Suns fans, you can sleep easy knowing that however much frustration you have at your team right now for their habit of blowing big leads the coaching staff and players are even more befuddled.
Coach Gentry today on the sidelines was as animated and publicly critical of his players as I've ever seen him. Stopping around the court. Getting in guys faces. He was not hiding his feelings even the slightest bit and he didn't care who saw it. We aren't talking about Larry Brown or Stan Van Gundy here. Gentry is known as a players coach who is much more likely to use an encouraging word than a sharp one but tonight his patience was exhausted.
"I don't even know what to say to be honest with you...I'm disappointed. There's a pattern that we've establish with ourselves and we have to find a way to work our way out of it. Other than that I don't have a whole lot to say....Overall if we're going to a be a good team we're going to have to do a while lot better than that," said an exasperated Gentry.
And if the words look bad just listen to the man's voice:
The locker room wasn't any better.
Mixed in with the smell of sweaty socks was the stench of disappointment. Amare Stoudemire and Jason Richardson specifically said that it didn't feel like a win.
"We need to become that team and learn how to continue to bury teams and not let them back into the game," said Jason who had 23 points and two of the Suns 17 turnovers.
"It counts as a win, so we'll take it but at the same time we have to work on some things and we have to figure out why we give up these leads, why we start off hot and go into a cold spell and we just have to figure it out," said Amare who had 23 points and 10 rebounds along with a couple of bad offensive fouls.
Grant Hill repeated something Steve Nash said a few days ago about the make up of the team, "I'm tired of talking about it. We've got to go out and do it. And obviously we are a capable team when we do things the right way. We can get up on anybody and play well but you've got to be mentally strong to be able to not get complacent and not get overconfident and that's something we've got to improve on. I don't particularly know how to do it. We can talk about it. We can't really handle it in practice. We can watch film. But it is just something that we've all got to, everybody in the locker room, we've got to play the full 48 minutes and as of late we've not done a good job of that."
Earlier in the season, Hill felt like the team had that mental toughness when they had something to prove. After the fast start to the season though, the team has lost it's edge and is struggling to get it back.
Steve Nash wouldn't put the blame on any specific individuals saying that at different points, different players are struggling, "There is an individual element to it but more than anything it's collective. We have to pick each other up, we have to be tough minded... It's been two or three or four guys or one guy every different possession. I don't really see a pattern and want to blame anybody. As a leader I want to take the responsibility myself and also collectively lets figure this out together, lets be positive, lets work together and lets try to get through this."
Tonight the slip started at around the 3:44 mark of the 2nd quarter with the Suns up 52-32. That lead was cut in half by the 1:02 mark. During that stretch the Suns turned the ball over 4 times and missed two shots. Even worse, each of the Bucks scores came after they grabbed an offensive rebound or two or three.
6 offensive rebounds given up and 4 turnovers in under three minutes. The Suns were lucky they only gave back 10 points during that stretch. That will usually not end well. What's worse is that Nash said he felt that stretch coming for a couple of minutes ahead of time where the Suns weren't scoring but the Bucks were still missing.
Sensing the moment, Bucks acting head coach Jim Boylan pulled out his secret weapon, "We got up in the backcourt and started pressuring Phoenix. They've had a little bit of a problem the past couple of weeks with turnovers and that was our game plan to see if we could create some turnovers and by doing that create some scoring opportunities ourselves."
That's what it's come to. Teams knowing they can force turnovers on the Suns and having the confidence that they can come back from any deficit.
There is no way the Suns can continue playing like this and hope to be a playoff team. They know it. We know it. The problem is no one knows what to do about it. Do you?
- Bucks vs Suns boxscore
Recap: Suns 105 Bucks 101 - Brew Hoop
Milwaukee comes back from 24 down but falls just short in Phoenix, where they have lost 22 in a row.
Game Time Notes:
- It will be interesting to see how Bucks respond to losing Redd and then having Skiles taken to hospital right before game w/ irregular heart beat
- Bucks try going at Amare covering Luc on the perimiter
- Great hustle on the glass early from Suns - JRich and Amare both
- Suns up 9-0 to start
- Nash goes under screen and dares Jennings to shoot. He does. 3 points
- 1st turnover - Nash tries a long ball to Grant streaking. That's acceptable (I am going to try and note them all)
- Amare's shot is on. 8 quick points for him on 4/4
- Suns up 17-7. Lead hold or lead blow?
- Grant Hill with 6 points early. He now has 15,000 on his career
- Nash with 5 rebounds leads the Suns. He has 4 points and 3 assists. How often does Nash have more rebounds than points or assists. Reason btw is that the Bucks are taking and missing jump shots which are leading to long rebounds. That generally is not a good game plan against the Suns
- 27-11 with 2:43 to go. I hope Earl Clark warmed up well. No jinx
- Earl Clark in to start 2nd wow. That's new. Barbosa with an out of control heave, that's not new.
- Earl playing well. Nice couple of passes and a steal. Playing a bit more under control??
- Suns up 41-19. It's going to be hard to keep paying attention to this game unless the Suns pull a Cardinals who pulled a Suns and give up the big lead
- Earl misses two jump shots in a row. So he takes another one. Kid is not shy. Good thing the Suns are up 43-21. The problem is he will take those shots even if the Suns were down 2. To be fair they were wide open looks with Kurt Thomas playing way off him
- Kurt Thomas jawing with Dan Majerle on the bench
- Ridnour only Buck looking like he has any life...too bad he doesn't have much skill
- I think they just called Jason Richardson for fouling Channing Frye...I will have to check the rule book but I think that's not how it should work
- I don't think there's any love lost between Amare and Warrick. Amare just HAMMERED him going to the rim with no post hit love dap
- And Warrick levels Jason Richardson with a hard screen in the back court. This could get chippy. Send in the enforcer!!! Or at least Robin Lopez.
- Suns up 52-34 btw and it's not even that close...
- Well now Gentry is pissed as he should be. Bucks on a 8-0 run after Suns turn the ball over twice in the back court. Lead now down to 10. So much for charting turnovers. Maybe next time
- Bye bye big lead
- And Nash says Eff You and drives right down their throat to score at the rim where he's pretty darn good btw
- Suns up 54-42 but Gentry was PISSED in the huddle
- Suns came out of the locker room with considerably less ass left after Gentry chewed them off (that joke didn't go so well)
- Certainly making a difference. Playing w/ more pep
- Tough no call. Bogut bumps Hill in the air and knocks him down and out of bounds and the they call it a turnover
- Lead down to 7. Bucks playing with hope. Suns playing with butter fingers. More turnovers...several to be exact
- Now they are tight and missing open shots. 60-55
- Bogut goes right by Frye on the post. Gentry flies up out of his seat screaming and calls a timeout. He's losing his cool for sure
- Suns turning up the intensity but still only 71-63
- Nash with 17 pts, 7 reb, 9 assists and 6 turnovers...quadruple double bobble?
- When you absolutely, positively have to have effort. Bring in Lou
- Charlie Bell responding with a couple of three's cuts lead to 77-74. Gentry calls a timeout to cool him off b/c Suns D can't do it
- 79-76 end of three...Who'd a thought
- Went and met a couple of Bright Siders who were at the game. Always nice to meet folks in person!
- This game is going to go down to the wire and the Suns are going to be extremely upset about that
- Ridnour making his little cousin proud (saw a kid before the game wearing a Bucks #13 jersey.I asked him about it and he said he was Luke's cousin)
- There's really not much to say. Suns gave them hope and now they are playing hard
- Tie game. 6 minutes to go. I am speechless except I am not talking which makes me typeless
- Warrick has played really well as has Ridnour and Bell. Jennings has been solid but is 4/15 so that's not so great. His D has been good and he's playing with more control and less playground
- There was point in the season where the Mercury were blowing leads and winning games late (and lost a couple). They won a ring. Bright Side of the Collapse
- Jennings with a big three closes it to 98-96 and Suns turn the ball over. 1:18 to go. So Jennings gets all the way into the lane and lays it off for Bogut for a wide open gimme. He misses. Anyone know how to say "Fail" in Aussie?
- Jennings and then Bell miss three's that would have cut it to one. Hill finally grabs the rebound. 42 seconds. 100-96
- Hill misses but Channing grabs the rebounds. JRich fouled. Game over. UGLY but still a...no, just ugly
- I don't that I've ever seen Gentry this openly pissed at his players. He chews out Lou for letting Warrick cut wide open to the basket. 3 pts game. 18 sec. Suns ball. Don't blow this now.
- Bucks do a good job denying the entry pass to Nash. Frye catches pass and is fouled. Makes both. 5 point game. Delfino drains the quick three. 2 point game w/ 9 seconds. Nash at the line