Oklahoma City Thunder 116, Phoenix Suns 98 — Another late collapse

PHOENIX — Only the Phoenix Suns could have another blown fourth quarter overshadowed by an altercation between the officials and their two backup point guards in the final minute of a blowout.

After the Suns once again played a solid first three quarters and then a horrendous fourth quarter to turn a close game into a 116-98 Thunder rout, Zabian Dowdell and Aaron Brooks got ejected by Ken Mauer with 1:05 to go in a game long decided.

The ejections seriously baffled the Suns’ locker room.

Dowdell said the ref “just disrespected me” and that he thinks “something like that was uncalled for,” before adding that he’s never been treated like that by an official at any level. He declined to get into specifics because the team told him not to speak about the incident.

Marcin Gortat was also subjected to a gag order on the incident, but he did say, “Four years in my career, I’ve never seen something like that. You’ll see tomorrow.”

According to KTAR’s John Gambadoro, Mauer told Dowdell to “stop being a little b—-.”

Whatever Mauer said upset Aaron Brooks as well, as Brooks grabbed his crotch right next to Mauer after the Dowdell ejection to earn his own minute early trip to the showers. AB then arrogantly waved goodbye to Mauer as he joined Dowdell on the way to the locker room.

From what Gortat was saying, it seems like the Suns will ask the league to review the incident involving Mauer, and if he did treat Dowdell as inappropriately as he said the league must take action against him. If a player was that disrespectful to a ref, wouldn’t there be something done about it?

Brooks may have been right to be frustrated, especially after another fourth quarter collapse, but I don’t love the attitude he showed to earn his ejection.

We’re talking about a guy who could be this franchise’s point guard of the future, the leader of the team. I don’t want such a player to exude immaturity while trying to show up an official no matter how wrong whatever Mauer did may have been.

From a basketball perspective, the story of this game involved the Suns getting destroyed early in the fourth quarter once again. After a Vince Carter basket cut the lead to four, the Thunder reeled off a devastating 18-5 run to turn a close game into a 17-point blowout.

As has often been the case in fourth quarters of late, the Suns could not find offense from any direction as the Thunder’s defense stiffened, and Phoenix allowed 61.9 percent shooting on the other end.

“We’re still just kind of faced with the same situation where we just can’t seem to put any offense together to start the fourth quarter, and that’s where most of the teams seem to be getting separation from us,” said head coach Alvin Gentry. “We have to do a better job of guarding and then we have to find a way to generate some offense.”

The Suns have been outscored 127-83 during the fourth quarters of their last four losses, an overage of 31.8-20.8. Oklahoma City has taken down the Suns 91-63 in the last three fourth quarters between the squads, continuing this season-long issue.

Just as Goran Dragic struggled to do so often he’s now in Houston, Brooks has failed to lead the Suns to any sustained offense during the early parts of the quarter and Steve Nash has not been able to right the ship when he returns.

“We kind of lost our concentration in the fourth quarter in games,” Gortat said. “We keep running the same thing. We don’t have anything new that’s going to surprise them. We’re trying to force a lot of places in the fourth quarter, and sometimes we’re just putting ourselves in a real bad situation. We’ve just got to make a play, drive, find the open man, make an open jump shot.”

Added Nash, “That’s kind of been our problem this season, our Achilles’ heel. The other team’s close, typically the end of the third, start of the fourth we have a letdown.”

The Suns somehow only got two players in double digits, as Vince Carter carried the load once again against Oklahoma City and Jared Dudley was the other with 16.

Carter smoked the Thunder for 28 points on 11-for-19 shooting. He drove to the hole for dunks, drilled fadeaways, knocked down threes and did everything else that Vince Carter used to do 10 years ago.

Carter swore it was a coincidence, but he has torched the Thunder this season while looking very much his age against the rest of the league. Carter averaged 30.0 points per game on 53.2 percent shooting in three games against Oklahoma City, which is a stark contrast to the 12.7 points he averages on 40.8 percent shooting when the Suns don’t play the Thunder.

“Just playing, playing through it, just trying to relieve those guys,” Carter said of his performance. “They played a tough one last night, and that’s what we pride ourselves on, everybody contributing so I was being aggressive and hit a few shots in the post and just stuck with it.”

Even with Carter’s stellar effort, the Suns just didn’t have enough firepower down the stretch as Gortat played a subpar game that upset him (shooting 4-for-13), Nash continued to play hurt (eight points, nine assists), Grant Hill scored just three points on 1-for-7 shooting and Channing Frye scored six early points but finished with eight.

Perhaps the fourth-quarter struggles are becoming a mental burden as well as a physical burden for a Suns team that now knows with certainty that its season will end in two weeks.

“As a team bad night, no energy, terrible defense, no toughness, no physicality,” said the always brutally honest Gortat. “We just have to get better.

“We kind of lost all our energy when we started losing those last games. We don’t have any chance to make playoffs we kind of lost our energy, so we’ve just got to play through it and we’ve still got to compete. We’ve got to play better.”

Tags: Aaron Brooks Ken Mauer Marcin Gortat Vince Carter Zabian Dowdell

  • Freddy

    If Nash is playing Hurt wouldn’t now be a good time to start giving him rest? Maybe start Brooks and see what he can do with the starters. Does anyone think 2 time will be here next year? I am starting to have my doubts.

    Note on V.C. He played yesterday like a guy that wants to get picked up by another team and not get shipped to Europe with all the other hacks out there. Funny how he has been here for at least 30 games and has shown up to play to maybe 5 games.

    I left before Brooks and ZD were ejected… It would be interesting to hear what all went down to cause Brooks to get involved. Maybe the team is in Frustration now that their season is over? Who knows.

    [removed my hate towards the refs comment]

  • http://www.twitter.com/arturbm Artur Mascarenhas

    Before talking about the players, how about talk about Gentry?

    Anybody here still thinks he is a championship-caliber coach?

  • Daniel

    Freddy, I agree with you and everyone else who believes V.C. just cruised through the season with minimal effort. Maybe he’ll play hard hoping for a contract with another team maybe he won’t. I just don’t want to see him in a Suns uniform next year.
    As for Coach Gentry, he is a good coach, he communicates well with the players and seems to be effective at getting the most out of his players when given the opportunity (I don’t count V.C. on this), and yes I know Dragic regressed… unfortunately Gentry is not a Championship-caliber coach. Maybe he will be in 5 or 10 years but he isn’t now and he probably won’t be in the next 2 or 3. He is like the Suns team as a whole, competitive but not especially good.
    After last year, this year has been such a let down. My fear is the Suns go into a funk like 95-97 or 2001-04. Management please realize that winning championships will always be more profitable then just being competitive…


    Gentry doesn’t get the best out of the team due to nash controlling everything on the floor and I’m not hating but Hello Gentry you are the coach. How I see it is him standing in for the absence of Diantoni. After playing his game coaching nash and other players in a good way (Diantoni) Gentry was suppose to do the same thing since he was the assistant coach. HEAD COACH HELL NOOOO …. Asistant coach Hell yea he is the Best.

  • Mike

    Let’s face reality. The Steve Nash experiment proves that a PG dominated offense will not win you championships.

    The teams that make it the Finals are teams like the Lakers, Celtics, and Spurs – who run a balanced TEAM-oriented offense.

  • whatanidiot

    Poster above mine is everything i hate about the new school fans who think anything less than a ring is a failure. His brilliant statement about the only 3 teams getting to the Finals reminds me of few years ago when it became popular to say we need to trade Nash for a better point guard. And at the time, only Chris Paul and Deron Williams were better. (arguably)

    This is a good test for you Mike. Which option would you pick?
    #1: Next 10 years Suns will win it all once and make the playoffs 3 other years, but one and done each time.
    #2: Next 10 years Suns are in playoffs 8 times with 5 WCF appearances, but no rings.

    if you picked #1 then Im not gonna be able to get thru to you. Most fans know how hard it is to win it all. Other than the big 3 that you mentioned, the stars have to be aligned just right for a team to get there, let alone win it. Us Suns fans especially understand this. So all you can really hope for is a competitive season and a good playoff run. And when you have a wildcard like Mr. 2time, then you always have a punchers chance.

  • Johnson

    You’re bias toward Aaron Brooks is pretty blinding. Analyze the events. Keep your biases out of it and be a professional

  • Yayo

    Whatanidiot – give me the option that wins a championship. Every single time I’m taking that.

    The goal isn’t to get to the WCF, the goal is to win a championship.

  • Kenton S. Lime

    @Whatanidiot: I hear you. I’ll take year after year of dedication and basketball I can be proud of over a championship any day of the week. Simple as that. Would I like for the Suns to win a Larry O’Brien trophy? Hell yeah. Would five, solid WCF and/or NBA Finals appearances mean more to me than winning it all? Hell yeah. The deeper into June I can still watch the Suns, the better.

    Before I continue, I’d like to thank Mike Schwartz for gettin’ footage of the guys, post-game in the locker room, and press footage of post-game discussions with Gentry; that’s cool stuff and I like watching what the players think.

    But is there any way we could get some subtitles for Gortat/Nash/Gentry/Carter/etc.? Great players, all (except V.C.), but they’re all marble-mouths. Especially when I’m sittin’ here eatin’ a bowl of cereal tryin’ to watch my Suns post-game coverage! C’mon! Speak up!

  • Steve

    I’ll take one championship and nine years out of the playoffs over 8 years in with no ‘ship to show for it.

    Why? Because we have ZERO. I hate the fact that the Suns have the moniker of “The Best Franchise Without a Championship.” I want it gone. If we had to suck nine years to get one, then so be it.

    But, I would also want the next ten years to be like most of our existence as a franchise. Make the playoffs, not win it all. I think that’s fun, and it’s all fine and dandy, but I just want that one championship to get the monkey off our backs.

  • Momochi Sandayu

    You don’t love the attitude Brooks showed to the official….

    I don’t know you personally, but I’ve seen you in a few videos and those are fair demonstrations of your personality and mannerisms, in my opinion…

    I’m not surprised someone like you wouldn’t have the personality to feel free or comfortable to be anything other than the over played, over touted, and over idealized model of a “respectable person”….

    I feel it’s fair to say that Aaron Brooks isn’t a disrespectful person, and he handles himself in a very professional manner 99% of the time…

    I would say most situations are best handled with respect even if the other person isn’t being 100% respectful to you, but when you say he was “exuding immaturity to one up an official” it makes me feel like you don’t have the self-confidence to stand up to someone when they are treating you with blatant disrespect.

    In my humble opinion it feels like you would take the high road out of cowardice, because to you that is easier than standing up for yourself… You fear the repercussions of taking a stand, and letting someone know that the way they’re treating you is NOT acceptable, and that you won’t meekly ignore a severe transgression under the guise of an “enlightened” view point.

    I would never advocate physical violence, unless it is in self defense, so don’t think I’m some goon out to make situations worse than they are.

    Just my opinion on the matter, and I want to say that even though what I’ve typed here is almost certainly not a view shared by everyone (least of all yourself), I wanted to give an alternate perspective to the “Aaron Brooks Situation”, as it were…

    To be fair, I don’t think it’s right or wrong to ignore something like that if it’s in your personality, but I don’t think it’s right to assume that the only reason one would speak up in defense of themselves (or a friend/loved one) is due to immaturity… If no one spoke up against injustice it would continue forever.

    Thank you!

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

    @Momochi I respectfully disagree, although in some ways our viewpoints aren’t far off.

    I like the fact that Brooks stuck up for his teammate, I just felt like the crotch grab and sarcastic wave was a bit immature. Purely my opinion, nothing deeper than that. I feel like Brooks should have carried himself in a different manner in that situation, nothing more. Even though it seems like the official was wrong in this situation, you can stand up for yourself without disrespecting the offending party.

    I have no problem with Brooks as a person whatsoever, he’s always been good to me in interviews, etc. My take was honestly just me calling it like I saw it in terms of this situation.

  • jman

    I was sitting on the floor that night and heard everything go down. The remark was a true statement and very disrespectful. I dont blame Dowdell for calling mauer out, I would have done the same thing. To clear up Aaron Brooks ejection, he didnt get thrown for grabbing his crotch, he was thrown because he said” I wish I got paid to disrespect people” and mauer threw him.

  • B. Cray Z.

    Was at the game.

    Possibly our poorest showing all year.

    Just think that the post adrenaline crash from the triple over time game in LA has been real hard.

    That not only exolains this game but some of our most important guys becoming physically sick. Keep Nash & see what we can do with our 1st round draft pick.