Highlighted in the Suns two most recent losses has been the starters' inability to close out the game. They did not score in the final 3 minutes against Denver, and hardly scored in the final 6 minutes against Memphis. Overall the Suns were outscored 29-12 in Nash's last 12 minutes in those two losses. Ouch.
At the same time, Sebastian Telfair's second unit has been a revelation in the 2nd and 4th quarters, to the point that I find myself hoping Gentry leaves them in longer and longer. Often, the benchies turn a lead over to the starters in the 4th, who seem to flub that lead more often than not.
So what's going on? Has the loss of Steve Nash's right-hand man, Grant Hill, for the last 9 games made Nash's task much more difficult in the 4th quarter?
Let's take a look at the Suns last 21 games, in which they went 14-7.
Since March 1, the Suns played 12 games WITH Grant Hill, going 9-3. They since played 9 games without Grant Hill, going 5-4. But the competition and situations were much tougher in the last 9 games, so there's no guarantee the Suns would have had better than a 5-4 record in their last 9.
However, the losses since Hill has been out (Spurs, Clippers, Nuggets and Grizzlies) have featured wing scorers that Hill would have primarily defended better than Dudley, Childress, Redd and Brown could do. Yet the offense provided by the latter 2 has been welcome.
Let's break down the Suns last 21 games in further detail, by Telfair's 4th quarter minutes vs. Nash's 4th quarter minutes. Is it really true that Telfair's unit has been killing it, while Nash's unit has been getting killed?
(all data provided by popcornmachine.net)
MIN: 4th with Telfair +5; Nash +3 WIN by 9
LAC: 4th with Telfair -2; Nash -6; WIN by 3
SAC: 4th with Telfair +10; Nash -1 WIN by 8
OKC: 4ith with Telfair -11; Nash -4 LOSS by 11
DAL: 4th with Telfair +7; Nash -7 WIN by 2
MEM: 4th with Telfair 0; Nash +1 WIN by 7
MIN: 4th with Telfair +2; Nash -3 LOSS by 3
UTA: 4th with Telfair -4; Nash +6 WIN by 8
DET: 4th with Telfair +3; Nash +4 WIN by 8
HOU: 4th with Telfair -3; Nash 0 WIN by 13
MIA: 4th with Telfair +1; Nash -8 LOSS by 6
IND: 4th with Telfair -5; Nash +3 WIN by 2
Grant Hill goes down to knee injury...
SA: 4th with Telfair -8; Nash +2 LOSS by 7
Clips: 4th with Telfair -3; Nash -2 LOSS by 17
NO: 4th with Telfair -4; Nash +4. WIN by 17
Sac: 4th with Telfair +4; Nash +4. WIN by 9
Utah: 4th with Telfair +6; Nash -7. WIN by 2
Denver: 4th with Telfair +7; Nash -9. LOSS by 6
Suns/Lakers: 4th with Telfair 0; 4th with Nash +6 WIN by 20
Suns/Minny: Telfair +12; Nash -3 WIN by by 24
Suns/Grizzlies 4/11: 4th with Telfair +6; 4th with Nash -9 LOSS by 11
Suns record since March 1: 14-7
Telfair's won-loss record in 4th Quarters: 11-9-2
Nash's won-loss record in 4th Quarters: 9-12-1
Yet you'd expect Nash to have a tougher time in the 4th quarter than Telfair, since Nash is playing the other team's starters while Telfair is playing their backups.
What does this mean? Nothing. I did all this research for nothing. But since I did the work, I'm going to post the results anyway.
Regardless of the data, I can't help but think that Grant Hill would have made a difference in the Suns' recent losses.