The Phoenix Suns road trip came to a close tonight, though not in the way fans would want to hear. The Suns fell in overtime to the Knicks in Madison Square Garden 98-96. It was surprising it was even that close. The Suns were down by as many as fourteen. As we’ve come to expect from this Suns squad, they did not quit. They fought their way back to take the game to OT, where they collapsed.
It really shouldn’t have even been that close anyway. The Suns had another dismal offensive night, shooting 35% from the floor and 23% from behind the arc. That just isn’t going to cut it. Yes, part of it is the lack of Eric Bledsoe and his 18 points per game, but the hoop was simply unkind to the Suns tonight. Several layups and shots went in and came right back out. Still, the Suns had an ugly night. Channing Frye went 3-12 from the floor, and Gerald Green went 2-16, including 0-7 from behind the arc.
He’s now the starter, and if the Suns want to win, he simply can’t do that. Late in the game, he insisted on shooting the ball even when he knew he was ice cold. The problem was, the Suns were short-staffed. P.J. Tucker, Marcus Morris, and Miles Plumlee had foul issues, and Markieff Morris was ejected after getting his second technical foul in the second quarter. They had to play Green. Even his awesome reverse jam off a steal doesn’t make up for that.
The bright spots came in the form of their guards. In an homage to last years Suns, Goran Dragic carried the team. He put up 28 points, though on 9-22 shooting, eight rebounds and four assists. Leandro Barbosa found his groove in this game. He put up 21 points, 14 of which were in the final quarter. Given the Suns need for a replacement guard, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Suns office is writing up a year long contract for him at this moment.
The Suns end the road trip 104, which is far lower than many people expected of them. The core issue is the lack of Bledsoe. When he was in, the Suns were able to easily run teams out of the building so fast that opposing teams didn’t have time to try to slow the pace and turn the game into a battle of toughness. With no Bledsoe, the Suns are having a much more difficult time with their run and gun approach, allowing opposing teams to expose their lack of interior toughness. The Suns can find a way to adjust, but they need to do it fast. A victory against the Lakers in Phoenix provides and excellent chance for them to regroup and regain their confidence.
The Suns drop to 21-15 on the season, and are on a three game skid. They return home to host the rival Lakers on Wednesday night.