Miami Heat 123, Phoenix Suns 96 -- Blown out by a better team

Chris Bosh destroyed the Suns for 35 points in three quarters. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Chris Bosh destroyed the Suns for 35 points in three quarters. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

There will be nights like this.

With the Suns playing extreme small ball with Hedo Turkoglu and Channing Frye as their post players, there will be nights when Phoenix’s shot is off and the team can’t make up for it in other areas of the game. That’s especially the case when the opponent boasts LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, as we saw in Miami’s 123-96 shellacking of the Suns Wednesday night.

It’s unfortunate that the national television audience had to see this Suns team suffer its worst loss of the season rather than the spirited group that had won five of six coming in, including victories at the Lakers and Atlanta and a home win over Denver.

After a tight first quarter, the Suns went cold in the second during a field goal-less final 4:39 of the period, but Miami never stopped scoring on its way to a 37-19 quarter and a a 21-point halftime lead. Phoenix fought back with an 18-6 run that cut the Heat advantage down to 12 with three minutes left in the third quarter, but Miami turned it into a route with a quick striking 18-3 run to close the quarter that was highlighted by a pair of Eddie House threes.

“They came out and dominated,” Jason Richardson told reporters. “We did not have any energy at all. We didn’t play like we have been playing. We just kind of went through the motions. We never got the pace up like we wanted. We just didn’t do anything that it takes to win the game.”

It’s hard to say how much of that is the result of flying cross country a day after a draining back-to-back against the Lakers and Denver, but this was not the explosive Suns team we saw in Los Angeles or the gritty Suns squad that came from behind to defeat the Nuggets.

This was a Suns team that couldn’t buy a three much to the chagrin of many people in our cufflinks contest, knocking down just 5-of-19 (26.3 percent) as the Heat did a great job rotating to shooters and not letting the Suns get many good looks. For the game the Suns also shot an uncharacteristic 44.4 percent.

Steve Nash scored 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting but dished out just a pair of assists, including none in the first half for the first time since April 2003 with Dallas, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. That’s the first time he recorded just two assists since Dec. 29, 2008, a span of 141 games, and it was only the ninth time in 737 career games Nash played at least 29 minutes but did not pass out more than a pair of dimes, according to STATS LLC.

“It kind of sums up our night,” Nash said. “We never really got a rhythm, and we were really passive tonight. They just outplayed us the entire game. We only have ourselves to blame. We didn’t play really hard. We didn’t play with enough aggressiveness and urgency. We obviously missed a lot of shots that we normally make. It was one of those nights where we weren’t in the front of our brains.”

Nash played through an injured groin that almost caused him to sit the game out. Afterward Nash told reporters it “was pretty sore” and that he “kind of took a little risk” but that he doesn’t feel he “did serious damage to it.”

With the Suns playing their only fourth game in five nights of the season tomorrow in Orlando, it could be wise to give Nash the night off. It wouldn’t hurt to rest Nash on a fourth in five anyway, and if this could help him finish the road trip strong in more winnable games it might be worth it.

On the other end of things, Chris Bosh starred brightest of Miami’s stars. The Heat got him involved early, as he took the team’s first five shots and went for his average (14) in the first quarter alone.

Bosh finished his breakout game with a season-high 35 points on 12-for-17 shooting to go with six boards and four assists, with all his work coming in the first three quarters. He carved up the Suns both in their man and zone defenses, doing the majority of his work on the perimeter with his sweet jumper.

“We know he is capable,” Nash said. “He got in a great rhythm early, and just seemed to make everything. He played terrific.”

Perhaps Bosh’s game was sparked by not wanting to be “Like a Bosh” anymore or perhaps it was just going against the Suns’ front line, but Bosh looked nothing like the bust he has been thus far.

Flanked by James’ 20-8-9 and Wade’s 17-6-6 the Suns really had no shot at that end, especially with Carlos Arroyo and Eddie House combining for five treys.

Looking for bright spots, the Suns yielded just nine offensive boards (despite getting outrebounded 42-32) although perhaps that’s because the Heat didn’t have many offensive rebounds to get after shooting 54.7 percent.

Channing Frye continued his solid offensive play of late by scoring 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting a pair of threes and Grant Hill’s 15 points helped keep the Suns close for a while.

In the end, the Suns just couldn’t defend the Heat (surprise, surprise), with Bosh being the beneficiary of extra attention paid to James and Wade. This was a game the Suns needed to shoot like they did in Los Angeles to have a chance, and their tired legs prevented that from happening.

“We couldn’t score,” Hill said. “We had good looks but we just couldn’t make them. Sometimes that is going to happen. It is unfortunate when it happens against a really good team on national television. We have to learn from this. The margin of error is pretty small for this team.”

  • Mel.

    Hey, look at the upside:

    If the Suns > the Lakers and the Heat > the Suns, then the Heat naturally > the Lakers.

    Not to play favorites, but it would be hilarious if Miami’s paid-for NBA version of the Yankees just cakewalked all over the champs, thus demonstrating roundly the lame state of the league as a whole.

  • JC

    I hope that Gentry is requesting Babby and Blanks to urge a trade for the young Jason Thompson. It seems that Thompson needs a change of scenery and team so a trade to Phoenix for Earl Clark and New York’s 2nd round pick might be a fine trade for him. The acquisition of Thompson would also give Phoenix a true Power Forward and a big that is capable of rebounding. I didn’t expect much from Barron today seeing as he only had a day of practice with the team and hasn’t played an NBA game since April, but I do hope he is able to shake the rust by the time Suns play Charlotte. The Suns also appear to be having most trouble in the 3rd quarter in which several opposing teams have outscored them and cut leads. I think that the starting line up could still be: Nash, JRich, Hill, Turk, Lopez/Frye for the first 6 minutes. Followed by a Nash, JRich, Turk/Dudley, Thompson, Frye to the the first quarter. The start of the 2nd quarter: Dragic, Childress, Turk, Warrick, Frye/Barron? and another mixed line-up. The third quarter Phoenix could use a tall lineup to play defense with Hill, Childress, Turk/Dudley, Thompson/Turk?, Frye/Lopez with Turk or Hill playing as point forward. Then the fourth quarter can be Phoenix finishing off their opponents with fresh line-up of either Nash or Dragic running the point. Phoenix does is a very deep team and could have all 12 players contribute in every single game.

  • Mirza

    I would love to see Jason Thompson get traded to the Suns

  • Steve

    I don’t know if I’d be so quick to say Miami is the better team. More talented? Absolutely. Were they better last night? Definitely.

    But we do have to realize that they have lost to every good team they have played besides Orlando and now Phoenix. Phoenix has already beat LA, Utah, and Atlanta on the road. The Heat have had a cakewalk schedule so far besides the two Celtics games. I think from those games we can say that their resolve can easily be questioned at this point, their perimeter defense is great, but their interior presence on both ends of the floor is completely lacking. I don’t think the Heat are an elite team right now, and I actually don’t think they will be by the end of the season. MJ could do it without a great offensive big man, but he still had the likes of Horace Grant and Dennis Rodman at his side during his runs. Is Chris Bosh the new Horace Grant? Is Udonis Haslem?

  • Jasper Buckleman

    Yeah, I also don’t agree that the Suns lost to a better team. They lost to a rested team. Back to back on the west coast and then traveling in the wrong direction a day later for a back to back on the east coast? That’ll suck the energy out of you.

  • Mirza

    So you guys are saying that the Suns are a better team than the Heat?

  • George Z

    So umm…how about we sign Greg Oden?

  • Jason A.

    @Steve, the Suns made Chris Bosh look like the next Karl Malone. That was pathetic last night. Time after time, the Suns stood around and watched Miami take over the game.

    When Miami put up a shot, as many as four Heat players would immediately start making their way to the basket. The Suns stayed put, didn’t box out, and ultimately gave up a ton of offensive rebounds.

    But when the Suns put up a shot, all the players hanging around on the perimeter didn’t make any motion to the basket to even attempt a rebound. The end result was several instances of four Heat players and no Suns on the boards.

    The main culprits: Hill, Hedo, and Richardson. On the offensive glass they would just stand there until Miami surrounded the paint, then they would concede the rebound and head back on defense. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The backups were different. Dragic, Childress, and Dudley were crashing the boards.

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  • Iceman

    Well, in their defense, the game was during their nap time, they’re old, and just played their 4th game in 6 nights. This game was more the Suns sucking than the Heat dominating.

  • PhxSunsFanInLA

    I know that we can win tonight against the magic we just have to crash the boards hard and box out dwight

  • Mike Meez

    You guys nailed it, already. But it really did look like the whooping was more a result of the Suns not shooting well/being tired/sucking in general last night. There were some points early on where they played great D and were actually guarding Bosh fairly well, he was just making all of his long jumpers. Then after the first quarter there were some huge defensive lapses. I remember several plays where Bosh and James ran right to the basket, caught the assist, and layed it in. You can’t make it that easy for a team that good.

    On offense it was even worse. They let the Heat keep them out on the perimeter passing it around, passing it, passing it, shot. Hardly any dribble penetration, which was a shame because they were drawing a lot of fouls when they would penetrate. If I were Gentry, I would’ve taken Nash out (especially because of the groin injury) and told Dragic and Hedo to take it to the hole basically every time.

  • Kalvo

    Phoenix is at a weak point right now and are close to rebuild mode. I wasn’t expecting a win with a team that doesn’t do well rebounding or on defense. Even with guys that capable.(i.e. Channing frye and turkgulo damn there 7 feet)

  • Steve

    @Mirza- No, I’m not necessarily saying the Suns are better than the Heat. LeBron and Wade have both typically had their way with the Suns, and I think in a series against the Heat, we match up terribly with them. But I don’t think I could call the Heat better than the Suns either. Their records are about the same and the Suns have beat better competition, and both teams are in major transitional periods. The ceiling for the Heat is much higher, but atm, I don’t think either one could be deemed defintely better than the other.

    @everyone else- Yes, last night was pathetic not because the Heat are so awesomely fantastic. It was pathetic because we did nothing to deserve that win in slightest. We were lazy in every aspect of the game. If the Suns played like that against the Clippers, they would lose.

  • Mirza

    No questions the Suns mailed it in after the 1st quarter (tried to turn it up in the 3rd when they came within 12) .. Not sure why Nash played the whole 1st quarter after almost not playing at all (guess the thinking was he was going to get a game off today) .. Any word if Steve will actually sit out tonight after not really playing in the 4th last night? I would really love to see Dragic go up against a semi good defender in Jameer and actually get close to 40 min to see what he can do ….

  • Lance

    Why didn’t we play Earl Barron a little more last night. Yeah, yeah I know he probably needs to get more acclimated with the Suns offense but he played on the Nicks last year so he should have a general idea of how it works. And plus could it have hurt to put a 7 footer in to get a few rebounds last night….. um no it couldn’t have.

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