There was a lot of talk after last night's game about heart and hustle and winning the loose balls and making plays. Here's the quotes:

"The bottom line is that there was 1:17 seconds to go and we never got possession of the ball on the three missed shots. We have to do a much better job finishing the game. We have to do a better job coming up with plays," the exasperated Suns' coach said.

"I just think it's concentration and discipline, I think we lack a little bit of that at times. We had a good stretch there and then we take a step back a little bit. We don't have the talent or efficiency to not win those battles, the 50-50 battles," Nash said.

So I went back and looked at the end of the game see exactly what happened. Here it is...

The Suns were down 5 to start the fourth quarter. With Nash on the bench and Hill hobbled by the knee injury, this was a dangerous time. But the bench did well...OK, the bench didn't suck. The Suns were down 7 when Nash came back in at the 6:34 mark. They at least didn't let the Bobcats lead balloon and force Gentry to bring Nash back in sooner.

With Nash back in the Suns quickly cut the lead to two (100-102, 5:15) but then it goes back to six (104-110, 3:16) when Nash hits a big three and now we've got a three point game with three minutes to go, at home in a game the team needs to win against an iffy Charlotte team who played the night before. 

1) The Bobcats follow up Nash's three with a quick score of their own. They ran a high pick and roll with Augustine and Diaw. Fyre and Nash blitz DJ and Dudley rotates over to Diaw to take away his three-point shot. Henderson smartly flashes to the high post leaving Dragic and Carter stuck trying to defend two guys. They both hesitate, not wanting to fully leave their man in the corner open but also not wanting to give Henderson the shot. Henderson rises up and hits the shot in the lane.

When the Suns decided to blitz the ball handler, that basically created a 3 on 2 situation and the Bobcats responded. DJ also made a great pass through Nash's legs to break the trap. This is exactly the kind of play the Suns failed to make when the Piston's were trapping Nash.

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2) The Suns come back, now down 112-107 and with a lineup of Carter, Frye, Nash, Dragic and Dudley on the floor they have no real options other than a drive and kick. Nash drives, the defense collapses and Dragic misses an open corner three.

Nash beats Henderson for the ball and the Suns get another look that essentially results in the same thing. Drive, defense collapses, Frye misses an open corner three on the other side. 

On the long rebound Frye fouls Augustine going for the ball. He maybe could have gotten to the ball by diving for it without pushing off on DJ right in front of the ref.

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3) That foul puts DJ on the line where he makes both free throws so it's now 114-107 with 1:50 to go. Gortat comes in for Frye.

4) Sensing the need to get something other than a three, the Suns run a nice play that starts as a high pick and roll with Nash and Gortat but immediately off the screen, Nash passes to Carter who passes to Gortat rolling free down the lane. This is a classic Suns play that used to feature Hill passing the ball to Amare for a dunk. 

But instead, Carter rifles the ball at Gortat's face and he can't handle the pass even though the play worked and he was wide open. Bobcats get the ball back.

Bobcats_gm_2_medium

5) Now down 114-107 with 1:37 to go, the Suns play solid defense and rotate around until Henderson isolates on Dudley and drives right by him (Dudley really can't stay in front of most wing players) but Henderson misses the layup.

Off the ball, Diaw sneaks by Gortat for inside position and is under the rim when Henderson's shot goes up. Gortat doesn't pin Diaw under the basket and ends up losing the rebound to him. Think about that. Gortat got beat for an offensive rebound by Boris Diaw. To be fair, Boris has a strong solid base (fat ass) and is hard to move out of the paint once he establishes position. (I still have a soft spot for Boris.)

In these next two pictures you see Boris in position and Gortat just waiting behind him and then you see them both going for the ball and Boris winning it.

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Bobcats_gm_4_medium

6) The Bobcats miss a three point shot and Dragic rebounds but there's only 56 seconds left and the Suns are down seven. Nash creates a wide open shot for Dudley but he missed the three. If he makes that, the Suns are down four with about 45 seconds. 

Bobcats_gm_7_medium

7) On the final play, the Suns are down seven with 45 seconds and decide not to foul. Gambo from KTAR asked Gentry about this and Gentry basically said the game was already over at the point so what was the point.

"We're down seven, what are we going to do," Gentry said.

Anyway, the Bobcats use up clock and fire up up a three which misses. Three Suns have inside position but Gerald Wallace ends up with the ball. Not that it mattered at that point, the team had already given up.

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In the end, the Suns defense wasn't horrible down the stretch. They gave up four points and one critical offensive rebound. Two of those points were off a foul and the other two were a fairly well defended play. The rebound was Boris Diaw beating Marcin Gortat which shouldn't happen.

On the offensive end, the Suns score zero points in the final three minutes. They got nothing in the paint because the Bobcats collapsed on the drives and the the Suns missed three wide open threes and turned the ball over on their best play to get someone going to the rim. They (Nash) also got an offensive rebound during this stretch. 

There were three big mistakes outside the missed shots. Carter's bad pass to Gortat. Gortat getting beat for the ball by Diaw. Frye's foul on Augustine. 

But really this is about not having the ability to get to the line, score in the paint, or hit clutch threes. Those were all things last year's Suns were able to do and that cost the game and several others this season. Even early in this season both Hedo and JRich were guys who made big plays late in games. They are missed.

Now personally, the one guy on this roster that could have helped is Robin Lopez. He simply has to play better but Gentry also should be giving him more time on the court. He's played well early in the games but hasn't been allowed to stay in long enough to get anything going.

Lopez is the only guy on this roster that can post up any defender and there's no way he loses that rebound to Diaw. He's bigger and stronger than Gortat and would have won that tip. In fact, if he's playing well the Bobcats would have had to have had Kwame Brown in the game at center which limits their offense as well.

I realize that right now Gortat is playing better, but Lopez is the guy the Suns need to win these types of games and so at some point Gentry is going to have to start giving him the time to be on the floor and improve.


Just to keep things light around here during this dark times (which I suspect are going to get even darker), here's some fun videos.

First up, from the guys who produced this classic video (and honestly, one of the things I am most proud of ever helping to create)...is Thunder Dan getting all Thunder on a passer-by.


And next we have this incredible video footage of a Sol Patrol kid dunking himself during last night's game. Yes, this really did happen!

Self-Dunk comes at about 1:30 mark.

 

Don't forget the Meet up before Friday's game!

Coach and Willies on 3rd street just south of Jackson's. Here's the location details.

We have an upstairs area reserved and will have food and drink specials for our group.

Be sure to RSVP via Facebook.


PHOENIX — With the game no longer in doubt with 22 seconds remaining, one play typified the entire evening — and some would say the entire season — for the Phoenix Suns. After the...

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We know, Alvin. Three losses in a row. We're as disappointed as you. (AP Photo/H. Rumph Jr.)

More photos » H. Rumph Jr - AP

We know, Alvin. Three losses in a row. We're as disappointed as you. (AP Photo/H. Rumph Jr.)

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Steve Nash shot 11-15 from the field (including 4-4 from three), dished out 15 assists and snagged 5 rebounds. Heck, he even got a steal. But unfortunately for Nash and the Suns, it wasn't enough as the Bobcats outshot, outrebounded, and out-everything'd their way to a win.

There was a period in the third quarter where it seemed like no one in a Suns jersey could miss. There was also a time in the third quarter where it seemed like no one in a Bobcats jersey could miss. Unfortunately for the Suns, those two times were happening concurrently.

And so went the game. After a rather uninspiring first half, the Suns found themselves only down by two points. Not bad, considering the body language and overall play from the home team. All the Suns had to do was come out, play their game, and get some stops. They did two of the three, but left out the most important part: getting stops. After being beat handily in Philadelphia, you'd think the Suns, losers of two straight, would come out on their home floor and give 110%. You'd think.

Phoenix, now losers of three straight games, now sits 4 games out of the 8th seed in the Western Conference. And with 10 games left until the All-Star Break, the team needs to take a long, hard look into the mirror and ask themselves exactly what it is they're trying to do.

The State of the Suns

There comes a time in every losing season where the team in question takes a look at their options. You can blow up the team, tanking your season for a shot at a young prospect. You can desperately cling to the hopes of a playoff berth, praying the teams ahead of you struggle enough for you to sneak in. You can make a trade to try and put you "over the hump."

None of these options, however, look appealing to Phoenix. Do the Suns fall into the "Free Nash" campaign, trading away their future Hall of Fame point guard and face of the franchise? Do they try to use Vince Carter's hugely expiring contract as trade bait at the trade deadline? Or do the Suns stand pat, trying to will their way to what will probably be the 8th seed in the Western Conference playoffs?

I, for one, do not have any answers for you. Sure, I could pull numbers showing why the Suns should roll with Player A over Player B. I could offer some insightful, profound comments explaining what the team should do. But I won't. The Suns simply are not playing good basketball, and I've accepted the fact that this season is not going to be as magical as last year's. We all knew that about 10 games into the season.

However, just because this team doesn't have the chemistry or cohesion that last year's squad did, that doesn't mean that we should give up on the team. There's a difference between a good team in rebuild mode and a team that makes rash decisions to keep the fan base happy. The Cavaliers stood pat after LeBron left, delirious in their rage that the team, as constituted, could still win games. The fan base didn't want someone to fill in LeBron's shoes. They wanted to rub it in LeBron's face when they won games without him. However, with Cleveland sitting at 8-37 and losers of 18 games in a row, it's clear that the team is in a bad place.

The Suns are not the Cavaliers. There is still plenty of talent on this team, and while they may not be contenders (or even truly in the playoff race), there is no reason to panic. The team needs to make moves and retool, but desperation breeds failure. We may not be looking at a smooth road ahead here in Phoenix, but we're definitely not at the point where we just drive the car off the cliff and accept whatever happens.

Quick Thoughts

  • I liked what I saw from Goran Dragic tonight. His confidence has been all over the map this season, and I think we saw the driven version of Goran. While it may not have reflected on the stat sheet (5 points, 2-8 shooting, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal), I saw quick decisions. It may not have translated to box score success, but it's a step in the right direction.
  • Steve Nash should not be traded. The whole "Free Nash" campaign going around is complete garbage. What can we honestly get back for him? He's a week and a half away from 37, and while still incredibly productive, no team is going to give up a potential star for a fading one. I would like to see Steve's heart pay off, but I don't think it's in the team's best interest to shop him around.
  • I respect Alvin Gentry. His team is struggling, but he's sticking with his rotations. Some may call him out for a lack of vision and will likely suggest what will magically fix the Suns. However, with his fluid rotations early in the season not equating to success, you stick with a more traditional 8-9 man rotation. It will also give young players like Goran Dragic a sense of continuity, which will (hopefully) get him familiar and comfortable.
Moving Forward

Yes, tonight's loss was disappointing. In the next 10 games, we'll find out just what it is the Suns are going to be for the rest of the season. And yes, some of us will probably be disappointed with what happens. However, we may just be surprised with what the team does. Until then, all we can do is continue to tune in and support the SUNS.

 

[Note by Seth Pollack, 01/26/11 10:30 PM MST ]

Phoenix Suns Lacking Fight Late In Game, Lose To Charlotte Bobcats 114-107 - SB Nation Arizona

"I just think it's concentration and discipline, I think we lack a little bit of that at times. We had a good stretch there and then we take a step back a little bit. We don't have the talent or efficiency to not win those battles, the 50-50 battles," Nash said.

"It's not really something you can practice. It's something you have to have the determination to go out there and finish plays. I think at times we lack that a little bit."

Postgame Audio:

Game Notes

1st Qtr

  • Game starts with Steve Nash passing up a lay up to dish the ball to Robin...a nod to Boris Diaw?
  • Seeing Kwame Brown reminds me of how fun it was playing the Lakers in the playoffs when Kwame was their starting center and Smush Parker was their starting point guard. Good times.
  • Watching Boris and Channing "get after it" reminds me that I have some cherry/cheese Danish at home from my favorite bakery, Karsh's.
  • This is a fairly unimpressive display of basketball from both teams so far...a point reinforced by Vince Carter missing his second wide open corner three.
  • Robin wasting a foul on Kwame Brown's shot attempt is not very smart basetball.
  • Grant Hill is pretty much the only reason to still watch the Suns on offense (aside from Nash of course).
  • Suns now 5-15 from the field and it's not b/c the Bobcats defense is that good.
  • Suns Game Opns puts up a "Congrats Vince Carter On 20,000 Points". Probably to remind him that he used to be a good player and the Suns need him to at least score the ball a little bit.
  • Boris Diaw came to play....or to eat. Maybe both.
  • Gerald Henderson in for Gerald Wallace...just reminds me of the original Gerald. This guy.
  • Vince Carter hits a three and does a big show of looking up to the heavens in thanks...b/c he's sucked for that last few games and he wants us all to know how happy he is to have made one. Good show, sir. Good show.
  • 31-26, them. It could be worse

2nd Qtr

  • Two minutes into the quarter and I have nothing to say.
  • Warrick missed a mid-range shot. Not exactly news but I'm trying here.
  • Gortat is 1-1 on jump balls against guards tonight.
  • Gentry for a time was using Carter as the offensive punch w/ the bench unit but he's given up on that and is going with Grant Hill now. Smart move.
  • Twice I've seen the ball kicked but no kicking violations called. This must mean that Joey Crawford is a soccer fan. Or that he's blind. Not sure...you decide.
  • Now that was an impressive pick and roll finish from the Polish Hammer. Mid-air adjustment plus two-hand slammer hammer jammer.
  • Gortat with 12 points so far. Nice.
  • Shaun Livingston posting up Steve Nash. Guessing we are going to see that a few more times... like now
  • Carter hits two threes in a row! That's kind of cool. Especially b/c he's not playing much defense so at least he can even it out by scoring a bit.
  • Bobcats up 53-51.
  • Jared Dudley, you are not going to iso, drive and score on Boris Diaw. Sorry. Boris Diaw once shut down Tony Parker in a playoff game.

3rd Qtr

  • The Bobcats offense was described to me before the game by a Suns asst. coach as being "old school" b/c they always just look to post up a mismatch or run a pick and roll w/ DJ Augustine. Pretty much spot on w/ what I've seen so far.
  • Kwame Brown has three fouls. That's good news for the Suns! Get that guy out of the game!!!
  • Suns take 65-64 lead off Nash three which came after Hill steal. Hill is on S-Jax btw with Carter "hiding" on G. Wallace. Wallace not taking advantage for some reason.
  • ‘Nother Nash three off a screen by Robin.
  • First three points for Frye. A three of course.
  • Nash has gone into Hero Mode. 17 points so far. 8 in the 3rd qtr.
  • Robin goes out...unlikely we will see him again tonight.
  • Frye drains his third-straight three. That's how he do.
  • Turnovers not helping the Suns keep their lead.
  • Oh hey, Goran and Nash playing together. That's fun. Probably b/c Vince has 4 fouls.
  • Hey Channing, if you are going to close out on Gerald Wallace shooting a 18 foot baseline shot at least put a hand up. Please?
  • Well, at least the Suns are scoring the ball. 85-88 in the 3rd.
  • Lord, I probably just jinxed the Suns into a 12 points fourth quarter. Sorry.
  • Stephen Jackson gave Dudley an approving pat on the ass after the sweet pump fake and make. No one pats my ass when I write a nice sentence. Just pointing out that difference between what I do and what they do.
  • 87-92, Bob's

4th Qtr

  • I think some dude dunked himself off the trampoline. As in he went through the rim...but I missed it b/c I was talking to you people. Thanks.
  • Gortat hurt, Robin in. Doesn't look serious....I mean Gortat. Robin does look very serious.
  • Frye trying to be a thug by wrestling w/ Wallace and gets called for it. Can't win for trying sometimes.
  • The Suns have given up 99 points to the Bobcats who played last night. They are shooting 53.8% so spare me the "fast pace" crap. The defense has been horrible but then again, it almost always is.
  • Gortat and Lopez on the bench now. Frye and Diaw battling for the Best Undersized Center in Phoenix award.
  • Shaun Livingston is out-playing Goran Dragic on both ends of the floor. Fact. But Goran does have better hair.
  • Dudley passes up an open three so he can drive the lane and toss up a prayer at the rim.
  • 6:34, Suns down 99-95. Nash at least was able to get some good rest. Should be back in now after this time out.
  • Nash back in as predicted. It's almost like I can read Gentry's mind of something. Scary.
  • 100-102, 5:00. Looks like I am not going to be able to get my recap done early. I would really appreciate if someone ran away with this game so I could save about 15 minutes of work. Help a brother out?
  • Dudley fouls S-Jax taking a three....not the smartest move Mr. Dudley ever made. Might be his worst decision since those crazy long braids he used to rock.
  • Suns down 108-104 w/ 3:25. For some reason I don't think the Suns are going to get the stops they need to win this game.
  • Make that 110-104 w/ 3:15. Point made.
  • Kevin Durant had 47 points and Kevin Love went 31 and 21. Wish those guys played here.
  • Nash three cuts it to...forget it, Henderson got an open look 4 feet from the rim.
  • Nash beats Gerald Wallace to a rebound.
  • Tough foul on Frye...actually replay shows it was a good call.
  • Ok, that's about it. 114-107 w/ 1:50.
  • Carter passed that ball right at Marcin's face...clearly his nose knocked it out of his hands. (Yikes, that was mean).
  • Not sure why Grant Hill wasn't on the floor to close out this game. Might be a good question for someone to ask in the press conf.


Where'd the ball go?

H. Rumph Jr - AP

Where'd the ball go?

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Thanks to a certain someone being a space cadet today, there's no separate game preview. But that's cool, what more do you need to know about this game other than Kwame Brown is starting and he's been killing it on the glass lately. Yup, that guy.

Here's some more preview madness including some quotes and Vince Carter talking about being 34 years old and giving up an update on his sore knee. 

Phoenix Suns Home Stand Starts With Revived Charlotte Bobcats - SB Nation Arizona
As for the Bobcats, they've beaten the Suns four out of their last five meetings including an embarrassing 123-105 game earlier this season. They are a difficult matchup for the Suns according to Steve Nash, who cites their versatile players and their rebounding ability.

Vince Carter, who was on the Orlando Magic last year when they swept the Bobcats in the first round of the playoffs explained the key to beating them. "You have to attack them early," Carter said, "You have to take their confidence immediately. If you don't and let them hang in there it can be a long night."

[Note by Seth Pollack, 01/26/11 6:31 PM MST ]

Pregame Notes:

This was an interesting (and very clear) response from Gentry:

Alvin Gentry Wants Rebounds From His Centers (Yes, That Was A Question) - Desert Dirt - SB Nation Arizona
It's kind of a risk / reward thing like Nash making high-risk passes leading to more assists but also more turnovers. If a guy (Marcin) is going after the ball every time, there will be occasions where he gives up the offensive board. If he (Robin) boxes out almost exclusively he's not going to get many rebounds but the overall team rebounding could be improved.

Before the Suns-Bobcats game I asked Alvin Gentry to weigh in on this great debate. What is he looking for from his centers?

  • Gentry credited former NBA tough-guy and current Bobcats assistant coach Charles Oakley with getting more out of the Bobcats big man (aka Kwame Brown) with his "play, or I'll kick your ass" approach.
  • Asked about Vince Carter getting to the free throw line less than any point in his career, Gentry said:
  • "I'm not real sure. Obviously, we would like him to get to the line more."
  • There's a guy here from the French media asking about Gortat before the game. He's wearing jeans, T-shirt and has a hoop earing and some kind of eyebrow piercing thing. Very Euro hip.


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