Suns Fail To Gain Ground On Thunder In Playoff Chase


Phoenix- A royal letdown.

There is just no other way to describe the Phoenix Suns (38-34) 108-99 loss to the Sacramento Kings (26-45) on Wednesday night.

The Suns had a golden opportunity to pick up a game on the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team they still trail by three games for the final playoff spot in the West, but could not defeat a Kings team that has beaten them three times this season.

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Sacramento was also one of just two games remaining on the schedule for the Suns of teams with a sub .500 record. It was a lost chance for a team that is running out of them.

“The disappointing thing about tonight is we knew the results already before the game even started, so we knew we had an opportunity to get real close,” Brandan Wright said on the chance to pick up a game on the Thunder.

There’s something about the Kings that the Suns just can’t seem to figure out, and it will probably cost them the playoffs for the second straight season.

Last year the 28-win Kings defeated the Suns twice, which in theory kept Phoenix out of the playoffs since they missed out on the party by a game. This season the Kings have beaten the Suns in three out of four games, sweeping both contests in Phoenix for the first time since 1998-99.

The part of the puzzle that has the Suns puzzled is Kings All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins, who posted his 43rd double-double of the year with a 24 points and 11 rebound performance.

Sacramento is 5-1 in the last two years against the Suns with Cousins in the lineup.

“He’s a load,” Marcus Morris said on the Kings big man. “We are not the only team. Last night he had 33 (points) and 17 (rebounds)…. He’s tough, an All-Star.”

On Wednesday night, Cousins was not the only problem for the Suns as they allowed seven Kings player to score in double digit scoring on 49% shooting from the field.

Offensively, the team was a mess all night.

After a hectic first quarter that featured 15 lead changes, the Kings took the lead with under a minute to go in the first and never gave it up.

A lack of intensity for much of the evening, combined with Eric Bledsoe battling a stomach virus did not help the Suns in their comeback bid. Bledsoe was able 19 points and grab 5 rebounds, but did not have the energy that he usually has early in the game, which allowed the Kings to grab control early.

“Yeah he [Bledsoe]’s got a stomach flu, but you can kind of tell, he didn’t have the same energy that he’s had the last four or five games,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. “That didn’t help us much either trying to get him a few minutes, then some minutes rest and the third quarter he said he was feeling a little better, so we let him go a little longer in that third quarter.

“It was just little things. I thought they out-hustled us for balls or loose balls that were bouncing around that we didn’t get. We tried to fight at the end, but by then it was a little late.”

The Suns entered the 4th quarter trailing by 13 and almost pulled out the comeback victory. Gerald Green came off the bench and  gave the Suns five quick points that lifted the team and brought energy to the arena.

The dagger came when Ben McLemore hit a three-pointer with the shot clock winding down with four minutes to go after the Suns cut the Kings lead down to five points. McLemore added another three a couple minutes later for good measure to ensure there would be no magical comeback from the Suns.

Now the Suns are left scratching their heads to wonder about another “what if” in a season full of them. The opportunity was there for the Suns to be within two games of the Thunder, with the chance to get that number to a game before the big tilt on Sunday between the two teams.

After suffering such a royal letdown, all that is left to do is focus on getting a win on Friday against Portland.

“It was, but we will take the positives out of this one,” Eric Bledsoe said on the missed chance to move up in the standings. “We still have some winnable games and at the end of the day we have two tough teams but we feel like we can beat them.”

Next: Steve Nash: Top 10 Moments With The Phoenix Suns

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