Milwaukee Bucks 108, Phoenix Suns 99 -- Road block

Milwaukee Bucks' Brandon Jennings (3) and Phoenix Suns' Goran Dragic, left, watch a loose ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

Milwaukee Bucks’ Brandon Jennings (3) and Phoenix Suns’ Goran Dragic, left, watch a loose ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

The Phoenix Suns have made losing an art form over their last 10 games, and Tuesday night’s masterpiece in Milwaukee was no exception.

As was the case in Friday night’s 87-80 defeat to the Utah Jazz, Phoenix raced out to an impressive 33-26 first quarter lead at the Bradley Center on 14-of-22 shooting, but couldn’t maintain the torrid offensive pace over the final 36 minutes.

Playing without veteran head coach Scott Skiles, who parted ways with the organization Monday night after four-plus seasons, the Bucks outscored the Suns in each of the last three quarters en route to a much-needed 108-99 victory.

Phoenix’s third-straight defeat was just the latest example of how 36 games into the 2012-13 season, Alvin Gentry’s squad still has yet to form any sense of an identity.

Without a game-changing scorer (despite a sudden desire to acquire one), lock-down defenders capable of stopping opposing teams from reeling off long runs or any semblance of consistency from a starting unit, there is no telling where rock bottom is for Phoenix (season-worst 12 games below .500) with 46 games still to play.

Those glaring issues collectively arose in the third quarter, and Brandon Jennings (game-high 29 points and nine assists),  Ersan Ilyasova (re-inserted back into the starting lineup Tuesday) and the Bucks’ defense made the Suns pay with a 13-0 spurt that completely altered the complexion of the contest.

“We just didn’t come up with the plays,” head coach Alvin Gentry said. “We have to come up with stops and make baskets. And we didn’t do that. And that’s where the separation came when you look at their 13-0 run.”

While the Suns briefly regained the lead (66-64) midway through the quarter, the air of optimism the team had briefly built up heading into the half had completely been undone, and when push came to shove down the stretch a repetitive theme took over: the more-talented side prevailed.

Phoenix was not without plenty of notable individual performances, as Luis Scola and Marcin Gortat recorded double-doubles, Jared Dudley rebounded nicely (18 points and eight assists) from his 1-for-3 performance against Memphis, and Goran Dragic led the way with 21 points.

But for a team lacking confidence, veteran leadership and an apparent wealth of talent, individual contributions fall flat even in the face of a .500 Eastern Conference team going through a coaching change.

After their 33-point first quarter outburst, the Suns went 28-of-72 from the field the rest of the way, including a putrid 4-of-20 from three-point range. Still Phoenix had chances to make the contest a one-possession game in the waning moments, yet couldn’t find anyone willing or capable of making a key shot.

“We couldn’t get the ball in the basket when we needed to,” said Gentry. “We had a five-point game with the ball and couldn’t do anything or come up with the plays.”

Even when the likes of Gortat, Scola and Shannon Brown had decent looks at the basket in the second half, the NBA’s leading shot blocker, Larry Sanders (3.1 bpg), was more than willing to alter their course.

Sanders finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and a game-high six blocks, two of which came in the final minute of play leading Milwaukee fans to chant “Larry! Larry! Larry!” as he playfully searched for the ball as it entered the stands off his mighty right hand.

While Milwaukee snapped its season-high four game losing streak on a day that saw former Suns assistant coach Jim Boylan take over as the team’s interim coach, the Suns were forced to hop on a red eye flight with a glaring statistic to digest on their way to Boston.

Through 17 road games, Phoenix is now 2-15 on the season, good for worst in the Western Conference. The last time the Suns reached this level of ineptitude on the road was the 2003-04 campaign, when the team record three wins in their first 17 contests away from the Valley.

Staring at their worst 10-game stretch of the season to date (1-9), the road doesn’t get any easier, as Gentry and Co. still have three more games away from the US Airways Center on their current four-game road swing.

Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and the Celtics await their arrival for Wednesday night’s non-conference matchup fresh off their most impressive victory of the season, a 102-96 road win over the New York Knicks.

But as Tuesday night’s underwhelming showcase illustrated, the Suns need not worry about opposing teams at this point, after all, any display of team basketball would be nothing short of surrealism.

And 1…

  • Suns guard Diante Garrett’s return to Milwaukee wasn’t much to write home about. Lucky for the undrafted free agent, written words were not necessary to describe Tuesday’s loss, as plenty of friends and family flocked to the Bradley Center hoping to get a glimpse of the local product. The former Vincent High School star failed to see any action, as Gentry opted for his usual combination of Goran Dragic and Sebastian Telfair.
  • In a battle of the league’s only two Slovenian players, Dragic had the upper hand over long-time friend Beno Udrih. While Udrih was effective scoring 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting off the bench, Phoenix’s starting point guard led the team with 21 points.
  • Tuesday’s defeat may not have caught anyone off guard but given the teams’ recent head-to-head results it’s a little bit surprising.  Heading into the game, the Suns had won 16 of their last 21 games in Milwaukee. The Bucks were also 2-8 against Western Conference foes in 2012-13 before facing Phoenix.





    thought for sure we were going to win

  • azbballfan

    Larry Sanders is having an excellent season, good for him

    yeah after that 1st quarter i too thought

    ‘Hey we are due a win on the road especially against a 500 team”

    John Henson had a double double in only 19 minutes or so of action

    if the Suns want to build trade value for Beasley, they gotta play him atleast a little bit

    i know Babby said he is a long term project with the Suns

    but how is he gonna develop if he isnt on the court?

  • PennyAnd1

    I think it’s time to give Marshall a chance. Goran is much of a better scorer than Brown, let Marshall direct and Dragon score.


    i was just being a smart azz ..i never think they are going to win :)
    the more beasley plays the less he is worth..or at least thats what it has been..maybe they want to keep the sample size down so they can say he just doesnt fit in our system

  • cdubbb

    Alot of development takes place in practice and practice habits. If a player cant get it right during practice, odds are he wont during a game. And even if Beasley is getting it done in practice, he isnt during games, so what he does during practice really means squat. I think we will see him next game after Johnson came in and jacked a bucnh of shots up. It seems like Beasley, Brown, and Johnson dont understand play concepts and team ball. Rotations are dictated and you have to see them materialize in front of you and then react. These 3 guys arent doing that good enough. Selfishness? Lack of understanding? The reason none of them have established themselves as anything but streaky and inconsistent? Who knows. But you have to play as a team and thats not always happening.


    penny we have nothing to lose with that gambit but gentry does..gentry has to prove to the league he can coach..hes pretty sure the suns will screw him when season is over ( thats my take )the suns haven’t given him the security to do player development time..and marshall so far has shown that he needs a lot of development

  • Robert Sarver

    Hey fans, I know you guys are frustrated with all this losing, but don’t you worry, it is still early in the season, and I will be directing Lon and Lance to make moves to help this team make the playoffs. This is unacceptable, as is the empty seats we see in the arena, and I will put it on me to make moves to make a run for the playoffs, which is where the Suns belong.

    We have the assets, and I will use them as I please as long as this team can start competing a playoff spot. We have the picks that I am sure will help land a piece to land a playoff spot.

    Be with us and the team, we will make the playoffs and I will do everything I can to bring pieces to make the playoffs.



    oh robert you are the sun the moon and the stars

  • azbballfan

    I understand where he is coming from, i do, every fan and owner wants to see long term success and eventually a title.

    Now, if the Suns make some moves and get into the playoffs thats one thing

    But can they build on that?

    for example in year one of the plan get to the playoffs

    year 2 or 3 get to the next round, ect?

    i would hate to see the Suns mortgage a future of patient, smart rebuilding for a mediocre team thats good enough to make the playoffs but not do anything once they get there.

    if the Suns were in that position they would have to get extremely lucky to then take that leap from

    “marginal playoff team”

    to “make a deep run and get to the finals”

    you cant ignore the draft, and you dont really have alot of margin for error by, say, trading for players who are not superstars who clog cap space and then make it impossible to improve unless you wanna shell out zillions in luxury tax dollars


    Im putting every effort in to signing Rudy Gay.I font know anything about him as a player but i really really like his last name.


    @ azbballfan i totally agree w/ your last post

  • azbballfan

    I really hope that was a joke post in there by

    “the real lon babby”

    its probably bill thomas if anything

    because if thats the logic the Suns are using to acquire players, im just gonna listen to Bobcats games.

    They actually have a plan, a plan that includes patient rebuilding through the draft and player development

  • hawki

    Henson had 12 & 11 in 19 minutes….he should’ve been the Suns pick in last year’s draft once the Rox snuck in to take Jeremy Lamb.

    Suns are in line for a Top 5 pick but will the front office bozos screw it up again ?

    Answer: Highly Probable.

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  • DBreezy


    Foreveris has to be steaming watching Henson.

  • Robert Sarver

    I don’t see what Lon, Lance and John did wrong with the Marshall pick. Obviously he hasn’t played much yet but give him time, most rookies don’t just come off the bat and start playing well.

    Marshall is a great prospect who was the greatest passers in college basketball. He will improve his jump shot, and he will be the Suns’ point guard of the future.

    Marshall is a great passer, and also someone who will bring fans to the games due to his great personality and success with social media.

    I am still excited with the pick Lon, Lance and John made.

    And why take Henson when we already picked Markieff Morris, who I am also excited about to see what he can bring to the future?

    All the best,


  • azbballfan

    The Suns have the worst defense in the leauge or close to it by nearly any metric you wanna use

    clogging cap space with lower tier stars without improving the suns fundamental problems of rebounding and defense would be a disaster.

    Who cares if you throw it to Gay to make a shot, if your team cant rebound or defend consistently how often are yo going to be in a one possession game with the 10 seconds to left and you have the ball?

    Take the close games the suns have lost this eason and pretend that they won

    they would sitll be under 500 with tonights loss

    more offense is not gonna make up for no defense or rebounding

    i heard the Suns have been outrebounded in 10 straight games.

    I dont see a trade for Gay fixing that

  • Suns Marketing Department

    Hey fans!

    I know it’s been a tough and long season thus far, but we want to take your ideas of how to put forth an in-game experience which guarantees satisfaction to you and your family!

    We are focused intently on making sure Suns games are always a fun, family-friendly experience to bring your whole family too!

    Thank you and have a great day!

  • Luka

    Lmao @ these Sarver and Lon Babby posts. All we’re missing is the customary Gentry post game drivel… “We just need to make shots” and you’ve got all the stooges covered.

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  • peter

    suns are no more 3-pointers or transition team, so they should concetrate on pick&pop and pick&roll game and their main offensive force should be Scola (he more often must look for Gortat, if he is close to the basket) , Gortat (he must aggressively attack basket and force fouls ), Dragic (with Marshal, if he can play on good level) and O’Neal, who is in realy good shape, the rest should concetrate on defence, thats my very ignorant, but maybe accurate diagnose, who knows… :)

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