Well, the Phoenix Suns did not have a good week. They lost all three games by double-digits to playoff teams in the Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets and Atlanta Hawks. We’ll see if this trend continues Saturday as they are in the nation’s capital to take on John Wall and the Washington Wizards.
Part of the reason the Suns lost was that they were over-matched not just in talent, but in size. This was because for some of the games, the 6’9” power forward Luis Scola was starting at center for Phoenix, due to Gortat being out with injury for three to four weeks and Jermaine O’Neal still being away for his daughter’s heart surgery.
Then for a game, Suns head coach Lindsey Hunter tried bringing Hamed Haddadi off the bench with Scola still starting. However, that didn’t work as Scola was torched by Kosta Koufos and the Denver Nuggets. Hunter realized he needed size to start the game. The problem was he couldn’t insert O’Neal right into the starting lineup in his first game back with the team, so against the Houston Rockets, Scola started with O’Neal coming off the bench . . . Phoenix went on to lose by 30 points. So Hunter inserted O’Neal into the starting lineup the next game, giving him his first start in a Phoenix Suns uniform. Yet, the Suns still lost Friday to the Atlanta Hawks. So, evidently size isn’t the entire problem.
Some quotes from Hunter and Dragic after Friday’s bout with the Atlanta Hawks illustrate what is wrong with Phoenix.
“Guys fought but you can’t win road games when you don’t execute the game plan like we talked about,” said Hunter, according to the Suns official Twitter feed.
This is just a matter of discipline that young players need to be able to demonstrate to gel together and execute the gameplan that is the coaches’ best idea to beat the opponent. It gets easier (or possible) when the talent level on the team is at a higher level than is currently on the Suns roster.
“Some of our shots were like turnovers because they were pretty bad,” said Hunter.
“We just had too many turnovers and they were making shots off them,” said Suns point guard Goran Dragic.
Turnovers lead to fastbreak points that kill young guys’ enthusiasm. Giving up easy points also makes them want to chuck up shots to “match” the points they just gave up instead of just playing within the offense, which most of the time will yield a better look at the basket than an isolation play.
Update on Suns’ draft pick status
Right now, the Los Angeles Lakers sit in the eighth spot out in the Western Conference standings, but the Utah Jazz are one game behind and Dallas is slowly creeping into the picture at three games behind L.A. The good thing for Phoenix is that Kobe Bryant is a little injured. His ankle was injured as he fell Wednesday on Dahntay Jones’ foot in Atlanta. He played the first quarter Friday against the Indiana Pacers, but couldn’t play the rest of the game, which they ended up winning. If Kobe is out a significant amount of time, the Suns’ prospects are looking up even more than they already were.
With the Suns losing all these games they are now tied with the New Orleans Hornets for the worst record in the Western Conference at 22-44. Only the Orlando Magic and Charlotte Bobcats are worse in the whole NBA, giving the Suns the fourth overall draft pick if the draft were held today, because Phoenix beat New Orleans earlier this season.
After tonight’s game with the Wizards, Phoenix has a four-game homestand, where they will take on the Los Angeles Lakers, Washington Wizards, Minnesota Timberwolves and the Brooklyn Nets. The Suns will go 2-2 if Kobe is out or 1-3 if “the black mamba” is his usual self.