I'm going to start with the good stuff since if I have to re-live that game from start to finish, I'll quit 50 words in and link to an Associated Press article. The game basically ended in the first quarter when, up 18-12 with 4:20 to go in the quarter, the Cavs when on an 11-0 run to go up 29-12 and never looked back, leading by as many as 28 at the half. Oh, but I wanted to talk about the good stuff. Here it is then:
- Goran Dragic bounced back nicely from his poor performance in New York to provide some second half spark. He finished with 14 points and 5 assists on 5-6 shooting and was pretty adventurous in the lane. It was nice to see him actually run the offense when he was in the game instead of letting someone else make the plays.
- Earl Clark showed some defensive chops and ball-handling skills in his minutes. It's his decision-making that needs some work once he handles the ball that he needs to improve.
- Amare Stoudemire grabbed 12 whole rebounds.
- The Suns had a lead at one point early in the game.
- Down 57-29 at the half, the Suns showed some fight in the 2nd half. Not enough, but some.
- Though the Suns never threatened in the second half, they did get close enough that Mike Brown felt compelled to bring LeBron James back in the game with 5 minutes left after the Suns got within 16. That was probably the high point of the game for me.
The Suns defense, or lack thereof, was the story tonight. The Cavaliers simply killed them from wherever they wanted, whenever they wanted. Of the 12 Cavaliers who took the court, anyone who played more than 48 seconds scored at least 8 points. 7 of those players were in double figures. LeBron James didn't need to score a kajillion points because he was too busy facilitating the rest of the team. He finished with 12 points, 10 assists, 8 rebounds and another embarrassing come-from-behind block on Jason Richardson.
For their part, the Suns starters stunk on ice:
- Steve Nash was 5-12 from the field and had more turnovers (6) than assists (5). It's hard to blame him for the low assist number though when the rest of the first line went 20-51 (39.2%) from the field.
- Jason Richardson continued to struggle on the 2nd night of back to backs (Where have I read that before?), at one point going 0-9 from the field before sinking 2 consecutive 3 pointers in the second half to finish 2-11. It's worth noting that he never quit on the game and continued battling for rebounds (7) despite not having his shot going.
- The same cannot be said for Channing Frye, who was clearly frustrated battling with Shaquille O'Neal in the paint and appeared to quit after a couple of particularly physical encounters with the Big One. After an ineffective 1st half, he found his shooting stroke in the 2nd half to finish 9-17, leading all Suns scorers with 22 points.
- Amare Stoudemire seems to keep waiting for the game to come to him. Like the rest of the starters he was largely ineffective in the first half as the Cavs buried the Suns under an insurmountable lead.
- Alvin Gentry seemed pretty flummoxed by his team's inability to put it together on the court, bringing Earl Clark and Robin Lopez in early. There didn't seem to be much rhyme or reason to the rotations. Partly, I think he's still figuring out how Robin Lopez fits into the grand scheme of things.
- One line-up note stuck out: He kept Frye and Stoudemire on the floor long after the game had been decided. Phoenix Stan and I have a theory that because they made the mess that was the first half, he wanted them to clean it up in the second. Whether or not that was the message, they both responded by staying with it despite the insurmountability of the lead.
- I am not conveying how out of hand this game was. The Cavaliers defense in the first half was giving no quarter and the Suns weren't taking any. The Suns shot less than 30% in the first half and less than 20 from 3-point range.
Really, it was just a massive, massive failure to respond to their own lackluster performance in New York last night. The first halves were nearly identical. There was no offense and even less defense. The Suns have yet to demonstrate they can stay in a game when they are not hitting their shots. The Cavs dictated the tempo throughout and more or less had their way with the Suns.
It's a long season. The Suns have time to go back in the lab and work some of this out. However, if the past two games are any indication, the Suns are in for a long December against the NBA's best teams.