The Phoenix Suns, undefeated at home face two teams coming to town on the second night of back-to-back's. You've got to like your chances right?
Not so much for a team that Steve Nash described as, "Not tough enough."
"It just happens. You play so many games and some nights the energy's not there," said Nash who went on to share the blame with the fans and a few other things:
"I don't know if there were three people or twenty-thousand in the building tonight it was so quiet in here. It was just a collective thing. I don't know if it was bio-rhythms, if it's the weather, if it's that time of year or whatever it is we came out and maybe it was a hangover from the last bit of the Cleveland game. So, I don't know what it was but it was a quiet building and we didn't have a lot of energy but we really fought back and we should feel proud we played pretty well for the most part after that and just didn't make the key plays down the stretch and they're a good team they lost last night so they were probably a little bit disappointed in that and it motivated them. We lost the game. You can over-analyze it all you want but we weren't tough enough."
That's a long quote but oh so informative. Let's over-analyze it:
1) It happens some times
2) The building was quiet
5) Time of the year
6) Hangover from Cleveland game
7) We should be proud we fought back
8) They're a good team
9) They lost last night and were motivated by that
10) We weren't tough enough
It took awhile to get there but there you have it (and by the way so you know I'm not cherry-picking that quote, he said it several times during the entire locker room media session which you can listen to here).
When teams are playing well and playing tough they don't make excuses. You hear these excuses in the locker room and the press conferences and they do seem to coincide with what you see on the floor.
It's as if the excuses creep across the sidelines and into the game and snake their way up the players legs and into their minds like some kind of hideous and awful creature.
This team started the season not making excuses. They were tough mentally and it showed physically. Now? Now it's as Nash said. Not tough enough.
It's not an unsolvable problem. It's not as if they team can't regain it. But until they do the excuses and losses will continue to go hand-in-hand with one following the other and then circling back to cause the first.
That wasn't the only excuse given after the second disappointing home loss. Coach Gentry talked about the terrible performance on the offensive glass getting beat 16 to 8 in OReb's and 23 to 9 in second chance points.
That's hard to swallow but especially when you consider what Kevin Durant said about that, "Our goal coming in wasn't to go to the glass at all against this team because they're so good in transition but we got some easy ones."
Those offensive rebounds weren't the problem though, they were just the symptom of a lack of energy and effort which no one seemed to be able to explain. Grant Hill, Jared Dudley, Amare Stoudemire. No one had an answer as to why the energy was so bad to start the game.
We heard lots of praise from Nash and Gentry for battling back to overcome that slow start but only Hill admitted that coming back took it's toll, "We finally got it going but you exert so much energy to get back in the game when you make a run like that you should be going up 12 as opposed to coming from down 12."
The Suns will practice tomorrow and see if they can't find their toughness again. And they better. Playing hard and losing is one thing. Not showing up and getting beat? That's not going to win over many fans.
Post Game Audio
Gentry (at end end he talks about the decision not to double the ball out of Durant's hands)
Amare talks about getting wins being more important than his own great games
Hill just sounds defeated and disappointed
Dudley talks about that last defensive possession and his coverage on Durant
Nash talks about...you know, toughness
Game Notes Taken In Real Time As Actual Events Occurred:
- Durant looking solid
- Amare really slow on that rotation after the Westbrook/Kristic pick and pop and then turns it over on the next possession
- Not a lot of people in the building. Not a lot of media either
- Horrible start on both ends. Thunder getting wide open looks. 18-11 OKC
- Suns pick up the effort with Lou, Dudley and Dragic in game
- Amare 10 points. Aggressive going to hole
- Suns down 31-36. Thunder getting anything they want offensively but still very much a simple offensive scheme. Lots of 1:1. Ball screens. Basic stuff but working
- Harden drives on Grant Hill and picks up the foul. He did the same to Dragic in Q1
- Thunder go on 9-0 run to start quarter. Gentry calls time out. Suns look lost on how they want to defend this team and they are making everything from everywhere
- Three times Harden was able to drive and get to the line with no problem
- Frosty! with the nice coast to coast to put a little life into the game...not much though
- Thunder more active and aggressive team simply outworking Suns
- Suns go to zone to stop penetration. Doesn't help
- Suns watch offensive rebound as it goes to Thunder player. Fans boo and rightly so
- Nash leading a bit of a come back. Thunder lead down to 10. Nash finds Frye wide open for three. Thunder call time out
- Thunder packing it in the paint and letting the Suns miss open three's. 2/7 for 28% at this point
- I think I'm coming down with a cold. Need to remember to take some vitamin C
- Suns draw two charges in a row and Nash does some Nash-like things to close lead to 8
I have no idea what happened but my notes from the rest of the game are gone. My dog's computer ate them? Weather? Bad code? Sometimes you can't explain these things. They just happen. Maybe it was a lack of computer toughness...