The coach is angry. The players are frustrated. The fans are depressed.
Just a week and a half from being in the playoff bracket, and on an upward trajectory with 20 games to go, the Suns find themselves mired in the muck of reality.
Do they spend the rest of the season fighting anyway? Or do they rest the oldies, play the kids and battle for better lottery positioning?
Most likely the former. There are no kids waiting on the bench for valuable playing time. They're either already playing, or they've been traded away. And the oldies are playing for trade value or another contract. No way the Suns give Steve Nash any fewer minutes the rest of the way. They want to keep up his trade stock in case they decide to start completely over.
According to Coro (azcentral.com): Frye is playing tonight.
You could definitely decide to bench Vince Carter and/or Grant Hill, but why? Hill is such a stabilizing influence on the team, and frankly Carter provides something no one else does lately: scoring. Say all you want about his too-friendly demeanor off the court and between plays, but the guy is playing pretty well when the game is going on.
And what of giving Aaron Brooks more time to prove himself? Here's a theory: the fewer minutes he plays, the less he can demand on that next contract.
This summer, the team may change dramatically. But for now it is basically a WYSIWYG - what you see is what you get.
Let's talk about tonight's opponent. First, take a moment consider their last decade - any time you're depressed over how the Suns have done, it could be worse. And if the FO is not careful, that's the blueprint for the Suns' next 10 years. Just good enough to not be good enough.
As usual, G Monta Ellis is getting tons of minutes. He leads the league in minutes played, in fact. SF Dorrell Wright, F/C David Lee and G Stephen Curry are close behind. It's likely that the new GS owners will decide (like the rest of the nation) that Ellis and Curry are not a playoff combo at G. Curry could be so much better somewhere else.
Wild card: Will we see PF Lou Amundson tonight? I hope so. He's averaging his usual 4 and 4 as a 13-minute backup, though he's only played 33 games all year.
Another wild card: PF Ekpe Udoh. This rookie killed the Suns in the last two meetings (swept by the Suns on their upswing)
Luckily, both wild cards can't play at the same time and neither starts.
Look for this to be a hard-fought game, ultimately won by the Suns who NEED a win just to feel better about themselves after some tough losses to good teams.
When you've lost your last four games and find yourself right back at .500 when you are trying desperately to make it into the playoffs, the last thing you want to do is have a bad practice. But that's what happened today as the Suns took the floor and didn't give Coach Gentry what he wanted to see.
Perhaps it was all just for effect, but as soon as the doors to the Suns practice court were opened today, there was Alvin Gentry walking out instead of staying to talk to the media as is the norm. All he would say was that we could ask the player what was going on, and he left.
I've see Gentry unhappy with practice before, but never to the point that he wouldn't stay and discuss it.
Here's Grant Hill answering questions about his response to Jalen Rose. He didn't want to talk about it anymore.
Stay tuned, I'm going to put some more notes together from today as well including an update from Frye (who did practice today) and from Nash.
Tonight's contest was a sort of microcosm of the Phoenix Suns season. They started shaky-then looked fair-then looked awful-then looked pretty good-then they fell apart at the end.
The Suns shot 43% lost the rebounding battle by 7, turned the ball over 15 times, and gave up 46 Hornet points in the paint.
If that doesn't tell the story of the game, then how about these lines:
There isn't much one can say positive about this game. Yes at leas they fought back, and yes Dudley's 25 were nice. Anything else?
Well then back to reality. Reality is:
There's really no bright spot I guess. Perhaps a semblance of hope. Channing Frye could come back Friday. Maybe Nash will be healthy soon. Maybe Brooks will get it soon, maybe, maybe, maybe.
It's pretty dark right here near the sun. But there is some hope. 12-4 maybe? 13-3? Stranger things have happened. Remember this is the exciting time of year. Just one game. yes, one viciously ugly and psychologically crushing defeat. But there's another come Friday.
We ain't done yet.
(exits with inspirational accompaniment)