The Phoenix Suns have now fallen below .500, with a record of 7-8 after the first 15 games of the season. With the next home game on Friday against the Golden State Warriors before they embark on a six game road trip, there's no telling just how long they'll remain a sub-five-hundred team.
That's certainly disappointing in and of itself. This was a game that the Suns really needed to win, after losing a very tough game to the same New Orleans Pelicans team on the road just last week, and then getting out-played, out-hustled, and out-everything'd against the San Antonio Spurs the night after.
This was their opportunity to stop the losing streak before it really happened (one can hardly consider a two-game skid on the road much of a streak at all). After all, one could certainly forgive those two road losses to two Western Conference opponents. Especially when they were without Bledsoe in San Antonio.
But now that they lost a very winnable game at home to a New Orleans Pelicans team who allowed them to take a 17 point first quarter lead, only to blow almost all of it in the second quarter? Then fall behind in the third quarter only to remain down, or tied, for the majority of the game afterward? Then fight back again in the fourth only to lose their small lead once again and fall behind at the end of the game due to poor execution and less than optimal defense? With the Warriors up next?
That's a tough one to swallow.
When Hornacek was asked about what led to the comeback after the first quarter, he mostly blamed it on the lack of defense. "We gave them three 30 point quarters.Usually we say if you give up two of them it's a loss, and we gave up three of them."
Hornacek also blamed the Suns' lack of focus and urgency after growing a big first quarter lead. "It's a long game and I felt that we didn't put our foot on the gas. We just kind of eased up." I then asked him if part of that "easing up" happened to Brandon Knight, who fell almost silent for the rest of the game after scoring 20 points in the first quarter, only to score only nine more points in the other three.
"Well, you gotta come out of the game at some point. When we put him (back) in he missed a few after that. But he got us off to a good start." He continued, "We didn't have many turnovers and we were supposed to win this game. 10 turnovers and 25 assists, that's one of our better outputs. We just couldn't get key stops. We gave up too many points."
Lastly, I asked Hornacek about the strong play fro Jon Leuer and T.J. Warren, and whether games like this make him considering whether to change the starting line-up, or play them more minutes. He responded, "I don't think we've been getting off to bad starts. There's been a couple of games, but we've played 15 games now, and I think that first groups' plus-or-minus is pretty good." He continued, "Sometimes we'll put them in earlier, but as far as changing the lineup, at some point I may need to take a look at that, but not now."
Obviously, the elephant in the room is that Markieff Morris has not been playing well at all, save for the one game against the Spurs. Jon Leuer and Mirza Teletovic, on the other hand, have been making the most of their opportunities, at least for the most part. So, at what point do you look at making a change?
As Hornacek said, the plus-or-minus of the starters as a whole has been positive, but everyone is aware of the limitations of that stat for singling out individual performance, as it simply isn't effective in doing so. Of course, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. But, what if it is broken?
Anyway, I digress. There is plenty of blame to go around for tonight's loss, and I could go on and on about the possible causes. But instead, let's hear from what a couple of the players had to say about it.
Tucker blamed the Suns for beating themselves tonight. He stated that the Suns are getting back into some old (bad) habits again, like bad communication, and not finishing plays. Real talk from the Tuck.
Leuer talked about the Suns needing to execute in the final few possessions of the game, and coming up short. He seemed to think losing a big lead after the first quarter had to do with a lack of focus and not getting as many good looks as they were early on.
As for Bledsoe, I was busy with Leuer so I didn't get a chance to speak to him, and he left rather quickly. There is a report by Rotoworld that he may have tweaked his left knee again late in the game, but I didn't hear anything about it in the locker room, and our own Bryan Gibberman seems to believe it's only based on their eye-ball test with no source or confirmation...So, I'll go with that for now. We'll have to wait until further updates to find out if there's anything at all to this.
That's it until Friday's game vs. the Warriors. If the Suns can somehow manage to win a big upset at home against the best team in the league, then all will be forgiven. I guess there's always a chance, right?
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!