It was such a promising start. The Phoenix Suns had a 14-point lead against a road-weary team that had lost 8 consecutive games in the NBA and 14 consecutive games to the Suns since 2004.
Sounds good, right? Wrong. The Suns suddenly decided they were tired. Tired from a 5-game road trip that ended less than 24 hours earlier. Tired from playing against tough teams in the Eastern Conference on their turf. Tired from ending the trip against a tough Dallas team with Shawn Marion hitting big 3s.
The Suns made a late charge, pulling within 2 points with 22 seconds left, but it wasn't quite enough after the horrible second and third quarters. With Frye and Morris playing terribly, and Lopez ejected, the Suns had to play Hakim Warrick and Grant Hill at the 4 throughout the run. Not a good combination down low, no matter how lame the Raptors rebounding is.
At the end, the Suns just didn't have the juice, losing 99-96. At home. Against a bad team. Ugh.
Read on, if you have an ounce of nostalgia in your soul...
For the Raptors, their big producers were Andrea Bargnani (36 points, 6 rebounds, and a big hit on Grant Hill to knock him out of the game) and Leandro Barbosa (19 points including 3 big 3-pointers to cut the first-half deficit, 2 rebounds, a steal and a block).
LB after the game, on Suns Live, saying what he misses the most about Phoenix:
(after a long pause) "The fans was really great for me, man. The fans was unbelievable, and I miss that. It was 7 years here, and 7 great years for me in my life and my career and I can't forget about that. And definitely my teammates, and the organization too that helped me, you know, to be where I am right now, so I... I miss... I miss a lot in Phoenix." (LB looked like he was about to choke up at this point as Mark McClune wrapped it up and wished him well with his new teammates)
Sniff...(grabs kleenex)...(checks the internets to confirm, yes, Barbosa is an unrestricted free agent this summer...)
Anyway, excuse me, I digress.
Back to the game recap!
This was a night for young legs, and the Suns' young guys failed to show up
Robin Lopez Ejected For Bumping Ref; Suns Not Offering Extension - SB Nation Arizona
Instead of backing Lopez or giving a neutral response when asked what happened during the game, Gentry said: "I don't know. I don't really give a shit to tell the truth. You have to talk to him about that."
Those were not the words of a supportive coach. Lopez was unavailable to the media after the game.
The Phoenix Suns are tired, completing a strange 5-game eastern trip less than 24 hours ago. Only in a lockout-shortened year are you expecting to play a b-2-b home game immediately following a long road trip.
"It definitely isn't going to be easy," Gortat said. "Sleeping in five different beds for nine days and all of a sudden coming home for two days and then leaving again. It's tough but you've got to be ready to play."
The Suns had their worst shooting game of the season last night against Dallas, and are scoring fewer points per game than at any time since Nash rejoined the team in 2004.
On the plus side, Marcin Gortat stats going into last night's game are very interesting:
Phoenix Phactoid Pharaoh Vince Kozar's phun phacts today are about Marcin Gortat: 1. He is the first Suns player to have a four-game streak of at last 12 rebounds since Shawn Marion in 2006-07; 2. He is the first Sun to have a seven-game streak of points/rebounds double-doubles since Amar'e Stoudemire in 2006-07; 3. Only Kevin Love and Blake Griffin have posted a longer double-double streak in the NBA this season.
Add 1 to every one of those stats mentioned, since Marcin had 19 and 17 last night.
Tonight, the Suns face a downtrodden Raptors team (yeah, BC was the best GM ever!), losers of 8 straight games. The Suns have beaten the Raptors 14 consecutive times, including every time they have faced the Suns with Steve Nash under contract. The Raptors are 3-14 overall, 2-8 on the road.
The Suns need this win. Let's just hope Leandro Barbosa doesn't pull a Diaw or a Marion on us.
Read more on tonight's game at arizona.sbnation.com right HERE.