Boston Celtics 87, Phoenix Suns 79 — Great run, same ending


The Phoenix Suns switched up the script a bit, yet the ending remained the same.

As has been the case in nearly every game this season, the Suns played some quality stretches of basketball but enough inconsistency persisted for the Celtics to win rather easily, 87-79.

This included a monster 17-0 third quarter run after Boston started to run away with the game in the second quarter and a weak ending that followed the big spurt.

“We play well at times, but we weren’t all season long able to play well all 48 minutes, one game of 48 minutes of good basketball,” Luis Scola told reporters. “We always have lapses, sometimes it happens early, sometimes it happens a little bit later. Sometimes it’s the first unit, sometimes it’s the second unit, but it always happens. And we just lose games because we couldn’t fix it and it happens pretty much, even in the games we’ve won it happens.”

After playing an even first quarter, the Suns’ bench unit once again faltered against the Celtics’ reserves, and as has been the case recently the starters didn’t exactly turn the tide in that second period after the bench’s subpar start.

Meanwhile, Jared Sullinger (12 points, 16 rebounds, game-high plus 24) and Jeff Green (14 points, a few monster dunks) combined with Jason Terry (13 points) to score more points than any Boston starter.

“It think it would have been a little easier to swallow if it had been Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett,” said Suns head coach Alvin Gentry. “But at the end of the day it was the bench that really hurt us the most.”

The Suns’ bench was poor enough tonight and has been enough times of late that Gentry tried to shelve the idea of a bench altogether in the second half.

After the starters exploded for the 17-0 run to put the Suns back up by three, Gentry decided to ride them rather than turn the game back over to the reserves. He ended up going with a seven-man rotation that included Shannon Brown and Markieff Morris, but played Goran Dragic and P.J. Tucker (who limited Paul Pierce to seven points on 3-for-10 shooting) the full 24 minutes and gave just 17:38 of playing time to the bench.

It’s almost a situation where Gentry has no good options. He clearly felt the best chance of winning this game involved not going back to the bench, yet in the end it could be argued that the Suns ran out of gas without any rest for most of those players after the big run. Of course, based on the bench’s performance in the first half, it’s not very likely that unit would have fared any better. It’s also not sustainable to ride the starters that hard, and it’s a bit crazy to think that Tucker would turn into an indispensable rotation player when he was originally seen (to me at least) as an afterthought of the summer.

Overall, the Suns were much better with the starters on the floor tonight, as in 26 minutes with such a lineup they outscored the Celts by 22.9 points per 100 possessions and held them to a 74.9 offensive rating (the six-minute scoreless stretch in the third may have boosted this just a bit), according to the NBA’s advanced stats tool. Phoenix was 13 points better in these 26 minutes, so that goes to show how bad they were when even one starter sat.

It could also be argued that the starters were tuckered out after the big run with no rest, as in the last quarter and a half once the spurt ended Phoenix scored just 21 points and shot 21.4 percent. That’s after scoring 17 points on 61.5 percent shooting in the first half of the third quarter.

In short, Gentry has tried just about everything, and yet his personnel makes it so he’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. Regardless of his decision it will probably be the wrong one, which makes this the opposite of 2010 when he couldn’t go wrong playing his starters or his reserves at any given time.

“Obviously it’s difficult to win on the road anyways in the NBA,” Gentry said. “But we’ve had numerous opportunities where if we did the right thing and executed the right way, we could have had a win or put ourselves in a position to win. We just got to do that, we’ve got to get better at it, and we’ve got to be able to complete plays and we’ve got to be able to come up with possessions by acquiring the rebound.

“But we’ve just got to, like I said to the guys, no one’s going to dig us out of this, we’ve got to dig ourselves out of this. And no one feels sorry for you in the NBA. So it’s got to be us with the execution, and us completing the plays, and us doing the right things.”

The loss dropped the Suns to 2-16 away from home, and their 11th straight road loss makes this the fourth-longest road losing streak in franchise history. They still have not won a second game of a back-to-back in eight tries.

Gentry can talk about execution and turnovers (16 tonight) and all that good stuff all night, but at the end of the day the Suns just aren’t talented enough to sustain stretches of quality basketball, and their good runs never seem to overshadow their inevitable ruts.

Until that changes, the Suns will likely continue to play more games like tonight where they make a few good runs but ultimately fall short.

And 1

Dragic told The Arizona Republic that some of his teammates “don’t care.” “We got three guys battling on the floor, and the rest of the guys aren’t on the same page,” he said. “It’s tough. Right now, we’re not together as a team.”

  • john

    @Vidic

    If Marshall had one ounce of scoring ability in his body at this time, he’d be playing I’m sure.

    Also, calling him “the best NCAA passer in quite some [sic] time” and your admission of UNC fandom make it pretty clear you can’t exactly be objective on the matter.

    I’d like to see the kid get a shot, too, but most definitely not AHEAD of Dragic. Maybe alongside, but definitely not ahead.

  • Lance Blanks

    If me and John think Kendall was the pick, then he is the pick.

    Not like you “genuises” know how to run a basketball team and scout.

    Lance

  • Filipino Flash

    Look, there has to be some objectivity regarding this team.

    We see the starters (Dragic-Dudley-Tucker-Scola-Gortat) have played well in spurts, and I’d say all those guys are keepable pieces in the future.

    Whether or not the Suns keep all of them remains to be seen, I for one still wants to see the Suns entertain a Scola trade as the Suns could get quite a bit from him, and perhaps also a Gortat trade. But only if any of those two could net the Suns good young talent.

    I am hoping that the SUns can have good luck in this draft, having a top-5 (their own pick) and a lottery pick in the Lakers. By having a top-5 pick, the Suns can pick a guy like Archie Goodwin, who I see as a star in the NBA, and with the Lakers lottery pick, the Suns could possibly pick either Glenn Robinson or Otto Porter or Tony Mitchell or Miles Plumlee to solidify the 3/4.

    Dragic, Goodwin, Dudley, Tucker, possibly Gortat, a forward is a solid core to build around, and they’d have nice cap space for more pieces.

    As unwatachable this team may be now, there is hope…as long as Babby and particlarly Blanks/Treloar don’t emss this up.

    Just gotta be patient

  • Filipino Flash

    Or imagine if the Suns can manage to get Lamb from OKC in a Gortat trade, the Suns could focus their lottery picks on the 3/4/5 spots.

  • azbballfan

    That kinda comment is not gonna win Blanks many allies with the fanbase.

    If Blanks and Trelor said he was the pick and he was, fine.

    But what is the future plan with him?

    surely you drafted him to be a guy who could help us

    If we move Telfair and put Marshall in and he does well backing up dragic, then i would be happy.

    I just want to see respectable production out of lottery picks, thats all

  • Keith

    Fire Gentry, start playing Marshall, and tank, tank, tank. Get rid of Beasley with stretch provision at end of year.
    Get a new FO in place before the draft so we can make 2 good lottery picks. Brown, Jo, Scola should be gone at end of year. Go strong with youth movement and rebuilding.

  • Scott

    So … at what point do the Suns say, “We’re not making it to the playoffs, so how about developing our young talent?”

    Would that turn off fans?

    I did not mind watching the Suns after they traded Marbury, because I liked watching the younger players develop. I’d like to see these guys develop, too.

    So how about starting the game with the best players, and sub in individual 2nd unit players (O’Neal, Morris, Brown, and Telfair) for a few minutes to provide each starter with rest until the game looks lost. Which, most of the time, should be about midway through the 4th. Then put in the 3rd unit.

    I’d like to see Marshall (who is the worst player on the team, if you go by PER), Garrett, Johnson, Beasley, and Zeller all take the court together. It can’t be much worse than watching the 2nd unit play, can it? :)

    (FWIW, Garrett is off to the D-League to play for a bit, either so the Suns can assess his progress versus Marshall, or to see if he can play at SG.)

  • azbballfan

    I hope Marshall gets more minutes and i hope Garrett does well in the D-League

  • Geminid670

    I heard Dragic called out the rest of the team by saying there were only three players on the court fighting and the rest of the team doesn’t care.

    It appears that Babby and the front office failed to consider the inevitable human emotion that would overtake their ‘patience’ plan; competitive athletes can only weather so much losing before the whole thing implodes and mutiny begins.

    Chicago will be a watershed moment in this agonizing season, mark my words.

  • azbballfan

    Dragic has already been a part of a competitive team

    he was one of the many reasons we swept the spurs the last time we made the playoffs

    i would call almost single handedly beating the spurs in game 3 on the road and almost getting Houston to the playoffs last year a key part of a competitive team

    i like Vazquez as well he is doing very well this season good for him

  • Geminid670

    Dragic probably wishes he would have stayed in Houston at this point.

    Suns should have held on to him the first time around and let him absorb more under Nash.

    Whomever stepped in after Nash was going to struggle in comparison.

  • Kevin Towers

    Thank goodness for Lon Babby and Lance Blanks, no one in Phoenix is paying attention to the bang up job i’m doing with the Diamondbacks!!

    Jajajajajaja

  • Vidic

    Dragic fans have no idea what a pass first true point guard is.

    That”s what Kendall is.

    #FreeKendall

    #PassFirst

    #DragicOut

  • Geminid670

    And then Beasley says ‘I don’t know what’s in that man’s head’ (meaning Gentry).

    Hey Michael, Gentry’s head says you’re f**king useless.

  • Penny Hardaway

    free Marshall!

  • john

    How did Marshall do in the D League? I forgot. Do you Marshall lovers know?

  • Tony

    I don’t mind the pro-Sarver contingent on VOTS, but the really pathetic ones, such as JOHN, who’s ignorance is eclipsed only by his condescending drivel of useless comments, are a big part of why this Suns franchise has gone so far off-track. Oh, and John, nobody appreciates your arrogant comments, especially when your tactic for rebuttal is based on character attacks. So, why don’t you go back to your bff Sarver and give him a hug, because you are one of his last remaining supporters! Or just refrain from posting on VOTS until you actually learn something about basketball and are able to form a cognizant post using facts instead of character-attacks.

    As far as Dragic’s leadership is concerned, he hasn’t earned the right to scream and yell at his teammates or otherwise demonstrate anything but encouragement towards them. The fact that John actually compares Dragic to Jordan just shows how clueless he is. Unlike Dragic, Jordan earned his respect and trust. His teammates didn’t follow his lead because he yelled at them, they followed his lead because they respected his competitive desire to win and the fact that he achieved the highest level of success in the NBA.

    In contrast, Dragic has achieved very little in terms of success at the NBA level and he’s not even a very good player. In fact, there’s not one aspect of his game that he excels in. He’s a score-first pg who’s fg% is only 45%. He’s not a good passer, nor very good at creating for his teammates. And, his individual defense is vastly overrated. Most of the time he gets destroyed by talented opposing pgs. Until Dragic earns the respect and trust from his teammates, which he can only obtain by proving his own superior value, Dragic has no business yelling at his teammates when they make mistakes.

    @Ty-Sun,

    come on, you have to do better than that. You really believe Dragic is yelling words of encouragement?? I mean come on, it doesn’t take a lip-reader to recognize, based on the situation in which Dragic yells and the body language of his teammate as he does so, that he is absolutely not encouraging his teammates but rather berating them.

  • Tony

    For the dummies, i.e., John, here’s an example of your second bff’s leadership qualities…., or should I say lack thereof. Following yesterday’s loss to the Celtics, Paul Coro reported that Dragic said some of his teammates “don’t care” and followed that gem with this remark, “We got three guys battling on the floor, and the rest of the guys aren’t on the same page.” Now tell me, is it really a sign of being a leader by throwing your teammates under the bus???? Dragic must have had some great game to make those comments….Oops, he had only 12 points on 4-11 shooting and a paltry 4 assists, with 2 TOs. How does your starting pg, playing 41 minutes no less, only get 4 assists?! That’s really pathetic.

  • Tony

    Greivis Vasquez is a far superior pg than Dragic. This Suns team would be far better if he was the starting pg instead of Dragic. The guy’ averaging 14.1ppg, 9.1 apg, and 4.5 rpg. The fact that he’s averaging over 9 assists per game while playing for the Hornets, without Gordon nonetheless, goes to show what a player who is able to create for his teammates can do despite not playing with less-talented players around him.

  • Polish_fan

    well… You can compare what Nash-alike guys are doing – passing and feeding his teammies.
    You’ve got also secod group of PGs like CP3 or Rondo(with worse shot than CP but great penetrations) who are passers but also shooters 2 in 1. Dragic is trying to be that kind of player. But….he has not that speed, he is much worse in decision making pass-shoot. He has no selection but his thought is to shoot. So he should decide if he’ll play as pg and will set up his teammates or to shoot and then he should replace Dudley in the line up (as he has just a few assist almost the same amount like Gortat and less than Scola:-) )

  • http://none Sillmarillion

    @ VOTS-STAFF:
    PLEASE ban people who are using nicks like Josef Mengele or Hermann Goering as they refer to famous NAZIS and are HIGHLY offenive! If you don’t know these people google ‘em up and you’ll find my words confirmed.
    It really, really makes this site look bad if you open the comments sections and see nicks like that. If I watched VotS for the first time I’d leave the site at once.

    • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

      All,

      I had not been reading the comments on this thread, and I was unaware of the Nazi parody posters. I have since deleted all these posts, and this won’t be tolerated in the future. Please let me know if I missed one. It’s funny when you parody a local sports figure like this, but this Nazi stuff will never be tolerated. My apologies to all for not catching it sooner.

  • Penny Hardaway

    LET MARSHALL DO HIS THING!

  • SHAZAM

    i would like to thank vots for the history lessons those commenters are very impressive “gets”..now back to basket ball..i just read an article that said that there wont be a single free agent of worth that the suns could or would get in the next 2 years…that sucks

  • Andres

    @ Shazam – Thats true therefore it seems that the only “real” chance of getting this franchise turned around in the next 2 yrs is via trade.

  • john

    @Tony

    Your reading comprehension skills are truly brilliant. I don’t think any of the other commenters would have realized that I was making a direct comparison of Goran Dragic to the NBA’s all-time greats. Next, I was planning on comparing him to Peyton Manning, Pele, Sandra Schmirler, Steve Jobs, Walter Cronkite, and the Dalai Lama. You would have seen right through those comparisons though, so I guess I might has well just save my words.

    By the way, your boy Nash was quite the yeller. What do you have to say about that?

    @Sillmarillion

    Shazam will get a chance to fall back in line before he gets permabanned, I’m sure.

  • http://none Sillmarillion

    So it’s Shazam who was posting all this nazi crap?!

  • SHAZAM

    @ john that is complete bs..you apologize you dick..im jewish and as offended as sillmarillon….i was NOT the person who did the mengle or goering comments..ask michael he knows the emails the comments originate from.

  • john

    @Shazam

    Haha, all right, just thought I’d throw out a feeler. I’ve figured that at least some of the alter ego posts in the past have been yours, so maybe these were too. I believe you.

  • Cody

    Tony I just think you’re so used to having Nash, but 45% shooting is a lot better than most scoring pgs, and yes Vasquez I really think is a better passer, but he does have some guys that are really good 3 point shooters, and spot up shooters, Dudley are the only 2 consistent spot up shooters on this team, and if you watched Dragic last season with Houston you would definitely see this guy belongs. Yea he does yell but think how frustrating it must be to pass to someone with an easy opportunity to score but they wait for a defender. I honestly wish Dragic stayed in Houston because he played so much more freely, and the expectations for him here in Phoenix would just be ridiculous, but Dragic I know needs to improve and he will, don’t know if you watched Nash in his early years when he first started for a whole season but he struggled big time, and Dragic can continue to get better but losing takes it’s toll on players who are competitive.