the Suns just couldn't get the ball in the basket tonight...

The Phoenix Suns came out hot to start the game tonight, taking an early lead in the first quarter 24-21 while shooting 53% and holding the Portland Trail Blazers to only 30%. After that, well...Let's just say things got markedly worse for the Suns from that point on.

The Suns scored only 9 points in the second quarter and followed up that horrific performance by scoring only 12 points in the third. On top of that, they turned the ball over 11 times and allowed Portland to score 26 points in the second and 31 points in the third. This isn't exactly a formula for success, and the Suns struggled to find any offense whatsoever from any player not named Grant Hill, who was still the only Suns player in double figures going into the 4th quarter. Sebastian Telfair hit a three point shot in the last minute of the 4th quarter to bring his total to 10 points...He was the only other player to reach double digits in scoring for the Suns tonight.

In contrast, Portland did what they wanted to all night long with LaMarcus Aldridge scoring 23 points and grabbing 7 rebounds in just three quarters (never played in the 4th), Gerald Wallace scoring 17 points, Wesley Matthews with 16 points, and Nicholas Batum with 14 points.

The Suns lost their third game in a row in pathetic fashion tonight, losing 109-71 and barely avoiding a franchise low scoring record thanks to a last minute three point shot by Sebastian Telfair, who was then subsequently tossed moments later after receiving his second technical foul of the night after not getting a foul called on a lay-up attempt. The entire night for the Suns was filled with missed opportunities, missed shots, and was missing intensity.

Read on after the jump for more on what went wrong tonight.

In the post game interview, even Suns' coach Alvin Gentry looked just as bewildered and at a loss for an explanation as anyone. Gentry made note of the horrendous 9-point second quarter and cited that as a major reason for the loss tonight. Of course, that wasn't the whole reason for the loss...The Suns were actually outscored in the second half of the game 62-38 as well, so it's not as if just one quarter was to blame.

Since there simply isn't any one thing to put a finger on as the reason for the complete and utter collapse tonight, perhaps it's best to sum up the game in a word...Pathetic.

Rather than attempt to describe just how badly the Suns fell apart tonight, take a look at the game notes and read through the quarter-by-quarter descent into oblivion that became the Suns modus operandi for the evening.

Game Notes:

First Quarter

Suns off to a nice start with baskets from both Hill and Nash to start the game.

Sloppy offense turns into two quick fast breaks from Portland to tie it up 4-4

Gerald Wallace off to a fast start scoring all 6 points for the Blazers (But none on Grant Hill yet)

Morris commits his 2nd foul already forcing Frye to come in off the bench. Foul trouble has been a concern for the rookie.

LMA abuses Frye in the post to get to the rim and put back his own miss

Suns leading 13-10 through the first half of the first quarter. Suns currently shooting 55%, Portland shooting only 30%. Blazers with 8 rebounds and the Suns with 5. Grant Hill leads all scorers with 7 points.

Hill with another basket…Now has 9 points.

Wallace gets his first bucket on Hill

Nash with his 5th assist on a pretty pass to Frye for a dunk!

At the end of the first Suns up 24-21. Suns shooting 53% and Portland shooting 35%. Suns with 14 rebounds and Portland with 12. Grant Hill leads the suns with 10 points and Gerald Wallace has 10 points for the Blazers. Steve Nash with 4 points and already has 6 assists. Suns and Blazers with 7 TO’s each.

Second Quarter

Suns have two quick turnovers to start the second quarter

Nash is on the bench to start the 2nd quarter, let’s see if the suns can keep their lead

Suns have turned the ball over three times and missed one shot to start the second quarter without Nash…Portland scores 7 unanswered points to take the lead 28-24. Gentry calls timeout

Telfair hits a jumper after the time out to end the Suns’ dry spell

LMA abuses Fry again in the post for another put back basket…This time with the and-one

Portland taking command now from fast breaks off missed shots…Blazers lead 42-30 halfway through the 2nd quarter. Portland has outscored the Suns by 19 points since Nash left the floor…Gentry is sending the starters back in

Michael Redd comes in with the starting unit in place of Price

Grant comes back in and instantly hits a jumper...Now has 12 points

Suns’ offense is still struggling even with the starters in…Missed shot after missed shot now.

Morris with another foul, his 3rd…Replaced by Warrick

Suns can’t buy a bucket right now

At the end of the second quarter Blazers lead 47-33. Suns only scored 9 points in the second quarter compared to Portlands’ 26. Suns now shooting only 37% to Portlands’ 42%. Suns committed 11 TO’s in the first half, Blazers committed 10. Suns have 27 rebounds, Blazers have 31. Grant Hill leading the Suns in scoring with 12 points. LMA leading the Blazers with 17 points and 6 rebounds. Marcus Camby leads the Blazers with 11 rebounds, Gortat leads the Suns with 7.

Third Quarter

Suns start the 3rd quarter with sloppy offensive possessions again. Portland scores the first 5 points of the quarter

Suns still missing shots…Four straight misses to start

LMA with another shot, this time over Markieff

LMA spins free of Markieff again for the alley-oop at the rim.

Blazers have outscored the Suns 13-3 in the first 5 minutes of the 3rd quarter and currently lead 60-36. This game is getting out of hand quickly. Gentry with another time out to try anything to get this team going

Another Suns turnover…Ugh

More open shots by the Blazers…Missed shots by the Suns. After scoring only 9 points in the 2nd quarter, the Suns have now scored only 6 points in the first 7 minutes of the 3rd. Blazers now up 68-39. Gentry calls timeout again.

Dudley hits a jumper…yay?

Childress is in now…Why not?

At the end of the 3rd quarter the Suns are down 78-45. Grant Hill is the only Suns player scoring in double digits with 12 (gortat 8pts 10rbs). Portland currently has four players scoring in double digits. Suns scored only 12 points in the 3rd quarter after scoring only 9 points in the 2nd.

Fourth Quarter

Suns score the first basket of the 4th quarter…Dudley now with 6 points.

Portland then scores six unanswered points…Gentry calls a timeout

Portland now has nothing but reserves on the court…Suns still getting all they can handle

Suns commit offensive foul trying to inbound the pass out of the timeout…I don’t think that’s what Gentry drew up

Childress with a dunk off a Dudley assist!

Telfair gets to the rim for a layup

Markieff Morris still has yet to score a point in this game…What happened?

Suns are getting absolutely destroyed 104-64 with two minutes left in the game.

Suns narrowly avoid setting a franchise low scoring record…They get to 71 points off a Telfair 3 pointer.

Morris finally gets on the board with a three-point hit. He's 1-4 from the field tonight and has 4 rebounds

Gortat will lose his 9 game double-double streak…Ends with 8 pts 10rbs. Doesn’t play in the 4th quarter

Telfair gets tossed on his 2nd technical foul of the game with 7 seconds left to play.

Suns shoot 37% on the night, Portland shoots 47%. Suns commit 22 TO’s, Portland commits 14. Suns outrebounded 59-50. Suns lose 109-71

Summary:

The Suns have another game tomorrow night at home against the Memphis Grizzlies. Alvin Gentry obviously chose to rest his starters in the 4th quarter so they would be fresh for tomorrow's game rather than try unsuccessfully to mount any type of comeback. Still, there's simply no excuse for this team to play this poorly. Even without the kind of talent on the roster that the Suns are accustomed to, there is still no reason for such a poor showing as this one. Where do they go from here? Who knows, but something has to change, that much is evident.

Hang on Suns fans...the winds of change are soon to be a blowin' on Planet Orange.

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Will the Suns be able to get a much needed win in Portland tonight? Who knows...

This will be a tough game, but with an even tougher road ahead the Suns need to find a way to get themselves back on the right track fast or they risk slipping further into a state of limbo.

Let's go!

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Nash to the rescue?

Tonight, the 6-11 Phoenix Suns will take on the 11-8 Portland Trail Blazers at the Rose Garden, 8:00pm MST, in what is sure to be a test for the Suns regarding their resolve to stay together and willingness to continue competing.

The Suns are coming off of a disappointing two-game losing streak against the Dallas Mavericks without Dirk Nowitzki, and then against the Toronto Raptors at home who the Suns had previously beaten 14 times straight. The confidence of this team is in question and their future together hangs in the balance. The Suns' lone victory against an opponent with a winning record came against the Blazers back on Jan. 6th; when they upset Portland with a blowout victory 102-77. Tonight's game will either further the notion that something must be done to shake things up, or show that this team still has some fight left in it.

The Trail Blazers are coming off of difficult stretch themselves after losing five of their last nine games, with seven of those games on the road, but they have been playing very well at home. In fact, the Blazers are 8-1 at home so far this season compared to 3-7 on the road, so the Suns will certainly see a different team tonight than the one they beat earlier this month in Phoenix.

Will the Suns have what it takes to pull out another upset tonight against the Blazers? Read on for some analysis on what to expect from tonight's game.

A look at the Blazers:


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
LaMarcus Aldridge 19 36.8 9.1 18.4 49.1 0.1 0.2 25.0 4.3 5.5 78.1 3.3 5.7 8.9 2.8 2.2 1.2 0.7 3.4 22.5
Wesley Matthews 19 32.9 4.6 11.1 41.4 1.7 4.8 35.9 2.5 2.9 87.3 0.7 2.4 3.1 1.4 1.1 1.3 0.2 2.2 13.4
Gerald Wallace 18 34.4 5.2 10.8 48.2 0.6 2.3 26.2 2.3 3.5 65.1 1.5 5.8 7.3 2.3 2.1 1.4 0.5 2.7 13.3
Jamal Crawford 19 24.7 4.5 12.7 35.5 1.3 4.2 31.3 2.9 3.1 94.9 0.2 1.8 2.0 3.3 2.0 0.9 0.2 1.5 13.3
Nicolas Batum 19 24.7 3.5 8.1 43.1 1.3 3.2 40.0 2.8 3.4 84.4 1.3 2.8 4.2 0.9 1.0 0.6 0.8 1.8 11.1
Raymond Felton 19 33.8 3.9 10.6 37.1 0.7 3.4 20.0 2.2 2.7 80.4 0.3 2.1 2.4 6.8 2.8 1.1 0.2 2.4 10.7
Craig Smith 17 12.5 1.9 3.6 52.5 0.0 0.1 0.0 1.3 1.8 71.0 1.0 2.3 3.3 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.1 1.4 5.1
Kurt Thomas 19 16.7 1.7 3.1 55.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.3 50.0 0.8 2.8 3.6 0.9 0.5 0.5 0.6 2.5 3.5
Marcus Camby 16 23.4 1.3 3.4 36.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.7 1.2 57.9 2.9 6.4 9.4 2.1 1.6 0.8 1.4 2.4 3.2
Nolan Smith 12 6.3 0.8 2.4 31.0 0.2 0.7 25.0 0.3 0.7 37.5 0.3 0.5 0.8 0.8 0.6 0.3 0.1 0.7 1.9
Elliot Williams 6 3.7 0.7 1.5 44.4 0.2 0.8 20.0 0.0 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.3 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.2 1.5
Chris Johnson 8 4.0 0.4 0.9 42.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.5 0.5 100.0 0.4 0.4 0.8 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.4 1.3 1.3
Luke Babbitt 6 2.7 0.2 0.7 25.0 0.2 0.5 33.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.7 0.7 0.0 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.5 0.5


The Blazers' best player continues to be LaMarcus Aldridge who is averaging 22.8 points and 8.9 rebounds a game. Portland is also getting significant contributions with scoring from Wesley Matthews, Gerald Wallace, Jamal Crawford, Nicholas Batum, and Raymond Felton who are all averaging over 10 points a game. Portland is currently the 10th highest scoring team in the league averaging 96.74 points per game, and their numerous contributors help them to overcome bad games from individual players.

Here are the Suns:


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Marcin Gortat 17 30.9 6.9 11.6 59.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.6 2.5 64.3 2.2 7.7 9.9 0.9 1.5 0.6 1.7 2.1 15.4
Steve Nash 16 31.9 5.8 10.8 53.5 1.1 3.0 37.5 1.9 2.1 88.2 0.3 1.9 2.2 10.4 3.6 0.5 0.0 0.6 14.5
Jared Dudley 17 29.4 3.6 8.6 42.5 0.9 2.9 32.0 1.5 1.9 78.1 1.0 3.1 4.1 1.6 1.0 0.9 0.2 1.5 9.7
Shannon Brown 17 21.7 3.6 9.3 38.6 0.8 2.5 32.6 1.5 1.9 81.3 0.5 1.6 2.2 0.9 1.1 0.9 0.1 1.4 9.5
Grant Hill 16 26.6 3.6 9.4 38.7 0.2 1.2 15.8 1.8 2.0 90.6 0.7 3.3 3.9 1.4 1.6 0.8 0.8 1.7 9.3
Hakim Warrick 14 17.7 3.2 6.6 48.4 0.1 0.5 14.3 2.1 2.9 75.0 1.2 1.4 2.6 1.0 0.9 0.2 0.1 1.4 8.6
Markieff Morris 17 21.2 2.8 6.4 44.4 1.0 2.1 48.6 0.8 1.1 77.8 1.0 4.1 5.1 1.1 1.4 0.7 0.5 2.9 7.5
Channing Frye 17 21.7 2.7 7.2 37.4 1.2 3.6 32.3 0.5 0.6 81.8 1.1 4.8 5.9 1.0 1.1 0.5 0.7 2.3 7.1
Robin Lopez 17 14.2 1.6 3.5 47.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.5 2.1 74.3 1.1 2.2 3.3 0.4 0.8 0.1 0.6 2.5 4.8
Ronnie Price 17 17.5 1.8 4.4 40.5 0.6 1.6 35.7 0.6 0.7 83.3 0.7 1.2 1.9 2.6 1.3 1.0 0.2 2.4 4.7
Sebastian Telfair 11 9.7 1.3 4.4 29.2 0.5 1.1 41.7 1.3 1.5 87.5 0.3 0.7 1.0 0.9 0.5 0.6 0.0 1.4 4.3
Michael Redd 5 12.8 1.2 4.6 26.1 0.6 2.4 25.0 1.2 1.6 75.0 0.0 0.8 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 0.0 0.8 4.2
Josh Childress 5 11.2 0.8 2.4 33.3 0.2 1.4 14.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.6 0.8 1.4 0.4 0.2 0.6 0.2 0.6 1.8

The Suns on the other hand currently rank 20th in scoring, averaging 92.71 points per game. The Suns' best players are unquestionably Steve Nash and Marcin Gortat. Gortat is averaging 15.4 points and 9.9 rebounds per game, and Nash is averaging 14.5 points and 10.4 assists. Beyond these two players though, the Suns have struggled to find any consistency whatsoever. Jared Dudley, Grant Hill, and Shannon Brown have all been consistently inconsistent, and rookie Markieff Morris who had a fantastic start to the season has struggled over his last five games averaging only 3.6 points and 4 rebounds in each.


Key Match-Ups:

Steve Nash vs. Raymond Felton - While Felton has been solid for the Blazers this season averaging 10.7 points and 6.8 assists, he's simply no match for the former two-time MVP who continues to defy his age and silence the doubters. (Advantage Suns)

Ronnie Price/Shannon Brown vs. Wesley Mathews/Jamal Crawford - The Suns are still trying to find the right fit at their two guard position to balance their defense and offense on both the first and second units. The Suns will likely continue to experiment with different looks in both units tonight, but it will be a hard assignment for both Price and Brown against the Portland wings. (Advantage Portland)

Grant Hill vs. Gerald Wallace - Hill defended Wallace in the last meeting with the Blazers and held him to only one point on 0-6 shooting from the field. Since it worked so well last time Gentry may stick with it again for tonight's game, but I also wouldn't be surprised if Alvin Gentry asks Grant to defend Aldridge instead. (Advantage Suns)

Markieff Morris vs. LaMarcus Aldridge - Aldridge has been playing at an incredibly high level this season, and Morris has been struggling lately to defend his man. Over the last two games, the player he defended has been the opponents' leading scorer; with Shawn Marion scoring 29 points for Dallas and Andrea Bargnani scoring 36 points for the Raptors. It will be interesting to see if Alvin Gentry sticks with Morris guarding Portland's best player or if he asks Hill to do it instead. (Advantage Portland)

Marcin Gortat vs. Marcus Camby - The one area that Camby could out play Gortat in tonight is with rebounding. Although Gortat averages more rebounds than Camby per game (9.9 to 9.4), Camby averages more rebounds per 36 minutes (14.4 to 11.6). Gortat is more effective in all other aspects of the game though, and he should be able to create mismatches though with his mobility and ability to score inside the paint and out. The Suns need to look for Gortat early and often to help them establish their offense. (Advantage Suns)

Suns Bench vs. Blazers Bench - Portland has been getting excellent contributions from guys like Jamal Crawford, Nicholas Batum, and even Kurt Thomas. The Suns are a much deeper team and have a bevy of contributors on their bench, but have yet to find a winning formula for consistency. If Jared Dudley, Channing Frye, Hakim Warrick, and Shannon Brown play well then the Suns bench could be the difference in the game. (Advantage ?)


Summary:

Like the title of the article states, this is gut check time for the Suns. This could easily be a game that the Suns fail to show up in as they continue to spiral downward in their descent, or this could be a game in which they pull themselves up by their boot straps and come together as a team for another upset against a very good opponent. The Suns have already shown they are capable of beating the Blazers when they are playing well, but they will need a team effort in order to do so, as well as consistent play from their supporting cast.

Going into this game it would be hard to pick against the Blazers who are playing so well at home, but I'll still give the Suns a punchers chance of getting a much needed win tonight.


Other Notes:

- Robin Lopez will not be playing tonight as he is serving out a one-game suspension for purposely bumping into a ref during Tuesday's game against the Toronto Raptors.


More Game Links:

Raptors vs Suns coverage

Raptors HQ

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This week we discuss the Suns 2-3 road trip and loss to the Raptors, the Robin Lopez situation and update on what free agents might be available this summer. We also discuss some ideas for making the Suns better now how some recent Nash comments about the lack of talent in Phoenix have been overblown.

Podcast hosted by Bryan Gibberman and Seth Pollack and presented by Arizona Sports 620 and SB Nation Arizona.

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   Time: 8:00 pm MST    TV: FSAZ       The last time the Phoenix Suns played the Portland Trailblazers, they ran Portland out of the US Airways Center in a 25 point drubbing....

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