I was out playing a little hoops of my own tonight during the Suns game, so when somebody told my running mates and I that the Suns were outscored 43-24 in the fourth and Devin Harris exploded for 47, I didn’t give it a second thought knowing it was just a ridiculous tale to piss off the Suns fans in attendance.
Turns out the only thing ridiculous about it was I didn’t believe it.
Watching the recorded game tonight, I still thought it couldn’t be true although I already knew the final score, New Jersey 117, Phoenix 109.
The Suns lost control of this one when Amare Stoudemire picked up his second technical of the game to earn an ejection when the Suns led by two with 3:24 left to go.
The zebras had called Amare for a traveling violation on a play in which he was certainly bumped around by Yi Jianlian, but he did seem to shuffle his feet a bit as well. It was a call that could have gone either way, and Amare has GOT to be more mature than to say whatever got him the tech after picking one up a mere five minutes earlier.
Amare has made it an issue the last couple days that he wants the ball more, and he certainly has a case. Amare does deserve more touches, and he should be the centerpiece of this offense and the “franchise player.”
But franchise players don’t get kicked out with three minutes left in a tight game with needless technicals, especially when he’s in the midst of a 25-point, 12-rebound, 8-for-14 evening. How many times do you think that’s happened to Tim Duncan?
“It hurt – I think it changed the rhythm of the game,” Steve Nash told Suns.com. “Amare was playing well and I think it hurt.”
Added STAT to the Suns’ official site, “The rule states that I’m allowed to react so long as I don’t continue the verbal towards the official – it was a simple reaction and I got ejected for something like that. I’ve seen players do a lot worse and not even get a technical foul. It’s tough to deal with, especially with a loss like this, but we have practice tomorrow and we’ll figure it out.”
In that quote, Amare blames others for something that frankly was his fault, whereas I’d rather see him take responsibility for the mistake like somebody like Nash would.
In that situation, regardless of how frustrated he is, Amare has got to know he already has one tech and must make 100 percent, absolutely sure he doesn’t do anything close to something that deserves another.
Just like the call itself, it’s debatable whether Amare deserved a T in that situation, but Amare can’t put himself in a position where it’s even debatable.
Over the final 3:24 without Amare, the Nets proceeded to outscore the Suns 19-9 to steal a game Phoenix led basically from wire to wire to that point.
It’s terribly disappointing to drop such a contest, making it two games in a row the Suns have lost at home to teams that have no business winning in US Airways Center.
In fact, the Nets hadn’t won in the building March 13, 1993, when Barkley, Majerle and KJ ran the show. 1993 is also the last year the Suns reached the NBA Finals, but based on this weekend, that looks like it’s merely a coincidence.
Championship-caliber teams don’t drop consecutive home games to mediocre Miami and New Jersey squads, two games that frankly I assumed were sure wins.
Both games saw a visitor explode, with Dwyane Wade going for 43 on Friday and Harris a career-high 47 in this one.
Nash started off on the speedster, but quickly proved he didn’t have a chance. That forced Matt Barnes and a couple of times Grant Hill on Harris, but he made everyone look silly, getting to the basket whenever he wanted before finishing with precision.
When Harris played for the Mavs, the book on him used to be to dare him to shoot, but now with an improved jumper his blazing speed is even that much more effective.
Harris helped the Nets erase an 11-point deficit entering the fourth quarter, as the Suns’ offense once again lacked any semblance of flow as possessions resulted in turnover after turnover.
The Suns finished with 21 turnovers, yielding 33 points off those miscues, as four players turned it over at least three times.
“We started out great and I thought we had great rhythm,” head coach Terry Porter told Suns.com. “Overall, it was disappointing because we had control of the game, and good tempo. The way the fourth quarter went was just disappointing.
“Again as the game went on, our turnovers went up, it just got worse and worse. That has been a problem since Day One, I have to go back to the drawing board. I don’t know what I’m going to do about it, I have to rethink that one. I’m going to search just to find out how that happens.”
Shaq once again was very quiet with just nine points in 26 minutes, including a big fat zero in the first half.
But aside from the turnovers it was not a terrible offensive performance, with Nash going for 26 points and nine assists (although 20 shots were a bit much) and the starters besides Shaq combining for 82. The team also shot the ball well once again, hitting shots at a 54.8 percent clip.
Back on Nov. 4 in New Jersey, the starters also all played well, with the quintet all scoring in double figures and the team shooting a season-best 63.2 percent, as the Suns played perhaps their finest game of the season.
But in that contest the Suns held the Nets to just nine fourth-quarter points, a figure the Nets reached in the final 39 seconds on Sunday after they had already scored 34 points previously.
Many Phoenix fans have longed for the Suns of the past four years, but a few more losses like this and we’ll be longing for the Suns of four weeks ago.