The Phoenix Suns were in prime position to snag their first significant road victory of the season against a Western Conference foe Saturday night.
But as was the case in previous losses against the Clippers, Grizzlies, Lakers, Thunder, Spurs and just about every other squad west of the Mississippi, two-plus quarters of basketball don’t equal a win.
Good teams might be able to survive a bad lapse on the road, but as the Suns illustrated at the Oracle Arena, that label does not apply by any stretch of the imagination in 2012-13. The Golden State Warriors closed out the contest with their second consecutive 30-point quarter and sent Phoenix on its way with a 113-93 loss.
Phoenix built a four-point halftime lead by playing fundamental basketball. Goran Dragic found a way to get to the foul line (4-of-4 from the charity stripe). Michael Beasley made a concerted effort to drive to the basket (5-of-6 on two-point shots). Jared Dudley and P.J. Tucker neutralized the long-range capabilities of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson (6-of-15 through 24 minutes).
Everything was falling into place and then it just stopped.
If you are what your record says you are, then the Suns certainly proved over the final 22 minutes of play that they are a basketball team with limited talent and an even smaller capacity to finish games.
After racing out to a 58-48 lead in the third quarter, Lindsey Hunter’s squad simply ignored what had helped them outplay the fifth-best team in the conference.
Drives to the basket turned into mid-range jump shots. Harrison Barnes was given the freedom to do as he pleased in the paint. Curry and Thompson got into a rhythm. And the Suns’ energy and lead were gone in a matter of minutes.
Over the final 10 minutes of the quarter, the Warriors went on a 33-16 run and virtually ended any chance of an upset bid. In that span, Curry and Barnes combined for 18 points, while Phoenix’s offense went 6-for-18 from the field.
“Eventually we will get there,” Hunter said. “I’m not worried about it. Our guys have a lot of work to do. It’s part of the process.”
While there were a laundry list of shortcomings (the effort disparity between Andrew Bogut and Marcin Gortat, the defensive liability that is Shannon Brown and Luis Scola’s abysmal shooting night) against Mark Jackson and Co., the Suns can hang their hat on the fact that Beasley (team-high 24 points) — while not necessarily efficient from the floor — continues to show more and more signs of aggression, rookie Kendall Marshall had another opportunity to play big minutes (18 on the night) and the schedule affords them two more opportunities (Grizzlies and Thunder) on this four-game trip to capture that elusive statement win away from US Airways Center.
- David Lee is the first player in Golden State history to represent the team in an All-Star Game since Latrell Sprewell pulled the feat in 1996-97. Lee is one of 10 players averaging a double-double this season, and against the Suns he showed why. While he went just 6-of-16 from the floor, Lee never let his shooting woes affect his energy level (16 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists).
- With Saturday’s defeat, the Suns are now 2-10 on the second game of a back-to-back. They have also lost half of their road games by 10 points or more.
- Sebastian Telfair’s days in a Suns uniform may be coming to an end. While it’s worthless to speculate about a potential trade, the veteran guard has not played in three of last four games due to a coaching decision. Even undrafted free agent Diante Garrett, who was called up from the D-League Monday, saw playing time when the game was out of reach Saturday.