Charlotte Bobcats 123, Phoenix Suns 105 -- Invisible defense

The Suns let the Bobcats score a season-high 123 points Saturday. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Tied at 58 apiece with nine minutes remaining in the third quarter, the injury-depleted  Suns were hanging tough with a Bobcat team that swept them last season.

From that point, however, it was all Charlotte as the home team went on a 25-8 run to blow out the Suns, 123-105, scoring on its next 11 possessions.

The backbreaking sequence was almost solely accomplished in the paint with easy dunks and transition layups.

“We didn’t guard anyone. We let a team that’s averaging 93 (points) put up 123, and they were nice about it,” coach Alvin Gentry told The Associated Press. “They should have gotten 140.”

The Phoenix defense looked more like a swinging gate than anything else. Tyrus Thomas and Stephen Jackson went a combined 10-for-10 from inside the paint.

The Suns (6-7)  got off to a fast start in the first quarter, pulling out to a 18-10 lead. The run was fueled by early foul trouble from Gerald Wallace that had him on the bench for a large portion of the opening frame.

By the time the quarter ended however, Charlotte had regained the lead, 30-25.

Phoenix never got back ahead the rest of the game, missing its first eight three-point attempts of the night and finishing 5-of-21 from behind the arc.

With a four-point advantage at halftime, the Bobcats (5-8) came out and scored 68 points in the second half. The Suns could not keep up despite playing relatively well on offense, especially without Steve Nash.

Phoenix pulled within eight midway through the fourth quarter, but fell apart down the stretch. A 9-0 run by the Bobcats sealed the Suns’ fate.

Playing their sixth game in nine days, the Suns didn’t seem interested in playing defense at all. It looked like the team was participating in the Wrigleyville Classic football game (only playing on one end of the court).

“It’s been unacceptable the way we’ve been playing the last couple games,” Hakim Warrick told The Arizona Republic. “Just too many easy buckets. It’s just not competing. We’ve got to play harder than that. You can’t coach effort. We haven’t put forth the effort it takes to win in this league.”

Blame it on tired legs or injuries, the Suns played uninspired basketball Saturday and consequently dropped below .500 on the season.

“This isn’t about Steve,” Gentry said. “We had 12 guys out there and didn’t play with any kind of effort.”

A clear bright spot for Phoenix was the play of Goran Dragic. The backup point guard had 17 points and 10 assists in 38 minutes of play.

When Nash does come back from his injury, Dragic might get a little more playing time. Partly because of his performance lately and part to keep Nash fresh and healthy.

Grant Hill led the team with 23 points and all five starters scored in double figures, but again, it wasn’t the offense that let the Suns down.

Charlotte outscored Phoenix 64-42 in points in the paint.

“We’ve really taken a huge step back these last three games defensively,” Hill said. “We’ve got away from our principles and more importantly our effort. That’s a little disheartening.”

The Suns also allowed Stephen Jackson to put together Charlotte’s first triple-double in franchise history.

The guard had a brilliant night, scoring 24 points with 10 rebounds and assists apiece.

Jackson clearly wanted the accomplishment as he and his teammates pretty much played solely for his 10th assist in the waning minutes of the game.

Going forward the Suns will need to shoot the lights out from the field if they continue playing their same ole style of defense.

The margin of error for this team just went from small to minuscule.

  • JC

    It’s time to trade for a Big Center already. Frye has improve his defense but hes better defending power forwards than Centers. Why did the Suns sign Barron if he is just going to be warming up the bench? The Barron signing looks just like the Dwayne Jones signing at the end of last season. I really think the Suns should be contemplating trading Dudley right now if it gets phoenix a big that can rebound. How about Varejao or Murphy? Suns need to make a trade before the year ends to put some presence in the paint.

  • B. Cray Z.

    What would our team look like if we traded Nash?

    Guess what? We’re seeing what a Suns team without Nash looks like.

    Hope he gets well.

    And soon.

  • Mel.

    ^I don’t really agree with that. The team obviously knows that Nash is coming back, and nobody’s making contingencies against it; yes, Goran’s getting more minutes (As well he should), but the knowledge that this is ultimately Steve’s team is making the need for concerted adjustment a moot point.

    Life without Nash is inevitable, and Gentry–or whoever’s taking the team’s reins at that point–will adjust accordingly. A squad scrapping without star power is different than a squad sleepwalking because its star is sitting out.

  • Mike Meez

    Agreed Mel. Like Gentry said, this isn’t about Steve. It’s about not playing defense. Suns aren’t going to win many games allowing teams to score 120+. Even with Nash, our offense can’t put up that many points every night.

    I’ve heard people mention Jason Thompson’s name to shore up the Suns front court, which I think is a great idea. He’s a great rebounder and is a legitimate defensive PF/C. Put him in there with Frye and all of a sudden we have a decent front court that won’t get demolished on the boards. I don’t know who Sac would want for him but they’re barely using the guy (about 15 minutes per game), so it would make sense for them to trade for someone like Dudley or maybe draft picks rather than let him go to waste on the bench. Thompson is way too talented to be playing such limited minutes so let’s go get him!

  • Michael Schwartz

    Yeah, I’ve been on the Thompson bandwagon for some time as well. Sacto has even tried to use him as a three at times, kind of ironic considering all the threes the Suns are using as fours. I originally thought a Dudley/Clark package would be a fair offer, but kind of hard to see the Suns dealing Dudley after the extension and Clark needs to do something in more than garbage time to rebuild his value. Perhaps a small forward and a pick could get it done. Thompson certainly would be playing more than 15 a game in Phoenix.

  • Al

    Fans might know in a month if Thompson joins the Suns. Blanks and Babby need to get a solid big man in the team before they face Miami and Orlando and Lakers at the end of December and start of the New Year.

  • WeAreSuns

    Efforts absence, not Nash’s, is the reason for last week. Any streetballer knows to body up a guy trying to drive to the hoop, or use his butt to box out a bigger guy.
    Suns are more than willing to score, but the way they shy away from defensive effort is insulting to the game.

  • KeZ

    David West would fit perfectly with the Suns!

  • Mirza

    Yea and so would Chris Paul. Safe to say both those guys are going NOWHERE from a team that is 11-1.

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