The Suns were faced with their toughest remaining contest on Friday night, when they went to AT&T center to square off against the Spurs. Despite some positive aspects and good performances, the SUns could not beat the best in the west, losing the game 112-104.
The Suns started out strong. Incredibly strong. They shot 71 percent in the first quarter, and led by 21 points in the first. The Spurs, despite resting Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli, weren’t going to be beaten in 12 minutes. They systematically picked away at the Suns lead, and the Suns delayed them to the bitter end. The Suns committed too many turnovers in crunch time, and ended with 18. The Spurs only had seven.
The big issue was that when the Spurs regained the lead, the Suns seemed panicked. They started out playing fast yet smart ball, pinpointing opportunities to score inside and slow down the Spurs offense. In the final quarter, it turned into a three point shootout, and the Spurs won that battle. Should they make the playoffs, the Suns will be facing an intimidating opponent. If they want to win, or at least make a good series out of it, they have to avoid putting themselves under too much pressure in late game situations.
The Suns were without Goran Dragic, who sprained his ankle. His prospects for playing in the next game against Dallas look more promising, which is a relief to Phoenix. In Dragic’s absence, Eric Bledsoe showed that he’s no less of a threat on his own then Dragic is without him. He finished with 30 points, tying a career high, 11 board and nine assists, one shy of a triple-double. The one problem was his seven turnovers, which is something he struggles with. Gerald Green was recalled upon to start, and played well. He finished with 27 points, though may have gotten a little too wild in the last minutes of the game. Markieff Morris continued to do big things off the bench, adding 20 points and seven boards. On the Spurs end, Danny Green had a career high 33 points.
The Suns now have three games left and sit at 47-32. The Spurs clinch the 1 seed in the west, and the Suns now sit at ninth place. They don’t get much time to hang their heads on this loss, because tomorrow they head to Dallas for what will be the most important game of the season.