Sacramento Kings 113, Phoenix Suns 108 -- Trapped game

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns’ defense has been so good of late that only the Miami Heat have allowed a lower shooting percentage over their last 10 games entering Sunday.

So maybe that’s why the Suns felt like they would eventually string together a couple stops in the fourth quarter to finish a comeback that never materialized in their stunning 113-108 loss to the Sacramento Kings.

“The truth of the matter is at the end of the game we couldn’t stop them,” Steve Nash said. “The negative side is we couldn’t get stops at the end of the game. The positive is it felt strange, like why aren’t we stopping these guys because our defense has been so good.”

Added Channing Frye, “When they were making all their shots at the end in the fourth quarter we were very uncomfortable. It wasn’t like, ‘OK, oh well,’ it was like, ‘We’re not used to this, it’s not how we play.’”

The Kings scored 35 points on scorching 63.2 percent shooting in the final period. They ripped off an 11-0 run to take a 10-point lead midway through the quarter, and after a pair of unsuccessful possessions that led to successive three-point trips on the Phoenix end to cut it to four, Sacramento scored on its next seven possessions to keep the Suns at bay despite constant offensive pressure from Phoenix.

During this stretch Beno Udrih hit a back-breaking three with a hand in his face to put a four-point lead to seven with three minutes left and Carl Landry and Donte Greene took turns successfully going at Frye and Jared Dudley, respectively.

The Suns just had no answer as shot after Sacramento shot found the net.

“We didn’t get any stops,” head coach Alvin Gentry said. “That’s a tough thing to do — you don’t have any chance of coming back if you’re exchanging baskets. The best you can do is exchange baskets, if they’re scoring every time.”

The Kings shot just 41.3 percent through three quarters, but they were saved by a dominant 42-26 rebounding edge that kept them within three at that point despite missing often after opening up a 17-7 lead that was quickly negated by a 20-2 Phoenix run.

Even with stud rebounder DeMarcus Cousins sitting at home, the Kings got 15 boards from Samuel Dalembert, 10 off the bench from Landry and seven each from Jason Thompson and Omri Casspi.

Marcin Gortat, who grabbed 12 of his own, eight more than any teammate not named Channing Frye (seven), said the Kings often sent three or four guys to the backboards to overwhelm the Suns. That was the story of the Suns’ Jan. 2 loss in Sacramento in which the Kings bullied them to the tune of a 60-32 advantage on the backboards as well.

“They dominated the boards,” Gentry said. “We struggled with them the last time when they dominated the boards. I think you need to give all the credit for them. We’ve done a pretty good job of taking care of the offensive boards and things like that, but they just dominated the boards and I think that was the difference in the game.”

Added Gortat, “They’ve got a lot of strong, athletic guys and they were hitting the glass really hard. We’ve just got to get better at that, be physical and try to go get it.”

The Kings’ prowess on the boards is no surprise as they average the league’s second-most offensive boards (13.2) and second-chance points (15.9) and got 18 offensive boards and 23 second-chance points in this one.

That negated another spectacular game by Nash, who went for 22 and 18 to give him his eighth 20-15 game of the season, compared to four for the rest of the NBA combined. He’s gone for 18.0 and 13.5 in his last four.

But this was a trap game if there ever was one directly in the middle of a home-and-home with the fading Utah Jazz, who appear ripe for the catching.

The Kings lost a late game Saturday night in Sacramento and then told Cousins not to even board the flight after an altercation with Greene.

That’s not to mention Sacramento entered the day with the least amount of victories in the Western Conference and had lost 10 in a row in Phoenix and five in a row overall, the longest active losing streak in the NBA.

In fact the Suns lost to a Pacific Division opponent at home that Kobe Bryant does not play for for the first time since the start of the 2007-08 season after winning their past 22 such games. Phoenix had also won its previous 11 Sunday home games as well, dating back to Feb. 22, 2009.

“Alvin warned us,” Nash said. “They’ve had some chemistry issues this year, they’re going to come out tonight without Cousins and feel like this is a great opportunity. We should have been more prepared just mentally.”

Like many Suns followers, I was already thinking ahead to the Suns’ great opportunity to get four games over .500 by the All-Star break if they can defeat the Jazz and Mavs at home, figuring a victory over the lowly Kings was a foregone conclusion.

The Suns never knocked the Kings out in the third quarter, and then never could make a comeback that seemed inevitable after falling behind by double-digits in the fourth.

Gortat said the Suns had been playing so well lately, winners of 11 of 15, that they were going to slip up eventually. It’s just hard to imagine it would come at home against one of the worst teams in the West.

Nash said there are always five games a season that you look back on as games that should be in the ‘W’ column, but you just hope it’s not 15.

Following in the tradition of games they should have won against the Bulls, Grizzlies, Kings on the road, Pistons and now Kings again, the Suns have more than reached their quota.

“It’s one of those losses that you are going to look back at and it’s going to hurt,” Gentry said.

And 1

Vince Carter has not played in the Suns’ last three fourth quarters. He walked out on reporters when asked about this circumstance. … Nash retained the NBA’s all-time leading free throw percentage despite missing a foul shot tonight. … The Suns have won five of six against winning teams but have lost four of seven against losing squads. … Dudley on his second dunk of the season and second in three games: “I’m starting to bang it out, baby, I’m starting to bang it out.”

Tags: Steve Nash

  • PasserA

    Where’s VC?
    VC were not played his game in recent games…

    Suns have to give him the chance to drive the ball.

  • Jed

    Carter sucks. I wish we could trade him before the deadline. Package him with Pietrus and someone else to get us a semi-decent PF.

  • B. Cray Z.

    “uncomfortable” is what they (Nash & Frye) said

    what happened to that crazy old white dude?

    wasn’t visable in the corner when they needed to make a stop

    this may have cost them the game

  • Steve

    I don’t know why anyone was writing off the Kings. I especially don’t get why anyone was writing them off any more than usual based on the fact that Cousins wouldn’t be playing.

    First, any team in the NBA is capable of beating any other team on a given night. Second, when a cancer is removed, you usually get better, not worse.

  • Cam

    Just when I thought the Suns had turned a corner, they do this. Oh well. The Suns will play up/down to their competition no matter who it is. I guess the next two games they should play great. Go Suns.

  • Ryan

    In the middle of the playoff race you MUST beat times you should beat. Which the Kings fall under (only 12 wins going into this game).

    I don’t see the Suns making the playoffs but they will come up short in the 9th spot but they will look back at games like this and say, we didn’t take care of teams we should have.

    This is 2 games they would have from the Kings, both times a team they should have beat.

  • Lloyd

    Jed -

    You are not going to get a decent PF for Carter, Pietrus and someone else.

    Again, to get good players, you have to give up good players, or clear out cap space to sign a free agent.

    You probably would have to trade Lopez, Dragic and a number one pick. (Dudley might have to fit in there somewhere as well.) And, that still might not be enough.

  • Lloyd

    By the way…….I love watching Gortat play. What a steal for the Suns to get this guy. He will easily be a top three center!

  • Steve

    Top three center… for the Suns since 1990? Or are you talking top three in the league, because I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon. He’s good, but I think we’d be getting ahead of ourselves if we started calling him all-NBA.

  • Lloyd

    Steve -

    Gortat hasn’t played that much basketball; he backed up Howard and before that, he started playing basketball very late in his life.

    He seems to have a very durable body type to take the constant pounding at center. (The Kings have a huge, very physical front line. And Gortat got 17 boards against the Celtics’ bigs.)

    The way that he is playing now, I don’t think that you could get him for the deal that the Suns made. Too many other teams would give up much more for him. Kudos to Mr. Blanks for pulling off this heist!

    Yes, I believe that Gortat will be a top three NBA center, and soon!

  • Lloyd

    By the way…….My wife wants to know when Suns fans are going to start wearing Gortat masks to the games? The big nose and all!!

  • Mel.

    Steve, Hollinger recently predicted that Andrew Bynum would be “at worst, the second-best center in the league” within the decade.

    If that’s the future of the C position, Gortat should easily make it into the top three slots. ;)

  • Freddy

    VC and Slopez are Horrible. Is it me or does the team not play as well with both on the floor. Yesterday they were down 10 iirc in the 1st. Then took out SLopez and VC for Gortat and Dudz and the things started turning around.

    Lopez straight up sucks. Can’t rebound, Clumsy, and cant finish. I think Garret Siler would bring more energy and be more productive.

    VC is garbage. Prob why he is seeing less and less time on the court. Gentry needs to just stop giving him minutes he is to much of a liability on the court. One day hot then 1 weeks cold. How bout No.

    I hope these 2 get shipped somewhere. The team is doing work and just had a bad night.

  • Lloyd

    Portland is playing too well. I think that it will be hard for the Suns to make the playoffs…….that is why the trading deadline will be very, very interesting.

    The Suns need to start thinking about getting a young superstar to build around. You can’t win a championship without one. Carmelo???????

  • Freddy

    Hah! Melo would never come here. IF he did I can’t imagine what the Suns would need to give up.

    Maybe we can trick Denver into taking: Lopez, Carter, and Childress in a nice package for Melo LOL

  • Steve

    Ha, Hollinger is a piece of crap for everything but PER. I actually think his PER system is pretty accurate as far as depicting individual value on the offensive end of the floor (he tries to broaden it more than that and act as if it’s perfect, but it IS actually pretty neat within certain boundaries).

    I’ll name some centers I would rather have than Gortat. NOTE: There aren’t many. I think Gortat is in the top half of the league, but I don’t think he’s top three or even anywhere near top three, and the following list isn’t necessarily in order of best to worst.

    1. Dwight Howard – Easy
    2. Al Jefferson – Underrated beast
    3. Tim Duncan – Easy
    4. BroLo – This one could change
    5. Al Horford – Could change
    6. Andrew Bogut – Could change
    If you open it up a little bit to guys who are actually playing the 5 but are listed at other positions due to various reasons
    7. Stoudemire
    8. Randolph
    9. Pau Gasol
    10. Alrdridge

    This list is actually shorter than I thought it might be. I don’t think Gortat is a scrub. He’s good, and he has a chance at cracking the top three someday, but he isn’t there right now. I love the Polish Hammer, and I’m hoping for the best for him, but I can’t give a guy credit for something he hasn’t shown me yet.

  • Lloyd

    Mel -

    Bynum has the body type that will not last very long (Oden) with today’s NBA. (Too much weight on a 7-2′ frame.)

    About a week ago, Colin Cowherd did a nice thing on the future of big men in the NBA. He stated that the NBA’s future bigs will be about 6-10′ like the Clippers Blake Griffin. He stated that the Bynum types are history.

    Gortat fits the mold of athletic bigs that NBA G.M.’s are now seeking. The Suns lucked out in getting him.

  • Lloyd

    Freddy -

    How about Lopez (a back-up center), Dragic (overated) a number one pick, and Dudley.

    Money talks. In Phoenix, the weather is great. And if Carmelo is into that type of thing….the parties are great in Scottsdale.

    Sarver (a banker) loves his money. Carmelo would sell tickets and bring in big bucks with sponsors.

    Don’t kid yourself; the Lakers are looking to dump injury prone, inconsistant Bynum to get a Carmelo to build around after Kobe leaves in a year or two.

    I hope that the Suns don’t just sleep ZZZZZ, and let the Lakers pull it off. They got Gasol while the Suns were sleeping.

  • Lloyd

    By the way……Lakers fans are buzzing to get Carmelo for Bynum. The Suns can do better than Bynum!

  • Freddy

    Man if the Suns tried to pull Melo and Succeed I would renew my season tickets IMMEDIATELY. I just think the LA Melo talk is hype just like Melo Nets, and Melo Knicks talk.

    But I am not opposed to giving up Slopez, Dragic, Dudz, and a future pick for Melo.

  • Zak

    Gortat will probably not ever be a top 3 center in the NBA but a top 10 center? I think that’s quite possible. He’s big, strong, talented and has a great work ethic and attitude.

    Don’t count on Vince getting fewer minutes until after the trade deadline. I think the Suns keep playing him in hopes that he will have enough of those old “Vinsanity” nights that someone will offer them at least a fair trade before the deadline to make him more than just an expiring contract. If that’s all other teams see him as, why pay him the rest of this year’s salary? He actually has 2 years left on his contract but next year is only partially guaranteed and he can be bought out fairly cheap. If no one bites before the deadline, I expect his minutes to drop afterward and we might actually see some of JChill on the floor.

    And Melo’s NOT going to sign a contract extension if traded to Phoenix. The way the Suns’ season has been going, telling Melo that Denver was seriously considering trading him to Phoenix might be the best way to get him to sign the contract extension they’ve offered him just to STAY in Denver. If it was really just all about money, Melo would have already signed it. And I wouldn’t want him in Phoenix anyway. I like the trend the Suns have been taking toward actually playing defense instead of just trying to outscore everyone else. Melo would just keep us stuck on that track.

    Perhaps that’s the “problem” since the trade with Orlando. The Suns “identity” is changing from offensive to defensive and all the pieces aren’t there yet to make them truly either type of team.

  • Lloyd

    Zak -

    Outside of the great Steve Nash, name me one potential young superstar on the Suns roster to build a team around.

  • Zak

    LOL, Lloyd… IF we had THAT we wouldn’t be having this conversation! Melo isn’t the answer though because he won’t sign the contract extension if traded to Phoenix. I know that you think that he will at the very least to avoid loosing a lot of money because of the upcoming CBA but I still say that if Denver threatens him with a trade to Phoenix instead of NY(or maybe LA) then he’ll just sign the trade extension they’ve already offered him and stay in Denver. Phoenix can NOT offer him any more money than Denver has already offered him. That’s part of the present CBA. He doesn’t want out of Denver to make more money. He’s holding out on signing the contract extension because he wants to be traded to NEW YORK. Melo in a Suns uniform is just not going to happen.

  • Zak

    And no offense meant, Lloyd, by any of my previous statements. I can see your reasoning. Having Melo in a Suns uniform would be a great crowd pleaser at home but I just don’t think its the path to a championship for Phoenix. I think the best thing to do is tough out the rest of this season, buy out VC or trade him to someone else who will buy out his contract and try to trade up in the draft to get Jared Sullinger, Perry Jones, Terrence Jones or even John Henson in the draft. Even though Sullinger is a little undersized at 6′ 9′, he’s 260 pounds of muscle with long arms and could be the “second coming” of Stat for Phoenix if they could swing getting him in the draft. A lot of people cry about loosing Stat but where did he come from? The draft. Not a trade. The DRAFT.

  • Martin

    Exactly, as much as I love seeing our Suns win games… a part of me wants them to keep losing games just so we can increase our chances of getting a early draft pick. Just getting into the playoffs at the 8th seed is meaningless, I’m tired of making the playoffs and getting eliminated; we need to start rebuilding a championship caliber team! The Nash era is unfortunately, just about over.

  • Lloyd

    Zak –

    That sounds pretty good too.

    Regarding Carmelo, I just don’t see any other franchise type players that are available right now.

    You could surround him with good defenders and role players and take it from there.

    If Nash leaves, what are the Suns left with? Like you said Carmelo would be a great crowd pleaser.

    It looks like new G.M. Blanks likes good defensive players. I’m sure that he would be able to get Carmelo and Gortat some help in that area.

    Then, you just let Lon Babby work out the contracts.

    If the Suns fall much farther behind in the playoff race, the rumors will become rampant.

  • Evan

    You know i could see the Nuggets actually going for a melo trade to Phoenix, VC, Cash, a pick, and some player: pietris or childress or warrick, its a better deal then any other team is willing to give up.

  • Zak

    Lloyd, first and foremost I very glad that you haven’t taken personal offense by my disagreeing with you. That tells me you’re a stand up kind of guy and I appreciate that. I just don’t think that trading for Melo would be anything more than a half-season “rental” and he would be gone. IF he would actually sign the contract extension if he was traded to Phoenix then I might be happy with a trade for him. I just don’t think he’s willing to do that. Because of that, I think the Suns’ best bet on the future is in trying to trade up in this year’s draft. If we don’t make the playoffs this year, we will at least have a shot at one of the top 3 lottery picks without making any trades/deals. But if we don’t get lucky there we will still have our own 1st round pick plus Orlando’s which we might be able to put into a package deal to get at least one of the first 5 draft picks… hopefully without having to give up too much to get there.

    And we can still buy out VC’s contract next year and put that cap space toward pulling in at least a very good free agent at PF or SG. There aren’t any young all-stars available at those positions next year on the FA market but there ARE a few potential young stars available.

    Hopefully a good draft and a good off-season trade or two will both give Steve, Grant and all the Suns fans a chance at a championship next year. Unless the Suns get very lucky and they trade away their future, a championship is just out of the question this year… but there is nothing I would love more than for them to prove me wrong.

  • Zak

    Evan, the present NBA rules for trades keeps the Suns from trading VC along with ANY other player on the Suns’ roster. That’s what makes it hard to deal VC right not. I wish it wasn’t so but that’s the way it is.

  • Zak

    And one last remark about Melo to Lloyd. As you said, “You could surround him with good defenders and role players and take it from there.”

    Isn’t that what Denver has tried to do?

    It didn’t seem to work for them.

    Melo is certainly a great player and he will eventually wind up in the HOF. I just hope that neither he nor Steve Nash wind up getting there without an NBA championship.

    And I also hope that Grant Hill doesn’t wind up there without an NBAC either. Steve, Grant and Melo all deserve a championship ring and that legacy along with their basketball histories in the HOF… and If those things can happen along with hanging a championship banner from the rafters in Phoenix… all the better.

    Go Suns! I love ya!

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    I’m begging you guys. Please stop with the Melo talk. Its juvenile really. Let’s look at it from other points of view.

    Denver: they don’t need guards. They don’t want big men. A late 1st rounder does nothing for them and they would be getting no superstar in return. Essentially you’re asking Denver to bottom out in exchange for Melo. If they wanted to do that he would be a Net already.

    Phoenix: at, or near the cap before OR after the CBA gets settled with a Melo extension.
    4 contributing players gone in exchange for 1.
    1 first rounder, (late), to help rebuild.
    0 financial flexibility to attract anybody else.

    This scenario assumes Nash and Hill remain. VC will be gone.

    So, now you have Nash / Hill / Melo / Frye / Gortat starting. Decent.

    Bench? …. None. Defense? None. Nash will be gone soon regardless, and if that happens Melo isn’t staying around to rebuild during the prime of his career.

    Makes no sense to give up the farm for Melo when it brings the team no closer to the ultimate goal.

  • Jed

    I did say a “decent” PF, not a superstar.

    Anyway, I completely disagree with getting rid of Dudley and/or Dragic. To me, these are the players who should be untouchable:

    Nash, Hill, Gortat, Dragic, Dudley

    Aside from them, I am open to trading the rest:
    Carter, Frye, Warrick, Pietrus, Childress, and even Lopez (though I would rather keep him).

    Get something done w/ those players and we will be in good shape. Don’t touch the five I mentioned, though. Please.

    I’m very much on the fence about Frye. I like him, but I wouldn’t be terribly disappointed if we shipped him elsewhere.

  • Jed

    On a side note, I sure miss having Raja Bell and Shawn Marion around.

  • mirza

    Dragic overrated? Please
    Would u rather see zabian instead?

  • B. Cray Z.


    Z man has potential to help.

    Will limit costly turnovers by Suns.

    Dragic plays best off of the ball.

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