Jeff Hornacek finds Phoenix's effort concerning

PHOENIX – If this were in any of two New York City boroughs, this would’ve been panic time. The Phoenix Suns’ 112-104 home loss reeked of poor effort and a nonchalant approach to facing the now 3-15 Utah Jazz.

The Suns weren’t engaged early and throughout. Utah made them pay, and unlike the Knicks or Nets, veteran clubs with two large payrolls, Phoenix can cite youth for the gaps in the effort.

Or maybe not.

Reading the box score, Jeff Hornacek wondered why the Suns had surrendered 112 points on 51 percent shooting to a team that averaged 90 points per game and was only shooting in the low 40s coming into U.S. Airways Center on Saturday.

“Just shows they just come out and thought they were going to outscore them,” Hornacek said of his players. “You can never give a team easy shots, easy buckets early in the game. That usually transfers up throughout.

“They don’t want to listen to it,” Hornacek added. “Coaches are telling them they’ve got to be ready. That’s what happens.”

That is a loss for a team that is now apparently struggling to handle surprising success. Channing Frye laid into his team as well, saying the Suns weren’t “emotionally invested” in the loss.

Utah hit 9-for-18 from the three-point line – Hornacek said the three-point defense “half-challenged” the Jazz – and scored 20 points off of a reasonable 13 turnovers. It wasn’t the timeliness of Phoenix’s miscues that did it in, Hornacek said, taking another look at the box score and letting out a harumph when he read that the Suns allowed 34 fourth-quarter points.

It’s frustrating even more than the Suns have wins and losses against the league’s elite that showed what a full effort looks like.

“We can’t play great against San Antonio, Portland and Oklahoma City – you know, tough teams, teams that are trying to win championships – and not play to the same level with a team with Utah’s record,” Frye said. “Tip your hats off to Utah. They took advantage of us. They just got into the paint, made threes and just executed their offense. We let them.”

The question of the game being a back-to-back wasn’t asked directly, but it was clear what any Suns coach or player would have said if it was. The 30-year-old Frye, who scored 17 points, played 33 minutes and said he felt fine. The Suns’ young legs should be able to finish strongly.

Starting fast and going fast wasn’t there either.

“This is the third time in a row a bigger team has (scored more fastbreak points),” Hornacek said after Phoenix lost that battle 17-13. “When Goran doesn’t have the ball, we don’t push it.”

Of course, it’s hard to push the ball when there aren’t stops. But in the last several games, the Suns haven’t played with a consistent effort — even in Friday night’s victory at Utah when the Jazz made a late push. That’s the most concerning thing for Phoenix moving forward.

If youth is the excuse, Hornacek is hoping the Suns learn from it quickly. That said, the fast start to the season is making it lazy to pull the youth card at all.

“We went through the same thing with Sacramento,” Hornacek said. “You think you’d learn your lesson the first time. Obviously they didn’t.”

  • Pix

    Love the fact Horny and Frye have ripped straight in! Too many times coaches and players seem to automatically roll off an endless stream of generic excuses.. Back on track next game boys!

  • Luka

    It is frustrating to essentially hand 3 games away (Sac 2x, and Utah). I like Hornacek not sugar coating things. He knows the upcoming schedule isn’t going to be particularly easy and wants to stem the tide now.

    It’s easy for Frye to rip into teammates but he’s not exactly consistent himself on the defensive end.

  • Al

    Once again, Suns played for 40 minutes and made silly mistakes for the last 8 in the 4th quarter. Did they spent too much energy against Utah the night before? I am not sure if this Suns team will be able to win any games in the second night of a back to back if they play like this. Btw, has Bledsoe completely recovered or is he still slightly hurt? I honestly believe he still upset he didn’t get a max offer and will play very selfish throughout the season in order to pamper his stats. Don’t think Goran and Bledsoe can co-exist in the long run. Maybe Bledsoe should be traded to SAC for Vasquez and a 1st round pick.

  • Dave:f32

    Grizzlies – L
    Rockets – L
    Raptors – W
    Lakers – W
    Kings – L
    Warriors – L
    Spurs – L
    Nuggets – W
    Mavericks – L

    Yeah, it gets tough from here on out through the All-Star game. Bummer. But dreams for a great draft pick addition to our line-up, and quite possibly a Bledsoe trade coupled with a vet and/or draft pick for a decent PF?

  • Scott

    This sort of behavior is what separates the players you keep from the players you don’t.

    The team will have quite a few more chances at this sort of thing, and you can be sure McDonough will be monitoring it all.

  • EBJM

    Being in Houston right now I get to watch all of the Rocket’s games on TV and they are for real. Spurs-Rockets was a fantastic game.

    The most shocking is McHale’s coaching, I never thought he would never move off the old Celtic model he played on and go to a four and one offense with the emphasis on the three-ball. Their chemistry is great as Asik’s teammates really seem to be supporting him and convincing him to stay and accept his back-up role.

    Other team’s castoffs have made the Rockets bench one of the best in the league anchored by the big fella Asik. Former Kings Garcia and Casspi, former King, Sun and Rockets starting PG Aaron Brooks and PG Pat Beverly are playing great. Ironically the Lakers drafted Beverly and the Heat waived him.

    The emergence of Terrance Jones at PF has made this possible. Chandler Parsons has been surprising, plays a lot like ex-Rocket Robert Horry.

    HOF Rocket guard and current broadcaster Calvin Murphy looks like he has a bet with Craig Sager for worst taste in suits.


    ok i need help :)
    what if in this rebuild season we find ourselves needing to trade 2 out of 3 players..frye,bledsoe and dragic which one would be kept for the future and why? for what reasons would the other 2 be traded? PLEASE everyone pitch in with an opinion.

  • EBJM

    Trading Frye would not be a need, he isn’t part of the future. He has a player option for next season and then he would be gone anyway. He is a reasonable $6.8 million bench addition for a playoff team.

    Bledsoe and Dragic are both at their best when they have the ball. Dragic has a very trade-able contract, he is signed for $7.5 million with a player option in ’15-’16.

    I would think since Dragic will be 28 I believe during the playoffs and his good contract he would be traded over Bledsoe who I think will only be 24 in another two weeks or so.

  • hawki


    Growing up in Buffalo, NY back in the 60′s I got to watch Calvin Murphy all the time since he played at Niagara Univ. which was about 20 miles outside Buffalo.
    He was a scoring machine outdone only by Pete Maravich.

    A little known fact was that Murphy was perhaps the best baton twirler in the country & used to put on shows all around the Buffalo area.
    I’ve seen his baton act a few times and he was amazing.

  • hawki

    @ Shazam

    I’ve posted a few times regarding the Bledsoe-Dragic situation & basically echo what EBJM just posted.

    I love Dragic & would hate to see him go but in the cutthroat world of pro sports it would probably be Dragic leaving & Bledsoe staying for the reasons EBJM cited.

  • Solarion

    What I find concerning is this team is a playoff/bubble team, and the only way to get better is to be really bad, and draft within the first 1-5 picks, at this rate they’re a .500 team, they’re going to get a high first round pick, I know we have 5 first round picks over the next 2 drafts? Can someone correct me on that.

    I love their heart, I love McDonough, and Hornacek has been a wonderful surprise, but we’re not going to attract marquee free agents, and we’re not going to get much help in the draft, as much as I love to see them win, I would gladly take a 23 game losing streak too, a few of them in fact. I hate saying that as a fan, but to get better you have to be really bad.

  • EBJM

    Suns have 6th 1st rd picks in the next two drafts BUT four of them from other teams are lottery protected.

    Season is still young but the Suns definately do not look like they will be getting a whole lot of ping pong balls.

    Problem is if they try and tank they may alienate Bledsoe who was being sought after by contending teams the past year.

    Hawki I never knew much about Murphy except he was the best under six-foot player that I had ever watched.

  • Fan in Chi Town

    I understand that this draft is supposed to have a lot of potential talent, but what I do not understand is why everybody wants to tank so bad. The Suns traded for Bledsoe for a reason. I assume he is supposed to be a major part of the future. For his first time getting starter minutes he is averaging about a 20 and 7 with great defense. He will only get better.

    I agree that it would be great to draft another great player to pair alongside him, but let’s be real. The lottery is a crap shoot, and we are not even guaranteed a great player because we just don’t know how their skill set will translate. We can’t even get our lottery pick on the court this season.

    I like our team, and I like the way they are playing. Obviously I would not want to be a .500 ball club for eternity, but I am comfortable with where we are headed right now. Besides, we’ve been bad since before Nash left, and it hasn’t gotten us anywhere.

  • Dave:f32


    They would trade Bledsoe with a stipulation. If they knew that they couldn’t sign him long-term, then it would be in their best interest to trade him for assets that would contribute to their overall design of the future.

    I feel Frye is still a very tradeable piece to the puzzle, simply because his contract will be on a player-option in the next year or so, and the team he would go to would have the option of either offering him a long-term contract, or not pick up his player option in order to clear cap space for that team.

    Dragic is a tradeable piece but I feel is the least likely because he is an older player, a vet, which is attractive to some teams, but in a guard-heavy league, he may be perceived a dime-a-dozen at his age. Still, he may attract the attention for those contending for a title and teams who require a combo guard with productive capabilities to put them over the top. His ability to dish the rock and make those around him better is a hot commodity.

    In my estimation, the Bledsoe-Dragic saga, where Dragic plays a little bit, then gets injured, and Bledsoe plays a little bit, then gets injured, is a means to the entire equation. It seems to me that Bledsoe, if he was gonna stick around, would have signed the offer from the Suns initially. That spoke volumes to the organization, as it would be a difference of a couple million over the long haul, and the Suns realize that they are gonna have to fork out significant dollars in order to keep him after he becomes a free agent. I don’t think McD sees the value in Bledsoe more than what he sees in Dragic.

    Also, in rebuilding a viable playoff contender, the organization realizes that in order to do so, they aren’t gonna have all the players at all the same age from top to bottom. Veterans will be needed in order to put this team over the top.

    Just my humble opinion, of course.)

  • Dave:f32

    I believe the saying goes: “It gets worse before it gets better.”

    It applies to our team’s current plight.

  • Scott

    I think the Suns will snap out of it. They’ll learn the lesson. Which isn’t to say this won’t happen a time or two more, but most of the team is young and inexperienced and they’ll gain more resolve to play hard and win with each painful loss.

    For example, I think last year’s losing experience did a lot to make Dragic more resolute to keep attacking and playing hard all game. Losing is no fun, and if you give into it, you become a loser yourself.

    The Suns have a lot of players on the roster right now, many of them playing well or at their career best, and yet of course the Suns won’t want to keep them all. Events like the one we just had, where members of the team fail to show up, are just the sort of thing that wise GMs look at to see who to keep and who to trade.

    Hornacek and McD want players who always give full effort.

    Dragic and Goodwin are probably the two safest players on the team. Dragic is just now hitting his stride as a legitimate and tested starting PG. If Tucker’s 3 pt shooting remains intact, he’ll be another player with a safe roster spot. Plumlee is probably safe due to his combination of effort and good contract.

    Frye and Green are playing well and giving good effort, but both may be on the block for trades. Frye’s getting toward the outer edge of the age group for the Suns in this rebuilding mode. He’s not old – he’s in his prime – but that’s why over the next year the Suns might want to reward him with a trade to a contending team, as it is unlikely the Suns will do anything but tread water in the next year or two.

    I don’t anticipate that either Frye or Green will be leaving this year, but you never know what opportunities might arise.

    For example, the Knicks, Nets, and Lakers are likely to be making some trades, if they can, at the deadline. I don’t see where the Suns would get directly involved with any of these teams, but they might play a facilitating role to get a player or a pick, as they did with the Clippers.

    So let the players play, enjoy the games, and we’ll see how things look after the trade deadline.

  • Dave:f32

    As it stands right now, the team isnt a contender. Difficult to imagine McD not looking to improve via trade.

  • foreveris2long

    Trey Burke, the guy I wanted the Suns to draft if Len wasn’t available, had another nice game tonight in upsetting the Rockets. He looks really good. In another game, Paul George put on a show against Portland by going off for a career high of 43 but they lost. IMO Portland is for real.

    As to what the Suns do I think they trade Goran when the opportunity presents itself. Both are really good point guards whom I like a lot but Bledsoe is better than Dragic was when Dragic was 23 and probably has a higher ceiling. If it takes 3 years for the Suns to be championship relevant it means Dragic would be 31, likely on the downside of his prime. I think the Warriors would love to have Dragic as their backup point guard play is suspect. He would also be an excellent combo guard with Curry.

    Tough stretch of games approaching, time to build more character in this young squad.

  • Roger

    Under the CBA rules, Suns did the right thing by not signing Bledsoe this year. Next year, the Suns will want to first sign other FAs without worrying too much about going over the salary cap. If they do go over the cap, they will still have the option of signing their own RFA. Not the other way round as I understand. I’m sure Bledsoe’s agent and Lon Babby must have discussed this strategy.

    Goran will be traded if Suns can sign Gordon Hayward next summer outright or at least a sign/trade Goran, Green and a pick for Hayward. Probability of getting a replacement guard for Goran in the ’14 draft is quite high. I believe we’ll get Washington’s pick 15-20 which Suns can use for a really solid guard. If Hayward’s on board, Bledsoe will sign in a heartbeat.

    If the Suns are playing sub-500 by All-star break, we could see Frye dealt to a contending team. Not sure Suns will get a 1st round pick but salary dump will be needed for the summer FA signings. If Suns are playing well then they’ll keep Frye and maybe even try to acquire a player for the playoff.

    Suns 2014 summer will be even more exciting than the outstanding 2013 summer we just experienced.

    Go Suns!

  • foreveris2long

    I give the Suns a decent chance of beating Grizz tonight who will be without Gasol. Suns have something to prove to Coach after the perceived let down against Jazz on Saturday. At a minimum should be a very competitive game.

  • d d

    like to see suns get Julius randle from Kentucky, but will the suns be in that position

  • Foreveris2long

    The only way I see the Suns getting Randle is if the Pistons who are set at the 4 spot, getting the 1st or second pick and willing to do a deal with Suns.I think any other team would love to get and keep him if they were lucky enough to draft him.

  • Solarion

    I don’t want Randle, I prefer Parker, or better yet – even Aaron Gordon from U of A. I love Parker, but after seeing him struggle against a physical big front line, it doesn’t bode well when logging NBA minutes against bigger and faster competition.

    And while I love Bledsoe, there is no guarantee that he even stays. And I’d rather have a definitive PG, not this two PG’s in the back court approach. Which is why I think they play better when the other is out.