The Phoenix Suns: NBA's Taco Bell

If your aversion to fast food extends beyond avoiding the drive-through and into what you consider news, you may not have heard that Taco Bell is being sued over the content of their “ground beef.” According to the filing, Taco Bell’s meat is actually only 35% beef – the rest is a mixture of water, binders, various molecular gastronomy-related chemicals, and oats. In other words, fluff.

Phoenix Suns’ fans should be forgiven if this description makes them ill – not because of a recent “fourth meal” jaunt, but because the same could be said for the way Phoenix is playing so far this season. Sure, the Suns still have Steve Nash, Grant Hill, and Jared Dudley to entertain their supporters, but the vast majority of the roster and the rotation is merely filler.

Nuclear warhead aiming straight for your GI tract, or Western Conference NBA team?

Two things that caught my eye after the Suns’ 105-95 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers

1. Alvin Gentry waved the white flag in this one. The game between the Suns and Sixers seemed to follow Gentry’s script from this road trip to a T, at least in the first quarter. Robin Lopez got the start and pulled down five ballboards in his seven minutes of action. Marcin Gortat then checked in for the Suns and played the next ten minutes at the center position…

…and then neither of them saw significant game action the rest of the way. Gentry chose to go with a smaller-than-usual lineup with Frye at the 5 for the majority of the game. True, Gortat and the rest of the Suns’ reserves got roasted by Elton Brand and company in the second quarter, when the Sixers opened up a 10-point lead they would never relinquish (and would eventually stretch to 18). But Gentry’s decision to sit both Lopez and Gortat for the remainder of the game was a head-scratcher that I’ve yet to see mentioned elsewhere or explained away by the coach.

More baffling? With the Suns down 17 to open the fourth quarter, Gentry elected to keep Steve Nash on the bench for the duration of the game. Arguably, the game was out of hand at that point – the Suns’ bench made an 11-0 run toward the denouement of this unsettling setback, but only after the Pistons emptied their own bench. Resting Nash may have been a prudent decision – if the Suns weren’t wrapping up their road trip and headed back to Phoenix for a day of rest before a game with the Bobcats on Wednesday. With the team struggling to beat the Cavs and losing to the Pistons, the Suns couldn’t afford to simply roll over and concede in this game – every game counts in the playoff race.

Play dead! Good boy! Who's a good Suns team? No! Bad Suns team! Bad!

2. Turnovers and offensive rebounds tell the story. On the season, 13.5% of all Suns’ possessions end in turnovers. Last night, that rate was up to 16.1%. Insignificant? The Sixers scored 30 points off of those turnovers and posted an effective FG% over 56%. While the Suns bested their own average eFG% on the night, they still got blown out of the building.

Alvin Gentry’s decision to keep Gortat and Lopez on the bench reared its ugly head in the rebounding column, as well. The Sunss offensive rebound rate on the night was an abysmal 18.4%, and they allowed the Sixers to corral almost 29% of their offensive rebound opportunities.

The result? The Sixers’ offensive rating was 14 points higher on the night than their season average, and the Suns lost a game they needed to (and should have) won.

Tags: 76ers Marcin Gortat Philadelphia Phoenix Suns Robin Lopez Sixers Taco Bell

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