You can't blame the Phoenix Suns for the lack of creativity when deciding how to lose games. At first it was the lack of scoring. Then it was the dreaded second quarter. Then it was the lack of defense. Then it was the lack of rebounding. Tonight was an oldy but goody. The dreaded 4th quarter collapse, and the Suns execution of it was nearly flawless.
The Suns started the game hot, using a 14-0 run en route to a 31 point quarter off of 59% shooting. Steve Nash dished 5 assists in 8 minutes of play while Grant Hill scored 9 and Michael Redd came off the bench to score 5 in his first three minutes of action. The Hawks shot 39% off of 9-23 shooting.
In the second, the Suns left the right side wide open for the likes of Willie Green and Joe Johnson, who combined for 3 3-pointers and Josh Smith kicked in 6 to reduce the lead to 2. But Nash and Frye responded with 3's of their own, and the Suns held the lead 57-46 at the half.
Josh Smith and the Pachulia guy teamed for 19 points in the third quarter, as the Suns began to run out of gas, shooting 6-17, losing the quarter to the Hawks, 26-21.
AND THEN THERE was the 4th quarter. I'll save you all the time and energy of reading the blow by blow. here's a short summary:
Suns: 2 technicals (one on Nash?), didn't score a point in 4+ minutes, 5 turnovers.
Hawks: 12-0 run, lots of Josh Smith, defended, rebounded, played like they wanted to win the game.
I'm truly embarrassed by this performance. Especially at home. I don't care about 3 games in 3 nights. These are world class athletes getting paid great money. No excuse there. Age? No. Nash went for 22 and 16, Hill went for 18 and 6 and played insane defense on Joe Johnson nearly all night.
- The Suns played well for 2.5 quarters and then mailed it in. I blame Alvin Gentry for that. Love the man as a coach, but he needs to remind his team they are playing a game. He cannot allow them to lose focus. Period. How, I don't care how.
- Next, Frye needs to play some defense or sit down. Josh Smith is not easy to defend, but he absolutely ate Frye alive tonight.
- Defense. Willie Green? 20 points? 2 wide open 3's. A career 32% shooter goes off for 4-6 3's. Heck man, there are a 100 players in the league that can drain a wide open 3.
- Marcin Gortat goes for 13 and 6. Why? What's wrong, Marcin? We're used to seeing better numbers and more aggressive play from you.
- Backup point guards. Seriously guys? Price commits 3 turnovers then gets T'd up. Thanks for that contribution. When Telfair comes in, everything stops. While Steve Nash moves the ball around and penetrates, works the pick n roll, sets his teammates up, Telfair dribbles. And dribbles, and dances around and dribbles more until the shot clock is at 2, then he tries to make something happen.
There's my rant. And after listening to Alvin Gentry, I feel, I don't know, irrational? Here he is, speaking calmly:
"I thought we played really good basketball for a stretch then struggled...We couldn't seem to get anything against their zone...Too many turnovers, that really hurt us. I thought we did good a job limiting the offensive rebounds. I think we played really well for stretches, but it's a 48 minute game...We tried to take their best player Joe Johnson out of the game, and we did a really good job of taking him out of the game. But they had other guys that stepped up."
He sounds tired and he looked tired. I am tired too.
Next up, 2 versus the Lakers.