The Suns rarely used to play games like this during the Nash era, but tonight’s contest was essentially over before it began.
Sure, you play the game because you never know when Cardinals over New England will happen, but a Suns team that got outscored by 35 points in the final 20 minutes last night in Orlando didn’t stand much of a chance against a rested Miami Heat squad.
Behind a beautiful offensive effort by the Heat’s Big Three, the expected happened on Monday night as Miami raced out to a 10-2 lead and never trailed, thrashing the Suns by a score of 124-99.
”For us, it didn’t go too well,” Jared Dudley said. ”For them, it went well.”
The game felt like a blowout from the opening tip, but the Suns actually only trailed by 10 midway through the third quarter, and as the Magic would tell you that’s plenty of time for a game that close to shift.
However, for the second straight night in Florida that’s where it all fell apart. The Heat promptly reeled off a 13-0 run in little more than two minutes and the rout was on.
Miami eviscerated the Suns all game offensively as they shot 54.7 percent as a team. The Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combined for 63 points on 63.4 percent shooting, and every Heat starter was at least a plus 19 (led by LBJ’s plus 25) in a game dominated by Miami’s stars.
The Suns were particularly susceptible to the Miami pick-and-roll, as late rotations either led to an easy hoop inside or an open three, culminating in a 15-for-26 shooting night from deep for the Heat. Ray Allen found himself open for a trey in the corner on three separate occasions, and each time the Suns learned why he’s not a guy you want to leave open.
Phoenix perhaps could have played those pick-and-rolls better, but in reality this was never a game the Suns had a realistic chance to win. Even when they cut the lead to single digits early in the second half, you could just feel a Miami run coming on to put the game away.
Their ball movement was crisp and their shot making was on target, and when considering the talent differential all the Suns could do was hope for an off night from the Heat. That didn’t happen.
“I thought that was probably the most unselfish team I’ve ever played against since I’ve been in the NBA,” Dudley told reporters. “It was drive, kick, swing, penetrate, flare, and they were hitting everyone. Even when someone had a good shot they would make an extra pass for someone to have an even better shot.”
Added head coach Alvin Gentry, “They worry about what’s happening with their team, not with what’s happening with individual stats. That in itself makes them great because they are virtually impossible to guard. We get in rotation against them they always try to find the open guy and like I said, adding Ray Allen to the mix didn’t hurt at all.”
In year three of their Big Three experiment, the Heat are a joy to watch for anybody who appreciates ball movement, and it’s almost not fair that they can surround James, Wade and Bosh with spacers like Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis in the position-less basketball they play. More conventional (not to mention less talented) teams like the Suns have no chance.
The Suns should be proud of the way they fought to make this a game early in the second half despite only shooting 39.8 percent for the contest and getting outboarded by 11. Luis Scola was solid once again with 15 and eight and Shannon Brown led the bench with 18, but Michael Beasley threw up another stinker with seven points and one board on 3-for-13 shooting against his former team.
Whereas the way they lost the Magic game was a big blow, not many teams are going to beat the Heat when they are clicking like they were tonight.
The occasion of the blowout allowed Diante Garrett (active because Jermaine O’Neal was not with the team after a death in the family) to play his first NBA game and score his first NBA bucket. Luke Zeller hit all three of his shots to score his first seven NBA points while Garrett made the basket and dished a pair of assists. Kendall Marshall also recorded his first two dimes in the league, but the first-round pick has yet to get on the scoreboard.
The Suns will face a slightly more winnable game in their road trip finale Wednesday in Charlotte, as they aim to prevent this early seemingly easy part of their schedule from becoming a complete disaster.
Although tonight was no doubt disappointing, a middling Suns team that has yet to find itself got crushed by an NBA champion primed to repeat. Elston Turner surely has some work to do with his defense, but when Miami’s offense is flowing like it was tonight there’s not much the Suns can do to stop it.
Marcin Gortat (12 points and 13 boards tonight) was asked by Polish journalist Lukasz Ceglinski about the constant questions he gets about being something of a Steve Nash creation, but in a translated interview Gortat said he feels a bit “underrated” when that topic is broached.
“It is not that easy, many players who played with Nash did not have such achievements,” he said. “Not everything Steve touches turns to gold.”