game to game? After getting a max extension, has he been saying the right things and being a leader?

GW: DeMarcus Cousins has been up and down, sure, but he's been far more up than down. He's already had as many 30 point games as he did all of last season. And although he's still prone to outbursts and complaining, he's been much better this season about maintaining his composure. He's also been hustling back on defense far more than he did in the past. He's also taken responsibility for his actions more than we've ever seen in the past. Thus far, DeMarcus is looking like he's earning that max extension. Of course, it's still early in the year and anything can happen.

DK: Isaiah Thomas has been killing it from the bench (17 and 5), while Grieves Vasquez has been just okay in the starting role (10 and 5) as far the stats indicate. At both playing 27-28 minutes, it appears the Kings do the 2-PG lineup at least occasionally. What's your take on that? And, was Vasquez a good acquisition.

GW: Isaiah Thomas has been fantastic off the bench, while Vasquez's stats have been less gaudy as a starter. But the minute distribution that you mentioned is the key. For the first time in his NBA career, Isaiah Thomas is being given a clearly defined role with reliable minutes. He's a fantastic spark plug off the bench, and I'm personally fine with it. It's also worth remembering that Vasquez was recovering from an ankle injury this offseason, and barely played in preseason. The first few games of this season were essentially his first opportunity to work with his new teammates. Overall, I'm still happy with Vasquez. And while he wasn't the offseason acquisition that Kings fans wanted this offseason, he was a nice return since the Kings decided not to retain Tyreke Evans.

DK: Suns fans are going to watch McLemore for his entire career after the Suns passed on him to draft Alex Len. Did the Kings get a steal in Ben McLemore? How do you see his future playing out?

GW: I think the Kings absolutely got a steal in McLemore. He's been exciting even when he struggles. He's still adjusting to the pace of the NBA, and needs to let the game come to him rather than forcing shots, but I have very high hopes for him. He's a very hard worker, one of the few Kings who gives consistent effort every night, and his shooting stroke is a thing of beauty. I think he has the potential to be a All-Star player, and I'll be shocked if he ends up being anything less than an above average shooting guard in this league.

DK: Finally, do you see the Kings turning this around and coming a winning team with this core, or does the core have to be rebooted?

GW: It's important to remember that most of the current Kings roster is still the roster than was constructed by Geoff Petrie and the Maloofs. There are some good pieces on the current roster, but outside of Cousins and McLemore, there could be a ton of movement. Even Isaiah Thomas might be moved, as much as it would break the hearts of Kings fans. New GM Pete D'Allessandro has a lot of work ahead of him. This current roster can't contend for a playoff spot. But within a year or two, I absolutely expect the roster to be competitive and to look quite a bit different.

For more on the Kings, check out the great coverage over at Sactown Royalty

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