The Jam had three tough games since our last update. Though there were some strong performances, the team struggled and lost 2 of the 3 games.

Back again, its time for our roughly once a week Bakersfield Jam update! The Jam had three games since our last update - facing off against the Reno Bighorns, the Los Angeles D-Fenders, and the Canton Charge. Despite strong performances from unexpected sources, the team struggled and lost its games to the Bighorns and the Charge, but managed to handle the D-Fenders, the team's rival, handily.

Reno Bighorns 135 vs. Bakersfield Jam 131

The Jam first faced off against the high scoring Reno Bighorns, led by three point specialist Brady Heslip. The Jam won the teams' first meeting of the season on the back of very strong performances from Xavier Munford and Mac Koshwal, and high overall shooting efficiency from the team. This game, that wasn't to be.

Koshwal managed to have another good game, lighting up the scoreboard for 23 points on 11/15 shooting. Elijah Millsap had the kind of game we have come to expect of him, scoring 25 points on 45% shooting, but turning the ball over 9 times. Unexpected production was enjoyed from swingman Renaldo Major, who had 26 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals.

The rest of the team struggled. Despite shooting 47% overall from the field, the team hit only 22% of its three point shots. To go along with the tepid shooting beyond the arc, the team surrendered 19 steals. On the defensive end, the team once again failed to adequately defend the three point line -- the Bighorns took 63 shots from beyond the arc, and hit at a 37% clip.

The Bighorns were led by Brady Heslip (21), David Stockton (25), David Wear (21) and Ra'Shad James (23). Overall, the team had 6 players in double figures.

Los Angeles D-Fenders 100 vs. Bakersfield Jam 119

In their next game, the Jam took on the D-Fenders, who the Jam beat in their only meeting of the season to date, a pre-season matchup that ended 105-103. The D-Fenders are among the worst teams in the D-League this year, and the expectation for the Jam had to be a victory. They were not disappointed.

While the Jam won the game handily, only two players had particularly standout games. Earl Barron had 34 points and 14 rebounds on about 60% shooting, while Chris Wright had 29 points and 8 rebounds on 65% shooting. Millsap had a relatively quiet game, with just 12 points, but added 10 assists and 8 rebounds.

The team as a whole managed to continue its strong shooting from the previous game, hitting on 48% of its shots, and rebounded a bit from its poor three point shooting, hitting at a 38% clip. Also improved was the team's turnovers, which declined to just 16.

The D-Fenders struggled to score against the Jam defense, particularly from beyond the arc. The top performers for the team included Roscoe Smith (24), Eloy Vargas (15 points) and University of Arizona product Josiah Turner (14 points).

Bakersfield Jam 95 vs. Canton Charge 98

If the D-Fenders were something of a pushover opponent without any serious talent (particularly after they dealt us Elijah Millsap), the Charge are anything but. While the team isn't full of particularly notable names from the college scene (other than perhaps Alex Kirk), it has a reputation for hard nosed defense. That reputation was more or less lived up to in this game.

The Jam really struggled to deal with the Charge. Other than Barron, who had 43 points and 12 rebounds and continued his strong play, only two Jam players were in double figures (Prather, who had 19, and Koshwal, who had 10).

The Jam's shooting woes from three point range resurfaced this game, with the team hitting only 4 of 22 threes. At the same time, the improved overall shooting percentage from the last two games disappeared, and the team reverted to the mean, shooting just 41% overall.

The Charge, meanwhile, while committing more turnovers, shot at a significantly better rate, particular from beyond the arc. The team was led by D-League veteran Antoine Agudio, who had 23 points, and Alex Kirk, who had a double double. 6 players were in double figures.

NEXT UP: Bakersfield Jam vs. Westchester Knicks, TODAY, 5 PM Arizona Time, YouTube

The Phoenix Suns lost to the Detroit Pistons on Friday night at home, and it's no surprise that they blamed themselves for the loss rather than the Pistons' brilliance.

Same tune, different night.

Lack of focus, lack of effort on defense when it counts the most.

"We got to man up," he said. "We got to stop looking for excuses, stop looking at the standings. It's on every one of us, me included."

To start the same, the Suns gave Andre Drummond nearly a double-double in the first quarter alone (12 points, 8 rebounds).

"We gave up too many offensive rebounds to start the game again," coach Hornacek lamented after the loss. "That was one of the goals we had to go into the game was to eliminate the offensive rebounds, and they had five in the first, I don't know, two minutes."

"We got killed in the paint," P.J. Tucker said.

And of course, the defense was ineffective. Hornacek said pregame that slow-down teams like the Pistons are difficult for the Suns to defend because players work hard for a few seconds on D but then lose interest. So the longer the shot clock goes, the more chance the Suns D will allow a score.

The Suns gave up 30 points TO THE PISTONS in the fourth quarter - a team that came in averaging 92 per night rung up 105 on the Suns.

"It's just taking pride in guarding your guy, trying to get some stops," Hornacek said. "We gave them easy shots. We gamble a little too much. We've seen that over several games now - every time we've gone for a steal late, the guy just holds you off and then they throw it to someone else and they make a shot. They just have to play more solid."

On not having one or two go-to guys, but rather five or six guys who can all score at about the same proficiency in a one-on-one setting, I asked the coach about tough it is for the guys not to have a hierarchy.

"Yes, but I think they're all trying to do that," he said of trying to be 'the man'. "That's the case where you've got to let it come naturally. We're searching for a guy and trying to throw in different guys and sometimes they try too hard to be the guy."

Then Hornacek went down a road he hadn't gone down before: that his point guards are too focused on scoring when they drive to the hoop, that they need to spend more effort setting up teammates for kickouts.

"I thought we had a couple of those late that," he explained. "If we just take it in there with a purpose of ‘I'm not trying to score, I'm trying to give one of my teammates an easy shot.' I don't think we have enough of that on this team. These guys are all very good offensive players, and they think they can take their guys at all times, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. They should be good enough offensively where they can create something for a teammate, and it's on the teammates to cut and move to open spots and give them a passing lane. That's just playing."

That's a frustrated coach right there. It happens when you're on four-game losing streaks.

Now let's get to some video.

P.J. Tucker did not mince words. He had a good game - 15 points, 9 rebounds - and was quite clear on what needs to change to get back on the winning track.

"We didn't play defense," Tucker said. "We gotta just go out and play hard."

"One game at a time," he said. "We gotta stop looking at the board. Just one game at a time. Stop looking too far ahead. It's easy to do, but it's December. We got so far to go, so many games left. We just got to play game to game."

"We fought tooth and nail for those 48 wins, we fought every single night," Tucker.

He wouldn't say the same about this year.

Isaiah Thomas had his own explanation for what happened, which mirrored Tucker and Hornacek.

"We didn't play the same way the whole game," Thomas said. "We are breaking down on defense too much. We got to really lock in and buckle down on the defensive end. We got to battle."

"We are not bringing it every night. That's got to chance, we're digging ourselves a hole."

He had a poor shooting game in his first game back, one of the reasons the second unit didn't hold up their end of the deal to keeping the slim lead.

Now, turn up your sound to catch Markieff Morris who talks pretty low.

"Stopping the ball for getting into the paint," he said of the key to the loss. "It's definitely a team issue, not just one guy."

"We can't play down to our competition, and we can't do that."

There you have it, folks.

It's a team issue. It's an effort issue. It's about fighting and clawing to every win.

The Phoenix Suns suffered fifth loss at US Airways Center this season to a team with a losing record in 105-103 defeat to Detroit.


The Phoenix Suns suffered fifth loss at US Airways Center this season to a team with a losing record in 105-103 defeat to Detroit.


The Phoenix Suns lost their 4th straight game (3rd straight at home), this time to the previously 3-19 Detroit Pistons who were 1-8 on the road this season and losers of 13 straight games overall.

Here's your chance to rate the Suns players performances yourself, right here right now.

Go for it!

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