Just when you think things might be turning around, this happens and disappointment quickly returns to the Valley of the Sun.
"We got our ass kicked, plain and simple," said an extremely frustrated Coach Alvin Gentry. "We didn't do a very good job, we weren't ready to play and we didn't play with a whole lot of energy and passion. When we don't do that, we're not very good. We become a very, very average team."
I think he was being generous by calling the Suns "average".
The defense in the first half of that game was as bad as I've seen it all year. And I've watched every game of the 2nd to worst defensive team in the league, so I think that's saying something.
Sure, Portland was hitting their shots, but it is a lot easier for them to hit shots when they are getting wide open shots. Anywhere. Anytime. Open shots. Come one, come all. Get your open shots here. Free. Wide. Open. Shots.
27 of 38 for 71.1% is pretty darn good but not when you consider how many of those shots were wide open.
Think I am being too tough on the Suns "defense"? Here's what Gentry had to say about that, "We sucked. We sucked. I mean we sucked. In all phases of it. They drove it to the basket. They made jump shots. We had to end up double-teaming and they swung the ball and either made jump shots or drove it to the basket. We didn't play. They scored 66 last night. They had 60 at the half. So our defense was terrible. In the five games we won we were pretty good defensively and did a pretty good job. We didn't tonight. Thanks."
<Gentry exits stage right>
The Suns did make a comeback in the fourth quarter, cutting the lead to 7 at one point before the Blazers hit a three, Amundson traveled (one of 15 Suns' turnovers) then Blake hit a three. Boom. Run ended. Game over. Good night now.
At least Amare wasn't too upset about the whole thing. Call me Dr. Phil, but I got a weird vibe from him in the locker room. Like he was too relaxed and nonplussed by the loss which hasn't been like him at all this season. He answered the questions. Gave routine responses. But his mood was just...different to me.
We'll know soon enough if that was Amare's last home game as a Sun.
If it was, it typified his career here pretty well. He put up 24 points on 9 of 14 shooting, hit 6 of his 8 free throws, grabbed 9 rebounds, had 2 turnovers and played such porous defense on LaMarcus Aldridge that, to start the second half, Gentry moved him over the Juwan Howard and tried Robin Lopezon LMA. A move that clearly didn't impact Amare's pride at all.
Oh, and he had an amazing athletic move to dunk all over Dante Cunninghamin the first half only to see Dante return the favor on a breakaway that Amare didn't bother to really contest.
If this does turn out to be his swan song in the purple and orange, you couldn't have scripted it any better.
You know that I had to ask Amare about this possibly being his last home game, "I'm not really discussing the trades and stuff like that, but it could have been. You never know."
Not never, Amare. We will know in about 7 days.
Not to take anything from the Blazers. They played hard. They made big shots. They defended well and most important was this quote from Andre Miller, "We have done that a couple of times this year. Lose a game then come back and win, so it just shows a lot of character and a lot of fight in this team."
That must be nice.
Post Game Audio:
Post Game Links:
- Trail Blazers vs Suns boxscore
- Trail Blazers vs Suns coverage
Game Notes Taken In Real Time
- Andre Miller just blocked Jason Richardson's lay-up attempt. Dude
- Two turnovers to start the game...that's always a good thing. NOT
- Amare playing good soft D on Aldridge which leads to a couple of open shots. Suns down 8-0. Wonderful
- Lopez cleans up a miss (an easy layup missed by Grant) for the Suns first 2
- Guess who looks rusty
- Steve on Steve violence right there as Nash abuses Blake
- Turn over count now up to 3
- Suns back to running the Steve Nash Show offense. Old habits die hard
- Suns have 10 points in the first 8 minutes...that's not a stat to be proud of
- Blazers with a great double team on Amare as he starts to make his move
- Blazers then double team Frye in the post and he bowls over Blake for a the O foul
- The Blazers couldn't hit a jump shot to save their life last night...tonight they can't miss
- 24-12. When is the bench coming in?
- Leaving LaMarcus open is not a good defensive strategy. I think. I might be wrong about that. I am no expert but so far the evidence supports my theory
- Coming out of the time out, Nash calls his boys over to give 'em the pep talk. He seems to be speaking in Canadian though so I am not sure it's getting through
- Out of the time out the Suns give the ball to Amare at the high post and he attacks. Scores. Everyone else watches. No bueno
- The way the Blazers collapse in the paint on help D, the Suns are going to get a ton of wide open 3's. JRich has made 2 so far
- That time the Leave LMA Defense worked. He missed
- Suns only down 10. That's a minor miracle considering how crappy they've played
- Bench time. Lets see what Robin and Lou can do to these chumps
- How about an 8 second violation!
- Interesting line up. Hill (who's missed a couple easy looks), Goran and Dudley along w/ Lou and Robin
- Suns should feel free to go on a run anytime now...
- Blazers playing really good aggressive defense, denying the little easy perimeter passes just enough to disrupt any kind of offensive flow
- hmmm...wondering if I want ice cream at half time...I really shouldn't
- That was a cheap offensive foul called on Rudy F, Prince of Spain
- Dragic goes coast to coast for the lay up so Bayless comes right back at him. Of course
- When Lou Amundson's 15 foot jump shot is your best offensive weapon, you might be a red neck...errr in trouble
- Dudley could have had his second dunk!! Assist to Lou for the hustle play
- Suns still down 10 with bench in
- Suns did cut the lead to 7 but no..back to 12
- Ok, that can't be much fun to read.
- Turnover...that would be the 7th one of those. Lets just bring back the bench and at least we can enjoy watching them play hard
- 13 as LMA iso's on Frye and the result being, well you know
- Nash just ran the Barbosa Back Cut with Jason. Same result
- Wow. Check that out! Leaving Dante Cunningham wide open didn't help either. Shocking. 15
- Sweet lob entry pass to Amare! Too bad Aldridge picked it off
- Steve Blake has 11 points. Enough said
- WOW. That might have been the BEST Amare Dunk of the Year!!!!
- No ice cream at the half...popcorn. 18
- The offense looks horrible. STAGNANT
- 14...headed in the right direction at least
- Suns trying Robin on LaMarcus to which LaMarcus says, "welcome to my turn around mid-range jump shot, young man"
- So here's a problem with that. LMA pulls Robin out of the paint and Andre Miller drives into the lane that now has no shot blocking or defense
- Amare should commit ritual suicide in shame for being put onto Juwan Howard while Robin is assigned to try and slow down Aldridge. Shame shame shame
- 19. So that's really not a a positive sign.
- 21. Worse
- Mercy call that time. Webster had all ball. Ball. I said it. Ball
- Steve Blake - ICE KOLD KILLA
- 20. Better. Not much better but better than 21
- Biggest cheer of the night - old people kissing on kiss cam. Gross, in so many ways
- Here's my prediction for the post game press - "They hit shots and we didn't"
- Robin Lopez has Steve Blake on him in the post and first Nash can't get him the ball and so he swings it to Frye who chucks it three feet over Robin's head. Seriously WTF!!!!
- Oh hey look at that. 16.
- I think I should have had the ice cream
- Unacceptable effort tonight. How friggin frustrating this is
- 13 huh. Ok
- 10 off the Goran drive and 1
- Now we are talking...Energy and hustle increase. AND THE CROWD GOES WILD!!!!
- HOLY FUCK! A "Lets Go Suns" cheer erupts! It was NOT PROMPTED BY THE JUMBOTRON
- Dudley draws the O foul on LMA. He might be the best option on him yet
- Back to back three's from the Blzers and we are back to 13
- and that was fun while it lasted...15
- Wonder if Nash will blame a) weather b) biorhythms c) fans or 4) mentality
- Dante's revenge! Dunks right on Amare's noggin
- Good thing I don't live on tacos
- So at every game there's a couple of kids who's job it is to grab sweaty towels from players.
- 12..5:15 to go
- Good news. Andre Miller dropped 52 on the Mavs. He's not going to do that tonight
- Nice pass from Frye....to his old teammate Blake
- 13...4:18 to go
- Nash for three....10
- Crowd wakes up. Crowd needs to wake up when the Suns don't hit a shot. Such a front running town this is
- 10...2:21 to go
- 8...2 min
- Get a stop? Yes!
- But they didn't get the rebound so it didn't matter
- and that's your ball game right there
- 5.. 30 sec and Grant Hill causes a turn over on the in bounds...or did he? reviewing it
- What? Blazers ball? Really? Guess so
- Tacos!!!! oh and 4 pts, 18 sec