Sacramento Kings 113, Phoenix Suns 106 -- Second-chance struggles


PHOENIX — It had been awhile, almost a lifetime ago. Well not quite that long, more like 217 days ago to be exact.

But for the first time since a season-ending 118-98 drubbing at the hands of the Denver Nuggets back on April 17, the Phoenix Suns played more or less three-and-a-half quarters of flat, uninspired basketball. Outside of impressive first halves from Goran Dragic (scored team’s first 11 points) and Gerald Green (20 points on 5-of-6 from three-point range) and a late 13-2 run, there was little to like about the effort Jeff Hornacek’s squad put forth on the U.S. Airways Center court Wednesday night.

There was no life on the fast break, no execution in the half court, no response to adversity, and consequently no fourth quarter lead or any semblance of a close contest down the stretch.

Behind 17 turnovers forced and 18 second-chance points, the Sacramento Kings swept their home-and-home series with the Suns, taking the back end by a final of 113-106.

Four Kings scored in double figures, as Mike Malone’s squad recorded its first three-game win streak of the season and fourth straight win overall against Phoenix.

“Tonight was the first night that we probably didn’t have the effort,” Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek said. “I don’t know, they outhustled us on most things, especially early on in the game with the rebounding.  I told the guys after the game that the two games we played those guys, of the 50-50 balls I don’t think we got to a single one.

“We were a step slow for balls, not tough enough. We let them do what they wanted.”

How’d the game answer the pregame questions?

How strong is Phoenix’s short-term memory?

On this night, it wasn’t necessarily about memory as much as it was about energy. Without Eric Bledsoe (left shin contusion) in the lineup, the Suns were in dire need of a third scorer to carry the load alongside Dragic, who poured in a season-high 31 points, and Green — a search that proved futile.

Marcus Morris added 13 off the bench, but complimentary pieces like Markieff Morris, Channing Frye and P.J. Tucker scored a combined 14 points on 4-of-16 shooting.

That lack of offensive production combined with a .70 assist/turnover ratio and a lack of desire on the boards turned a very winnable contest into a game of catch up.

While the last three losses by a combined six points hurt, this one might linger a little longer. Phoenix simply was outclassed and outworked on its own floor, and it didn’t have anything to do with a lack of talent, depth or a youthful roster.

Who will close?

Nobody. That question was basically put to bed by Phoenix’s 12-point third quarter — a frame in which it hit just four field goals and turned the ball over six times.

After Dragic and Green – combined for 33 first-half points — essentially willed them to within five at the break, the Suns made their efforts rather obsolete, turning in arguably their worst quarter of basketball at home this season.

When it was all said and done, Sacramento held a 12-point advantage and never was really threatened the rest of the contest.

The Suns whittled the lead down to six with under five minutes to play behind a 44-point fourth quarter, but that’s as close as it would get.

Can ‘Boogie’ Cousins be corralled?

The short answer was no. The longer answer was at times, but not consistently enough.

While Cousins wasn’t as physically dominant (27 points and 12 rebounds) as he was in the front end of the teams’ home-and-home series, he had no problem asserting himself in the paint and on the glass when necessary. After a few early ineffective minutes against Channing Frye, Miles Plumlee and the occasional double team, Cousins found a way to make an impact.

It didn’t necessarily come from the field (4-of-14) per say, but the former No. 5 overall pick attacked the basket, got to the foul line (15 attempts) and made the Suns pay on second-chance opportunities.

In all, Cousins finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds — his fourth consecutive double-double against Phoenix.

 

  • Scott

    I think the way you play SAC is to cover everybody EXCEPT Cousins. Let him get all he can get, who cares. If you stop everyone else, you win the game.

  • SHAZAM

    suns gave up…didn’t even show up..first time this season I’ve seen that

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  • Luka

    Markieff Morris and Frye aren’t getting it done. Until McDonough addresses the black hole that is the PF position of the Suns we may as well star tanking now.

  • foreveris2long

    Markieff is who we thought he was.

  • Dennis Green

    Crown their ass!

  • Dave:f32

    I didnt buy into the hype of Mk. Morris or his brother, even when he had that brief stretch of 3 games when he pretended to be an NBA PF.

    But, alot of fans in these forums did it for him and Miles Plumlee as free press. Their agents thank u.)

  • Bam

    So…. are we back to the tank train? Or simply a case of Missing bledsoe?

  • Mel.

    Probably some of Column A and Column B, Bam: it’s a good argument for the offensive firepower that Bledsoe can provide in these situations, but also a likely indication of how this season’s going to go.

    Run a little hot, run a little cold. For me, the Tank Train implies an active effort to subvert a team’s potential by limiting it both mentally and performance-wise: basically admitting that “we’re not that good, so just go shoot jumpers and try hard and we’ll have ice cream after the game.” I see plenty of flaws in what the boys are doing, but I don’t see THAT level of malaise… yet.

  • JZ

    Sac is probably wishing they could play Phx every other game. Suns made SAC look like a playoff team. I stopped watching this game after SAC went on a 10-0 run at the start of the second quarter. It’s just sad to see a guy that went last in the draft play with more heart (Isaiah) than guys that went on the 1st round a few years ago. Plumlee really needs to work on his FT’s or teams are going to start doing a Hack-a-Plum. Frye and Kieff have gone back to their shooting slumps. It seems like the best ways to beat this PHX team is with a big that can post up and with a small quick guard that can slash to the rim.
    On the other hand Dragic gave a good effort and Green has really stepped up his game this season.

  • john

    I was totally on the Isaiah Thomas bandwagon a couple of years ago. He’s got the drive of his father. Not even close to the same talent level, but sometimes motor and intelligence is enough to turn a mediocre talent into a valuable asset.

  • Luka

    I think Frye has had enough ice cream for the whole team.

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  • BCrayZ

    Good point Scott.

    Isiah is the one we really needed to stop. Only was to stop him is to take care of the ball. How many times did he pick Gogi’s pocket at the end of the road game?

    I know Gogi. This back to back set of games will get into his head. Made him try too hard in the home game. Hero ball. It was hos responsibility to make sure that the ball would move. Instead, he played a selfish, driven game. Then he got some dad time. Will bat that his time with Mateo has been good for his mind. That more mature attitude may even return by next game. If not, I’m sure it will be soon. Gogi was best when teamed with another speedy, smart ball handler in Barbosa who could also spread the floor with his long range shot.

    MUST reunite that “killer bench unit.” Let’s go SUNS!!!!