Dallas Mavericks 97, Phoenix Suns 94 — No satisfaction


The Phoenix Suns organization put together quite an evening at US Airways Center Thursday for “Satisfaction Guaranteed Night.” The in-game entertainment was lively, the concession lines were packed and the 17,517 fans in attendance (a season high) seemed to be enjoying themselves for much of the night.

The only problem was the on-court product didn’t match up to the surrounding elements, as the Suns dropped their fifth straight game in a 97-94 loss on national television to the Dallas Mavericks.

Dallas Mavericks' Derek Fisher (6) is fouled by Phoenix Suns' Goran Dragic, of Slovenia, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Dallas Mavericks’ Derek Fisher (6) is fouled by Phoenix Suns’ Goran Dragic, of Slovenia, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

From the opening tip, it seemed as though the Suns would treat their home crowd to a pleasurable experience, one free from talk of promotions and marketing schemes. Michael Beasley found Marcin Gortat for a beautiful alley-oop dunk on the game’s opening possession, and Phoenix raced out to a 13-3 lead before you could even say “refund.”

However, the Suns went scoreless over their next eight possessions and Rick Carlisle’s veteran-laden squad had no problem getting back in the contest. Despite their red-hot start, the Suns found themselves deadlocked (23-23) with Dallas after a quarter of play.

Luis Scola and Jermaine O’Neal combined for 12 points and six rebounds off the pine in the second quarter, and the Suns’ bench held firm, just as it did two nights earlier in Memphis. But while Phoenix was able to pull slightly ahead of the Mavericks 44-40 at the half, a lack of production from Gortat and Beasley in the first half was only a sign of things to come.

Coming out halftime, the Mavericks created separation with a crippling 23-4 run, as the Suns failed to hit a field goal over a seven-minute span in the third quarter.

“The ball was sticking,” Markieff Morris said of the Suns’ third quarter offensive lull. “We weren’t getting as much movement as usual and they were making tough shots.”

O.J. Mayo, who visited the Suns’ facility over the summer during his free agency tour, made sure to remind Phoenix’s front office what they missed out on at shooting guard. Mayo’s two three-point shots highlighted Dallas’ game-changing spurt and from there it was same old, same old for the Suns: play from behind, make an impressive run, pull even but eventually fall short.

After missing 13 of their first 14 shots in the quarter, the Suns converted their last four attempts from the field to cut Dallas’ lead to eight after 36 minutes.

Phoenix, of course, also made things interesting in the final frame but did so without the services of Beasley.

Before Thursday’s game, Alvin Gentry suggested the coaching staff would likely “tweak” the starting lineup in the coming days. Although that could be taken a number of ways, the obvious insinuation was that Beasley would likely be the odd man out.

Beasley’s latest audition to remain a starter did little to instill any confidence in Gentry. After hitting two of his first three shots from the field, Beasley went ice cold. He kept shooting and shooting, but nothing would fall for the former No. 2 overall pick.

The small forward flung his headband into the crowd minutes into the third quarter as if to wave the white flag and his exit would follow soon after at the 7:24 mark. On the night, Beasley finished with nine points on 3-of-12 shooting.

In addition to Beasley’s lack of production, the Suns were dealt another blow when P.J. Tucker suffered an MCL sprain in his right knee on the final play of the third quarter.

Without a clear option at small forward, Gentry opted for a three-guard lineup of Goran Dragic, Sebastian Telfair and Shannon Brown down the stretch.  And low and behold, it worked.

Phoenix hit its first four shots of the fourth quarter, Telfair and Brown converted on several key jump shots,  Scola added six points off the pine and Markieff Morris recorded five of his 17 points as the comeback effort was in full effect.

The Mavericks also didn’t appear as though they had any interest in winning the contest (six fourth quarter turnovers), and Gentry’s plucky squad managed to crawl its way back from 16 down to tie the game at 87 with 48 seconds remaining.

When push came to shove, however, the better team looked like the better team. Mayo converted a tough 21-foot jump shot in the face of Telfair with 34 seconds to go,  Goran Dragic responded with an ugly miss on a point-blank layup — the Suns’ sixth miss from inside of three feet — with 24 seconds remaining and Dallas secured the road victory with six late free throws from Darren Collison and Vince Carter.

The Mavericks snapped their three-game road losing streak, and in the process left local patrons and Suns players alike asking the same question: When will it end?

“It’s always the same story,” Goran Dragic said. “We came up short. They make a great run in third quarter. We are trailing in the fourth quarter and then we try to get back and we did. It’s just tough. You’re tired.”

When Luis Scola came to Phoenix via amnesty waivers in the offseason, he thought he was coming to a team with a lot of potential. After the Suns’ loss Thursday, he wasn’t shy about voicing his displeasure with the team’s early-season struggles.

“It’s not a sense of frustration, it’s frustration,” Scola said. “We are losing. We’ve lost five games in a row, and we’re looking bad. We’ve got to find a way to win. It’s not a sense. We’re just playing bad and are making mistakes and are losing games.

“I know there’s enough talent here. If you take out the bad part of the game [against Dallas], we played great. …We’re capable of playing well, but we’re just not capable of playing well for 48 minutes.”

As for changes, Gentry said after the game the team “will more than likely” move Beasley to the bench heading into Saturday’s road game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

While it was unclear if Beasley could sense a change was coming, he was rather reflective following yet another underwhelming performance.

“I don’t know what it is, because I come into every game optimistic about my play and my shots,” Beasley said. “It’s just not clicking for me right now. It’s not anything anyone else is doing, it’s all me.

“Of course I’m frustrated, because I visualize myself as something I am not right now. Not to say I can’t be, but as of right now I’m not playing as well I can play, as well as I know I can play and as well as the team needs me to play.”

And 1

Four of the Suns’ last six losses have come down to a play here or a play there in the waning moments. In Philadelphia, it was a missed Michael Beasley layup that did in Phoenix. In Toronto, Shannon Brown failed to convert at the basket on a little bunny. Against the Grizzlies, a lack of execution and clock management forced Jermaine O’Neal into a tough jump shot as time expired in regulation. And on Thursday night, Goran Dragic’s missed layup ultimately cost the Suns a chance to tie, which begs the question: Are they any closer to finding a late-game option?

“In this case, I think our go-to guy is going to be the guy that’s going good that night,” Alvin Gentry said. “It’s happened on other teams. I don’t say night in and night out, ‘Okay this is our guy.’ With this team, until someone rises above it all, we’ll go with this.” …

The Mavericks snapped their three-game road losing streak in large part due to their bench effort. Brandan Wright scored a season-high 16 points, Chris Kaman had his way with Gortat (three points and six rebounds) in the paint and added 15 points and seven rebounds and Darren Collison connected on 10 free throw attempts in the victory. Dallas’ bench outscored its starters 56-41. …

Thursday night’s game became a battle of attrition. In addition to Tucker’s MCL sprain, the Suns lost Jermaine O’Neal in the third quarter after he was poked in the eye. He did not return. Rick Carlisle also suffered a key blow to his lineup, as former Sun Shawn Marion (10 points and five rebounds) suffered a strained groin injury in the second half. …

Lost in another defeat for the Suns was the play of second-year forward Markieff Morris. The former No. 13 pick recorded his first double-double of the season with 15 points and a career-high 17 rebounds.

  • DBreezy

    @John

    This isn’t a very crowded theater, but yelling ‘fire’ always has the same effect. It’s not crowded around here, but I wouldn’t call anyone who’s posting here a non-diehard fan simply because they don’t chose to support the team in the same manner as you. Obviously I don’t know you or your background, but that seems like a very young way to view fandom.

    You’re basically talking to nothing but diehards on forums like this, especially after two, soon to be 3 lottery seasons in a what have you done for me lately world in a fickle sports town of transients. I’ve been a Suns fan for 23+ years and watch every game, but the only reason I show up at a few games is because my small children love it and don’t know any better about a lot of things. Otherwise forget it, but I have just as much ‘right’ to get on a soapbox as you or anybody else. That’s a big part of why I never was hard on the numerous trolls who used to be on the AZC site before they gooned it up.

  • john

    “what have you done for me lately world in a fick sports town of transients.”

    You proved my point for me. You might define “die-hard” differently than I do, but I’d just argue that you have a wrong definition.

  • john

    *fickle, my apologies. Didn’t mean to attribute a typo to you that wasn’t there originally.

    Since I have to double-post anyway, here’s an interesting read on die-hards:

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/44348-what-defines-a-die-hard-fan

    Let me just say this. In absolutely ZERO definitions of the term “die-hard fan” will you find anything related to the phrase, “pulls their support from the team when things aren’t going the way they’d like.”

    That is the OPPOSITE of die-hard. Die-hard means that no matter how tough the going gets, you will stick by your cause until all your enemies have fallen or they finally destroy you. There is no in between.

  • john

    And for the triple post, I know some people will argue that ousting Sarver really is for the good of the team.

    Let me say this: Hating the owner more than you love the team still doesn’t make you a die-hard fan. Again, it proves the opposite. Your love the for the team can be trumped.

    Any way you try to spin this, I don’t think it’s even remotely possible to prove that a reasonably acceptable definition of the term “die-hard fan” would include giving up on your team, pulling support, not watching them, or any sort of boycott to push your own personal agenda, no matter how you justify it. You just won’t find it because it’s not true.

    And, btw, I’m not saying everyone needs to be die-hard. I know every franchise needs bandwagon fans. Those are the guys who fill up the extra seats in the good years, the ones who give the arena that extra boost in the playoffs, the ones who boost the TV ratings in the good years, etc etc etc. Bandwagon fans are necessary, and it’s not BAD to be a bandwagon fan. I just get sick of the bandwagoners who have to profess to the world that they’re pulling their support for the team and act like that makes them some sort of a noble fan and righteous person. It just means you’re fickle.

  • DBreezy

    The Beasley thing is becoming quite a mess, one you could really see coming after the first game. Sure people can say that they had this or that opinion good or bad about Beas before the regular season tipped and it’s fun speculating, but you never really know for sure until the ball tips for real in the regular season.

    The offseason/preseason hype was one thing, but it was stunning to me that Alvin had such a short hook for him in game one. It wasn’t like he had a bad camp or preseason displaying all the badness he is now. It instantly became a local media story that has now blossomed into a national one with the game last night, an ESPN insider article recently, and a LVP mention on Daily Dime today. I felt back in the beginning that if the Suns didn’t turn things around quickly, they could go really south for Beas as even then you could see he was going to be the hero or goat for this season-no one saw Marcin voluntarily inserting his foot into his mouth.

    Well we’re there now looking at that interview above of a dejected player. Beas has played terribly with a majority of the blame on him, but there has to be some blame given towards how the organization handled him as well. In a world of one and done players, he won’t be the last Sun who’s psyche is shaky coming into the league.

    So now they’ve got yet another ‘grand experiment’ that’s in the toilet after 20 games, probably for good like R.Lo and Hedo in 2010-2011. While I don’t see him complaining, I don’t see him excelling on the bench either and I’m skeptical that a Dudley/Brown or Tucker/Brown combo is going to lead to more wins. So now you’re doing just as bad with no upside and no ability to trade him without taking dogmeat back. Why do that when he can be stretched with less damage or traded as an expiring next season? So it’s more likely he’ll still be here next season probably starting again after Brown, Johnson and maybe Tucker depart.

    To be clear the time for a benching has come, but it is still a fine mess indeed and a poorly played one by both parties imo.

  • DBreezy

    @John,

    I’ll just again say that there seems to be youth to your arguments. That probably sounds harsh and like a bit of a copout relative to your specific points, but at the same time I think you often argue about what you want to argue about vs what an individual poster has said.

    I didn’t try to nail down the definition of diehard because in my experience it encompasses a wide range of fans expressing themselves in different ways. As a fan of some long suffering squads in other sports, what I do know is that a lot of the type of fans you’re railing about are far from bandwagon, single-issue people. A lot of that type of sentiment comes from people who have been or are long-time season-ticket holders who I’m sure would be somewhat amused at their fandom level being questioned because they don’t express it according to Webster’s or the more esteemed Bleacher Report :)

  • john

    “There seems to be youth to your arguments.”

    Aka, ad hominem. Congratulations, you have no point. Mind adding something useful to the conversation? If not, just don’t bother replying. That’s one of the prime rules of the aforementioned “netiquette.” Don’t post if you have nothing useful to add.

  • anonymous

    Is beasley in the d league yet? The suns lose in the finals to the local girls softball team 3-0 as they dont show up to the 4th game.

  • Ty-Sun

    I know almost no one will agree with me but I’d like to see Gentry throw a real surprise at the Clippers tomorrow and start Johnson at the 3. He’s a better defender than Beasley and a better shooter from downtown. If all he does is hang out around the 3 point line and stretch the the other team’s defense then that could create opportunities inside for other players and it should (hopefully) improve the team defense overall.

    And for those who think that Beasley playing with the second unit would hurt their D, that would be true if Beasley were actually playing with the second unit. I would keep it intact and tell Beasley to take Johnson’s old seat way at the far end of the bench.

    And starting O’Neal in this game might not be a bad idea either because I don’t think Gortat can handle Jordan.

    If I were Gentry, I would consider telling the entire team that there is no more set starting lineup. With this team I think the best thing to try is to match up as well as you can with the players you have against each opponent each game.

  • DBreezy

    @John,

    I was being polite, perhaps I should be clearer. This is a forum with all kinds of opinions and beliefs, just agree or disagree with them. I find it childish and very absoluute when you make the opinions of those you disagree with into something more like: netiquette lessons on a relatively sleepy site, hard lines about who is/isn’t a diehard fan, and arguments about Sarver when the poster didn’t even bring him it. You trying to tell me what I or anyone must do to qualify to post here or anywhere makes my point, so I guess another ‘congrats’ is due.

    Last word to you, as I’ve had enough of this sidebar and am going back to talking hoops after this.

  • KeZ

    I would love this starting 5 against the Clippers for a few minutes:

    Dragic
    Garrett
    Johnson
    Gortat
    O´neal

  • DBreezy

    Just a wag, but my bet is that Gentry doesn’t do much other than basically flip-flop Dudley and Beasley until after the Orlando game. If Tucker is out, I’m guessing those two will soak up his minutes based on who’s playing better. They’ve got 3 days at home between ORL and MEM, perhaps that’s when they consider more drastic changes to the rotations? Especially if they’re anything worse than 1-1 over the next two games.

  • john

    You were being polite?

    “that seems like a very young way to view fandom.”

    “there seems to be youth to your arguments.”

    You personally attacked me in each of your responses without providing any sort of an alternative to my proposed definition of “die-hard” (which, by the way, is fairly close to the dictionary definition of “a person who vigorously maintains or defends a seemingly hopeless position, outdated attitude, lost cause, or the like.”).

    If that’s you being polite, I’m shocked. To me, that seems more like being a passive-aggressive jerk (which, just like soapboxing bandwagoners, is another one of my pet peeves).

    I never said being a bandwagon fan is a bad thing. It’s a perfectly acceptable and normal thing (in fact, it’s far more acceptable than being a die-hard, as part of being die-hard is relentlessly supporting a hopeless cause, which is, by definition, insane). I also never said bandwagoners can’t feel free to speak on any forum they want.

    All I said is that I think it’s ridiculous for bandwagoners to proclaim how righteous and awesome they are for boycotting the team they think they love just because that team isn’t performing up to their own expectations.

    I’m glad you’re done with it finally because you have added nothing useful to this conversation, and I’m glad I can be done with it as well. I like a lot of what you have to say on these boards, especially when it’s related to basketball, but I am shocked, given your previous posting experience, that you’re attacking me on this pointless matter, especially when I never once insulted you.

    Polite? Ha.

    One last thing: “make the opinions of those you disagree with into…arguments about Sarver when the poster didn’t even bring him it”

    Ummm… from Brandon (the post that sparked my tirade) “All fans should be asking for their money back to show Sarver how unhappy we are with the product he continues to put on the floor.”

    I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you might not have realized Brandon’s post sparked all of this. Next time, perhaps, you should read through the comments more carefully (which would be easier if bill.thomas hadn’t muddled this thread up) before you decide to attack the integrity and/or intelligence of another commenter (in which case, you should probably include some sort of objectivity and not commit the same crime you’re accusing me of (despite the fact that I have, in fact, provided sources of relative objectivity)).

  • Yohance

    What did Reggie Miller say
    during last nights game.
    “I like when Telfair and Dragic play together.
    Like I said starting line-ups:

    Telfair
    Dragic
    Dudley
    Scola
    Oneal or Morris

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com KillTheKing88

    this thing working?

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com KillTheKing88

    so i thought we were suppose to be a better defensive team because of our youth and the players we have. but we blow big leads, or get behind by 20, or we just flat out loose the game. plus, they said they would be an “up-tempo” team. how about 7 seconds or less. worth a shot, or a missed shot…..A-OHHHHH

  • Matt

    We need to trade dudley and a pick for tyreke

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com KillTheKing88

    btw, SOMEONE AT TNT FIRE KENNY “THE JET’ SMITH. HE IS WORTHLESS.

  • Melon Man

    pulling ad-hominem is lame. i hate that term. it’s just code for i understand your argument but i think you’re wrong and now i will call you out for not debating me in the manner i’d like. again, lame.

  • Voqar

    Say what? Kenny Smith is the only person on that crew that has any clue about basketball. Shaq never says anything remotely intelligent (I have rings, I’m right, blah blah) and Chuck is Chuck – insightful at times but just a wee bit opinionated.

    I consider myself a die-hard fan. I’ve been a fan since I moved here almost 30 years ago. I really don’t care how someone else defnes this.

    I don’t have to like the owner to be a fan. Sarver sucks. The team has steadily declined since he took over. He hires clowns in the front office. I’m sure Gentry must be amongst the lowest paid coaches in the league or he would’ve been gone already (for being overpaid – performance isn’t a factor). He doesn’t want to pay players or staff.

    It’s not like I’m going to adopt another team or quit watching hoops because the Suns are at a low point…that seems like it could go lower with sarver and the clowns in the front office…and like there’s no hope.

    Brown’s offensive production has gone to hell since he’s started. He hustles and stuff but with Beasely and Gortat being black holes there aren’t enough shots to go around. So maybe Dudleys problems as a starter weren’t all related to him, per se. Can’t shoot if the ball never touches your hands.

    I’d swap Beas for Scola and try that. Scola can post and shoot. Two things Beasely probably can’t even spell, let alone do. Scola will set picks and pass, something that can help Brown. Scola will hustle and try and fight – something too many on our team stop doing when things are slipping.

    Dunno what they can do with Gortat. He’s not as good as a healthy and fully functional Oneal but I doubt O’Neal can handle starter minutes and the gortat would probably go into full on emo funk mode and cry if he got moved to the bench. He sure doesn’t deliver as much as he yaps though and someone needs to rattle him.

    You have to be a die-hard to watch this team. It’s the only way one would willingly endure the basketball torture this team is inflicting lately.

  • Tony

    I see that, in the absence of Steve, John has taken the title of “know-it-all.” And yet, at least Steve took the time in attempting to bolster his flimsy arguments with all kinds of quirky and meaningless statistics. But this John fellow, on the other hand, has the audicity to argue that his position is the right one merely because he says so. He’s like a poor-man’s Steve. Speaking of which, what ever happened to Steve?

    Now John, I hope you understand that you are not the final word as to what defines a “die-hard” fan. Moreover, the fact that you claim to attend 15 Suns games each season has little merit in proving that you are some die-hard Suns fan. If you were such a fan of the Suns, then you recognize that the source of the Suns franchise’s current irrelevancy lies at the hands of the Suns management (i.e., Robert Sarver). By the way, it doesn’t take a genius to recognize this.

    I, as a Suns fan, can root for the team to do well on the one hand, and at the same time hold Sarver in contempt for turning the Suns franchise into the laughingstock of the NBA. See, people like you John only encourage Sarver to continue managing the franchis with perpetual incompetence because you continue to feed his wallet. The very fact that you continue to attend 15 Suns games each season, only serves to incentivize Sarver to stay the course and not do what’s necessary to turn this francise around because he knows people like you will continue to support him no matter how ridiculously run the Suns franchise is run.

  • john

    @melon man – are you saying committing the logical fallacy of ad hominem (insulting someone rather than actually arguing a point) is lame, or calling someone out for the fallacy is lame?

    I don’t know if there is a solution to the woes this team is facing given the current personnel and the offense. When this team is running sets, they can actually look really solid (think first half vs Memphis). When they try to improvise, it always ends up with a low percentage iso jumper after 12 seconds of pointless dribbling on the perimeter. Those are the types of players the Suns have assembled, in large part. It’s not going to get better without new personnel or a new offense.

  • john

    So, Tony ignores the dictionary definition of the word that I cited (then tells me I have no source), attacks me without rebutting, and then goes on to provide a counter-argument I already covered.

    I can see how this internet thing works. It’s a race to be as fallacious as possible.

  • Tony

    @John,

    you are too funny. Citing the Bleacher Report as your trusted source to define the scope and limits of the necessary characteristics qualifying someone as a die-hard fan is as laughable as the Suns gimmack in last night’s game.

    As far as rebuttal is concerned, I think I was pretty clear. But I will sum it up for you: (1) the definition of what constitutes a die-hard fan is not so narrow as you claim it is; (2) There are multiple ways someone can be such a fan (i.e., refusing to hand my money over to Sarver with the hope that if a sufficient number of people in the aggregate do so as well, that Sarver will be forced to sell the franchise to a person or group committed to winning as their number one priority, is a form of being a die-hard fan); and (3), that your opinion is no more important or factually-accurate than anyone else on this site.

  • john

    Again, I’ll give the benefit of the doubt that you simply didn’t read all the comments. My source was the English dictionary. Fairly reliable, if you ask me.

    I already addressed your Sarver point.

    Dictionary definitions are hardly opinion.

    Unless you have something new to say, I have nothing further to say to you. You’re happy to run in circles. I’m not.

  • SHAZAM

    die-hard fan
    adj.
    Stubbornly resisting change or clinging to a seemingly hopeless or outdated cause.
    n.
    One who stubbornly resists change or tenaciously adheres to a seemingly hopeless or outdated cause

  • SHAZAM

    i think i would rather be a pragmatic fan..less chance of being stuck in an untenable corner…the word fan alone is enough its short for fanatic…add die hard and you run the risk of being a moron

  • john

    Ha, agreed. Die-hard is, by nature, insanity. It’s also not a fun thing. I’ve always wondered why people get offended when their “die-hardedness” is questioned. It’s mostly dumb and irrational to be die-hard, especially about something as ultimately meaningless as a professional sports team.

  • SHAZAM

    die hard has been misused for years so i completely understand how it can confuse people…most literally have to look it up to believe it…it would make for a good bar bet..i totally understood the points of d breezy and tony even though i new they were confused with the word…pretty damn impressive on your part john to zero in on that…dont let it go to your head…that would be “youthful” hahahahaha :)

  • bill.thomas

    Sorry about whatever inappropriate comments. Its just extreme frustration with the incompetence of this FO and the inability of this group to play together. It seems we have a bunch of mismatched pieces who are very unsure of themselves. If we need to pick up a player or two to fill in functional or talent gaps lets do it. Players I think might fit well here and might be available include Jodie Meeks, Ramon Sessions, Courtney Lee, Lou Amundson, Charles Jenkins, Jordan Crawford and others. Maybe 1 or 2 additional pieces would let us get over the hump in these close games we are losing. If we have to trade someone away to get someone we want, so be it.

  • bill.thomas

    PS, I think I got off rather easy for my little posting bender, compared with some of the fusillades hurled at others above.

  • SHAZAM

    you rock bill

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  • john

    Haha, no worries, Bill. I understand the frustration well. This is a tough team to watch, root for, and love.

  • bill.thomas

    @John: Thx John, I think I’m gonna stop giving to womens’ breast cancer charities and start giving to “Shooting Coach for Brown & Beasley.org.”

  • bill.thomas

    @Shazam: You too man.

    Check out my post for my new charity, “Shooting Coach for Brown & Beasley.org”. I will be accepting donations of cash and property soon. Only property accepted will be used basketballs (the balder the better) and bins to put them in so these guys can just stand there and shoot dozens of practice shots.

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  • http://lagofaviqas.wordpress.com/ EVA

    hey buddy, this can be a really interesting write-up