Okay, just kidding. The referees had nothing to do with it.
Plainly the Houston Rockets without Shane Battier came out to win and the Phoenix Suns started hot but then fizzled quickly. After leading by 11 in the 1Q, the Suns lost the lead at the end of the first quarter and never got it close after that.
How did this happen?
- The starting perimeter trio of Nash. Bell and Hill shot 4 of 21. Ice cold. Credit rookie Aaron Brooks for playing Nash solidly.
- Further, the bench didn't score well until garbage time. Philippe, a Houston fan said, "Giricek can sure score in garbage time"
- The Suns gave up 15 to 5 TOs, with the TOs relatively evenly distributed but except for Shaq with 5.
- Despite 11 rebounds from each Shaq and Amare, the team was outrebounded, most likely because of the ice cold shooting on the perimeter.
Although I want to break Mutumbo's wagging finger, I find it hard to dislike him, his team, his coach nor the effort those guys put out on the floor. Congrats, Houston.
Player of the Game: T-MAC. 22 points on 10 of 23 shooting, 6 rebounds and 7 assists with the highest plus/minus of the team at +12 in 37 minutes. He received great support and energy from the rest of the guys.
Best Supporting Player: Amare Stoudemire was strong in defeat. 37 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals.
Looking ahead, Houston now owns the tiebreaker with us. But what hurts more than this game is reading that the Lakers beat the Hornets and clinched the Pacific Division title with Kobe MVP Bryant going for 29, 10 and 8. What a way to clinch!
I further feel queasy knowing that somewhere out there, Doug Christie is cheering, "Go Suns!!!!!!!"
On the Bright Side, Matt from Hardwood Paroxysm had this to say: Suns can afford to lose this game. Trust me, you don't want the Jazz in the first round. 6 versus 3 against the Spurs, clear some old grudges. Let the Rockets have the Jazz. Jumping any higher than 5 is going to end up risking injury. Suns need rest.
I hope so, but as a Bayesian, every loss hurts just like every win improves my title expectations. As such, I think Spurs fans who say "the regular season doesn't matter" are crazy. It's too bad we didn't compete for this one.
Props to Phoenix Stan for single-handedly coming up with the live blog idea, pitching it to both Dream Shake and KTAR That was cool!