It’s going to be a long 20 games. The Phoenix Suns lost a shootout to the Sacramento Kings 121-112 at the Sleep Train Arena on Friday. The Suns fell in this game because of a complete lack of defense...

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Recap:

The Suns started with a balanced attack, while the Kings went with a heavy diet of Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins. All five Suns in the starting lineup made solid contributions on offense, but sluggish transition defense was the culprit in conceding a lead to the Kings after a quick start. In all, Sacramento managed 8 layups in the first quarter. Eight. Four threes by the Suns fomented their own offense as the quarter remained close. Kings 32, Suns 30.

The Suns kicked off the second quarter on an 11-2 run with four players scoring and a ferocious dunk by Jared Dudley, who has fresh legs due to his playing time being severely truncated since the youth movement has largely banished him to the bench. After the Suns took a 45-38 lead on a pair of Luis Scola free throws, the Kings flipped the script and went on their own 13-3 run to go up 51-48. Isaiah Thomas hit three three-pointers in less than two minutes to fuel the surge. The Suns then countered the deluge with more offense of their own to keep the game tight going into the half. Kings 59, Suns 57.

I would say the first half was defense optional, but I think both teams were actually directed not to play any. Either way it was a torrid pace with plenty of points. Cousins led the way for Sacramento with 18 points and seven rebounds. Thomas and Evans were also in double figures with 13 and 10, respectively. 38 points in the paint and 14 fast break points helped the Kings shoot 54.5% halfway through. As aforementioned, the Suns countered with a variegated attack with three players (Scola, Goran Dragic and Wesley Johnson) scoring 10 points. Dragic also dropped eight dimes to lead all players.

The game bogged down for the first half of the third quarter as the offensive amnesty from the first half seemed to expire. Either that or both of these teams are just really bad and can't even score consistently on defensive sieves. You be the judge. Dragic sustained a strong first half, including a fake timeout play that caught the Kings with their pants down and resulted in an easy layup, and finished the quarter with 14 points and 10 assists. Thomas also built on a solid first half with 11 points in the third, 24 in the game, as the often atrabilious and immature Cousins sat with foul trouble. Kings 89, Suns 82.

After allowing the Kings to build a 98-87 lead, prompting sighs from Suns fans, the Suns fought back with eight straight points to claw back in. The Kings again went ahead by 11 at 116-105 behind a barrage of three point bombs, but the Suns answered again to keep the game interesting right down to the wire. Then came the usual result of the season as the Suns failed to execute down the stretch when given an opportunity and allowed the Kings to seal the game with free throws after a scrum for the ball with 16 seconds left went in the Kings favor. I guess they wanted it more. You can have it. I want ping pong balls anyway.

Final Score: Kings 121, Suns 112

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Player of the Game:

Cousins, Evans, Thomas and Thornton. Hard to pick from these four. Cousins had 22 points, 14 rebounds and 7 assists on 9-13 shooting. Evans had 25 points and 5 assists on 9-12 shooting. Thomas had 27 points, 6 assists and 5 steals on 8-13 shooting. Thornton had 23 points on 9-13 shooting, including several big threes in clutch time.

Big ups to Goran Dragic in the loss. 17 points, 16 assists and 5 steals is outstanding... and could have been good for player of the game had the Suns actually won.

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Comments of the Game:

It's raining

God is weeping with us (in response to Jazz loss)

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KJ's on the Suns' broadcast, that's pretty cool actually

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I think we should hijack the Lakers/Raptors thread.

It would be in the Raptors' best interest to win tonight...

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Is it just me...

Or does Beasley's hair look slightly less ridiculous tonight

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How do you lose best?

By scoring lots, keeping it relatively close, and playing no D. From the Book Of Tanking, By Gregg Popovich.

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This place is called Sleep Train Arena

Seems appropriate. As does our going-out-of-business airlines arena.

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Whew -- I was afraid we were thinking about winning this one

then Beas clanked a long two and righted the ship...

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Such horrendous defense

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Come on, Toronto...

How can you only be up 8?

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If you give up 120 points, it's pretty much impossible to win.

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The Good:

The Suns could have come out listless and pouting with the recent attrition of size, but instead came out with hustle to combat the Kings muscle. We've seen quite a few ugly, low scoring games this season. An ugly, high-scoring game was a nice change of pace.

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The Bad:

We knew the Suns faced an uphill battle in the paint, but Cousins abused them in the first half and the Kings reeled off 38 points in the paint. Luckily for the Suns Cousins intelligently took himself out of the game for stretches with mental lapses foul trouble.

It looked like both teams signed a truce before the game to allow a cavalcade of easy buckets. Trust me, it wasn't a case of great offense beating great defense. It was more like mediocre, fast-paced offense torching pathetic, atrocious defense.

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The Ugly:

The site. Hard to enjoy the game thread when it keeps freezing and lagging. Fix the problems, guys.

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Final Thoughts:

When you're a really bad team (see Suns, Phoenix) you really don't want to win poorly played games like this. Losing is probably the best bet at this point. Maybe if the Suns pick high enough they can draft somebody who actually knows how to play defense...

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While not a huge fan of the spate of hoops commentators over at the "flagship", one of their brethren I actually enjoy reading is Bill Simmons. His humorous approach to making a point comes across like one of your funny buddies that manage to say things in a way that incite laughter without taking the jab too much to heart, even if it is at your own expense. That is hard to do, and I know because I usually inject humor into my writing only to find that I have insulted many a reader.


However, sometimes when you are trying to be funny, you forget that things you say as jokes may be taken as an implication of fact. Case in point is Simmons' latest article regarding the worst contracts in the NBA. In it, he refers to the Andrew Bynum deal [which is expiring] and suggests that someone will indubitably offer Bynum a deal this summer despite the fact that he spends more time at the bank cashing his huge checks than he does actually playing basketball.

In his article, Simmons writes

"Watching Bynum hit the open market this summer is going to be riveting. I'm feeling a two-year, $30 million deal with a team option for year three from Phoenix, a team that is the odds-on favorite to be involved in basketball's first major PED scandal had phenomenal success rehabbing injury risks over the years."

Now, while I get the irony he is putting forth, and can appreciate that Robert Sarver would indeed be dumb enough to lock Bynum up for that deal [or more scary - a max deal], his implication made about the Suns training staff leads me to believe that Simmons has forgotten one of the cardinal rules of writing - thou shalt not make a joke slyly suggesting someone is cheating through the use of PED's without having a single shred of evidence.


While it is true that in the world of sports [and I mean ALL of team sports], no group of trainers have ever eclipsed the popularity and production of the people that actually participate in the sport. It used to be that the Phoenix Suns were a destination for free agents because we had the weather, the women, the wins, and great ownership. Now we have the trainers, and I'm done. The Suns training staff has resurrected more careers than - ugh, where is Dennis Miller when you need a great analogous reference!!!

Yet, to basically accuse the trainers of something illegal goes a little too far. Is it simply a joke that is funny? Is it a jab at them because they have been successful where no one else has been? Does the fact that more injured players seem to be able to perform after working with the Suns staff than statistically should be able to mean that something fishy is going on? Who knows? Saying the Suns training staff are the NBA's version of Viagra is funny. But to suggest that illegal substances are the root of their success isn't funny and I am shocked that Simmons would write that in his column.

I am sure Aaron Nelson has better things to do than sue Bill Simmons for libel. And I am no attorney, but I think he might have a case here. Simmons crossed the line; he should retract what he wrote and issue an apology. Either that, or produce compelling evidence of the accusation and stop hiding behind humor as your scapegoat.

Time: 8 p.m. TV: FSAZ PHOENIX – Save the debate about the Phoenix Suns’ lack of a tank job for later. Soon enough, it might not be an issue at all. When the Suns fell 98-71 to the previously...

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Tonight's matchup faces two teams in a pivotal bout with playoff aspirations at stake. Both teams face a steep, uphill battle to secure one of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference. I know the Suns aren't bereft of hope, however, as competing for a playoff spot was one of their main goals coming into the season. Either team may very well have to run the table to have any chance, so tonight's game is of paramount importance. On the off chance that neither of these teams ends up competing for a playoff spot as the season reaches its inexorable end, this game will shift gears and become a struggle between two lottery bound teams with the loser gaining the laurels. In that case, a win for the Suns could be a pyrrhic victory as it would put the Kings three behind in the loss column.

Compelling basketball folks. If the Suns usurp the tyrannical autocrats, we cheer our revolting rebels (no, not that kind of revolting). If Sacramento plays the role of Helios, we get closer to becoming table tennis champions.

Win win.

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When: Friday, March 8, 2013, 8:00 PM local time (10:00 EST)

Where: Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, CA

Watch/Listen: TV: FSAZ, Radio: 620 KTAR

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Last Meeting:

The last meeting between the teams this season was in Sacramento on January 23, 2013 which featured coach Lindsey Hunters's debut as Phoenix's head coach. Hunter did not disappoint as the Suns used a 32-19 fourth quarter to secure the W by a final score of 106-96. Luis Scola led all scorers with 21 points. Phenom Michael Beasley chipped in with 19. The perpetually troubled DeMarcus Cousins led the Kings with 15 points and 15 rebounds.

The Suns have owned Sacramento to the tune of a 2-0 season edge and can clinch the season series by throttling the Kings at the ever energetic Sleep Train Arena.

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Team Bios:

Sacramento Kings: 21-42

Points per game: 98.5 (13th) Points allowed: 104.9 (30th)

Full Statistics

Unlike Midas, who had the transformative power to turn anything he touched to gold, pretty much everything the Kings touch turns to $#%^. The Kings are in year number seven of a brief rebuild and aspire to finish the season with 26 wins, which would be their highest total in five years.

Not all is doleful in Despotville, however, as the Kings were already successful in unloading the player they took fifth overall, Thomas Robinson, in last year's draft. The resulting reimbursement for that transaction was Patrick Patterson, who has averaged just under seven points since his arrival. The Kings are led by..... Let's go with DeMarcus Cousins since he leads the team in scoring (16.8) and rebounding (9.9) despite not being eminently qualified as a leader of men.

The Kings have won just two of their last eleven games and, like aforementioned, will need a near miraculous reversal of fortune to sneak into the backdoor of the playoffs. Teams they will need to pass include... everybody, since the Kings are dead last in the Western Conference. Maybe the rebuild isn't progressing at quite the frantic pace I just referred to....

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Phoenix Suns: 21-40

Points per game: 95.3 (20th) Points allowed: 99.6 (22nd)

Full Statistics

The team has been somewhat decimated by injuries (Marcin Gortat) and unfortunate circumstances (O'Neal - best wishes), but fortunately the Suns trade deadline acquisition of Hamed Haddadi makes the front office look like soothsaying sorcerers. Whether the Iranian Enforcer will play a major role in tonight's game remains to be seen, however, since he pretty much sucked in his first appearance.

Phoenix followed an impressive three game winning streak by suffering an impressive ass whipping at the hands of the Toronto Raptors (98-71). The game devolved into an Oklahoma City-like decimation, but the Suns still managed to cheat death and avoid a franchise record for fewest points in a game, much to the relief of the dozens of fans in attendance.

The Suns shouldn't be offensively challenged against the spaghetti strainer defense of the woeful Kings as they give up the most points in the association and have a tendency to look bad in doing so. On an actual positive note (I'm being serious here, pay attention) this game should give Suns faithful a chance to watch the young player get some burn. Young players who have actually been precocious in spurts recently.

So tune in... or else. Actually, that's a completely empty threat.

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What To Watch For:

The Wunderkinds: The kids are alright. You wanted to watch the Suns develop young players in a lost season? You got it.

DeMarcus Cousins: He has owned the Suns at times in this series, and with Gortat and O'Neal out he may have a huge game... even if the Suns counter with Haddadi.

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2013 Lottery Watch

The Suns are currently tied for 6th in the race for the #1 seed in the lottery. Currently, seeds 3-8 are only separated by two games. Instead of looking at the dregs of the league, today's lottery watch focuses on the Los Angeles Lakers and the Suns pursuit of their lottery pick.

Tonight's Games of Interest:

The Lakers (31-31) face the mighty Raptors tonight, those of the 27 point victory on Phoenix's home court, but the odds are that will be a win. Cheer for the Raptors anyway, despite the fact that they just humiliated us.

The Houston Rockets (33-29) visit the Golden St. Warriors (35-27). While both of these teams are still within the Lakers reach, cheer for Houston as a loss coupled with a Lakers win would put the Lakers within one game of the Rockets. Which, believe it or not, would mean the Lakers actually control their destiny against them by virtue of a season finale game and tiebreakers....

The Utah Jazz, as they venture into a declivitous descent, face the Bulls in Chicago. Root hard for the Jazz. Really hard. The Jazz have lost five of six and have the potential to venture into freefall with their upcoming schedule. A Jazz loss coupled with a Lakers win puts LA within a half game of the recently hapless Jazz....

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The Final Word(s):

Friday night basketball. In all seriousness, this should actually be a great night to follow the action. With 12 games on the slate there are plenty of contests with direct implications towards the Suns near future. We can't afford too many more nights like Wednesday. You know, nights that make you physically ill.

Plus, if you join the gamethread you'll get the pleasure of my company, which should be reason enough to... oh nevermind.

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