20121209_gav_as8_435

To a man, the players and coaches are getting really tired of losing. But the problem is that none of them know exactly how to fix it. None of them has the magic bullet to playing better and winning games.

"I don't know," Luis Scola said once again to a throng of reporters after the game, his response as honest as it can be to the media. He was not angry or defensive or evasive. He was, and always is, open and forthcoming and willing to talk to the media after every game. He apologizes for not having better answers.

"We don't have a day off anymore," he said about Monday's off day after the back-to-back. By his tone, you could tell he was grasping at straws. "We need to practice. It's not going to happen by talking. I think a lot about it, I just don't know."

After we left him alone, he just sat there in his shorts at least ten more minutes. He didn't go take a shower or talk to any other players. He just sat there, staring at the floor. After being claimed off amnesty waivers this summer, Scola is beholden to the Suns for a full year. There's no point asking for a trade - the Suns couldn't accommodate him even if they wanted to. He's got to stick it out for the full season, good or bad.

Marcin Gortat is handling his frustration a different way. In stark contrast to Scola's candor, Gortat refused to answer any pointed questions: "No comment. Next question."

(READ: Transcription of Gortat's most recent interview with Polish media)

Alvin Gentry's biggest frustrations are twofold: (1) players are not staying within the system and (2) players are not playing hard enough.

They are not finishing plays the way they are designed. Instead, they are short circuiting plays the moment they have a clean shot at the basket no matter how far away or how difficult the shot.

"We are not doing a very good job of making basketball plays," Alvin Gentry said after the Suns loss to Orlando on Sunday night. "Cuts, shot selection, things like that."

But an even bigger problem is the lack of consistent effort being put out by the guys on the floor. Fans see it. Players see it too. Gentry knows it, and he does all he can to stop himself from throwing players under the bus. He goes out of his way to compliment the hard workers, to highlight their efforts in contrast to others who go unnamed.

"I think he played extremely hard," Gentry said of Sebastian Telfair, starting in place of Goran Dragic due to the flu. "I never have a problem with him. I know he gives you everything that he can give.

"We have got to have 12 guys that are doing that - not four or five."

Gentry has periodically praised - by name - the consistent efforts of Dragic, Telfair, Scola, P.J. Tucker and Jermaine O'Neal. I expect you can count those five guys as examples of how to play the game, as far as Gentry is concerned.

Consistency is lacking from the rest of the guys. Morris, Brown and Dudley are usually there, but sometimes they disappear and often it ebbs and flows right in the middle of a game. Marcin Gortat and Michael Beasley, on the other hand, are usually invisible, only occasionally showing flashes of necessary all-out effort.

Yet Gortat and Beez are two of the most talented guys on the team, while the all-effort guys are some of the least-talented. Hence Gentry's big dilemma.

You can't win games without talent and effort. In the end, you need some guys who have a lot of both.

But the Suns don't have any of those, so Gentry has to cobble together different lineups until one or two of them click. Everyone knows that isn't the panacea though. Varying rotations cause confusion and hurt preparation.

"Usually when you know your role," Dudley said after the game. "Know when you're coming in, that's a confidence builder. Stick with it, know what you're going to do."

But he acknowledges freely that Gentry can't do that when the players are inconsistent. Gentry has to know what they are going to provide when they step on the court, has to be able to count on that.

"It's a tough job for Alvin."

Orlando Magic are a stark contrast to the Suns, in terms of execution at least on Sunday night. They don't have a go-to scorer either, and are even younger than the Suns. But they know their roles better than these Suns do, and they accept them with open arms.

Count Jared Dudley as one who was impressed.

"Their bigs are setting screens for JJ, they know Big Baby's getting the ball in the post, they know Jameer is running the show," he said, in explanation of the difference between the Suns and the Magic. "They have a shorter rotation. They are a little bit tighter with their rotations. They just know that their bigs don't do too much. They just know it.

"Right now we have a lot of guys who can score. So our point is identifying roles and that happens throughout the course of the season."

He tried to explain the difference between specific roles and fluid roles, and how that can make life more predictable and hence less stressful.

"It could be [that their roles are more defined] or it could be individuals saying ‘hey that's not my game'," he continued. "Like Channing is just a shooter. Channing's not going down to the post. We have guys that are more versatile, like Markieff who can go outside or inside where he can score different ways, where they have certain guys who just have set skills and they run plays to that."

Orlando has won only 8 games this season to the Suns' 7, so let's not hold up the Orlando model as gold quite yet. All Jared was trying to do was point out that, if guys are willing to accept specific roles then Alvin's job gets easier and maybe they can win more games.

Of course, if the Suns had specific roles and still lost seven straight, the rherotic would be that they need more freedom to exploit different matchups and to use some of their skills better.

As I said above, no one knows exactly what will make this team better.

They just know that, right now, it looks like a long season ahead.

Are there any other words for "frustration"? If so, it might be time to brush them off as the Suns are forcing us all to express that emotion on a daily basis. Here's Alvin Gentry and Jared Dudley being...chagrinned.
20121209_gav_as8_499

Well, at least the Suns played hard (which is more than we can say for the local NFL team) and scored points (also more than we can say for the local NFL team). But the Suns have now lost seven consecutive games.

The Phoenix Suns need a win. We already know that this season is not going to be a pretty one and we know that the Suns don't have the talent to make a playoff run, but seven losses in a row would be tough to watch. While hosting the Orlando Magic, the Suns have a perfect chance to get a win at home and provide some much needed relief to fans around the Valley.

Where: US Airways Center in Phoenix, AZ

When: 6:00 pm MST

Watch: FSNAZ; NBA League Pass

Key Match-Ups:

Goran Dragic vs Jameer Nelson: I give a slight edge to The Dragon in this one folks, keyword: slight. Dragic and Nelson are both averaging 6.5 assists per game, but Dragic holds the edge in points per game with 15.5 over Nelson's 13.7. Both of these players put up similar numbers, so I would not be surprised if either has the better night, but throw me in the optimistic bunch who think that Dragic will have a decent night against Nelson.

Shannon Brown vs Arron Afflalo: Afflalo has been a mystery to me. In late November, Brooklyn absolutely shuts him down to 5 points on 2-10 shooting and then he drops 30 on the Lakers in his next game. He clearly has scoring ability and has the touch to hit outside shots. I give Afflalo the advantage over Brown. Brown has been playing about as expected since joining the starting the lineup, but he certainly hasn't been anything spectacular. I expect Brown to have a decent night, but for Afflalo to get the best of Brown in the contest.

The Suns' Bigs vs The Magic's Bigs: Markieff Morris has been a pleasant surprise in the starting lineup, but he will have his hands full against Orlando with Glen Davis. Davis is averaging 16.2 points per game and is hauling in 8.6 rebounds every game as well. The key to Morris' night will be rebounding. He will have to keep Davis from getting easy second-chance opportunities if the Suns want to keep "Big Baby" in check. Marcin Gortat has been struggling in the past couple of weeks and is constantly being brought up in trade rumors. Going up against Nikola Vucevic will give Gortat a chance to have a bounce back game, but don't expect one good game to end discussions of Gortat being shipped out of Phoenix. Would I be crazy to say this match-up is a push?

Final Breakdown: I honestly have no idea who will win this game. Neither team would surprise me by winning. If the Suns win, they end their six-game losing skid and if the Magic win, well...good for them, they now have eight wins. This game is a showcase of mediocrity that won't have many ramifications on either team's season. My advice: enjoy Sunday with your family/loved ones, watch football, catch highlights of Saturday night's great showcase of fights (Congrats to Glendale's Benson Henderson for retaining the UFC Lightweight Championship), or do something productive. If none of the previously stated endeavors suit you and you want to watch a painfully average NBA game, feel free to tune in to FSNAZ or NBA League Pass to catch the Phoenix Suns play the Orlando Magic.

PHOENIX — Well, at least they aren’t the Cardinals. On a day the Valley’s football team suffered its worst defeat in franchise history (and that’s quite an ignominious history), the Suns...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
158042536

The Phoenix Suns defense against J.J. Reddick was terrible in this game, be it leaving him open for a three-pointer (he made four of the them, was fouled in the act on another) or allowing him to drive into the lane and pass off for uncontested layups to his big men. Really poor defense all around.

Orlando even tried to collapse in the third quarter, with the Suns taking a five-point lead and looking healthy, when the home team hit yet another dry spell and really never recovered. Bad offensive sets, hero-ball three-point attempts and otherwise wild shots doomed the Suns.

The sparse crowd really wanted something to get excited about - an offensive rebound by Telfair and good drives to the hoop by Dudley and Gortat. They made some noise, for sure.

But when the loudest cheers in the arena were for a four-year old National Anthem singer (really good singer, to be fair), your team is not very exciting to watch. The Suns now have the league's longest streak of game scoring less than 100 points.

We love the Suns, but we can apply some tough love sometimes. And these guys need some tough love.

Shannon Brown scored 17 points, while Jared Dudley added 15. Not enough guys stepped up with Dragic out sick and PJ Tucker not there to provide hustle.

The game started with the Suns on a 6-game losing streak, facing a fairly empty arena and a fairly young Orlando team that had blown the Suns out just four weeks ago in the sunshine state.

To make matters worse, the Suns best player - PG Goran Dragic (flu) - and their best energy guy off the bench - P.J. Tucker (knee) - were scratched from the lineup.

But lest you fear the Suns were facing insurmountable odds, let's reset reality. The Orlando Magic were just 7-12 on the season, no more wins on their season docket than the home team itself.

And the Suns were playing at home, generally the difference-maker for two similarly-talented teams.

At tipoff, the game was a tossup.

The Suns started strong to take a 15-6 early lead, but the Magic started making their shots while the Suns started missing theirs and the first quarter ended much closer than we might have guessed - 23-20, still in favor of the Suns.

The second quarter, featuring seldom-used Wes Johnson and Diante Garrett along with just-demoted Micheal Beasley was a relative disaster. No one knew who was doing what and when they weren't going to do it. After an okay start, the Magic took control as the Suns dissolved. The starters recovered a bit to bring the Suns back to only a 5-point deficit at 48-53 at half.

J.J. Reddick finished the half with 17 points, 13 of them on four 3-pointers, and four free throws off being fouled on 3s by Wesley Johnson.

The Suns regained their composure in the second half while the Magic lost theirs, taking their own 5-point lead in the first seven minutes of the second half. But again when the second unit came in, led by Garrett, Scola and Beasley came in, the Suns defense became a sieve and Orlando scored at will again. At the end of the quarter, Orlando had retaken a one-point lead.

This second unit started poorly in the fourth, allowing the Magic to take a 5-point lead several times in the first three minutes.

Then Telfair, Dudley, Morris and Brown joined Jermaine O'Neal to try to right their ship against an Orlando team that really shouldn't be winning a road game.

For more, visit Orlando Pinstriped Post.


Final - 12.9.2012 1 2 3 4 Total
Orlando Magic 20 33 18 27 98
Phoenix Suns 23 25 22 20 90

Complete Coverage >



Page 1060 of 1889

1060

Web Links

Sponsored Ads