Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) pulls a rebound down in front of Denver Nuggets' Kosta Koufos (41) during the first quarter in a preseason NBA basketball game Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Deja Vu (all over again).

The Phoenix Suns ran out of energy early in the second half, giving up 58 points in the second half to a more controlled and consistent Denver Nuggets team. The Nugs were led by Danilo Gallinari's game-leading 23 points, and had no trouble driving the lane and, more importantly, creating foul trouble for the Suns. Both Robin Lopez and Markieff Morris were in foul trouble throughout the game.

The fan energy in the U.S. Airways Center was great early on, led by our own Dragic_is_Magic, Eutychus, and Seth Pollack, among others, who no doubt solely contributed to the combined 5 blocks for Morris and RoLo in the first half. Lopez, starting in place of the injured Marcin Gortat (right thumb), seemed quicker and more aggressive in general. Jared Dudley led the Suns in scoring with 17 athletic points on 5-6 shooting, cementing his starting spot over the more erratic Shannon Brown, who ended up 5-11 and -13.

The glaring problem here is the ability of the entire team as a whole to sustain a decent level of play over 48 minutes. From mid third-quarter on, the team looked pretty listless on both offense and defense. Josh Childress answered Alvin Gentry's call-out with a line of 0/1/1 and -14. Actually, using Childress as a scapegoat for this loss would be wrong. By the end of the game, everyone on the team had a negative +/-.

With only a few days before the season opener on Monday, the Suns still have a lot of questions. Join me after the jump if you really just don't like yourself.

The good (sort of): Hakim Warrick, Markieff Morris, Robin Lopez, Jared Dudley, Shannon Brown

The typical: Steve Nash, Grant Hill, Ronnie Price, Lou Amundsen, wait whaaa

The ugly: Josh Childress, Channing Frye, Sebastian Telfair

Questions of the day:

  • Is Josh Childress just really bad, or nor a good fit with this team?
  • Will Shannon Brown's FG% stay at around 20% for the season?
  • How soon will Markieff Morris be our starting PF?
  • (Related) Will Channing Frye find his shot?
  • Will Sebastian Telfair find the floor this season?

Overall, the Suns have problems with cohesion, coordination, and closing power, among other things. Shooting 37% (29-79) for an entire game will always lead to another tick mark in the "L" column. Alvin Gentry has a tough job on his hands; the cast of characters that he has on this team, along with the abbreviated and fast-paced NBA schedule, will create one of the toughest coaching seasons in Suns history.

[Note by Seth Pollack, 12/22/11 10:45 PM MST ]

Adding this postgame video from Dudley and Morris.

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Morris with 3 blocks, Robin with 2.......the flame has been lit. GO SUNS!

To nobody’s surprise the Phoenix Suns waived Mickael Pietrus today after he agreed to a $4.2 million buyout of his $5.3 million salary, according to The Arizona Republic. Moving Pietrus was...

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Let's hope that Mickael Pietrus the new guys really show up to play today! Bassy, compete for the PG2 spot! Rolo, compete for the starting position! Marcus Landry, compete for........GO SUNS!

The gunslinging goofball from Guadeloupe is gone.

After failing in attempts to get a dozen Tim Horton's donuts (actually, a second round pick) from the Toronto Raptors in exchange for guard Mickael Pietrus, the Suns reached a buyout agreement with Pietrus and waived him, according to ESPN's Marc Stein. Pietrus will forfeit $1.2M of his $5.3M salary in the deal and will be free to sign with any team after he clears waivers; the Suns will be rid of a player whose knee injury caused the trade with the Raptors to be voided, and who never found a fit in Phoenix.

Pietrus was acquired in a blockbuster trade last December, in which the Suns acquired Marcin Gortat, Vince Carter, Pietrus and a 1st round pick in exchange for Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Earl Clark. He showed flashes of being the physical, defensively-oriented wing player he is reputed to be, but also displayed poor shot selection, a clownish personality, and complained this past offseason that he wanted off the team. It was apparent that both he and the team were ready to move on and it must have disappointed all parties when his knee injury derailed the deal with Toronto.

His departure leaves the Suns with Jared Dudley and Shannon Brown at shooting guard.

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