I've got lottery numbers for you all: 20, 18, 13, 24, and 24. Perhaps winning the lottery will make this loss a bit easier to swallow. If you didn't guess, those are the double digit leads the Suns have given up in the past 5 games.
Tonight was a different court, but the same story, yadda, yadda, yadda, Suns lose 122-114.
Welcome to the dark side, Bright Siders. We have entered the abyss and cannot see the light.
For a second I'd like to focus on some good things, and there aren't many, and then I'll return to reality:
- How tough is Steve Nash? I'm in awe of this guy as a human being. He could have easily sat in the locker room, popped a vicodin and called it a night. Instead he came back to go 20 and 9 with 4 rebounds. He was still bleeding after the game.
- The Suns jumped out to an early 35-24 lead in the first quarter. Of special note was Grant Hill's play. For the first time in awhile, he looked energetic, bucketing 6 points. His shot looked fluid, he looked like his normal Grant Hill self.
- The bench stepped up and played great. Lou Amundson had 6 points and played his typical game of grabbing any ball with Spalding written across it and even managed to sink a free throw. Goran Dragic also played well with 4 points. The team seemed to rally with Steve Nash in the locker room receiving 7 stitches on his lip.
- For the quarter the Suns shot 56% while limiting the Pacers to 32% shooting. Danny Granger scored ten points before finding himself in early foul trouble and as a whole, the Pacers looked like a 12-25 team, out of kilter, tossing up bricks and not executing their offense at all.
- In the second quarter the Suns bench continued their collectively solid play, extending their lead to as many as 24 points. (Were you cringing at that point?) Grant Hill scored 8, Goran Frosty Dragic scored 5, and even Earl Clark scored a hoop.
On to the Dark Side:
- With the Suns up 56-32, the darkness began. Mike Dunleavy scored 5 straight, followed by Earl Watson, who put in 4. A Jason Richardson 3 interrupted the flow, but only momentarily. Troy Murphy ended the half with a 3-pointer, Suns 68, Pacers 52. (Were you opening that second or third beer?)
- Enter the second half where Steve Nash returned with a band-aid across his upper lip and Mike Dunleavy went crazy. Dunleavy scored the first 11 points of the half for the Pacers and by the time Danny Granger made the second of two free throws, the Suns 24 point lead was down to, um 9, 75-66. Grant Hill picked up his 4th foul, and the Suns entered into the penalty with 8.5 minutes remaining in the quarter.
- The Suns lost their lead, finally succumbing to an 91-89 deficit, while Dunleavy finished the quarter with 18 points. The only good news was Danny Granger picking up his 4th foul. Of course, it wouldn't matter. It was time for Roy Hibbert to step up. Danny Granger returned to take over while only Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire gave any attempt to answer the Pacers increasing momentum.
- If you want to relive it (maybe you are a glutton for punishment), here was the play by play of the final 7 minutes of misery:
Whatever momentum the bench had in the first half is gone
103-100 pacers 7.42 to go
nash driving two has revived any semblence of an offense
After a pacer miss, Nash scores a jumper from 10, 104-103
5th foul on Grant Hill on Granger jumper 2 ft, 105-104 Pacers
Dudley misses everything but the backboard
5th Foul on Amare Hibbert makes two 107-104 Pacers 5.50 left
Amare drives on Hibbert 107-106 Pacers
Dhanttay Jones drive 109-106 Pacers
Stoudemire drives 109-108 Pacers
Hibbert fouled by Hill, Hill fouls out 4.04, 4th
Hibbert makes 1 of 2, 110-108 Pacers
Nash draws foul on Watson
Nash scores from 18, 110-110 3.40 left
Amare drives fouled by Hibbert
Hibbert fouls out.
Amare makes 1 of 2, 112-111 Pacers
Granger scores a 3. 115-111 Pacers 2.41 remaining.
Dunleavy 3 118-111 Pacers
Offensive foul Barbosa
Offensive foul Watson
Nash 3, 118-114 Pacers 1.32left
Granger miss from 3
Stoudemire wild terrible miss
Granger from 20 120-114 Pacers 47.3 left.
Missed airball 3 Nash
Suns foul 120-114 Pacers 29.9 left
Dunleavy two free throws 122-114 Pacers
Barbosa awful miss 122-114 Pacers win.
Final Numbers (In no particular order)
- The Suns shot 42.7% from the field, the Pacers 43%
- The Suns were 7-17 from beyond the arc, the Pacers 12-29
- The Pacers outscored the Suns 70-46 in the second half
- Amare Stoudemire went 21 and 5, Nash 20 and 9 (stitches and all), Amundson 10 and 5 and 2 blocks, Frosty had 11 points and 4 assists, Grant Hill 14 and 6.
- Leandro Barbosa was 3-12 from the field with 11 points.
- The Pacers bench outscored the Suns 60-39
- Earl Clark was 1-6 and scored 2 points
- The Pacers blocked 13 Suns shots and out rebounded the Suns 54-44
- Indiana made 21 of 37 shots in the second half, including 7 of 15 3-pointers. Phoenix was 16 for 44 in the second half
- Danny Granger finished with 33 points, Mike Dunleavy 30. The Suns had no answer for the pair, none. The two scored as they pleased from long range.
- At one point in the game, the Suns went 10 deep in their rotation and everyone who played had scored at least two points. I was pretty proud then.
- I thought Robin Lopez was part of the rotation. Could he not have contributed and or slowed Hibbert's 14 and 8? i realize the pln was to take advantage of Amare's quickness on Hibbert, but how about playing them both together? That forces Indiana to either move Hibbert onto Lopez or deal with a mismatch.
- Earl Clark. I understand he's only going to get better with minutes. But I'm not sure now is the time. Not when the team is struggling so mightily and has no answer as to why they are giving up double digit leads. Is he playing great in practice, has he earned floor time? Is this a Gentry move? A Kerr and Co. move? Perhaps someone has some answers. Two weeks ago Gentry said there was too much talent ahead of him for Clark to see floor time. Was it the Hill foul trouble? I'm at a loss.
- I find it amazing that Amare Stoudemire can score 20 points and have little to no effect on the outcome of the game. I'm not sure if that's a criticism or not. He was 8-16 with 5 rebounds, 5-7 from the line, a pretty efficient game. Still, it was if he wasn't really there. Maybe it's me.
- Channing Frye did not score in the second half.
On the play:
"Just stepped in to take a charge and took an elbow in the lip, it spread open. It's not the worst thing in the world."
On the game:
"We let them get the momentum, and we couldn't stop the bleeding. They got their confidence up, and for some reason, our level of play drops. We gave up too many points in the third and fourth quarters. Can't expect to win too many games that way."
Jared Dudley (the optimist)
"We should have had this one. Slipped up. From now on, we'll keep it close in the first half and go up 20 in the second half. Even when we're at home, they think the reputation of the Suns is you can come back."
"We've got to find some kind of resolve to come away with a win in these situations. We didn't do a very good job of making it challenging. Some of our rotations were pretty questionable. They started to feel pretty good about themselves instead of us having a run to bury them. We just didn't have the energy we needed to start the third."
"It's not just me and my stupidity. We've got to be smarter defensively, rotations, leaving guys who are hot. We got away from running. We got up and down the first half and started playing methodical in the second half. When we're going through a tough stretch, we still have to play confident. Sometimes it wears on you, an 'Is it coming?' kind of deal."
Game Notes in Real Time (excluding the 4th)
Stat matched with murphy-goes right at him for two
Is Frye allergic to the backboard?
Pacers look like a HS team, cant make anything. Suns not better
Hill looking good early, looks energetic, fluid Hill shot
Up and down game, not much D being played
J-Rich should be attacking Earl Watson
Granger's shot flat
Two straight to JRich taking adv of mis match
Appears Suns spreading it around which is good, however the matchup between Amare and Murphy needs to be manipulated more. Of course the Watson/Richardson matchup is also a mis match. Nash has his choice of what he wants to work, and so far its mostly JRICH and Hill
Suns should be creating separation. with 4.45 left, suns shooting 41% and Indiana 29%. There's no way we should be screwing around with this team.
NASH takes charge at 4.14 left and goes bloody from the top and inside the lip. No offensive foul called. Nash goes to locker room
hope he's ok, but this gives some other guys a chance to step up. its high time LB and Dragic started producing.
LOU comes in to spell Amare (2 PF) with a 3 pt play and then a 10 foot jumper.
7 straight fg attempts
8 different players scored thus far
35-24 suns 7-2 run
55.6 fg pacers 32%
suns playing great collectivley-great production from bench
grant hill playing with great energy before exiting with 3 fouls
suns get big lead 23 pts
dragic 5-7 thus far, blocks 7 2 Hibbert's shot
suns gone 10 deep in first half
Pacers shave lead down to 16 at the half
fg-48.1 Suns 3pt 5-9 55.6 %
32.7-pacers 5-14 3's
rebounds suns 28-27
Dragic 11pts 4 assts
Hill 14 pts 3 fouls
Amundson 7 pts 2 rb's 2 blocks
amare 9 pts
Jrich 8 pts 6 rb's
frye 7 pts 6 rb's
granger 4-12, 13 pts
watson 8 pts
murphy 2-11, 5 pts, 8 rb's
pacers 8 blks 7to's
suns 3 to's.
granger picks up 4th foul
Suns lose lead 89-91
dunleavy first 11 pts in 3 mts. for pacers
hill picks up 4th
suns over team foul limit at 8.30 left.
dunleavy going off 18 pts in quarter
One Last Thing
Remember earlier in the year when the Suns couldn't muster any energy at the beginning of a game? At least we are now starting fast. Sure there is no solace in such thinking, the bottom line is the team doesn't play a full 48 minutes. The ups and downs are infuriating. But at least we aren't sucking for all 48 minutes. We still are the 5 seed in the West, 1.5 games away from the 2 seed.
I'm beginning to think the rotation needs to be tinkered with. Perhaps even the starting lineup. Our lapses usually come at the midway point of the second quarter, or a little earlier. Maybe Dragic at the two with Nash, maybe J-Rich off the bench to provide more offense. Maybe start Dudley, bring Hill in off the bench. More Lopez, less Barbosa (until he's ready to be Barbosa). Earl Clark doesn't appear to be the answer. Perhaps that will change. I kind of doubt it though. Just suggestions with plenty of reasons not to, but at this point, something has to change. No one, not any of the players or the coaches seem to have the answers. What do you all suggest?