Apr 11, 2012; Memphis, TN, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash (13) drive against Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) in the first half at the FedEx Forum.

Well - As you could probably tell from my tone in last night's post game coverage, I feel with the loss last night to the Grizzlies - the Suns have severely damaged their playoff hopes. They now sit two games outside of the playoff picture in the 10th spot in the Western Conference as Utah's win last night over Houston leap-frogs them over the Suns into the 9th position.

There are only 8 games left in the regular season and all of them against quality opponents. You be the judge... I won't lose all hope until they are statistically eliminated but the Suns face the most difficult schedule to finish out the season among WC playoff hopefuls. Add to that the recent struggles of the starting unit and I'm not sure they have enough left in the tank to make a miracle push.

Suns Schedule

Believe me. I hope I'm wrong. More after the jump.

Here are your Western Conference Standings via NBA.com:


For a full scoreboard of last night's game - check out SI.com's cool little page here

Now for the pertinent West games last night?

Jazz Vs. Rockets Post Game Thread -- The only thing left was to dunk on Chase again, but Jeremy is injured - SLC Dunk
Game 59: Utah Jazz 103 @ Houston Rockets 91

As a team the Jazz shot 51.3 fg%, went 6/14 from downtown (42.9 3pt%), and were able to overcome Houston going 25/29 from their Free throw line. For the bad guys they were paced by Goran Dragic who finished with 19 and 7, and missed all 5 of his threes. Chase Budinger went 1/7 from downtown. Kyle Lowry went 1/3. Over all, I'll take it.

Grizzlies 104, Suns 93: Is Rudy Gay a SOV reader? - Straight Outta Vancouver

Rudy Gay was being guarded by Jared Dudley because Grant Hill, Phoenix's best perimeter defender, was out with an injury. While Dudley is a decent defender, he can't hope to contain Gay. However, prior to last night's game, Rudy had yet to break the 30-point threshold this season. As of late, the Grizzlies have relied on a balanced attack, would he be aggressive knowing that he could get anything he wanted against his defender? Rudy's line for the night: 32 points (13-20 FG, 6-6 FT), 7 rebounds (4 offensive), 1 assist, 2 steals, 1 block.

Timberwolves Vs. Nuggets recap: Gallinari, Lawson big down the stretch in win - Denver Stiffs
Nuggets Win 113-107

Denver probably didn't need to knock out Kevin Love to pick up this win. Nonetheless, it was an important win for Denver, one that moved them into a three-way tie for the final three playoff spots in the West. In Love's absence, Anthony Randolph and Derrick Williams combined for 55 points. I am as terrified as you are. Nuggets win 113-107

On the Eastern Conference side of things... Who cares? Just kidding - if you're that interested check out Tom Ziller's great post at the hub -

NBA Playoff Picture: Do We Have Our 8 In The East? - From Our Editors - SBNation.com
What ramifications did Wednesday's action have on the NBA playoff race?

Aaaand if you have ADD - here's some shiny video for yesterday's action -

Has Grant Hill really been missed? Yes!  Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE

Highlighted in the Suns two most recent losses has been the starters' inability to close out the game. They did not score in the final 3 minutes against Denver, and hardly scored in the final 6 minutes against Memphis. Overall the Suns were outscored 29-12 in Nash's last 12 minutes in those two losses. Ouch.

At the same time, Sebastian Telfair's second unit has been a revelation in the 2nd and 4th quarters, to the point that I find myself hoping Gentry leaves them in longer and longer. Often, the benchies turn a lead over to the starters in the 4th, who seem to flub that lead more often than not.


So what's going on? Has the loss of Steve Nash's right-hand man, Grant Hill, for the last 9 games made Nash's task much more difficult in the 4th quarter?

Let's take a look at the Suns last 21 games, in which they went 14-7.

Since March 1, the Suns played 12 games WITH Grant Hill, going 9-3. They since played 9 games without Grant Hill, going 5-4. But the competition and situations were much tougher in the last 9 games, so there's no guarantee the Suns would have had better than a 5-4 record in their last 9.

However, the losses since Hill has been out (Spurs, Clippers, Nuggets and Grizzlies) have featured wing scorers that Hill would have primarily defended better than Dudley, Childress, Redd and Brown could do. Yet the offense provided by the latter 2 has been welcome.

Let's break down the Suns last 21 games in further detail, by Telfair's 4th quarter minutes vs. Nash's 4th quarter minutes. Is it really true that Telfair's unit has been killing it, while Nash's unit has been getting killed?

(all data provided by popcornmachine.net)

MIN: 4th with Telfair +5; Nash +3 WIN by 9

LAC: 4th with Telfair -2; Nash -6; WIN by 3

SAC: 4th with Telfair +10; Nash -1 WIN by 8

OKC: 4ith with Telfair -11; Nash -4 LOSS by 11

DAL: 4th with Telfair +7; Nash -7 WIN by 2

MEM: 4th with Telfair 0; Nash +1 WIN by 7

MIN: 4th with Telfair +2; Nash -3 LOSS by 3

UTA: 4th with Telfair -4; Nash +6 WIN by 8

DET: 4th with Telfair +3; Nash +4 WIN by 8

HOU: 4th with Telfair -3; Nash 0 WIN by 13

MIA: 4th with Telfair +1; Nash -8 LOSS by 6

IND: 4th with Telfair -5; Nash +3 WIN by 2

Grant Hill goes down to knee injury...

SA: 4th with Telfair -8; Nash +2 LOSS by 7

Clips: 4th with Telfair -3; Nash -2 LOSS by 17

NO: 4th with Telfair -4; Nash +4. WIN by 17

Sac: 4th with Telfair +4; Nash +4. WIN by 9

Utah: 4th with Telfair +6; Nash -7. WIN by 2

Denver: 4th with Telfair +7; Nash -9. LOSS by 6

Suns/Lakers: 4th with Telfair 0; 4th with Nash +6 WIN by 20

Suns/Minny: Telfair +12; Nash -3 WIN by by 24

Suns/Grizzlies 4/11: 4th with Telfair +6; 4th with Nash -9 LOSS by 11

Suns record since March 1: 14-7

Telfair's won-loss record in 4th Quarters: 11-9-2

Nash's won-loss record in 4th Quarters: 9-12-1

Yet you'd expect Nash to have a tougher time in the 4th quarter than Telfair, since Nash is playing the other team's starters while Telfair is playing their backups.

What does this mean? Nothing. I did all this research for nothing. But since I did the work, I'm going to post the results anyway.

Regardless of the data, I can't help but think that Grant Hill would have made a difference in the Suns' recent losses.

Before Grant Hill’s injury, the Phoenix Suns’ usual starting lineup of Nash-Dudley-Hill-Frye-Gortat spent 745 minutes together on the floor (second in the NBA to Indiana’s starting...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
Mike Conley is really good at stealing because he's allowed to two-hand check the ball-handler.  Cool.

The preview read "It's the Final Countdown" - and indeed after tonight's loss and considering our very difficult schedule to finish out the season the light at the end of the "No Playoffs" tunnel begins to dim rapidly. The Memphis Grizzlies walloped the Suns to the tune of 104 - 93 and avoid a season sweep at the hands of the Suns.

Coming into this game I had two questions. 1) Can Jared Dudley guard Rudy Gay? Tonight we learned the answer is a resounding NO. My other question was whether or not Robin Lopez could quell the rumbling Zach Randolph of the bench and he coupled with Rookie Markieff Morris did a decent job on Z-Bo.

Unfortunately Marcin Gortat and Channing Frye could not get the job done tonight defensively. It wasn't just Zach Randolph, but Dante Cunningham and even the guards like Quincy Pondexter that repeatedly fought for offensive rebounds or shook their man to become available for a wide open looks under the rim. An extremely disappointing night for our starting bigs. Let's discuss a little more after the jump.

Tonight was an extremely frustrating night for the Suns starters - yet an impressive night once again for Sebastian Telfair, Robin Lopez, Markieff Morris and Josh Childress who was given a great opportunity to earn PT due to the struggles of Jared Dudley defensively on Rudy Gay.

The Grizzles jumped out to a huge lead (11) at the end of the 3rd quarter but Sebastian Telfair and his Bench Mob closed the gap and propelled the Suns to be tied at one point (81-81) - but then it was decision-time for Alvin Gentry.

Should he have taken Telfair out? What would you have done?

We know now in hindsight that taking Telfair out might have been the worst decision possible as the offensive and defensive energy for the Suns dropped immensely and the Grizzlies blasted a 13-4 run to end the game after Gentry replaced the core Bench Mob with 3 starters.

Let's review the Euty-Keys to the game:

Turnovers? 13. Not terrible... but many of those turnovers came at the worst possible time in the game stunting the growing momentum of our offense and affecting our defensive concentration. Steve Nash made a few passes in this game that sincerely had me cocking an eyebrow - he demonstrated visible frustration with the Gortat pick-and-roll and even picked up a technical. (1 of 3 GROSSLY UNDESERVED techs.) Not good signs at this point.

How'd our BiGS do? Terrible. Already discussed.

Continued Bench Mob? Check still hot, in fact I remember this that a Chinese Philosopher once said,

In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be TELFAIR and generous.
-Lao Tzu...kind of

This game was a must-win and we failed. In the end this game was very winnable and the starters didn't seize the moment or match the energy of the bench's effort.

We'll take a look at what this will do for our Playoff hopes tomorrow - but Captain Obvious can tell you right now, "it aint nothing good."

Time to look forward to Houston and just continue to try and take care of our own business.

Roll Call
Total Users: 58
Total Posts: 1088
Total Threads: 2

Name # of Posts
Omaha Sun 93
waxmonkey 68
phxpurple 65
djturbolence 64
brian13 51
NashMV3 49
wedge1039 47
shawndy 38
MMotherwell 36
the new Bradfather 34
nashran3 34
haremoor 32
PHXSunsRunNGun 30
Scott Howard 30
JoeWisco 29
KnowGood 29
Piotr Szczesniak 27
Antwuan 25
Juac 23
Colton Dodson 21
flagsuns 20
AZBengal18 20
noonoo 18
Aztiramtempe 16
Genesius 16
The Rising Phoenix 13
WaveOcean 12
raxado 12
Ceek 12
cgcardzfan 11
Suns R Us 10
atkammoh 10
East Bay Ray 8
SteveNash, QuantumPhysicist 7
Eutychus 6
grego85 6
WilliAG 5
ilintar 5
SS21 4
suns68 4
nashtyish 4
Toon Army Sun 3
AcucracK 3
ThatOtherCanadianKid 3
sports_dude33 2
sreekar13 2
Chafid Ahmad 2
ryansunsfan 2
modernage13 2
Catamaran1 2
Fritzy 1
Ohforf 1
SunKing 1
Suns2flyy 1
ArizonaCactus 1
Mint 1

These came up when I typed in Suns... obviously.

Some Defense would be nice...

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