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Nuggets Run Past Suns (126-113)

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turnover, noun

  1. the loss of possession of the ball to the opponents, through misplays or infractions of the rules1.
  2. a baked or deep-fried pastry with a sweet or savory filling in which half the dough is turned over the filling and the edges sealed to form a semicircle or triangle.1
  3. the reason the Suns lost to the Denver Nuggets tonight.
If the Suns had acquired Shaq at the beginning of the season, and played this game in mid-November, I probably wouldn't be too upset. This was one of those "growing pains" games, where there were some promising signs if you have the luxury of looking past the not-so-promising parts that led to the final score. If it were at the beginning of the season, you look at it, take away what was good, and toss the rest aside knowing that you have plenty of time left to make it right. Of course, with just 21 games remaining and such a minuscule margin for error, the Suns don't really have that luxury. This game, as fun as it was to watch at times, still counts as a mark in the "L" column.

I'm not going to go on another rant tonight. It's late, I'm tired, and I wouldn't be saying anything I haven't already said. Most importantly, I wouldn't be saying anything the Suns don't already know. The fact is, this game came down to one thing: Too many turnovers led to too many fast break points by the Nuggets, and gave them a ton of momentum. Of course, there were other problems, like the scoring drought when Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire were taking their usual rest at the start of the second quarter, and that always-challenging defense thing. But mostly, it was the turnovers, and the Suns' inability to recover from them. The Suns had 19 turnovers, and it seemed like the Nuggets scored on just about every one. That's something that's perfectly understandable and expected when you drop a Shaq-sized boulder into the pond, which is why it's bad that we're having to do preseason during the time of year the Suns should be fine-tuning for the playoffs. Still, when each of the new "big three" end up having five turnovers apiece against a team that's terrific at making you pay for those, well, the result is unlikely to be in your favor.

All that said, maybe I'm just jaded or maybe I'm turning "Clipper fan" like srp, but I'm not going to lose sleep over this one. The first quarter was a lot of fun to watch--maybe the most fun to watch since the Matrix went to Miami. Bits and pieces of the rest of the game were fine, and since the Nuggets aren't one of my "hate teams", I could even recognize it as an entertaining game overall, even though my team came out on the (very) wrong end. I just wish it were still November is all.

Player of the Game: Allen Iverson gets the nod for torching the Suns with 31 points, 12 assists, and 5 rebounds. The assists were especially impressive, since Anthony Johnson also had 11 of his own.

Runner-Up: Steve Nash contributed to the turnover problem, but he's also the only Sun who played enough minutes to matter and still avoided the negative plus/minus. He also gets some extra credit for being the driving force behind that entertaining first quarter. 12 points, 13 assists, and 4 rebounds with the five giveaways isn't his finest work, but it gets it done tonight.

Inquiring Minds Want to Know: With four and a half minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, and the Suns still with hope (albeit faint hope) of mounting a late-game surge, Mike D'Antoni took Nash and Shaq out of the game. Shaq I understand--he's sat out frequently down the stretch since he arrived in Phoenix. But it's very un-D'Antoni-like to give up on a game with that much time remaining. Was he really just throwing in the towel? Was he sending a message to Nash (also an un-D'Antoni-like thing to do)? Or is something more menacing afoot?

Don't Miss: Post-game comments by ZonaFlash in the diaries.

1First two definitions from dictionary.com. Third definition courtesy of the Suns' performance tonight.

Boxscore     ESPN.com Recap     Arizona Republic     Pick Axe and Roll