San Antonio Spurs 112, Phoenix Suns 104 -- That other Green


This is the type of loss expected from a team expected to win 20 games, if lucky.

It wasn’t necessarily a blown 21-point first-quarter lead that said a lot about how much the Phoenix Suns missed Goran Dragic in a 112-108 loss on Friday, or how far Eric Bledsoe is from being a true floor general.

The list of incomprehensible mistakes the Suns made in the second half at the AT&T Center said more.

Danny Green, who finished with 33 points, was left wide open beyond the arc with two minutes left after he’d already scored 30 and hit six threes, and the shot gave San Antonio a 106-100 lead. Gerald Green left Kawhi Leonard to nab an offensive rebound on the very next play. And with 32 seconds left, Eric Bledsoe pushed the ball on the break and got to the rim, but then decided to fling the ball to Channing Frye for a three-point attempt instead.

It didn’t drop, but the Suns did in the Western Conference standings as the Memphis Grizzlies cruised past the Philadelphia 76ers.

Bledsoe finished with 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, but his seven turnovers came on casual and difficult dishes that the Spurs picked off — Phoenix committed 20 turnovers leading to 26 San Antonio points. Bledsoe’s command of the team wasn’t there as the Morris twins and Green got caught flinging long jumpers early in the shot clock, as if hero ball has ever saved the Suns.

It didn’t always look so painfully bleak for Jeff Hornacek’s team.

Like lackluster win at New Orleans didn’t happen, the Suns came out of the gates rolling like they had at Portland and against Oklahoma City, and they did so with Dragic sidelined with a sprained ankle.

The Suns shot better than 58 percent from the floor in the first half, at which point Bledsoe already had his season averages covered. He scored 19 points to go with six rebounds, five assists and three steals in the first half, mostly against a far-from-limber Tony Parker, who played through a back injury.

San Antonio rolled without Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili on the second night of a back-to-back, and it went as expected. Gregg Popovich’s team saw little drop-off with players stepping up in place of the two absent veterans.

A 62-49 halftime Suns lead wasn’t enough to feel comfortable and soon enough they started getting back on their heels. The Suns had kept pace behind what amounted to Bledsoe’s big day, Gerald Green’s 27 and Markieff Morris’ 20, yet late-game execution and the 37-19 Spurs advantage in the third quarter did Hornacek’s team in.

3rd Quarter shot chart

3rd Quarter shot chart

A Marco Belinelli jumper with 2:40 left in the third quarter game San Antonio a 79-78 lead, and the Spurs would take a five-point advantage to the fourth quarter as the Suns floundered.

A speedy, aggressive pace in favor of Phoenix suddenly reverted back to stagnant isolation ball as Green and the Morris twins failed to get into the paint. The kicker came when the Suns finally got a transition opportunity with a more than a minute left in the third quarter, but as Ish Smith found Markieff Morris for an open dunk, the forward threw the ball off the back-iron and two put-back attempts by P.J. Tucker didn’t go.

Making the law of averages ever more true, the Suns made just four field goals in the third, wiping away the success of the first quarter.

It was another missed opportunity with Phoenix falling to ninth in the standings thanks to the tiebreaker going in favor of Memphis.

So if there’s any good to come of Friday, it’s that the Suns see a Saturday matchup against the Dallas Mavericks not only as the most important game of the season but a chance to brush the taste of a bitter loss out of their mouths.

To the big questions asked by Dave Dulberg in the game preview.

Will Goran Dragic play? And if he does, how does he get around on the ankle?

Dragic didn’t play and watched from the bench as his team coughed up a 21-point lead and failed to execute in the fourth quarter.

Can Phoenix contain the “other guys?”

While Duncan and Ginobili sat out, Danny Green led the Spurs with a career-high 33 points. And once it became clear he was the man to stop — that was obvious in the first quarter — the Suns failed to keep tabs on the swingman, who went 12-of-17 overall and 7-of-10 from three-point range.

Does the light switch go on immediately?

Uh-huh, but it flickered out in the second half. The Suns shot out to a 35-14 lead before the Spurs closed the first quarter on a 10-2 run. Phoenix was smoking with four made threes, 70 percent shooting and decent-enough defense that held San Antonio to 33 percent shooting, but despite taking the first Spurs run well, it was all washed away in the third quarter.

  • EBJM

    I don’t understand those of you you gave this game away before it was played. Suns drop out of the playoffs with the loss. Now they go to Dallas and expect to beat Nowitzki and Ellis at home with a playoff berth on the line?

    Ho hum game by Plumlee against Splitter. Frye clanks another three-pointer and doesn’t provide anymore than Diaw. No Duncan. A 29 point turn-around by the Spurs?

    Is Bledsoe really worth a max contract?

  • foreveris2long

    While 20 turnovers make beating the Spurs in Texas really difficult, their lack of perimeter defense gets a lot of the blame. I have no idea why Tucker was cheating off Green on occasion. Tough game but they fought hard so I am goos with that.

    I do not blame Bled as Zimm does. The guy had a near triple double and he gets the blame for not having command of the team. 11 boards for a point guard, are you kidding me? Unduly harsh criticism. With Green being the only viable offense for most of the night, he had to try and create offense with virtually no weapons. It is tough out there when most of the night there is only one other scorer.

    Nash use to have a number of nights when he had 5+ turnovers. It happens to Steph Curry as well. It happens sometimes when you have the ball so much. However some of his passes are too casual but I suspect he will learn especially since he is only 24. Tough loss but I did not expect the Suns to sweep this trip.

    Glad to see Len and Goodwin for a cup of coffee. I think we will need Len against Memphis.

  • foreveris2long

    At age 24, EBJM he is worth whatever he can get. He is only scratching the surface of his potential. He no doubt has flaws that he needs to work on but his upside is so high, he is going to be really good. If he was with a team with more weapons or a dominant low post player, his assists will only improve. If the Suns have to match a max deal, I hope they do.

  • Dave:f32

    @F2L, i dont know what spell ur under with Bledsoe but just how high can you realistically expect Of a ceiling with TWO KNEE operations already at age 24…

    I just dont see him being worthy of max, similar to another “Eric”, as in Gordon ringing a whew relief bell.

    But, everyone is entitled to their opinion.

  • Dave:f32

    If i tell you, no dont buy that car because the tranny is bad… And you go out and fork over the cash to get it only to drive it out of the parking lot before it breaks down on you…. Well then thats ur own damn vault! Suns would be wise to reconsider offering a max deal for Eric Bledsoe.

  • Dave:f32

    Just like you dont go to the grocery store and buy a dozen eggs that are already broken, and pay full price. Only to break more eggs. Alex Len, yes, im referring to you.

  • Ellensburgbballfan

    Ok Dave:f32, who would you rather have the Suns drafted at number 5?

  • sunsn7

    Disheartening loss? Yes. Is all lost? No.

    Tomorrow night’s game still stands to be “must see” tv and expect it to go down to the wire like tonight. Problem is we’ve seen Dirk on a big stage before and when the 4th quarter rolls around, well..that really worries me.

    Only hope is if our entire front line plays inspired for 48 minutes. They won’t leave Dallas victorious unless they make it happen. The onus is on them.

    Dragic’s probable return certainly helps steady the ship and they will need him because tomorrow’s 4th qtr will prove to contain tumultuous waters.

    LETS GO SUNS

  • Dave:f32

    Gorgi Dieng, Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr, Michael Carter Williams, Ben McClemore are just a couple names that come to mind. You know, basically ANYONE player NOT INJURED, maybe?

  • foreveris2long

    Dave 32 weren’t you the same guy who came on this site and falsely said Bled had his entire Meniscus removed? While it is certainly just my opinion but the Suns are about a .500 team without Bled and much better with him. There a number of guys injured early in their careers who become allstars later. Westbrook has had two knee surgeries in a year, are you going to trade him as well? Come on man.

    People are going to differ on this issue and that is to be expected but if all you have in your corner is 2 arthroscopic knee surgeries, it is not going to dampen my optimism about his potential.

  • Dave:f32

    Since when the draft position selection start dictating the type if player you would draft at 23, but not at 5…

    The media hypes up the positioning but in reality if a team does their due diligence, it wouldnt matter what position you draft at because you’d have a laundry list of players that would readily be available to contribute for the next season.

    All draft positioning means is this: “Your turn to prove you did your homework to select a player worthy of competing in the NBA. Now.

  • Dave:f32

    He did have his meniscus removed

  • Dave:f32

    You ever think they might of sat Dragic tonight to see the different look with Bledsoe running the team so they can consider a trade if Dragic on draft night to move up to a higher selection position?

  • Dave:f32

    Bledsoe is not Westbrook, pullease!

  • Dave:f32

    Btw im not surprised by your ignorance or bullheaded stubbornness. I take you for an old guy very stuck in his ways. No problem, though. Ignorance is bliss, until a knee is blown for good. You are probably the same types who advocated to get Eric Gordon to a near max deal before Pel Pels outbid the Suns.

  • Dave:f32

    @F2L, please name some players…

  • Dave:f32

    @F2L, you only named Westbrook out of convenience… You cant name other players who have had one or two knee surgeries and ended up still playing at a star’s pace because there arent any. I already proved this argument in older posts. From data directly from the league.

    I rest my case.

  • CarlyJoni

    Horrible 3rd quarter. When Spurs took the lead after the 3rd, it was all over (90% chance of winning after leading the 3rd). Frye has been off his shot, but Suns as a team just could not pull it off. Dirk and co. are smacking their lips in anticipation. Watch Calderon go ballistic tomorrow. But we will have the Dragon back. Wish we could borrow 2 more from Daenerys Targaryen.

  • EBJM

    Actually I also posted that Bledose had his entire meniscus removed. What happened was they only removed part of it after they went in and discovered they didn’t need to remove the whole thing.

    From older posts I believe Forever mentioned Chris Paul had his meniscus removed or a part of it, I don’t remember.

    I just find it odd that you want to pay Bledsoe max money while not having played a full season as a starter while Dragic clearly has been playing at an MVP level carrying the Suns while Bledsoe was out.

    Suns couldn’t win a must-win game with Bledsoe running the show and Dragic sitting. Now they go to Dallas and expect to steal the biggest game of the season?

    Suns season is over tomorrow if they don’t beat Dallas.

  • DBreezy

    A lot of Suns got exposed tonight, Bledsoe included. They weren’t mentally ready for the focus needed for playoff basketball. They were making many of the same mistakes when they were up as they did later on, it just took awhile for the Spurs to take advantage. They repeatedly had the Suns offense pushed way out on the perimeter, deep into the clock resulting in poor jumpers, hero shots, and turnovers.

    This is a terrible squad for a volume shooter like Green to go up against because no team punishes empty possessions harder than the Spurs. Bledsoe is somewhat of an anomaly as a young pg. Most young pg’s get themselves in trouble trying to be too selfish, but I don’t think Bledsoe is a selfish player. However he makes a ton of bad reads both on drives and dishes and it’s something that has plagued him since Kentucky. It’s not just tonight, as the intensity has amped up in this playoff chase, we’ve seen a marked increase in those poor reads IMO. I almost punched my ipad when I saw him pass up that layup to dime it to Frye. I’m not ready to say what it means relative to his free agency status, but it bears watching. I’m sure McD is.

  • DBreezy

    Anyone else notice how much the pressure is getting to some of the guys during the timeouts and other sideline interactions?

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Our two small forwards….Marcus Morris & PJ Tucker played a combined 59 minutes going 2-15 from the field & scoring a collective 6 points.

    Archie (or even Christmas) should have got more PT with Gerald sliding to the SF position.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    DBreezy…..haven’t noticed any sideline shenanigans but I’m usually channel surfing during timeouts.

  • Voqar

    Freaking annoying. Suns let up and you cannot ever let up against SA. Defense on green was atrocious. Barely heard tucker’s name called and he’s usually everywhere. Bledsoe needs to stop playing high or something because he’s way too careless with the ball.

    Suns could’ve won, Suns should’ve won. Too many stupid turnovers. Too many bad shots taken (seriously, when you’re off – MARCUS – take it to the rim or pass the damn ball. Shooting brick #10 isn’t helping anyone.

    Oh, yeah, doesn’t help when refs won’t call fouls on the Spurs. I find it hard to believe that nobody on the Spurs committed a foul in the 4th but the first foul CALLED on them in the 4th was at the 10 second mark. Completely ridiculous.

    Suns started out strong then the team resting 2.5 starters (parker didn’t finish the game) and coming off a back to back made them look tired.

  • Ellensburgbballfan

    i know we didnt have Dragic tonight, but the Spurs were missing both Duncan and Ginobli, plus Parker didnt really play that many minutes and was coming off an injury

    if the Suns manage to squeak into the playoffs, they will probably face San Antonio

    with home court advantage and a 1 versus 8 matchup, how many people realistically think the Suns have a chance if they couldnt pull out a must win game, against a team playing at basically 50 percent?

    The Suns just need to take stock for next season, and make some off season moves

    considering what we were supposed to be, this has been a great year

    and oh yeah Frye was nominated for the Sportsmanship Award

    Thats great, the Suns are on an upward trend, we need to look at the positives to the season

    Management will need to decide on some big off season moves, i cant wait to see what he can do with

    A lot of FA money

    lots of draft picks

    movable pieces to upgrade the team

  • DBreezy

    Hawki,

    I’m not sure playing those other 2 would have solved the problem of poor D. The Spurs had Tucker, Green and Marcus lost on a lot of plays. My personal faves were the 3rd time in a row that PJ lost Danny Green with his back completely turned to him watching the ball and when Gerald Green launched an ill advised 3 and then predictably got caught on a screen while he was still talking to himself about his miss.

    As for the sideline stuff, I was talking about things like Christmas and Green getting into it on the sidelines after a poor shot by Green. Ish and Marcus had some frustration after a poor save attempt/turnover by Marcus and a couple of times that Bled looked like he didn’t want to hear it about his turnovers. There was more but I can’t remember it all. Nothing you don’t see in hoops daily, you just don’t see it from this Suns team much.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com Emanuel

    Bla bla bla bla………the problem here is Frye, this guy needs to Go…….period, the guy just can’t play…..he’s a veteran on this team but yet plays like he’s the rookie of this team, call me crazy, but I expected the Suns to win that game, even without Dragic, they were playing a San Antonio team on a back to back games? Are you kidding me? No Duncan no Ginobli, no Parker? And you want to make the playoffs? Bring Dragic back tonite and let’s win at Dallas or else? Go Suns!!!!!

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com Emanuel

    Playoffs or not….. this team has over accomplished, over achieved this season…when we think about where the team was suppose to finish at the start of the season? Right now I can’t wait for Draft day……some players on this team just simply got to go……..go Suns!!!

  • sunsn7

    Last night vs Bulls:

    Andre Drummond- 26 pts 26 reb

    Greg Monroe- 7pts 7reb

    Heard the question posed “what kind of impact would Monroe have without Drummond next to him?”

    Hmm…

  • foreveris2long

    EBJM, It is called foresight with regards to Bled. Remember I would have paid him $10m-$12m earlier in the season. The Suns invited him to make a case for max $.To this day we do not know what the Suns offered but I seriously doubt it was $10m/yr. Dragic played at an MVP level for a team that was about .500? I love Dragic he has a great game but he is almost 28, he should have a more polished game than Bled who only turned 24 4 months ago. In fact at age 24 Dragic was not a starting point guard for any team.

    Dave32 you are probably more clueless than anyone on the board. How can you disregard the relevant analogy to Westbrook? However to help you I will give another in Derrick Rose.

    D’Breezy, I am not sure what you consider a ton of bad reads but if my point guard has 80 or 90 touches in game and he turns it over 10% of the time, I would not consider it a ton of misreads. Yes he could have laid it up but we do not know if he was instructed to look for a 3 point shooter. You are speculating that this was his call. However let’s say it was a bad read or 2 or 3 bad reads plus turnovers, his pros for the night grossly outweighed the cons so I have no idea how you can say he was exposed. He is 24 and one of the most promising young point guards in the league.

  • Ellensburgbballfan

    I think Bledsoe deserves a raise, just not a max contract type raise

    he is 24, he has a ton of talent, no question

    but he is also coming off two meniscus tears in one knee (i think its one knee, might be a tear in each i dont know)

    thats not a good thing to have

    i think we need to sign him to a reasonable deal, or if we cant agree on something, just ship him out in a sign and trade deal

    i would rather get assets for Bledsoe rather than signing him to a 4 year max deal, have him get hurt at some point, and the Suns have to cut him with the stretch provision

    These things are not predictable though, Bledsoe could have no injury problems the rest of his career or he could have a ton of injuries a year and a half into a 4 year deal,you just dont know

    i know Orlando wanted him this year, to pair him with Oladipo in the backcourt

    Fine with me if Orlando wants to give us their lottery bound 1st round pick

  • foreveris2long

    Ellen why would Orlando give the Suns their lottery pick for Bled, he is a restricted free agent? If they have cap space they can sign him and we get nothing for him. The Suns Babby has already said the Suns are matching whatever offers are tendered to Bled. Now Babby could have been posturing but my gut says he is sincere as the Suns are essentially a .500 team without him.

  • Dave:f32

    F2L, Lol coming from you im not in the least bit offended.

    Time proves out but your theories lack basic common sense.

    Just because Eric B makes you hard my advice is that you shouldnt confuse business with pleasure.

    No matter how much Bledsoe has affected your jerk patterns for the positive, signing long term a player with TWO knee injuries at 24 is asking to be proven an imbecil.

    Giving Bled all that cash is gonna limit chances with other quality free agents.

  • Dave:f32

    And comparing Bledsoe to Westbrook is the equivalent of trying to pass off a 1.00 dollar bill for a 100.00 dollar bill… Ha!

  • http://none Go Phx

    “Bledsoe is not Westbrook”

    Agreed. Bled is much better.

  • Dave:f32

    Crazy talk, Go Phx! Bledsoe has not even played a full season as a starter but i understand your pain. Addiction is not your fault but you should find ways of not going thru everyday high all the time. Ur smoking too much yeska.