Phoenix Suns reality check: Anything good?

Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton (Photo by Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton (Photo by Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) /

In the wake of the blown opportunity for a 7-0 homestand, the Phoenix Suns were left to count the reasons to be disappointed.

For this particular post, there is no real good news; only repercussions from a giveaway that Suns fans have seen too many times over the past 10 years.

And just when this team had positioned itself squarely in the national eye, from this week’s lofty spot in the power rankings to the national TV audience — and more than 3,000 Suns fans in attendance.

The Phoenix Suns need to find the killer instinct they employed against Orlando and in Tuesday’s first half against a wounded Brooklyn Nets team.

Brooklyn was ready to raise the white flag early in the third quarter, as James Harden admitted as much to TNT in his postgame interview. But then, he said, he saw the fight in his teammates and told coach Steve Nash he wanted to keep playing.

The Suns surrendered 12 3-pointers in the second half while being beaten 74-49 on the scoreboard.

Sure, Tyler Johnson, Jeff Green and Joe Harris provided success from long range, but so many of those looks were uncontested. And that’s about close-outs and effort.

Harden was typically unstoppable but would not have been able to carry the Nets over the finish line without a collapse from the Suns that matched the Nets’ team momentum.

After shooting 64% from the field in the first half and controlling the glass — 21 rebounds to only 14 for Brooklyn — Phoenix couldn’t find enough want-to when the Nets began to close the deficit.

Second-half rebounding? Nets 23, Suns 13.

After hitting 8 for16 from long range in the first half, the Suns stumbled. Their points-in-the-paint advantage, 28-22 in the first half, also went away. Brooklyn outscored Phoenix 24-16 in the paint and — speaking of scoring easy baskets — the Nets turned the tide on the Suns’ 12-2 first-half advantage in fast-break points, running Phoenix ragged with a 16-3 on the fast break after halftime.

The whole collapse was a big step back — like Harden’s signature move, you know, when he isn’t called for traveling.

When the Phoenix Suns fans were watching the Nets rally in the fourth quarter, at least they must have felt good about the Chris Paul trade.

Following the “let’s give the Nets something to believe in” third quarter, in which Devin Booker scored four points and Paul was shut out, the Suns carried a 100-88 lead.

The fourth quarter was tough to watch — and it seemed like everyone but Paul was only watching.

Mikal Bridges (3), Deandre Ayton (2) and Dario Saric (2) had seven points. Paul had 17.

Booker? He capped an awful final few minutes with a one-on-one against Landry Shamet — a fine player but not someone who should be shutting down Booker straight up.

Booker scored 16 in the first quarter but his zero in the fourth just can’t happen anymore.

Some pointed to his girlfriend Kendall Jenner being in attendance, but Booker has been nothing short of an All-Star the past couple of weeks.

The Suns went to the line nine times in the first half; three times after that. Not nearly good enough.

No, it was an off night made worse by a combination of confusion and lack of effort.

It’s just that fans had begun to believe this kind of thing wouldn’t happen to this team. Not this season; not after the 8-0 bubble run.

So maybe there is something good to come out of this. There is no question this is a team full of accountable players, not to mention the solid leadership from Monty Williams.

They very likely will be ready to play in Memphis on Friday night. Maybe this collapse against Brooklyn will turn out to be bad news for Memphis, too.

Next. A look back at the Suns' win over the Bucks. dark