Sometimes, a photo is worth 1,000 words.
The Suns began Wednesday nights game against the Warriors by attempting to gain victory without scoring many points and abstaining from any semblance of an effective defensive scheme. The result was not positive, as the Golden State Warriors jumped out to a 21-9 first quarter lead. David Lee led a balanced Golden State scoring attack with 13 points. The Warriors would end the quarter shooting over 60% from the field, and a season high 39 points. You read that correctly: 39 points, season high, Golden State Warriors (12-17).
The Suns bench players led a 12-5 run in the second to chip into the Warrior lead. But Golden State regrouped, while the Suns played in a lethargic, disinterested fashion. There were plenty of missed shots, turnovers, and poor defense to spread around. A late 7-0 run in the third by the starters lessened a brief 21 point deficit, and the Suns trailed 59-45 at the break.
Grant Hill led a third quarter charge as the Suns went on a 10-2 run. Channing Frye hit two straight 3's, and the Suns pulled within 7 with 3 minutes left. Another 7-2 run later and the Sun had awoken from their early game slumber, outscoring Golden State 34-24 in the third.
The Suns spent the first 8 minutes of the fourth quarter chipping away at the Warrior lead. A Gortat lay in with 4 minutes left forged a tie and a Jared Dudley finish off a Grant Hill inbound lob punctuated a 10-2 run which led to the first Suns lead of the game at 96-94.
After some back and forth that featured a spectacular Channing Frye offensive rebound/jam, the Suns had the ball down 104-102 with 19 ticks left. Grant Hill hit a driving layup to tie it up at 104 with 11 seconds left. On the ensuing play, Monta Ellis dribbled himself into what usually is Grant Hill defensive oblivion. As the clock ticked down, Ellis turned around and hit the game winner with Hill in his face.
And so ended the game, as did the first half of this season, in disappointing, heartbreaking fashion.
- Channing Frye played a nice game with 22 points and 9 rebounds, although he did miss what could have been the game winner. But it was a tough shot with a defender in his face. Reminds me of what Ellis did.
- Marcin Gortat woke up from a first half slumber to register 21 points and 15 boards
- Both Jared Dudley and Grant Hill played strong games on both sides of the court
- Steve Nash wasn't himself tonight, yet still almost managed a triple double with 7 points, 9 assists and 5 rebounds.
- The Suns gave away 9 turnovers in the first half and 1 in the second half
- In the first half, the Warriors converted 9 Sun turnovers into 13 points.
- The Suns shot 4-19 from beyond the arc
- The Suns second unit players registered a +15
- David Lee appeared headed for a monster game, but was essentially neutralized in the 2nd half. Yes he scored 22 but he only managed 4 rebounds.
- Hats off to Nate Robinson, coming in for Stephen Curry and doing his Mugsy Bogues impersonation. 14 points, 5 assists, and some timely jumpers that killed the Suns.
The starters came out flat, gave up 39 points. After that, the Suns won every quarter, but still couldn't seal the deal even after clawing back to a 104-104 tie with 11 seconds left. Normally a team can survive one bad quarter, but the first in this game was exceedingly bad for the Suns.
And what can we say about the final make by Ellis? Nothing more anyone could have done. Grant Hill is a great player, a great man, and a great freakin' NBA defender.
Enjoy the break people, perhaps we all need one.
[Note by Seth Pollack, 02/22/12 10:25 PM MST ]
Alvin Gentry was as mad after this game as I've seen him before. Some choice quotes:
"The game was lost in the first ten minutes of the game. We got an opportunity to do something good and we come out like that is just ridiculous. It's unfair to the fans in the stands. The way we approached the game sucked...I am disgusted with the way we played and I'm disgusted with the fact that we got a chance to end the break on something upbeat and positive and instead we just walk though the first ten minutes of the game and that cost us."
"We have to decide what kind of team we want to be. Do we want to be a tease where we win a couple of games then we decide not to play the first ten minutes or are we going to be a team that bears down and tries to grind this thing out so we can get back into the playoff race. We have to decide that."
None of the players had any answer as to why things started off so badly. I can tell you that Gentry's sour mood wasn't completely reflected in the locker room.
Here's Alvin...and this doesn't include the first few cuts that include some F-bombs (I didn't get my camera set up in time to catch that).