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Phoenix Suns giving points away at charity stripe like candy

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A Cinderella season always has tell-tale signs of collapse. For the Phoenix Suns, collapse may come at the free throw line.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The high-flying, fast-paced Phoenix Suns are mired in two game slump in which they've been manhandled by a proud Chicago Bulls team and the jet-fueled Houston Rockets.

In those games, the opponents made 58 of 73 free throw attempts. That's nearly 30 free points a game (29 to be exact), by virtue of a 79% conversion rate.

79%!

Looking further into the stats, it's clear that the Suns are terrible all season long at free throw defense. To wit, the Suns are 26th in the league at free throw defense, allowing teams to make 77.1% of their freebies every single game (on average).

Folks, that's a death knell. If you're looking for a real good reason the Suns have lost 20 games this year, look no further than the charity stripe.

League average is 75% allowed on free throws. That the Suns are allowing greater than 77% (77.1) is a travesty.

Forget that 5-game winning streak against weak competition in the East (the Pacers notwithstanding). Now the Suns face a bevy of winning teams in the coming weeks.

Who knows how well they're going to shoot the freebies?

What I do know is that coach Hornacek has a real task on his hands in the coming weeks to try to figure out how to bring the Suns back to at least the middle of the pack on free throw defense.

They need to hit the video room, and watch how teams like the Lakers (71.7%), the Thunder (71.7%) and the Kings (72.7%) are defending the stripe.

Somehow, those guys are inducing freebie misses better than any other teams in the league.

If the Suns want to make the playoffs, they can start by emulating the Lakers and Kings.