When things are going this poorly we like to assess blame. Actually, we like to assess blame even when things are going well. Assessing blame is what we do. And by "we" I don't mean this site, or Suns fans, or sports fans. I mean we the people. We assess blame. It's right up there with eating and sexing and watching cat videos. So let's dig in.
Here's the play (in case you want to see it again and again and again):
In the immediate aftermath I saw the #instablame target Jon Leuer for not defending the rim. This is wrong. I've seen comments in the game recap blaming Cory Jefferson for not being 17 feet tall. Seems unfair. The reality is, as it almost always is, more complicated.
This moment below is the key to the entire play.
Mike Conley ran off a Marc Gasol screen and hits P.J. Tucker with his own block. Leuer is rightly minding the dangerous Zach Randolph and Eric Bledsoe has caught back up to Conley.
The screen set by Conley and the way Jeff Green uses the screen is perfect. There's no air space between them and Tucker is always going to be trailing from this point forward.
Ideally, with .8 seconds on the clock, the Suns recognize Green moving towards the rim is the most dangerous man and switch the screen.
We don't yet know if the defensive instruction was to switch screens or not. It probably should be with so little time left. If you're looking for blame, look here at this lack of a switch and then ask if that was by design or if the two players failed to follow instructions. I don't know the answer to that question.
UPDATE: Per this report from Paul Coro in AZCentral.com, the Suns were supposed to switch:
The Suns were supposed to switch on the play but Eric Bledsoe did not. Athletic as he is, it still would have been difficult for him to break up Courtney Lee's perfect half-court alleyoop pass to Green at the rim.
By now it's too late. Green has a clear path to the rim with the ability to see the ball and time his leap. Leuer is backpedaling and despite his athleticism can't possibly elevate enough to get to the ball. Maybe Anthony Davis could get there but mere mortals just can't fully jump while moving backwards like that. Go ahead and try it and be sure to post your video in the comments.
The pass was perfect and lobbed way too high for Jefferson to do anything. The Conley screen was perfect. Green's timing and finish were perfect. Game over for the Suns. Again.
In vacuum you'd be happy a young Suns squad on the road were in a position to even take this game to overtime against a Grizzlies team that's been to the playoffs for last five seasons. No vacuum here though, so internet pitchforks and rosterbation are going to rule the day.
Then again maybe it was all just karmic payback for this play.