Although tempting to list the causes of death as poisonous home cooking, a Haq’d Shaq, and injuries sustained by being repeatedly flopped upon, the official culprits are gaping, bleeding wounds in the defensive middle, severe inflammation of the fumble fingers, and a serious case of psych-out Spurs-itis.

After falling gravely ill late last week, Beechen’s beard made a brief recovery over the weekend but, said one of the physicians treating the case, “it was too much of an uphill climb.”

The physician called himself “puzzled and heartbroken” by the case. “It’s especially frustrating because we’ve seen so many similar cases over the last few years in Phoenix. We know the cure for Spurs-itis exists outside the Phoenix area – we’ve seen it work in other cities – but for some reason, we can’t manage a cure here.” It was hoped that the February addition of a giant antibody to the system might strengthen the playoff beard prior to the postseason, but those hopes proved unfounded.

The beard was disposed of in a private ceremony over a sink in Los Angeles late Thursday night.

Adam Beechen requests, in lieu of flowers, that donations in the form of vehement rooting support be delivered to the New Orleans Hornets.

The Bitter End

Steve Nash gives interviews after the Suns’ Game 5 loss in San Antonio on Tuesday.

My exit from the AT&T Center in San Antonio was far easier said than done after Game 5, especially when facing locked doors, chained gates and (for some reason) angry security guards at every turn.

Between the outcome of the game and the dejection in the visitors’ locker room during the postgame media scrum, I couldn’t wait to get out of that building – and with good reason.

Another all-too-short postseason exit after another 50-plus win regular season – a regular season that also happened to feature a franchise-altering trade, another pair of All-Star appearances – all en route to a fourth straight playoff berth. Of course, that’s little solace for a team that struggled out of an early Opening Round 3-0 hole, before going out in Game 5.

Back to the postgame locker room scene, there was no hostility (well, none that I experienced firsthand), even with the onslaught of camera, microphones and voice recorders at a time when nobody really feels like talking. Still, the Suns were asked every question possible about the series and the whole season. It always struck me as odd to flip that switch in mindset, from “how will you handle the opposition tonight” to “what do you think will happen this summer with this team?” – all in the span of a few hours.

I’m sure the finality of it all hadn’t quite sunk in yet… myself included. To their credit, the Suns answered all comers before filing onto the team bus for their final flight back to Phoenix.

As for what the immediate future holds for the Suns, well, that’s anybody’s guess. One thing is certain. The Suns will eventually rise again – just not today.

Phoenix Suns vs San Antonio Spurs – Game 5

Tuesday, April 29, 2008
11:00 pm
Josh Greene


Possibly the only thing more aggravating than being eliminated from the postseason again, is to be “detained” in the arena where the latest elimination took place. My exit from the AT&T Center in San Antonio was far easier said than done after Game 5, especially when facing locked doors, chained gates and (for some reason) angry security guards at every turn.

Between the outcome of the game and the dejection in the visitors’ locker room during the postgame media scrum, I couldn’t wait to get out of that building – and with good reason. [Read more...]

Top 10 Reasons Why the Suns Will Win Game 5

Although they’re playing the champs on their home-court, I’m going to deliver to you why, despite facing elimination, I think the Suns are going to pull out Game 5.

Diaw might end up being the key to Game 5.
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

1. Hot Hands: The Suns players are hot. In the first three games of the series, the usual suspects, Amaré Stoudemire, Steve Nash and Shaquille O’Neal all were able to contribute offensively, while some of the other players didn’t produce as much as expected. However, going into Game 5, Gordan Giricek is in rhythm, Boris Diaw is hot, Leandro Barbosa is still feeling good from Game 3 and Raja Bell is en fuego. Shooters thrive on confidence, and they all should have a decent amount heading into the AT&T Center.

2. STAT Attack: The team’s leading scorer, Amaré Stoudemire, only scored seven points in Game 4 and the Suns still blew the Spurs out. That is an ominous sign for San Antonio because STAT rarely has two poor shooting games in a row. With everyone coming into the game on fire and STAT due to erupt, the Suns could score 120 points. [Read more...]

A Fine Line Between Success and Failure in the Playoffs

Raja Bell and Amare Stoudemire enjoy a moment during the Suns’ victory on Sunday.
(NBAE Photos)

After being counted out of the series by most, the Suns kept their season alive with a superb game four performance! What happened?! They looked like the Suns Team we have all come to love. The Suns had two players step-up, big time! Raja Bell had his best game of the season, scoring the first seven points of the game and tying his season high with 27 points. The Suns haven’t lost this season when he scores 20 plus points, going 12-0. Boris Diaw proved again he is a much better player as a starter. Coach Mike inserted him into the starting five for the 20th time and he just missed his sixth triple-double of his career. Boris has said it doesn’t matter to him if he starts, but I beg to differ.

It still comes down to making shots. Tony Parker – as hot as he was in Game 3 – cooled off, Manu Ginobili likewise looked human and Tim Duncan was not his usual dominating self. In the previous game, the Big 3 scored a combined 84 points, on Sunday they were held to 42. The trio had 90 points in the first game of the series.

All in all, the Defending World Champions looked vulnerable. Yet, remember they had a cushion to work with, needing only one win in the next four games. Now, they must capture one more victory in the next 3 outings. The Spurs are a team that thrives on pressure. That’s when the mental toughness kicks in. They have seen everything during their run to four titles in nine years and they have a ton of pride. They are a team that knows how to play and how to win. However, if the Suns get this series to a game 6 – look out!! The Suns could make history with a back door sweep!

Hey, let’s make some history!!

Bell Brings It in Do-or-Die Game 4

There were 25 reporters crowded around Raja Bell’s locker after the game today. Yes, I counted. That’s 25 more than Game 3, as he ducked out the backdoor before the media was let in after Friday’s ugly loss.

Bell wasn’t going down without a fight.
(NBAE Photos)

“Man, I haven’t seen this much action since I clotheslined Kobe,” Bell joked as he attempted to dress in his claustrophobic fish bowl.

Truth be told, the Suns’ guard probably hasn’t had a game like today’s since that 2006 playoffs when he wrestled with Bryant in the opening round and drilled the clutch three-pointer vs. the Clippers to force OT in Game 5 of the Semifinals.

It was good to see Bell being aggressive today, driving inside, fighting for loose balls and banging the three-balls. Coach D’Antoni has often called him the heart of the team in recent years, and that heart was beating fast in this one.

On the afternoon, “Raj” finished with 27 points on 5-of-7 shooting from behind the arc, plus six boards and five assists for good measure.

“You know, I was embarrassed. I was really, really embarrassed by my play and our team’s play in the last game, so it was hard to sleep,”
he admitted. “If you come out and give 110 percent and you feel like you’ve done everything, you can sleep at night. But I was restless with that and couldn’t put it to bed. I wasn’t frustrated so much, but just really embarrassed, so I wanted to come out tonight and just fight.”

Bell wasn’t the only one fighting, of course. The Suns looked like a completely different team today than the one wearing purple and orange on Friday. Now the question is, which team will show up Tuesday in San Antonio? One local TV reporter asked Raja if he had a prediction for Game 5.

“I don’t make predictions, but I know the series isn’t over. I know until they win four games, we have a chance. That’s what I know.

“We’re still in a deep hole. We understand that. But we still have life… No one’s folding up the tent and making summer plans yet. We’re too proud for that.”

Phoenix Suns vs San Antonio Spurs – Game 4

Sunday, April 27, 2008
4:00 pm
Dan Hilton

The game has ended, the fans are gone and the interviews with the players are done. It was a good game. A good win. It feels good to have at least one win under our belts. The team travels to San Antonio on Monday for Tuesday’s game. Whatever they did today, they need to do the same thing on Tuesday – only with more intensity. The Spurs are going to be upset, the San Antonio fans are going to be loud and the Suns have always had a hard time winning at the AT&T Center. But the Suns have won twice there in the regular season. But as so many fans have pointed out in the comments over the past four games, the regular season is NOT the playoffs. But the Suns showed that they can not only get a lead on the Suns but they can also keep the lead and win the game.

Game 5, here we come! [Read more...]

In Game 4, Boris Diaw's Initials Stand for "Big Difference"


Boris Diaw’s aggresiveness on Sunday made the difference in the game.
(NBAE Photos)Game Four also came up a laugher for this blogster. All I really had to do was punch up my Game 3 magnum opus on the screen, change all the San Antonios to Phoenixes, all the Phoenixes to San Antonios, all the Tony Parkers to Boris Diaws and all the Boris Diaws to Tony Parkers — and voila!

Sunday was that complete a reversal of fortunes from Friday!

And the biggest reversal was that where Parker was the whole show in Game Three, it was his French compatriot, Diaw, who was le difference in Game Four. And as they say in Paree, vive le difference!

Coach Mike said Diaw was “phenomenal,” and that is le mot juste.

He not only was the key to putting the clamps on Parker, but his aggressive low post presence created some mismatch nightmares for the Spurs and opened up the floor for his teammates, most notably Raja Bell (who played some pretty good “D” himself, by the way).

Diaw, who historically plays better as a starter than off the bench, was in the lineup because a groin injury sidelined Grant Hill, and he came within two assists of a triple double. But the thing that distinguishes this Boris from the Boris Badenough who has drawn more ire from Suns fans than any other player is not so much numbers as aggressiveness.

His size, athleticism, multiple skills, and court sense are clearly of triple double caliber. But his aggressiveness seems to come and go. And when it goes he becomes a very expensive triple single, hence the ire of frustrated fans and blog floggers in Valley cyberspace.

And whether or not this victory was simply a one-game stay of execution for the Suns or not depends in large part on whether the aggressive Diaw or the passive one shows up Tuesday night in San Antonio.

The bottom line: In trying to come back from an 0-3 start to win a series the Suns are trying to do something that’s never been done in the NBA, and only three times in all sports (and two of those were in hockey (which doesn’t count). So when you put it in historical context, their task seems all but impossible.

But I put it this way: If the Suns can win Game Five they WILL go on to make history. And that’s not QUITE so daunting. (But please note I said “if”, not “when”.)

Can the Suns Reverse the Curse?


The Suns are feeling a tad desperate.
Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images

Not only was this the first time this season that the Suns have lost three straight times, but they are in the position of being eliminated by the world champion Spurs. Adding insult to injury, no team in the history of the NBA has recovered from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series.

So while San Antonio is the first team in the 2008 NBA Playoffs to take a 3-0 advantage, where does this leave Phoenix? Let’s face it: in dire straits.

While most have written off the Suns, there is still one game left to play. Although all of the momentum in our solar system is behind San Antonio, the truth remains that there is still a shred of hope.

The concept of hope is interesting in and of itself. One of my favorite movies of all-time, Shawshank Redemption, addresses its value. [Read more...]

Suns' Loss Causes Groans Around Planet Orange

The Suns tired out quickly in Game 3 and never recovered.
(NBAE Photos)

I never saw this one coming. Oh, even through my rose colored glasses I could see the Spurs quite possibly winning. But I never thought I’d see them run the Suns right out of their own building in such embarrassing fashion.

How embarrassing was it? Well, given the circumstances, I am hard pressed to recall a more embarrassing performance EVER by a Phoenix team in the postseason. The Suns were outplayed, out-coached, out-hustled, out-maneuvered, and out-poised. And even hard boos weren’t enough to ease the pain for the stunned citizens of Planet Orange.

The Suns eventually did manage to shift their offense into high, or at least second gear, but they never got their defense out of neutral.

Mind you, I don’t want to take anything away from the Spurs. They were simply superb in every phase of the game. And if you were a basketball purist who didn’t care who won you had to love watching them exploit every Phoenix weakness with almost surgical precision.

Tony Parker was especially magnificent, and not just because of his playoff career-high 41 points and 12 assists. An even bigger problem than those numbers for the Suns was their complete inability to stop him from going anywhere he wanted to with the ball at any time.

Even notoriously hard to please San Antonio coach Greg Popovich said his team couldn’t play any better (and Coach Mike PMtered a fervent, “I certainly hope not.”) And truth to tell, the Spurs never looked this good on their way to the title last year.

The series isn’t officially over yet, of course, but the cold hard truth is that the Suns have been reduced to playing for pride in Game Four here on Sunday. If they can string together a series of miracles, so be it, but just proving Game Three was more of an aberration than a reflection of who they really are is the only realistic goal for the nonce.

This game raised some serious questions about the team’s future. And, sadly, one of those questions has to be just how much gas Steve Nash has left in the tank. Had he not built such a large reservoir of good will for his superb play over the last few years he would probably be catching some serious heat.

The most comforting answer is, hey, it’s only one game for gosh sakes, and Nash and the Suns WILL bounce back, if not necessarily in this series then most definitely next year. But I’m not sure I buy all of that.

Oh, I don’t think Steve is washed up by any means. But there is a platoon of young point guards posed to take their teams to the Promised Land in the next few years, which makes it hard to shake the thought the window of opportunity you heard closing last night may have been nailed shut for the foreseeable future.

The bottom line: Same as the top one: AAAAaaaagh!!!!