Preview: Phoenix Suns (36-36) at Sacramento Kings (20-52)


Sacramento Kings 116, Phoenix Suns 113

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PHOENIX — As the Phoenix Suns begin their 10-game de facto exhibition season Tuesday night in Sacramento, they can look across the court at one of the visual reminders of why they’re in this situation.

The Suns are responsible for two of Sacramento’s 20 wins, games that a playoff team can’t afford to lose.

The most crushing one occurred right in this very building on Jan. 2 when the Suns blew a 12-point lead with under six minutes to go as DeMarcus Cousins sparked the Kings to a 19-2 run. Then on Feb. 13 in US Airways Center the Suns just could not stop a Cousins-less Sacto squad that scored 35 points on 63.2 percent shooting in the fourth to thwart a Suns rally that seemed inevitable.

There were many other such demoralizing losses but few hurt as much as these two against the West’s second-worst team.

While the Suns are struggling a bit with losses in two straight and three of four, the Kings actually come into this one hot with wins in three straight and four of five on their just completed Eastern road trip.

It’s sure to be a raucous atmosphere with the city of Sacramento striving to save their Kings, and the Suns could be in for a letdown following Sunday’s realization that, as Gortat put it, it doesn’t look like “we’re going to be talking about playoffs this year anymore.”

The Kings have known that about themselves since November, yet they finally started to build a little momentum on this past road trip, with Marcus Thornton scorching the nets to give them a new dimension at the shooting guard spot.

I look forward to seeing whether the Suns play with the same kind of zest they did during their last spirited road trip in Los Angeles or whether they play like they’ve thrown in the towel.

The Suns have already made a starting lineup switch that they plan to continue using by inserting Gortat and Jared Dudley into the first unit for Robin Lopez and Vince Carter. Gortat and Dudley figure to be starters (or at least key rotation players) next season while Carter has 10 games left in a Suns uniform and Lopez could be moved as well.

In these final 10 games I’d like to see more Josh Childress so the organization has a better grip on whether he can be the player they thought they signed and more Aaron Brooks so the Suns can figure out whether he really does have point guard of the future potential or whether he’s a sunk cost they should let go of.

“For us it’s not only finishing it up the right way, it’s getting ready for next year,” Dudley said. “A lot of people are under contract. I signed my extension, obviously a couple guys here, Gortat’s still here. We’re trying to build if we don’t get to the playoffs for next year, what guys are going to be here, how we’re going to build for next year, make that huge leap.”

With the Suns firmly established as a .500 team 72 games into the season, the best they can hope for at this point is bringing positive vibes into 2011-12 along with a better plan for next offseason than they had during the last one.

And 1

Nick Ketner won the third annual Bounce with the Suns contest by dribbling a basketball for 44 hours and 47 minutes. Pretty impressive, as I remember the first year’s contest ending just a few hours after the night’s Suns game after an early morning start, and I’m not sure if I could do anything consecutively for almost 45 hours without sleep. Ketner will get to travel on a road trip with the Suns next season after outlasting 46 other participants.

  • shazam

    “I’ve probably been spit on more than any person alive outside of, I would say, a member of the prison system.” -Iggy Pop………well iggy if the suns dont do something this off season you will be dethroned.

  • http://youtube.com/user/phoenixfanboy1 Michael Morin

    Looking back on the trade, a Turkoglu-Clark for Pietrus-Gortat would’ve been better than throwing in Richardson and Carter.

  • g

    Its all well and good saying “we shoulda/coulda/woulda done this or that, but Orlando did the trade to dump Carter. They wouldn’t have done it without.

  • Kevin

    Get a good draft pick and try to keep Nash and Hill for a run this next season!

  • Alfredo

    ^ Agree and pick up a solid player through free agency after they buy out Carter…. we can get a monster player @ 12 Mill a year, sad thing besides Jamal Crawford, Michael Redd, and David West there’s really no explosive players through FA, so expect players to be moved around!

  • MY PHOENIX AZ

    Shazaam that was low….. but it made me laugh in a crazy out of my mind way. The suns will not get it together next year either so look forward to less fans, in that regard they should give up their old farts and rebuild, I don’t like my city’s name in front of the Suns ugh. The big question for this game since we all know their not going to the playoffs is “who is going to start this time which is beyond lame smh. The suns need a make over bad really bad. I may watch the game as long as I can finish picking some weeds, cleaning out the alley and bathing my dog then comes the game …. in a list of all the things I don’t want to do. I used to want to go to a bar have a drink and watch the game but now the bars rather play the Dallas cowboys or the ncaa basketball tourny over the home team’s game which is disgusting.

  • Zak

    The starting lineup for the last game looked really good. The bench – with the exception of Childress – sucked. With a better bench next year the Suns could easily make the 4th seed in the playoffs and maybe even get to the western finals before going home to watch the championship series on TV. They need a player with killer instincts at the 2, 3 or 4 spot to go any farther than that. As much as I love Grant Hill, he isn’t the prime 3 guy that he used to be and probably can’t keep up defensively as he’s done this season much longer. If he decides to retire this year, that just leaves another hole in the Suns’ game that will need to be filled. Carter will be gone for sure. If Nash loses half a step he’ll still be better than 3/4 of the point guards in the NBA.

    Frye is a very good although not great PF. Gortat is a very good although not great center. Both of them seem to keep improving so I wouldn’t want to loose either of them next season.

    This season is over for the Suns. Next year we need to look to getting a strong 2 or 3 to get back into the playoff mix.

  • Alfredo

    Zak your absolutely correct we need a closer someone who is willing to take every shot during crunch time! Our roster is good enough… Gortat is only going to get better. Frye is becoming more and more versatile everyday! Nash will always be Nash! Grant Hill is one of the best Defenders in the game right now! All we need is that 23 Guard. When people say blow up the roster it just shows they do not watch the games! Lopez and Carter were our weakest links!

  • Freddy

    A note on those that say blow the team up. How much more blown up do you want. The team has 5 members that were a part of Last years WCF run. Once Amare left this team started the rebuild process. I have said it once and I will say it again this team is a piece away from being a solid contender in the playoffs. Hopefully we can scoop this piece up in Free agency. This summer should be interesting. Goodbye Carter and hopefully we can Pack Lopez with another player to get rid of the garbage.

    I would also like to see Siler get some of Lopez’s minutes. Not sure why I like the big guy.

  • MY PHOENIX AZ

    After tonight’s game …. enough Said they suck and they are 3 to 4 pieces away from the playoffs and doing more than a conference champion. Tell me who the suns started rebuilding with and I’ll tell you why the F did they make the trades they did. When they gave up Amare they started degressing, rebuilding is making the team better. Also there was know reason to get geeked off of the Kings game since the coach played his “OLD GUYS” the whole game they will just be too pooped for tomarrow’s game, has the coach also forgot about his aging players just like everyone should forget and give up on this team. They gave up on themselves!!!!