Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Heck no. There is a lot of basketball left in the season, and Alvin Gentry's Phoenix Suns always play better in the New Year.
The Phoenix Suns are coming off a disastrous road trip in each they dropped five of six games and now sit in 13th place in the Western Conference after only 19 games, primed for the number seven pick in the draft if the season ended today.
But the season does not end today. There are 63 games - more than 75% of the season - left to play. The Suns had the same record a year ago, even getting as bad as seven games under before rallying to a 33-30 record (a 26-18 run) and the edge of the playoffs before dropping their final three.
The year before, they started 15-21 before rallying to a high water mark of 33-30 (a 18-9 run) before fading to 40-42.
The year before that, they started hot-hot-hot at 14-3 before drooping to 26-21 (a 12-18 run) and then killing it over the last two months by finishing on an amazing 28-7 run and a third appearance in the Conference Finals.
The moral of this story is that just because the Suns have started 7-12 doesn't mean that Alvin Gentry won't be able to find the right mix and guide these guys to a very competitive season. Is that a playoff appearance? Probably not, but who knows.
Sure, Dave, but there's a big difference between this team and prior teams. You Know Who was running the point, and now he's gone!
I argue against that because historically Alvin Gentry has gotten more out of his team in the second half of each season, just when Nash would start winding down. I recall a Nash who struggled to shoot as the season wore on, and struggled to stay loose as each individual game wore on as well.
I would cringe if Nash had to be brought back in a tight game at any point in the fourth. You bring him back early - at the 9-minute mark or so - and he'd start well but become a non-factor beyond passing before the two-minute mark. You bring him back at the 6-minute mark or 4-minute mark and he'd come in cold, unable to loosen up enough to make a difference. I did not envy Alvin Gentry's job.
So to me, there's no reason to equate Steve Nash with late-season success any more than Alvin Gentry. And until I see otherwise, I will expect the team to improve (incrementally) each month of the season.
Even to pull a bit of Bright Side out of the 1-5 road trip, the Suns were within one score of winning or tying the game in the final seconds of three of those losses (two of which were against winning teams).
These guys are competitive, with only one really bad loss on the entire season so far. They have won 7 and come within a possession of winning 5 more. And this with no big-time scorer or go-to guy, and half the rotation not playing up to par yet.
Keep the faith, Suns fans. Don't give up hope.
Starting with Satisfaction Guaranteed Night on Thursday December 6 against the Dallas Mavericks, these Suns might just surprise you.