Phoenix Suns interim head coach Earl Watson is found of saying that it's not about basketball, that it's about family and love and believing in each other first and that good basketball just happens as a byproduct of that.
Well, sometimes maybe it IS about basketball.
Anyway, the severely undermanned Phoenix Suns have lost their 13th in a row (9th under Watson) and 28 of 30 overall. They have achieved their franchise-worst losing streak of 8 straight home losses. Not even the expansion team nearly 50 years ago lost 8 straight home games.
So I wondered: What exactly DOES the team say after another one of these?
"We have to play four quarters, we understand that," he said.
The Suns came strong, going on an early 13-2 run to take a commanding 13-6 lead in the game but then the Net decided to start making a lot of shots. The game was blown wide open late in the second quarter when the Nets closed the half on a 14-0 scoring run.
"We have to embrace the process," he said. "And understand one thing that what our team and our players, we have to allow them to try to find a way to be aggressive but at the same time we have to be there to pick them up when they don't succeed or are not efficient. We also want to make sure that our energy and effort is the same."
Watson commented that the Suns were +11 in the second half, and that most of the comeback was from veteran players. Alex Len, Archie Goodwin and Devin Booker each ranged from -14 to -20 in their time on the court.
"Our energy wasn't there," Watson said. "And I feel like it came back in the end but it was kind of an older group. So we're learning along the way and we have to embrace the process."
Hey guess what? Alex Len is nursing a turned ankle. Still, he's played through it and in this game he made some nice post moves and scored well when he had the ball. Len finished with 13 points and 6 rebounds.
On the game: "Our concentration wasn't there. We weren't focused. Sometimes it was like three guys working and two guys were out of it. We just have to get it together, play together, stay together."
On the future: "We're coming in here every day, we're going to come back tomorrow and still put the work in, watch some film and learn from it. What else can we do? We got to watch some film and try to not make the same mistakes that we did this game and try to improve."
Mirza was the Suns player of the game. He poured in 30 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in less than 30 minutes of play - becoming the first Suns player since Amare Stoudemire in 2010 to achieve that feat.
He was playing against his former and first NBA team, the Nets, and clearly showed well. Unfortunately, not many players from last year were even in the Nets lineup and neither was the coach.
On the game: "We've got to come in more concentrated. We can't let teams go that far because we obviously can't get back. Against any team in the NBA, once somebody goes up 20 points, it's really hard to come back. Just have to come back in and especially at the end of the second quarter, got to be smarter than that."
On the future: "It's tough man. Nobody here, you can see, nobody likes losing and we're trying to figure it out. We just have to bring more energy. We just have to be more aggressive. We have to be more aggressive defensively but when you're aggressive, you have to be smart."
This sums it up pretty well. From the "oh gawd it's not over yet is it?" files.
"We win as a team and we lose a team," interim head coach Earl Watson said. "Like I sit here and I take it, we all take it and we do it together. And the main thing is we continue to push forward and find ways to continue to build. We understand that the season is not over tomorrow or Saturday, we have more games to play. We have to be creative and innovative as a staff and keep everybody believing and finding focus and finding ways to engage our players mentally more than just physically, and that's continuous."
If Watson is going to earn the full time job and come back in that same seat next season, he's going to have to win over the players and get them playing the right way by the end of the season. He's never going to get a full squad, so he's needs the players to - if not exceed expectations on the court - to be so tight-knit they stump for him in post-season exit interviews.
The lottery predictors are laughingly still thinking the Suns will win 22 games this year. For the Suns to win 22 games, they will have to finish the season 8-16 from here on out. No way that's happening. No way this team wins 8 more games.
But even so, the Lakers and Sixers are SO BAD the Suns are almost certainly stuck in no better than 3rd position for lotto balls.
And really, you don't want to see the Lakers finish 4th or "worse" in the lotto standings because in that case the Brandon Knight trade looks more awful than it already does. That vaunted Laker pick is only Top-3 protected this season and next.
Overall, the Suns would have only a 46% chance to remain in the Top 3 if they finish with the 4rd worst pick.
What could possibly go wrong, right?