Pacers 122, Suns 114 -- Are you kidding me?

Steve Nash and the Suns have been wounded by teams in the second half of games and need to find a way to stop the bleeding. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Steve Nash and the Suns have been wounded by teams in the second half of games and need to find a way to stop the bleeding. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Two nights ago in US Airways Center, the Phoenix Suns lost grip of a 24-point advantage early in the second quarter, allowing the Milwaukee Bucks to eventually take a 86-85 lead with eight minutes remaining. Although the blown lead left a sour taste in the mouths of Alvin Gentry and his team, the Suns ultimately came away with a win.

In tonight’s contest against the Pacers, Phoenix once again built a 24-point, first-half lead, but a 32-point turnaround by Indiana resulted in a demoralizing 122-114 Suns loss.

The Suns have now blown leads of 24 (twice), 13, 16 and 20 in their last five games, a trend that has become the staple of the 2010 Phoenix Suns. And tonight was no different.

The Suns jumped out to a 19-14 lead, when a bleeding Steve Nash was sent to the floor by an Earl Watson elbow with four minutes left in the first.  Nash was setting up to take a charge, but Watson led with his elbow and connected square in the mouth of MVSteve, causing his lip to bust open.

Nash received seven stitches in the locker room and was back in the game at the start of the second half.

The Nash injury, however, was only a subplot in an otherwise embarrassing display of Phoenix Suns basketball in the second half. After heading into the locker room up 68-52, the Suns, once again, laid an egg in the second half.

When the third quarter hit, the Suns decided it wasn’t a good idea to guard anybody, and the Pacers took advantage, drilling three after three.

Pacers forward and former Duke Blue Devil Mike Dunleavy came out of the locker room firing, scoring 11 points in the first 3:11 of the third quarter. Dunleavy finished with 20 points in the period and helped the Pacers paste 39 on the Suns to tie things up heading into the fourth and final period.

There were five lead changes in the first 5:30 of the fourth quarter, but the Pacers took control for good with a pair of Danny Granger free throws with 6:30 left in the game. The roles were reversed and the Suns were the ones who needed to mount a comeback, but they ultimately came up short.

The Suns were outscored 70-46 in the second half, and the Pacers overcame a deficit of 20-plus points on their way to a victory for the second time in as many games.

From the Steve Nash bloodbath to the 32-point turnaround to the ridiculous 56 foul calls, this was a strange game all around. The Suns needed to come into Indiana, start off their road trip with a win, and shake the blown-lead bug that has plagued them, not only in the last five games but in mid-December as well.

With all of that said, the Suns came out and did the polar opposite.

“We let them get the momentum, and we couldn’t stop the bleeding,” Nash told The Associated Press. “They got their confidence up, and for some reason, our level of play drops. We gave up too many points in the third and fourth quarters. Can’t expect to win too many games that way.”

It is one thing for this team to blow a big lead against an NBA powerhouse, but they have managed to piss away double-digit lead after double-digit lead against teams that haven’t been relevant in the league for almost a decade.

They allowed the Pacers to connect on 12-of-29 from behind the arc (41.4 percent), nine of which came from Granger and Dunleavy. Granger went for 33 points and eight boards, while Dunleavy wasn’t far behind, scoring a season-high 30. There was absolutely no defense in the second half (on Phoenix’s end), and the Suns seem to have no answer for their blown-lead syndrome

As Steve Nash walked off the court and into the tunnel with four seconds still on the clock, it was clear this team doesn’t have any answers. After they were destroyed by Memphis at home, Nash continually shook his head, as if to say, “I don’t know, I don’t have any answers.”

Since then the Suns have blown at least a 13-point lead in every game (3-2).

“It is alarming for us,” Grant Hill told “We have to figure it out, stay together, and try to improve. The only way you get there is as a unit. We’re good enough to get up big, but we have to get better at managing those leads.”

The first 39 games of the Phoenix Suns’ 2009-2010 campaign has been a tale of two seasons. There was the first half when Phoenix continually gutted out victories anywhere from US Airways Center to hundreds of miles away, proving how resilient of a ball club they were.

And then December hit, and the Suns proved that no matter who they are playing, no lead is safe. That inconsistency has been even worse in January, and the Suns couldn’t have started off their four-game road trip on a worse note.

They will take on Atlanta, Charlotte and Memphis on the road all in the next week. At the start of the night, it looked like the Suns could easily return from the trip 3-1 or maybe even 4-0. But the Suns continue to sputter and need to find a way to stop allowing each and every team they play back into the game.

“We’ve got to find some kind of resolve to come away with a win in these situations,” Alvin Gentry told “We’ve got to keep playing and get this worked out. We have to figure out why we have bad stretches.”

Two nights ago, although the Suns won, it felt like a loss. Tonight the Suns actually lost, and I can confidently say that although it only counts as one loss, this one feels like two or three.

  • Jaja

    But with that being said, there's no reason for big roster changes. We just need the current roster to play like they actually give a damn about winning ballgames. We all know what this team can do if they get their shit together

  • asani

    This is a team full of players that have a heart full of kool aid. They are soft as f%#k and this is getting to be just plain stupid. I have to blame this on Gentry because a good coach can see what is going on with them and fix it. How about you do the same thing that got you the 24 point lead. They built that 24point lead by passing the damn ball but when they begin to play one on one basketball they start to give up the lead. Plain and simple the suns need to play smart team bastketball. Pass pass pass until someone has a good shot and you can not only maintain a lead like that but you can add to that lead. OH YEAH IT DON’T HURT TO ACTUALLY GUARD ANYBODY. The suns allowed Dontay Jones to score on them and this guy flat out sucks. If they want to show they are a team to be reckoned with then they better win every damn game on this road trip. i am so pissed that I pay to see these guys and they screw me over every damn time I turn on the television. They are a disgrace

  • Mike

    I noticed that when they start getting under 20 they take 3s and rush jumpers to try to get the lead back over 20. What they should do is establish Stoudemire and let him go to work on the block and rotate to the weak side if they overplay his post. Don’t just start chucking threes when you’re up 20 and there’s 20 seconds on the shot clock…

  • Kyle Fleeger

    Jason Richardson, J Dud and Grant Hill are letting 2's and 3's CUT US UP! What is going on fellas?

    There is no reason to avoid playing bigger line-ups yet Al seems hesitant to let RoLo and any other big guy play together. We need size for rebounding and defense. PERIOD.

    Everything else we can figure out. But Big Al, needs to recognize mental errors players are making, and instead of just calling time-outs, YANK ONE OUT OF THE GAME!

    No Hustle: No Minutes!

  • Artur Mascarenhas

    Random thoughts:

    1 – Please bench Grant Hill. He is suposed to be our leadership from the bench, not our starting forward.

    2 – Bring J-Rich from the bench. We gotta have someone to make an impact from the bench. Dudley and LB are just not enough right now.

    4 – Trade Amare. I’d probably have blown out this team last summer to build around Nash and try to won a title in his last years. Its still possible. I’d probably trade Amare, J-Rich and LB (because of his friendly contract, he would have to be packed with these guys) and bring players to win right now. Screw the future, win right now.

    5 – We need to have a more nasty team. If somebody bang Nash on the offensive end, gotta have a guy to return the favor on the other end. Champions are nasty. You dont win being soft and nice.

    6 – Please no more “funny” videos. I dont think the fans are in the mood right now.

  • Artur Mascarenhas

    Oh, forgot about #3.

    3 – Gotta evaluate Gentry as a coach. A great guy, a player’s coach, but is he what we need? Maybe a more-experienced coach would be a better fit, someone who can bring more personality to this team.

  • Jaja

    This is flat out pathetic! I’m embarrassed to be a Suns fan today

  • martinez

    i like that NO HUSTLE NO MINUTES even tho i said that like 5 games ago but wow i have no clue what to blog about this situation any more except for that they havent had a team meeting yet and well i pose this question again do they need to make a trade for a aggresive player? let me know suns fans and like how i do end every blog but i cant now I HAVE TO QUESTION MY FAITH IN THIS SUNS TEAM

  • King Fahad

    I always felt that we need to need to have a 'bipolar' identity, where we begin with a "run'n gun" unit that can create a big lead for us, then bring in a half-court" unit that can sustain the lead. We are in (desperate) need of a "go-to" guy that we can go to in the 4th qtr, when the game is tight. Let's trade J-Rich (and his $16+ mill contract) and few throw-ins, for T-Mac (and his expiring $23+ mill contract).

  • King Fahad

    Also to add (above), we just might have to trade Amar'e for a lost-post player, who can be an effective rebounder/defender. But there needs to be some tweaks in the roster. We came too far, to be just a mediocre team. With these piece mentioned (above), we will be an elite. Look at the Lakers.

  • Jason Ellis

    If Larry Brown was the coach, he would definitely call out the players for their bad performance. Sometimes I think that Gentry is “Too” nice. I mean, I know it’s just a game, but you have to want to win it.

  • DiscoKeZ

    So tell me king fahad, who would be our scoring bigman if we got rid of amaré? Earl Clark!? If we should trade anybody it would have to be Barbosa and Robin Lopez, not your STARTING Allstar Center…….

  • codey

    man PHX’s future is not looking good at all. At the beginning of the year they looked like the ball club from when marion and Q. Richardson was still there. The Suns just need a couple decent players besides Hill Nash and Amare. If they dont watch it they will be watching the playoffs from home. Some how the not so great GM Steve Kirr has to get good players if he”s gonna trade good players like Marion. I mean come on we all knew shaq couldn’t contribute to a run-n-gun team like Marion did. They also need a good back up point gaurd, instead of Gragic. Well thats all i got to say. Have a good one, and go PHX!!!!!!

  • Roadster sl

    Really not much to say that has not been said over and over again. There’s nothing wrong with the offense even if it’s not firing on all cilinders – 111 point will win you a fair number of ball games if…..yes IF…’re willing to play DEFENSE. The Sun’s defense in the 2nd half was like buteer – inside and outside….they got burried by 3′s AND in the paint, it was pathetic. If a coach cannot stop his team from breaking down like the Sun’s have done now over the last few weeks he’s not doing his job. Who coordinates the defensive tactics and plays??? The Suns got whooped on the boards in the 2nd half by the “oversized” team of Indiana!!!! Come on, get real. No defense, no rebounding, no playoffs – it’s that simple and right now the signing is on the wall.
    Time to trade JRich and his fat contract and get some hardworking defenders and a strong rebounder (Noah). The Suns have plenty of scoring power even without JRich, what they desperately need now is tough defenders. Look at the Spurs – they have an “over my dead body” mentality and win ulgy games with their tenacity on defense – that’s what makes a champion, not scoring an average of 110 point a game. Kerr and Gentry – it’s time to act…..right now the team is in the same position as last year and if something drastic is not done the Suns will not surpass the .500 mark during the rest of the season which means that with 45 wins they will miss the playoffs again. The writing is on the wall – if the Ownership, Management and Coaching Staff do not act right now it will all be over before the allstar break. MArk my words….

  • jimmy richardson

    The pacers are a great team when there are healthy

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  • King Fahad

    To DiscoKeZ , I admit that Amar’e brings two key unique features that are rare in a PF: Athleticism (dunks) and decent mid-range jumpshots. Earl Clark is raw right now, but I am hoping that he can become Matrix 2.0 (reloaded). As for a replacement for Amar’e, it would be ideal if we could get s younger Olajuwon. But we are in reality, so its tough to say who (in the NBA) could replace Amar’e and still upgrade our current roster, and still be fast-paced. Here’s a long shot: Josh Smith?

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