Matt Barnes smokes Suns in concerning 3rd quarter


PHOENIX — An 11-point halftime lead is never enough. Ramp up the “it’s a game of runs” cliche, which can be applied to basketball, table tennis, cornhole or what have you. The Phoenix Suns, however, found a mighty painful way to lose to the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday, 104-96.

Had it not been for Matt Barnes and Blake Griffin combining for 30 points and grabbing all the confidence from the youngin’ Suns during the third quarter of the game, maybe Phoenix would have pulled it out thanks to the three other “good enough” quarters of play.

“Starting to be the story of our season, giving games away, games we should easily win,” said forward P.J. Tucker. “You can’t be up 11 at half, then be down 12-11. Just can’t happen.”

The hero for the Clippers was Barnes, who scored 18 third-quarter points thanks to a few good shots but also some open looks. Phoenix didn’t come around to guarding him, and Los Angeles pulled out textbook early offense to keep the Suns on their heels.

“There were some breakdowns in there,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. “Guys let it affect them on the other end. We weren’t playing defense and then we weren’t scoring.”

Phoenix scored just 18 third-quarter points, but the issues defensively were the biggest worry if the team back to only a half-game lead over the Memphis Grizzlies will hang on to a playoff spot.

So how did Barnes beat up on the Suns? A lot of credit goes to Blake Griffin, though the duo attacked Phoenix in many different ways.

On Barnes’ first shot in the opening minute of the second half, a lot of crisp action eventually finds Griffin with the ball in the right elbow after a pick-and-roll with point guard Chris Paul. The Suns defense sucks in — P.J. Tucker from Barnes, who is standing atop the arc, and Gerald Green from Darren Collison in the left corner.

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Griffin kicks it to Collison, and when Green ends up contesting the three, he ends up in the stands, something that Hornacek was conscious about in his postgame interview.

“A couple times when we’re trying to run them off the three, we just ran past them so they wouldn’t shoot the three,” Hornacek said. “When we say run them off the line, you can run at them hard and then stop at the last second and make them think you’re running off the line and make them think you’re running past them.”

Green puts himself terribly out of position and forces Tucker to attempt another contest coming from the middle of the lane.

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But by the time Tucker makes his move to cover Green, Collison is passing it the opposite direction rather than pulling up for a shot after a pump-fake. Channing Frye notices Barnes enough to challenge the shot, but it’s too late and the shot goes in.

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The next eight Barnes points come easily: off a quick pull-up that surprises Tucker while caught behind a Griffin screen; a contested pull-up two-pointer with Tucker defending from behind; and a weakside score when Goran Dragic loses a floating Barnes on the left side of the arc.

Later on comes another major breakdown, one more significant. Channing Frye ends up watching Barnes in the right corner because of the Clippers’ push up the court.

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After the trailing DeAndre Jordan sets a pick on Goran Dragic, the ball is swung to Griffin in the right elbow, who fumbles the rock as Barnes floats from the right corner to atop the three-point arc.

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Paul, Dragic and a busy strong side chase after the ball.

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Just as Paul saves it to Griffin, Jordan is heading toward the rim.

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Notice Dragic essentially guarding an out-of-bounds Paul, Tucker and Len both concerned about Griffin, who’s turned, and Frye being more concerned about Jordan. That leaves Barnes open yet again. Green doesn’t attempt to contest the shot from the left corner thanks to Collison’s spacing, but even if he did likely wouldn’t have bothered Barnes all that much.

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The point of this last play goes into what winning teams do and squads like the Suns are learning.

When Phoenix’s own offense broke down, it led to forced isolation situations. When the Clippers got disrupted, their players kept thinking. Jordan knew to roll hard to the rim, which opened up a shot. Collison didn’t panic and held his spacing in the left corner, keeping Green far away from the play. Like Phoenix sometimes does on offense, it stood and watched on defense with four players on the strong side essentially guarding two guys — Paul is just walking back inbounds as Barnes’ shot is going up.

Barnes finished his 18-point third quarter with an easy floater over a miscommunication on a pick-and-roll involving Tucker and Len, then by cutting down the paint for a layup after the defense once again loses him on a loose ball.

“It’s very, very small stuff that we’re doing that’s the difference between winning games and losing games,” Tucker said.

“We’ve got to step up right now. There’s no hiding or running away from that.”

Barbosa likely done, Plumlee day-to-day

Jeff Hornacek said after the game that Leandro Barbosa indeed broke his hand and could be out the rest of the regular season. It was a guess that Barbosa will miss around six weeks, an accurate timetable for such an injury. Barbosa won’t require surgery.

Miles Plumlee, who missed the loss with a sore knee, will be monitored and is likely considered day-to-day.

“He’s got some knee swelling so we gave him tonight off, and we’ll see how he is tomorrow for the next game (Thursday against the Thunder),” Hornacek said. “If it’s still a little swollen, maybe he misses the next game. We have two days off after that.”

  • john

    That. Was. Pathetic.

    I felt like I was watching one of D’Antoni’s teams last night. A gimpy Dudley getting to the rim from beyond the three point line before any help came was the cherry on top of an absolutely terrible defensive effort. If you can’t stop Jared Dudley from getting to the rack, you’re not stopping anyone.

  • Melon Man

    Nice breakdown Kevin. So much stuff happening during a game having the still shots really puts thing into perspective.

    Completely irrelevant but what’s up with the tennis ball shoes?

  • Foreveris2long

    Kevin, nice breakdown. John I could not agree with you more. I can live with missed shots but I lose patience with not playing fundamental defense which is why it is painful to watch Frye most nights.

    I look forward to hopefully more Goodwin the rest of the year.

  • Ellensburgbballfan

    The game may have been a blessing in disguise

    If this team cant defend a hell of alot better, then how in the world is it going to do anything but lay down and die if it, by some miracle, makes the playoffs?

    So now Goodwin gets some minutes,which is just great

    Len, when you look at his stat line, actually did pretty good

    6 points and 6 rebounds is very close to what Plumlee has been doing lately

    Plumlee has only had one game in all of February where he scored in double figures, and on double doubles

    Plumlee had two double doubles in January

    that comes off the heeles of 10 points 10 boards a game in December in 26 minutes a game

    Its not gonna kill us to put Len out there, i mean, how else is he going to learn?

  • Eric

    It was fun while it lasted but this stretch is going to kill their playoff chances they will go 0-4 in this stretch and be 3 behind Memphis in the loss column after and that will be all she wrote

  • DBreezy

    It just looks like they’re getting tired out there lately. Not so much physically or from the pace, but mentally. With the exception of Goran, a lot of these guys are playing well above probably even their own expectations and the season is a grind.

    Especially out west where despite playing extremely well all season long, you find yourself just barely in the playoffs. Every game is meaningful and it’s a conference where even the worst teams still have 21 W’s and will beat you on any given night. And teams are actually up for you now vs the earlier part of the season. You really see it affect them mentally on D, and it gets worse when they get off to slow starts and have to expend so much energy just to get back in the game.

  • DBreezy

    @Eric,

    While I definitely could see MEM getting ahead of the Suns during this stretch, I don’t think we’ll really know if it’s over until the end of this month. After the Clips on Monday, they’ve got 9 out 11 versus the East. They’ve also got what’s left of the Lakers at the end of the month. Minny on the road on the 23rd should be their toughest game. They’ve got a chance to go on a nice run in that stretch.

    Memphis on the other hand still gets to play: CHI, POR 2X, MIA, IND, MIN, GS, and DEN in that stretch mixed in with a few gimmes. I think that has to be the stretch that the Suns separate from the Grizz. If not April’s gonna be tough as both squads play a lot of Western conference opponents including each other in the 2nd to last game of the season. If Bledsoe does return seems like the stretch vs the East might provide a safe spot to bring him back chemistry wise without risking what happened to OKC with Westbrook initially.

  • Ellensburgbballfan

    We can still make the playoffs if the Suns turn it around on defense, but if they cant do that, then just squeaking into the playoffs as the 8th seed in the west isnt going to do much, your better off finishing 9th and taking your chances in the lottery

  • DZ

    And the Suns are only 1/2 game behind Dallas which does not have an easy schedule either. They do have more home games remaining than the Suns though. But I don’t think that these next 3 games are going to sink the Suns’ playoff hopes even if they do all turn out to be losses.

  • Foreveris2long

    DBreezy, my man, nice of you to drop by.

  • DBreezy

    Foreveris,

    What’s up man? Been a busy few months, but I’ve been catching all the games one way or another. Been too busy to watch college hoops or do much more than lurk here occasionally. It’s been a fun season though.

  • Foreveris2long

    Matt who? We let a journeyman scrub go off in the 3rd quarter leading to the one game demise of the Suns.

    DBreezy I agree with the fact it has been an enjoyable season. I have been able to catch a fair amount of college games which has brought me to the conclusion this will not be one of the greatest drafts in the past 20 years as some experts have predicted. I think it will be a good not a great draft (fairly deep but appears to lack potential superstar). It will however be much better than the 2013 draft IMO.

  • John

    Matt who? We let a journeyman scrub go off in the 3rd quarter leading to the one game demise of the Suns.”

    @F2L, that “journeyman scrub” comment is a wee tad bit of an oxymoron when you think about it clearly. If teams didnt think he was any good, then why would they enlist his services?

    He’s been in the league and getting paid for years since he was drafted outta UCLA.

    Obviously, he’s doin something right, just recently kicking our Suns butts!

    Im more disgusted with our Suns allowing him to look like some kind of All-Star!!!

  • Luka

    Bench Frye. Start Kieff. Get Goodwin more minutes. Limit Frye to 15 minutes off the bench. Get Shavlik more playing time.

  • foreveris2long

    John the terms are relative. A journey man is someone well traveled in the NBA which he clearly is. He has also spent most of his time coming off the bench in primarily a defensive role so he is not accustomed to offensive games similar to last night. Jamal Crawford is a shooter who has a history of explosive games. Barnes is known more for his defense, hustle and playing with a chip on his shoulder. I have no idea why attending UCLA has anything to do with NBA skills.

    Teams generally employ him for his defensive intensity not for his offense. In fact The Clips picked up Granger because they were concerned what they were losing with Reddick out. Last night was completely out of character for Barnes which is why we should have been able to slow him down. He is not that type of player.

  • John

    @F2L, i think you have the wrong idea of what the term journeyman means. In the context of professions, apprentice is student and journeyman is skilled.

    To call Barnes a scrub when he’s getting pt on one of the best teams in the West, and one of the top offenses in the league relative means squat. It just shows your frustration under the circumstances the Suns are in, or soon about to not be in?

    It further proves at just how far down the Suns have fallen this season. To allow a player such as Matt Effin Barnes to turn in a 28 pt 8 rebound 2 assist effort at the tender age of 33 yrs old is saying alot!

    UCLA is not saying too much if you’re not reading into it to much. Just like Jamal Crawford not having anything to do with a Matt Barnes performance. Just like Granger and Reddick too! Ya dig?

    Fact is that Suns defense is light and the 3 spot could use upgrading, besides stating the obvious of a desperate need for PF banger.

    Matt Barnes is capable of scoring and shooting in high bunches of points. When he played for the Suns, he averaged 10pts and some nights carried the team with his scoring back then. He has always been a 3pt threat. But the Suns know this already!

  • DBreezy

    Foreveris,

    While I’ll definitely defer to you and Hawki a bit on this year’s crop as I haven’t gotten to watch much since the new year, I’m not so sure that there won’t be any stars. I just call ‘em stars as I think a lot of the star/superstar stuff has been muddled by ESPN and talk radio. For instance, I can say a lot of negative things about Melo and how he approaches the game, but the man is clearly a star. There are many star players in the NBA who weren’t expected to be as good as they’ve become-even some drafted really high. Not many thought guys like Harden, George, and Love for example would be this good. Lillard, Nash, Kobe, Dirk, Westbrook (that one’s for you!) Even a guy who went first in Irving was doubted by many as being anything more than average and many people wanted Williams to go first.

    So with a draft that has good depth, I expect that we will find several stars within it. The thing is in today’s NBA, we may not know who those stars are for a few years as it was with Love, Harden, and George. Even this year’s down class still has the potential to yield some stars down the line other than MCW and VO who stand out the most so far.

    Looking at guys like Hibbert and Marc Gasol, would it be crazy if Len developed himself into a player along those lines in a few years like they did? Or a Goodwin adding to his game. Looking beyond our backyard, you can still see that guys like Giannis, Noel, McCollum, Adams, Schroder, Noguera, B-Mac, Zeller, and Shabazz have the potential to develop greatly in the next 2 seasons or so. Not saying that they will and the odds are clearly against the majority of them doing so statistically, but some of them probably will making some GM’s look very foolish.

    It’s a crazy world these days for GM’s of rebuilding squads. You must draft and develop well and do enough otherwise so that you get to be around when your talent develops in a few years as the days of getting a Lebron and taking off are largely over imo. Nobody is going to morn the loss of Brian Colangelo in Toronto, but they’re the 3 seed in the East with a roster who’s youth was largely brought in by BC along with Kyle Lowry. Yet his other moves didn’t keep him around long enough to see it start to come together and he certainly won’t get any credit for it. Must be a Toronto thing as a similar thing happened to the team that Isiah Thomas largely built up there years ago.

  • DBreezy

    @John,

    I think you hit on it when you talk about the word journeyman in the context of professions. An accurate description, but not the common meaning for most when talking about sports. Those players likely do have some solid skills that get them on the floor, but they have definite weaknesses elsewhere that keep them from rising above a certain role. In those areas, they’re basically considered a scrub. Like Dwight Howard would be considered a scrub as a jump shooter for example.

    I got just as mad as Foreveris last night at the part because one of my teammates who is a lot better than the guy he was guarding kept playing lazy D on his man and letting him get wide open set treys. I didn’t call his guy a scrub (I know both of them) but I did get into my guy for letting that dude get off the shit he was giving him which is pretty much saying the same thing in the context that Foreveris was I believe. Good to be back talking about nothing again, if only for a little while :)

  • John

    @DBreez,

    You held my attention for like the beginning paragraph of your response all the way up to when i read Dwight Howard and scrub being used in the same sentence. Then you lost me.

    P.S Dwight Howard and scrub should never be used in the same sentence for credibility purposes. Unless, that is, you are addressing a sentence about D12 and scrub being used in the same sentence…;)

    Good to be talkin bout nothing too

  • DBreezy

    @John,

    You’re correct if I was just calling D12 a scrub, but all I was saying is that he’s a poor jump shooter. I’m not a bad athlete, but I’m a terrible golfer an absolute scrub. In basketball, I score a lot in the post, off rolls, dives and flashes. I don’t shoot many jumpers, although I’m better than most people assume from the mid-range area. Every now and then I decide to shoot a lot of those shots and when they go in people have the same reaction that Foreveris’ did to Barnes’ game. According to Webster’s you are correct, but that isn’t what a lot of people playing/watching sports actually mean by that comment is different. As for credibility, this is the internet after all.

  • DBreezy

    Good night for the standings with DAL and MEM losing.

  • John

    @DBreez,

    The more you write, the more i think you got hit with one too many picks down low that affected upstairs.. Idk? Lets examine your EXACT words, since all my original comments werent for you, but for F2L, and you placed yourself in the middle Lol! You said:

    “Like Dwight Howard would be considered a scrub as a jump shooter for example.”

    How do you compute that just bcuz D12 cant hit a jumpshot that hes a “scrub”?

    Maybe your meaning of scrub is off. Yeah, your Scrub-O-Meter is broken so would that mean your a scrub at writing, or thinking? Hhhhmmmm

    I have been playing sports for a while now. When scrub is said, it means there is no discernible skill which you have failed to understand meaning of the word “scrub”, im guessing…

    And, you basically called your friend F2L, yourself and everyone on the internet a moron. Harsh!!! But i fail to make the connection between the two.

    What does stupidity have to do with the internet?

    So, basically, if i understand what your saying is that no smart people use the internet?

    Wow.

  • John

    So by DBreezy’s definition of the word scrub, we would call Michael Jeffery Jordan a scrub because he wasnt astute at assists!!!

    Hahaha not calling F2L out at all with that last sentence.)

  • foreveris2long

    It is the context John as D’Breezy illustrated. Some get it, some don’t and that is understandable. Having played with and against guys in college who later played in the NBA and continued in their circle while they played in the NBA, I assure you players referred to some of their colleagues as scrubs/journeymen in one capacity or the other (defensive or offensive scrub) if their games had noticeable limitations like the DBreezy example of Howard. We know they can all play at a high level but some are more limited than others in certain aspects of their game and they get that label. On Saturday mornings we will call a guy a scrub knowing he is better than 60% of the guys who walk in the gym. Enough however of the scrub talk as you are entitled to your opinion.

    DBreezy, oh I think there will be allstars in this summer’s draft, I am just not convinced there will be guys who I consider superstars like Kobe, LBJ, Wade, Magic, Shaq, Bird, Jordan, Durant, etc. See I definitely agree Love, Harden and Hibbert are allstars and there will be guys in this draft like them but they are not in my superstar room.

    I love the chat D’Breezy, stay on board.

  • John

    @F2L,

    Ohhhhhhh i get it! So calling someone a scrub is complimenting them! Okay, i was waaay off.

    When you were calling Barnes a scrub after he went off for 28 pts i took offense to it because you were basically calling our whole Suns team scrubs for not being able to guard a 33 yr old “journeyman scrub”… I digress.

    I feel about as dumb as a doornail for even saying anything. Im sure you and DBreezy have that effect on people, no offense. Lol ;).

    Have a great evening guys! Its been entertaining at best, and at worst a misunderstanding. Scrub in your terminology is a good thing. Well, back on east coast its a derogatory term thats meant to describe the most useless of players.

  • DBreezy

    John,

    You are as literal as ever in a world where it is quite common for different words to mean different things to different people. As Foreveris is said that’s your opinion and you’re more than entitled to it, but it doesn’t mean you or I are ‘right’ which is what I meant about the internet. Lots of things are said on that net, some true, some not. However it’s dressed most of it’s just opinion which we we will individually agree with or not.. That’s all I meant by my response to your comment about credibility. If I wanted to call someone a moron, I would., but having a different view than me doesn’t in and of itself make one a moron. Just like none of your jabs at my intelligence or lack thereof change the import of either of our comments on an internet forum on any coast. It is time to move on though and in that vein.

    SCRUB!!!!!

    http://youtu.be/wRnSnfiUI54?t=17s

  • DBreezy

    Foreveris,

    I think you can get to the finals and possibly win with star players who aren’t necessarily of the caliber of the superstars you listed. Detroit is the most obvious example, but Indiana has a strong shot at doing this year. San Antonio’s superstars are past their prime, well past in the case of TD and Manu, yet they were one bad bounce and 28 secs away from winning it all. I would say that KG, Pierce, and Ray were still good but past their superstar primes when they went to two finals. A lot of people questioned Dirk as a superstar after the 2006 loss to the Mavs and the 1st round exit vs the Warriors after that. Even going into the finals he won, many had questions.

    Ideally you want to have a Kobe, Lebron, Duncan, Shaq, KD, but realistically not everyone is going to get one of those guys and even be able to put them in the right situation if they do get them. It’s not like Lebron and Shaq weren’t superstars in Orlando and Cleveland but the cast on the court and on the sidelines wasn’t right for them. Teams that don’t win the once in a lifetime types have to go on though and there appears to be some good raw material for that in this draft.

  • John

    Thats funny, Debris! But since you got the last word in i guess i gotta say you win! You are sooo right…! I mean scrub is the most intrinsic value of a word that its meanings are so vast they expand to all the continents, only to circulate back to its original origin…. Is your tongue in your cheek? But i must say what is the meaning of the word? Remember, scrub means good in your books so of course i wasnt putting you down at all, i was complimenting you like i took your last compliment. Btw thanks!

    scrub[ skruhb ]
    verb (used with object) [scrubbed, scrub·bing.]
    1. to rub hard with a brush, cloth, etc., or against a rough surface in washing.
    2. to subject to friction; rub.
    3. to remove (dirt, grime, etc.) from something by hard rubbing while washing.

    But, thats your word! Hahaha

    YAHOOOooooo!

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ybcvlxivscw

  • DBreezy

    John,

    Childish as ever I see. Still concerned about who got the last word and who ‘won’ like a 7 year old. I remain in awe of your sensitivity, I mean intelligence. You know how I struggle so with definitions. Perhaps at some point in time you’ll learn to simply disagree with someone and/or simply dislike their presence without needing a C section.

    Focker out.

    (on this one)

  • John

    Congratulations on your pregnancy, D! I always thought you were a guy for some reason… Oh well.

    It was a misunderstanding of language so no problem. We are both Suns fans so at least you are rooting for the right team. Phoenix Suns!

  • Foreveris2long

    DBreezy,
    Moving on to our all-star v superstar discussion. I absolutely agree a team can win without a superstar. I definitely do not take issue with this upcoming draft from those that had the likes of Barkley, Olojuwan, Duncan, Robinson, Jordan Bird, Magic etc.

    Good night last night as both Dallas and Memphis lose. Let’s see if we can find a miracle win tonight. I love the fact Len and hopefully Goodwin get thrown into the mix of playoff intensity basketball. Good luck Suns

  • Foreveris2long

    The above msg makes no sense. I was probably under the influence of work. D’Breezy what I meant to say was the upcoming draft may very well have future allstars but I do not believe it will contain any superstars of the likes of Barkley, Olojuwan, Duncan, Robinson, Jordan, Bird, Magic, Kareem etc.

    I fully accept the Idiot Award of the Day.

  • DBreezy

    Foreveris,

    It’s going to be very interesting to see how McD handles this Suns offseason including the draft, whether the Suns make the playoffs or not. In many ways, the Goran/Bledsoe question is even murkier than it was at the beginning of the season. Outside of those two the majority of the remaining Suns are probably playing a bit above their normal levels, and in any case most would be bench players on a contending team-albeit integral bench players in a few cases. Len and Goodwin have shown enough flashes to say they don’t look like busts so far, but they’ve got a big summer ahead of them and the team will likely have to make some decisions before they know how much those two have improved. Then you’ve got at least 4 draft picks to figure out how you want to play in a draft that has some depth. Financial flexibility wise, you have to wonder if they’ll consider filling out and or replacing some of the roster with more guys on rookie deals a la Houston and OKC. One thing that’s nice is that I think McD has a good head and staff to figure it all out. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that way about a Suns front office.

  • Foreveris2long

    I probably have not been this excited about the offseason since we acquired Nash. I have a lot of trust in McD with efficient use of free agent dollars, the draft with multiple 1st round picks and what to do with Tucker. I think he is going to keep Bledsoe and Dragic but I have been wrong before. While last summer I did not think the two point guard back court would work, I think I was wrong. Even OKC has gone to it in the 4th quarter with Westbrook and R. Jackson. With good interior defenders it could work well. We just badly need a defensive power forward.