Any time Andrea Bargnani is credited with "three crucial defensive plays" in the final seconds of an NBA basketball game, you know your team is in trouble.
Notebook: Raptors 101, Suns 97 | nba.com
Bargnani made three crucial defensive plays in the final two minutes of the game, and grabbed a big rebound with three seconds left leading to the free throws that iced the victory for Toronto.
This was an ugly finish. The Suns missed FIVE shots in the paint to tie or take the lead in the last couple of minutes. On one hand, that's a good execution of play to get close shots in big moments. On the other, they did not fall.
Luis Scola, Marcin Gortat and Shannon Brown all missed shots inside 10 feet. One could argue that at least two of those were missed because of non-called fouls, but one would be missing the point. The Suns only got there by allowing yet another opponent to KILL them on 3s and overall field goal shooting percentage.
Suns fail to bounce back against Toronto Raptors | Paul Coro | azcentral.com
Gentry turned to Luis Scola, seldom a go-to guy in Houston, because of his experience. Scola missed a good look at a 6-foot post hook with 36 seconds, but Marcin Gortat had an unmolested chance at a tap-in and missed with 33 seconds.
"I really thought it was going in," Gortat said. "I swear I saw it inside the basket. For some reason, it came out. It was a little message from the gods that we have to keep fighting a little more."
The basketball gods, huh? I guess that makes sense. In both the Philly game and now the Toronto game, the Suns missed bunnies at the rim that bounced away along with their chance at a .500 record. Is that karma to make up for four comebacks to beat teams earlier this month after playing poorly to start the game?
"We needed this one," Suns forward Luis Scola said. "We were close, we just couldn't finish."
Scola suggested an attitude adjustment was in order for his struggling club. "We need to change the dynamic, we need to change our attitude, we need to change our minds," he said. "We're in the kind of dynamic where everything goes wrong. We just can't get it going.
"We need to start thinking like a winning team. We need to start believing in ourselves and winning games."
Luis Scola has been adamant from day one of the season that there's only one way to win games and that's to fight, scrap and claw for everything. Clearly, not enough of the Suns are heeding that message to go all out for 48 straight minutes.
While the effort was better last night, the results are the same.
As you can see by Luis' comments, this is a team that clearly does not think as one. They don't trust each other yet - on offense or defense. They don't trust the plays or the players.
Maybe that will develop, maybe it won't. But it's certainly not going to be easy.