Milwaukee Bucks 98, Phoenix Suns 94 -- Bucking history


PHOENIX – Alvin Gentry spent a minute and 40 seconds discussing why the Phoenix Suns fell to the Milwaukee Bucks despite at one point holding a 10-point lead in the second half and at one point having the game knotted up at 86 with less than four minutes to play.

A minute and 40 seconds was all the time he needed after the 98-94 home loss on Thursday.

“We got the game to the point where we should have won it,” Gentry said, as if searching for any more schematic of an answer. “You’re up 10 and you’re at home, you got to find a way to win the game. That’s been the story of our whole season, we haven’t been able to do it.”

Making plays was all it took for the Bucks to recover for the win. The broad phrase of “making plays” was all the difference in the world for a team to buck away a 24-game losing streak in Phoenix.

Monta Ellis scored 24 for the game, but he led the rally for Milwaukee with 10 of those points in the fourth quarter. Larry Sanders, who appears to dislike the Suns to a great degree, finished with 19 points 15 rebounds and no blocks – none until he swatted a shot at the rim by Marcin Gortat and then another by Luis Scola, both in the final two minutes when the Suns needed baskets dearly.

The Suns simply didn’t have it in them.

Shannon Brown led the team with 20 points, many with shots of the dunk variety. Phoenix forced 18 turnovers to score 21 points in a odd-feeling game that produced 41 combined fastbreak points. The Suns themselves had 18 turnovers leading to 21 Milwaukee points.

“But once again, 21 points off of 18 turnovers,” Gentry said, “you can’t … you put yourself in too tough a situation. We’re struggling offensively right now.

“And we’re just not play very good right now.”

And a poor start by Phoenix looked like it wouldn’t come down to the final seconds, as the two players that could be the Suns’ best – Gortat and Goran Dragic – struggled mightily. Gortat finished with seven points on 3-of-10 shooting, five rebounds and three turnovers, while Dragic’s 10 points and four assists also came with a trio of miscues.

Jermaine O’Neal was the first player off the bench after Gortat picked up two quick fouls and gave up three offensive rebounds to Sanders the Suns-killer. Sebastian Telfair was next to enter, replacing Dragic after Brandon Jennings had already scored 10 points on the Suns’ starting point guard.

Trailing 32-22 after the first, Phoenix’s bench outplayed the second unit of Milwaukee for a time, but they still couldn’t cut into the lead.

Three minutes before halftime, Markieff Morris found Brown on a three-quarter court pass for a dunk off a made Bucks basket, and Brown earned an And 1 dunk a minute later. The ensuing free throw pulled Phoenix within four, 45-41.

With foul trouble to the Suns big men, P.J. Tucker briefly saw time at the power forward slot with Scola at center – Gortat and O’Neal had three fouls apiece while Morris picked up four in the first half. Phoenix would tie it at 48 with less than two minutes to play, and it led 56-53 at halftime after some second-chance points by Scola and Tucker inside.

Phoenix burst out of the locker room with a 7-0 run, but the Bucks whittled down their deficit to tie it up at 80 with eight minutes to play.

From then on, it was a scrappy back-and-forth. Monta Ellis got hot, hitting tough fadeaway jumpers. Sanders made his key blocks.

With Milwaukee leading by five with just more than a minute left in the game, Mike Dunleavy nailed a three-pointer that extended the Bucks’ lead to 94-86, putting the game out of reach.

The Suns only shot 38 percent from the floor despite the 22 fastbreak points and the 15 second-chance points.

“They had some good shotblockers down there, got two big fellas with long arms, nice height on them,” Brown said afterward. “But you know, you’ve got to continue to battle, to play hard.”

Scola scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds, but he sat in the Suns locker room afterward looking stunned.

“If we had an answer, we’d have a better record,” said Jared Dudley. “It’s tough.

“With this young team, we have flaws,” he added. “Some of the flaws, we play a little bit selfish at times. We’ve got to work on that, myself included.”

The score was 89-86 Milwaukee with just less than two minutes to play.

That’s all the Milwaukee Bucks needed for Sanders’ two big blocks, plus clutch jumpers by Jennings and Dunleavy, to sink the Suns.

  • azbballfan

    Ive got to think this will be the tipping point in the season, where the Suns make a trade to prepare for the future.

    The thing that stings the most is that all the teams that are worse than us have lotto picks on their team that have talent and have trade value

    Yeah the wizards, cavs, and Bobcats are all bad

    But the Wizards have lotto picks wall, vessely, beal and some other young talent like booker, seraphin, and singleton

    Cavs have kyrie irving, dion waiters, tristan thompson, and alonzo gee

    Bobcats got Biyombo, Walker, MKG.

    The Suns dont have a young core with a future like those teams

    We tried winning without Beasley and that didnt really work.

    May as well develop Beasley, Marshall, Johnson, Zeller, Garrett and Morris

    Whats the worst than can happen? we are going to lose no matter who is playing, might as well see who we want for the future and whos trade value we can increase

  • Anonymous

    How about that miami game eh? We are one step closer to that lottery draft pick baby!

  • Anonymous

    Damn also didn’t realize we are now the worst team in the west. When was the last time that happened?

  • Russell Suns fan

    Beasley, another 2 for 10 performance. I believe he just doesn’t care he will never be the player he was suppose to be. At best if he works his butt off he can develop in to a strong #6 of the bench. But right now, he shouldn’t even be in the 10 man rotation he is terrible. He’s been in the league for 5 years and only got worse.

  • Russell Suns fan

    Would love to see the Suns package Gortat Morris and Marshall in one trade, and in another trade I would like them to package Dudley, Beasley and Brown. Phoenix needs to gut this roster. Marshall will never be NBA starting PG, he can’t shoot, or play defense, and he is way too slow, he can pass so that will probably keep him around as a lifetime back up. His highest value is right now, after this year his value will only go down.

  • foreveris2long

    Russell Suns Fan, I could not agree with you more about Marshall. He could play every minute for the rest of the season and he still will be a lifetime bench player. I feel the same about Morris as he will never be starting material at the power forward spot. He cannot defend the low post at all. yeah Beasley is also terrible.

    I would love to trade Gortat but his value is less today than what it was at the end of last season. The longer they hold onto him the less they will get for him. His hands are terrible and I cannot recall the last time he deliberately gave a hard foul. He does not intimidate anyone defensively. I would love to get OKC’s 1st round pick (the one they acquired from Houston) for Gortat plus a player (to make the salaries work).

  • foreveris2long

    Azbball, I definitely agree with you the lottery bound teams worse than the Suns have a head start in their evolving roster because they already have young impressive talent. Dragic is the best we have and he is 26 but looking worse everyday. I am sure he too is frustrated with this poor collection of talent. This is a train wreck

  • azbballfan

    I really dont wanna get down on Marshall too much but the Suns gotta see what he can do

    Its hard to tell with Morris if he will be a quality player

    alot of people have thought the Suns got bad players only to have them go to another team and all of a sudden they are playing better

    Morris was supposed to be a safe, NBA ready pick

    I just dont know, i think the Suns gotta get another PF in this draft

    Scola will only be here for this year, Morris doenst look like the answer, either does Beasley

    by answer i mean long term building block answer

    Beasley is so up and down, its baffling

    The Suns should start him at the 4 anyway though not like the season is gonna get any worse

    The Suns gotta make the 4 spot and 2 spot a priority for the future

    other players score easier when you have a 4 or 5 guy that can draw double teams

    The Suns should try and get Jeff Whitley with one of their middle to end of the 1st round picks

    Not alot of offense but he plays great D and rebounds

    John Henson and Larry Sanders killed the Suns inside

    oh look Henson another guy the Suns passed on

    I think the only player the Suns wouldnt move right now is Dragic, because this years draft has maybe one guy worth drafting at the point in Michael Carter Williams

    14 points six assists 3 boards and 2 steals is better than any rookie is this draft is likely to do

    and really if the Suns get rid of Dragic i cant imagine Marshall being the future starter with the holes in his game

    The Suns need to move Gortat, Brown, and Morris at the deadline

    Beasley probly wont draw any interest

    Just throw a lineup out there of Marshall, Dragic, Johnson, Beasley, and whoever we get for Gortat

    (fab melo? thabeet? perkins?)

    looking ahead the last 5 games of the month the Suns might win 1 road and home game all of January and February isnt looking any better

    We still have 4 more games against the Spurs, 2 against LA, 2 against OKC

    I just put a trade up on the trade machine

    phoenix trades Gortat, Brown and Morris to Toronto for Jose Calderon, Jonas Valuncunias, and Linus Kleiza

    that gives us more money to go get a free agent with Calderons expiring 10 milion dollar deal

    a pretty decent small forward in Kleiza, and a bruising center in Valancunias or however is his name is spelled

    The Raptors take on not alot of long term money

    Browns contract is partially good for another year

    Morris is likely better than whoever they got starting for them right now

    and Gortat is more productive

    The Suns can move Marshall or Telfair in a different deal

    I would do this move if i was the Suns

  • azbballfan

    I forgot about Marcus Smart

    So thats 2 point guards worth possibly drafting if you need a point guard

    I heard Mark Cuban is open to making a deal

    maybe he can be a third team the Suns can use to get a deal done.

    I think the next game would be perfect time to start playing the young guys we have

    a long break before next game, before deadline, team is in a tailspin

    We are now 3-17 on the road and 10-11 at home

    apparently the last time the Suns were this bad was the pre walter davis era in 84 i think Paul Coro said something like that on his twitter account

    I keep forgetting about Frye but i am assuming his career is over, which is sad

  • DBreezy

    Sorry boys, all the stitches in the world can’t sew me together again. Lay down, lay down. Gonna stretch me out in Fernandez Funeral Home on 109th street. Always knew I’d make a stop here, but a lot later than a whole gang of people thought. Last of the Mo-Ricans……………..Sorry baby, I tried the best I could. Honest. Can’t come with me on this trip, though… Gettin’ the shakes now. Last call for drinks. Bar’s closin’ down. Sun’s out. Where we goin’ for breakfast? Don’t wanna go far… Rough night. Tired, baby… Tired…

  • azbballfan

    So what are the chances the Suns make a trade before thier next game

    which is i think a road game at Sacramento?

    it would be awesome to get Torontos pick then we could get Ben Mclemore, Alex Len and Nerlens Noel that would be cool

    Come on Babby or Blanks or Sarver make a phone call to OKC 8)

  • Michael

    @ azbballfan:

    You didn´t mention Trey Burke on purpose? He´s in my opinion the best PG in the upcoming draft, and possibly one of the best picks anyway in my opinion.
    Wouldn´t mind picking him and playing him alongside Goran next season.

  • Luka

    The Suns are right on course for a top 5 pick, no need to rock the boat.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    You have to go back to 1987-88(drug scandal years) for a Suns team this bad. That team finished 28-54 (.341) the 2nd worst in Suns history.
    Fortunately, the Suns had Cotton Fitzsimmons back then to engineer a mega-deal that saved the Suns…Larry Nance, a 1st rd pk & spare parts for Kevin Johnson, Mark West & a draft pk that turned out to be Dan Majerle.
    The Suns signed Tom Chambers…. Eddie Johnson became the League’s best 6th man.
    The result was one of the greatest turn-arounds in NBA history as the Suns went 55-27 in 1988-89.

    The worst was of course the 1968-69 expansion Suns.
    I attended the Home Opener that year (I had just turned 14)….the Suns beat the Sonics in that opener….one of only 16 wins on the season.
    But in the greatest comeback in coin flipping history, the Suns won the rights to Connie Hawkins….the Suns then traded Gary Gregor for Paul Silas in one of the most lopsided trades ever & drafted Neal Walk….the result was 39-43 in 1969-70.

    Cotton is no longer around…..the NBA no longer settles it’s business via coin-flip.
    The Suns will try to dig out of this with a Front Office that has virtually zero credibility.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    @ Dbreezy

    David….Great stuff from “Carlito’s Way”

    Some other great quotes from that movie but probably get thrown off the board for using them.

  • Dan Majerle

    I would have been a more productive player the last 6 years I played if I laid off the booze.

  • Oppermann

    it´s time to trade . . . and PLEASE let´s start tanking NOW

    the way the suns are playing . . . . don´t need to much effort to do it

  • Luka

    The sad part is, the Suns didn’t need to get this far down the rabbit hole. It’ll now take at least 2-3 years to stockpile talent via the draft.

    Sure would’ve been nice to have at least one of the following players: Rondo, Fernandez, Hibbert, and Faried right about now. Anyone remember D’Antoni bad mouthing Rondo because he couldn’t shoot? Even as the Knicks head coach he still wouldn’t give Rondo his due. But Marcus Banks was money well spent eh Mr. Pringles?

    The process could’ve been expedited a few years earlier, in 2010, after Sarver took a wrecking ball to a possible Finals team. But, common sense and planning are not things Sarver is capable of.

    Keep tanking Suns. Hopefully the banker gets so sick of losing he sells and leaves town for good.

  • DBreezy

    @Hawki,

    I figured you’d appreciate that one! I know I predicted 28-33 W’s for this squad at the outset of the season and that they’re right on track for that or worse, but this is rough to watch. Mainly for the reasons you and others have mentioned. We have to rely on Babby/Blanks or whatever bargain basement ‘out of the box’ replacement for them Sarver chooses to fix this mess.

    Babby just went on KTAR and said that he felt this was a playoff team, something Blanks said earlier in the season.. This is the 2nd week in a row that he’s said that he feels everything is in place, they just need that one special player to put this together. Beyond the misjudgment that shows relative to this roster, to me it portends a ‘quick fix’ summer that’s likely destined to go down in flames as well.

  • john

    @Luka

    Took a wrecking ball to it? Amar’e wanted out (whether you want to pretend he would have stayed if the Suns offered him more money, I don’t care. He wasn’t even worth what he got in the first place), Steve Nash got old. It wasn’t going to last forever.

    PLUS, that team was never going to sniff the finals, let alone with it all. They struggled against an injury-riddled Portland to open things up, caught a break by playing a declining, discombobulated Spurs team that didn’t seem to have any motivation (and the Suns had all the motivation in the world to beat that Spurs team), and never stood a chance against LA (and don’t tell me they were a Jason Richardson box-out away, it’s just not true. They might have forced overtime if Richardson had learned the fundamentals of the game, but would they really have won? Plus, they had every opportunity to force a seventh game and got slaughtered on their home court. LA was better. I hate them more than anything in the NBA, but LA was simply better).

    Glory days don’t last forever, people. They don’t last for any franchise.

  • john

    “This is the 2nd week in a row that he’s said that he feels everything is in place, they just need that one special player to put this together.”

    In a way, I agree with him. If the Suns had LeBron, I think they’d be a playoff team. ;)

  • R. Bourland

    My problem is with the folks who draft for us – make those decisions. They don’t have much of successful draft record. I don’t trust them not to squander the nice choices we have at present.

  • Luka

    @John

    The point I was trying to make is that Sarver had no plan. No plan to retool and try again with Amare. No plan to re-build after he ran Kerr and his front office away. When you have no front office staff and you are suffocating all the hope from such a successful season I call that taking a wrecking ball to.

    We can differ in our views on that 2010 Suns squad. I personally feel they could’ve broken through in 2011 had all the same players remained. Which was Kerr’s plan before he had to leave.

    I am well aware glory days don’t last forever. But the route to get back to glory is only now getting underway and.it’s been a lot bumpier of a ride than it should’ve been. My hope is the losing gets too much for Sarver, and he sells to somebody who isn’t a moron.

  • Luka

    @Bourland

    I agree 100% with ya. In the past you had D’Antoni refusing to draft and play rookies. Now we’ve got dumb and dumber (Treloar & Blanks) who are completely unqualified for their respective positions. (Not to mention woefully underpaid.)

    Treloar has no prior NBA experience as a scout, and Blanks is just not smart. For Babby to try and sugarcoat it by saying they were “spot on across the board” on their draft choices of Morris, and Marshall is an insult to people who think.

  • Scott

    If this year’s Suns are just one player shy of a playoff team … well, the Suns should have signed that one player, right?

    Looking at you Mayo. Looking at you Blanks.

  • Luka

    @Scott

    And by not offering about $8-9 million for him last summer; the Suns have now effectively priced themselves out of acquiring him this summer as there’ll be plenty of teams lined up to overpay for him.

    I say we go for Paul Millsap and Tony Allen. Then use the picks to get Shabazz Muhammad, and Glenn Robinson III.

  • john

    @Luka

    Fair points. I agree that the plan (if there was one) to get back to contention post-Amar’e and post-Nash was ill-conceived. The greatest thing I fault Sarver for is the seemingly high turnover in the front office (which you also mentioned). It’s hard to have a good plan in place when the people making those plans are never in place to see their plans come to fruition.

  • Luka

    Charles Barkley for GM, Nate McMillan for coach.

  • john

    Paul. Millsap. Totally agree. There are two guys I have desperately wanted on the Suns who I believe would have been reasonably easy to get if the Suns had put in any effort. Carl Landry ($8.5M salary, 18.3 PER, 0.175 WS/48, 12.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg in just 25 mpg) and Paul Millsap ($8.1M salary, 20.3 PER, 0.165 WS/48, 14.9 ppg, 7.7 rpg in 30.5 mpg).

    Instead we have to suffer the likes of stretch 4′s like Frye and Morris and 5′s with no post game like Gortat.

  • http://none Sillmarillion

    Maybe the Suns should look for some quality players in Europe/South America? Some of the best players in the NBA aren’t US citizens (Gasols, Nowitzki, Parker, Manu and of course Scola, Dragic and Gortat – ok, that’s not funny).

  • I’m Robert Sarver and I have my head up my ass!

    We are still early in the season guys. Gentry’s job is still safe. We’re confident we can still make the playoffs with these guys.

  • DBreezy

    Yeah the Suns would be a playoff team with Lebron, but probably not a top seeded one in the West, and not the contender the front office says they wish to build. That’s of course ignoring the obvious fact that Lebron’s don’t grow on trees!

  • Scott

    Garrett will be playing his 2nd game with the D-League tonight.

  • DBreezy

    @Luka

    The problem I had with 2010 was how the organization handled things. Just like Marion and Joe Johnson, they kept people who they were not willing to pay their market value for their contract year and got nothing in return. It’s a big part of why getting out of this hole is likely to take a long time. They’re low on assets from either the draft or from trades for assets that they lost.

    It reminds me a lot of one my favorite baseball teams, the Reds, under Marge Schott. Even after a WS title, Schotzie wasn’t willing to pay big salaries to retain her stars, trading them pennies on the dollar. She also didn’t want to pay for the robust farm system that was responsible for most of the Reds stars over time, letting a lot of long time scouts go along with shuttering some of the minor league squads. Much like the Suns, they muddled along with the stars they had left dancing on the playoff periphery and even making it once. Then the gas ran out and it basically took about 15 years to repair the damage done back in the early 90′s.

  • azbballfan

    I dont know who Trey Burke is

    He is not listed as a lotto pick on either draft express or NBAdraft.net

    Luckily, Point Guard is the one position where we have someoen signed long term that actually productive

    Dragic isnt Steve Nash or Chris Paul or whatever but his numbers this yer are all career highs

    Take any elite point guard, put them on a team that plays no defense, is horrible at rebounding and has 2 finishers. One in shannon brown who comes off the bench, and one in Beasley who barely plays

    Even if by some miracle one of the elite came here, this team is not currently constructed for any of them

    and since sarvers ideas of fixing the team include ruining the cap space and doing quick fix stuff, the suns are headed for a long, painful rebuild after years of mediocrity

  • Valley

    For a 25th straight time the Suns plunked down a royal flush at home against the Bucks, but unlike the previous 24 times, the Bucks’ hand this time is 5-of-a-kind (which beats royal flush!).

  • john

    Bye-bye, Gentry. I like the guy, but I can’t say I’m all that sad.

  • Freddy

    Yup. Who is a good coach the Suns can scoop up that is currently doing nothing?

    I like SVG or Avery.

  • DBreezy

    I can’t say I’m sad because there was always a decent likelihood of this after the season, but I am concerned about what it means. The team is terrible mainly because it’s not a good roster, not because of the coaching not to say AG hasn’t made mistakes. He hadn’t lost the team though, they were still playing hard for him so this reeks of a desperation move by Babby/Blanks to try and save their jobs-ie look at what Alvin did to our super-duper roster.

    You also have to wonder if Alvin’s recent comments about it being time to consider going to a youth movement did him in. He admitted that he hadn’t discussed with management yet, and such a statement is an indictment of not only himself but the roster he had been handed. Babby went on KTAR and said Alvin may be right, but he also said that he felt this was a playoff team. Perhaps Lon didn’t like being put on the spot like that and we already know that Blanks and Alvin didn’t always see eye to eye. I doubt we will be impressed with whomever gets the job on a permanent basis this summer.