Brooklyn Nets 99, Phoenix Suns 79 – Polarity reigns supreme


The “what” questions regarding the Phoenix Suns are easy. Alvin Gentry’s club not only doesn’t play 48 minutes of consistent basketball, but it splits that time within each game looking like two polar opposite squads.

That leads to the “why” questions.

The Suns fell to the Nets 99-79 in Brooklyn on Friday when one of their betters halves of the season was followed by easily the worst. Phoenix led 53-46 at the half and was shooting 54 percent from the floor before scoring 13 points in each of the third and fourth quarters to lose the second half, 53-26.

They finished the night shooting 39 percent from the floor after hitting 24 percent in the third and fourth quarters combined.

Jared Dudley led the way with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting to go with five boards and four assists, but Phoenix didn’t have anyone who had the willingness to take over the game when the team needed a bucket the most.

Assisting on 14 of their 22 first-half makes, the Suns only recorded nine second-half makes on six assists after they reverted back to playing hero ball. At the front of it all was Shannon Brown, whose own polarity was showcased against a Brooklyn team that found an easy game despite a questionable Joe Johnson (illness) and a Deron Williams on one leg (thigh contusion).

Brown gave Phoenix a great boost in the first half, going 5-of-9 and scoring 13 points before hitting none of his six attempts after halftime. It’s not that Brown was to blame, but his production was a sign of what changed. It’s a hint at Phoenix’s issues.

At first, it was Goran Dragic causing trouble for Williams, matching up with him well on defense and getting into the lane, keeping his dribble alive and setting up perimeter options for his teammates via his own pass or by way of excellent ball movement. Eight of the nine Phoenix players who saw action in the first half had an assist.

And despite being outscored 28-13 in the third quarter, it wasn’t as if Brooklyn was running away in the game. With 1:22 left before the fourth quarter, the Suns only trailed 67-64, and though the momentum was sucked away, most teams would by no means be out of it.

But this team was out of it. Again, the “why” is encountered.

MarShon Brooks scored seven points in the final 1:08 of the third, and Brooklyn led 74-66 heading to the final period.

One reason for Phoenix’s struggles was the play of Dragic after a sound first half. Foul trouble ultimately took Dragic off the court with seven minutes left in the third, and it also hampered backup Sebastian Telfair and fouled out Luis Scola. The Nets drew twice as many fouls (30) as did the Suns (15), and eventually the odd pace sucked Phoenix’s rhythm away.

Microscopically, the pace and the foul trouble took Dragic, Phoenix’s key playmaker, out of a rhythm.

Without Dragic, the Suns looked lost. And when he returned, he did too. Phoenix didn’t score in the fourth quarter until 7:28 remained in the game, and Dragic’s lack of aggressiveness was missed when he returned at the beginning of the fourth quarter, especially when he was mismatched because of Williams’ dead leg.

In the end, all the failed play during the second half came down to a lack of energy, assertiveness and no willingness for any one player to do something with the ball. There were holes defensively, to be sure. Reggie Evans and Brook Lopez won the paint battle (46 to 32 points in the paint and 22 rebounds to 14 for the two Suns’ starting big men).

But it was Johnson attacking – or at least finding himself open – and earning himself 12 of his 19 total points in the second half, and Brooks scoring 11 of his 17 total points during that span to break the game open.

As for Phoenix? Brown and Scola took a team-high six shots each in the second half, combining for 2-of-12 shooting. Their willingness to shoot it at high volumes but low percentages isn’t the problem in itself. Rather, it was the result of an offense that lacks any player who can consistently score himself or set up the offense. That compounded Dragic’s 1-for-5 second half.

Furthermore, Andray Blatche burned the Phoenix bench. Despite Brown’s 13 first-half points and 15 total, the Nets’ bench outscored the Suns’ reserves, 45-28. Blatche’s 15 points – many by streaking by Markieff Morris after catching the ball from 20-feet out – said it all. Not only was Morris failing to stay in front of the talented, probably slower big man, but the Phoenix help defense failed to rotate.

Why should they expect the need to rotate and help against a driving 7-footer?

When the “why” questions are ones that shouldn’t be asked, then the answers might simply come down to a failure to show up in the second half.

  • azbballfan

    The Suns did a lot right in the 1st half, and then couldnt make a basket in the 2nd half

    They torched us despite have the offensively challenged Reggie Evans start, and had Gerald Wallace for all 6 miuutes.

    Oh well Gentry doesnt have time to worry about this abomination

    He has to get on a plane and get ready for a Bulls team currently dragging the Knicks around at MSG

    3 minutes for Marshall

    16 for Morris

    I thought Telfair played well atleast

    oh well atleast nobody suffered a major injury so theres that

    I dont even wanna know where we would be if someone got injured because this team has this 12-25 record with every healthy for nearly every game

    Atleast injuries havent been a problem this year

  • Tony

    Greivis Vasquez’s stat line for tonights Hornets win: 18 points, 13 assists, 2 turnovers, in 26 minutes.

    Goran Dragic’s stat line tonight: 12 points, 3 assists, and 3 turnovers in 26 minutes.

    Enough said!

  • Cody

    Tony, I know, I’m just shaking my head, I believe in Dragic but I’m shutting up for now haha

  • KDM

    @Tony
    You think the Suns should trade Dragic + pick for Vasquez or maybe Aaron Brooks :P

  • ShanMan

    @Tony, Vasquez is a very underrated PG. That guy has game.

  • SHAZAM

    greivas has eric gordon and a few others to pass to..not excusing dragic…he was not a blanks babby guy…sarver insisted on that one..dragic is average and not over paid so hes an easy trade if the suns want that

  • SHAZAM

    bring back aaron brooks :)

  • Cody

    Please no Aaron Brooks haha, and yes Vasquez is really good he’s another guy I’ve always liked but it’s just frustrating, we get whistled for every damn touch foul, every reserve ends up torching us (granted Blatche is very talented, and Brooks has game) but we play so well for a half then we come back and give the game away, all our guys were in foul trouble which screws up our aggressiveness, I hate loving this team

  • azbballfan

    Vasques is a pretty good PG but he alot more talent to throw to

    Brooklyn shot 25 of 32 free throws and the Suns shot 10-16

    Thats pretty much the game right there

    This team doesnt do alot of things well, and i dont think even an elite 2 is gonna fix fundamental rebounding, freethrow shooting, and defense problems

  • SHAZAM

    i forget who said it but i like the idea of trading the whole team for draft picks and calling up the cream of the hungry d leaguers…if one or 2 show great skill next year we will have leverage and a ton of money to bring in the right players to augment..at this point all i care about is us and the lakers losing…thats all we have to root for

  • Fan in Chi Town

    26 points in two quarters is the most pathetic thing I’ve ever heard of in the NBA. Everyone is tradeable. The front office can and SHOULD shop everybody on the roster to improve in the long run.

  • azbballfan

    Atleast i am having fun in the association mode on NBA 2K12 with my Suns team

    Dragic, evan fournier, perry jones III, enes kanter and javale mcgee are doing well on my team.

    Atleast we can look forward to the trading deadline which is now 6 weeks away or something

  • Scott

    The Nets have more talent on their team than the Suns. That’s pretty much the story.

    The Suns could have more talent on their team, but that would require a GM who knows his stuff.

  • SHAZAM

    i know its because of injuries but earl clark starts for the lakers now 10 pts 10 rebounds 3 assists 3 blocked shots…hill is out for rest of the season…lakers lose woo hoo

  • SHAZAM

    tick tick tick on the lakers..they are only given a 27 percent chance of making the playoffs…that means we have a 73 percent chance at the 12th pick…we had a 50/50 for lou alcinder(kareem) and we lost so i still need to see a few more laker losses…i think in 2 weeks we will have a lock on the 5th and 12th picks

  • Scott

    BTW, gratz to Zeller for hitting his only shot. Hard to tell if that was just a lucky shot or if he’s making progress, but I hope it is the latter. :)

    As for Marshall’s play … it looked a lot like what he did in summer league (until the last game). He brought the ball up – with no pressure – and when he crossed the half court he passed it to the nearest person. And once, while doing this, he turned the ball over. That is pretty darn lame.

    The only play where he actually looked like a point guard was when the Suns charged up the floor and he made a short pass ahead to Gortat for a dunk.

    Bottom line: he has to learn to score and to penetrate and dish. Otherwise, he plays like a ballboy.

  • azbballfan

    If Dragic looked timid and scared as a rookie, then Marshall looks catatonic

    I know somewhere down the road he is better than what we are seeing

    Lets just theoretically, the Suns blew it up and traded Dragic, Gortat, Wes Johnson and Brown for an elite 2, draft picks, and a good young center.

    Would you want Marshall starting and playing big minutes?

  • SHAZAM

    throw marshall out too…all d league and new draft picks for awhile…watching that process would be way cooler than a 7th or 8th seed quick exit…if you look at the entire history of the suns that is what they are

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    If/when the Suns lose tonight in Chicago, they will be in 4th place in the Lottery Sweepstakes Challenge.

    I haven’t seen Alex Len (Maryland) play yet….he’s a legit 7 footer out of the Ukraine.
    Other top picks for consideration:
    SG’s…Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA) & Ben Mclemore (Kansas)
    PF’s…Cody Zeller (Indiana) & Anthony Bennett(UNLV)
    C..Len & Nerlens Noel (Kentucky).

    Unless something drastic happens, Suns will get one of those six.

    Bennett is a beast with a great 3 pt touch….very rare.
    Mclemore is very athletic with a great 3 pt touch…Shabazz has better size & a great knack for getting to the rack.

    Also, would still like to see the Suns go after Eric Bledsoe….as long as it doesn’t cost TOO much….Dragic could still get 20+ minutes a night as back-up PG & sharing court time with Bledsoe.
    However, if the lakers don’t make the playoffs & Suns get their 1st round pk (is that really true?) then I would take Marcus Smart (PG Okla. St) if he were available.

    Looks like the wheels are coming off the laker tour bus.

  • TucsonSunsFan

    Some more why questions:
    Why is PJ Tucker starting? Sure I like his hustle and defense, but that was to be his role off the bench.
    Why are Beasley and Johnson still on our team? If the rumor are true about Rudy Gay lets trade those two guys, Marshall and maybe a draft pick for Gay and Bayless.

  • azbballfan

    Mclemore had a great game the other night

    6 of 6 on threes, 7 of 7 free throws and 10 of 12 overall from the field for 33 points 3 boards 3 asists a few steals

    I think the Suns need to have another player development guy come in and help our current people

    its been mediocre draft after mediocre draft the last 5 years or so

    I know teams dont usually develop talent when they are contending for titles, but that ended as soon as stoudemire signed on the dotted line to be a Knick

    its time for some real emphasis on drafting and developing the right players.

    The Suns show no signs of getting out of this black hole of wining a game and losing the next 5

    the Suns have a real shot at going into the all-star break with a 15 win 37 loss mark

    thats giving them wins on the road at Sacramento, at New Orleans, and at home vs the Bucks

    if that happens we would have to win 29 straight games to get to 44 and 38 and sniff an 8th seed in all likely hood

    statistically, if we dont turn this around in about 2 1/2 weeks its over and we need to look at the future

  • azbballfan

    oops i think i calculated that slighly wrong but the point im making it still there

  • Elviro (Italy)

    change the name of the blog in the valley of tears …. I think it’s more just in this moment ….

    regarding Dragic … I do not think they can compare its performance with those of other players …
    is easy to make the play-maker in a team that works, where there are players who shoot well …. is more difficult to make the play-maker in a team in disarray as these Suns …. do not take it for what rotten rotten is not …
    I believe that the problems of the Suns are very well known and popular for a long time …
    Summer … I think that the moves of the leadership they gave us some hope … but then if Beasley is this, does not turn Dragic, Scola is not very good …. I think there are deeper problems!
    But I think that the team could achieve more!
    So I think Gentry has its faults!

    On the positive side it is a good pick in the draft: the best way to rebuild a decent team!

  • azbballfan

    Dionte Garrett had a great game off the bench tonight at Bakersfield d league

    i cant remember the stat line but i remember alot of assists and steals in only 20 minutes

    now that new orleans won i think we are the worst eam in the west.

    John Wall comes back on saturday for the Wizards

    it might be a 3 team race for worst NBA record with Cleveland and Charlotte

    Toronto has turned it around recently

    maybe the suns should watch some tape of their games for inspiration

  • Alvin Gentry

    “I thought we did a really good job in that first half. But we just stopped making shots. Then I thought we just gave them too many shots in the second half. We just gotta do a better job to defend and do a better job to not let them make shots.”

  • azbballfan

    Good luck with the next game at Chicago

    The bulls lost to Charlotte the other week, ending their 18 game losing streak

    The Suns gotta come in there and be agressive for 48 minutes

  • Michael

    @ Tony (and all the Dragic haters):

    Dragic: 32:36 min/game, 14,4 PTS, 45,2% FGM, 3 REB, 6,2 AST, 1,6 STL, 2,3 TO
    Vasquez: 34:21 min/game, 14,2 PTS, 44,1% FGM, 4,5 REB, 9,2 AST, 0,7 STL, 3,3 TO

    I don´t see where your beloved Vasquez would do essentially better.
    You can always search for players that had a better night than Goran, especially on a night where he did below his average.
    But I BET, if Goran would have Vasquez´stats, all you haters would do is just pointing out his %, lack of steals, massive TOs and his at best mediocre defensive effort.
    And I BET, if Goran would play together with Gordon and Davis and Anderson, he would do better in the assists category.

    General ball movement is the decisive key for our offensive efficiency all season, so it often takes more than just Goran´s first pass to complete a play. If you have spot up shooters like Gordon and Davis, you tend to collect more assists playing the point.
    The style we´ve played the first half yesterday was a good team performance, as well from Goran, and I don´t care of the individual stats if they would play complete games this way.

  • DBreezy

    Well at least Joe Johnson put in work for my fantasy squad. As for the game, while I may not agree with every individual decision the team still appears to be well coached and for the most part (Beasley) still playing hard for their coach. They tend to come out strong and with a plan, something you don’t always see with deep lotto squads nearly halfway thru the season. But they just aren’t good enough to sustain it for 48 mins thru the ebbs and flows of most nba contests. Other teams can go to schematic adjustments or some cases effort ones. The Suns basically only can adjust by throwing different players out there and hoping things change.

  • Luka

    Tim Kempton was bad mouthing the referees on the radio broadcast alongside Al McCoy. Kempton has attacked Randy Mott as having it out for Phoenix, which is just a hilarious accusation. Can Tim and Al just admit the team isn’t very good instead of constantly blaming the refs? As a listener it kind of insults your intelligence.

    Hopefully Kempton put all his money in the bank, and lived within his means, because I have a feeling he’ll be fined heavily for criticizing the refs. It’s not likely he has any money left from his playing days seeing as how he barely stuck around in the league.

  • suns for life

    hopefully the suns can add two all stars by the starts of next season. Pair them w/ Dragic and we got a good squad.

  • Scott

    Garrett had 17 points and 7 assists, but there may not have been a lot of defense played in that game.

  • Tony

    @Michael,

    I realize you’re Dragic’s bff, but if you are going to use statistics to argue your point, you might to want to consider making sure that you include all relevant statistics and not just those selective ones to bolster your argument. For example, while in general it would make substantial sense to believe that Vasquez’s numbers are primarily the result of Gordon and Davis, in reality, it doesn’t help bolster your claim. The reason is because Gordon has played a total of 6 games so far this season and Davis has played only 23 games so far.
    The only quality offensive player Vasquez has played with on a consistent basis so far this season has been Ryan Anderson and while he’s an underrated quality player, he’s not exactly an All Star caliber player.

    Lastly, if you paid any attention to how Dragic plays, you would recognize that he usually plays well in the first halfs of games, but for whatever reason, typically struggles in 2nd halfs. So it was no surprise that he played a solid first half against the Nets, but then struggled in the 2nd half.

    In sum, try again Michael because if you’re going to argue on behalf of Dragic and use statistics to prove your point, then at least show some objectivity by disclosing more than just your selective statistics that bolster your arguments, such as disclosing how little Vasquez has played with Gordon and Davis this season for example.

  • Michael

    When you consider Goran typically struggling in 2nd halfs and he still produces better statistically than your Vasquez, he really must be a beast in 1st halfs. Is that your statement for Goran?
    He plays with guys that suck totally, and get worse by the time a game goes on. Goran is no exception in the last games.
    But I can remember how badly we struggled in 1st quarters at the beginning of the season. So consistency is an issue for that team.
    You can constantly blame our best player for that. I don’t care. I see him playing ok, he’s not a Steve Nash, I didn’t expect that. He’s better than Mr. Vasquez, I expected that.
    Brown, Beasley are mainly these black holes where you can get frustrated as a PG.

    I won’t argue with you, Tony, as you are the type of guy that is deadlocked in his opinion and loves blaming all that don’t hasten to agree.

  • Forever is2long

    Hawk, My man, Bennett and Shabazz are on my radar. like you, I like them both.

  • BCrayZ

    Tony & D’Breezy are right.

    This is not the team that Gentry built.

    Kerr & Gentry built a team that should have become a dynasty. What an incredible young bench unit. Besides LB, not one of them was a star. They were high b-ball IQ guys who, besides Louis, could make an open shot, hustled their buts off & played team ball. Many of you act as though it was inevitable for our Suns to sink into quick sand. That could not have been farther from the fact.

    This was a team that did not even need STAT to win an important game. This was proven at the turning point game that year, when Gentry benched him for the 4th quarter vs. the soon-to-be champ Mavs. With Nash running the offense & Grant Hill locking down on “D” & Louis much more than making up for his lack of shooting skill with his energy & intensity, we had the ideal team, particularly with young bench guys like Dud, Gogi & Frye getting better each year. Out goes Kerr. When Babby came in to run the show, he noted that all of Kerr’s b-ball genius went unappreciated by Sarver. So, he came up with his own plan. He probably made good coin (under the table like the sleazy lawyer he is), while waiting to sign his own deal (to avoid the obvious conflicts of interest publicly) by persuading Sarver to sign Josh & trade for Hedo. Then, his plan was to destroy the team, throwing us fans, the players & Alvin under the bus, so to make Sarver negotiate with him, as one desperate to fill seats When Sarver filled the seats & then some in extra playoff revenue vs. Portland, San Antonio & L.A., he got carried away with the success of the team, instead of giving credit where it was due to Alvin & Steve Kerr. This time, Babby has put Sarver at his mercy like a drug pusher does to a junkie. When some of you think that Babby is a fool, he is actually a ruthless liar. He has dismantled that “killer bench unit” & despite having the cap space to sign Nash, Hill, Louis & the Brazilian Blur, he refused each of them, even though each had asked to play here this year & next. That would have made the team successful & foiled his sinister plan. Only good news I can give, besides the fact that we have a darn good coach, as he shows us in times of adversity (like in last night’s Bulls game), is that we are likely to get that L.A. draft pick because, while Bernie B. was capable of winning, Mike Dumb Antoni is bound to continue bumbling away their year.