Robert Sarver and The Gorilla participated in Retro Night at Thursday’s game.

(NBAE Photos)

It was also Retro Night, and that may have been part of the cause of the schizophrenia.

The idea was to sort of celebrate the team’s 40th birthday with fans wearing clothing from the late 60s, the players wearing 1968-9 uniforms, and the first period being televised in grainy black and white.

The Suns went a step further in paying respects to their forbears by playing like them. But while this was a nice touch, the problem is those first Suns are now in their 60s, so it wasn’t surprising that the score at the end of the first period was 33-13 in favor of the promising but by no means ready for prime time Sonics.

The Suns managed only four field goals in the period, three of them by Steve Nash, whose teammates went 1-for-15 from the field and tied a 22-year-old franchise record with zero assists.

These guys didn’t just miss shots they normally make. That would have been bad enough. But they also missed shots The Gorilla normally makes.

But not to worry.

They righted the ship, especially defensively, by holding the Sonics to 12 points in the second period, and went on to do what 22-9 teams are supposed to do to 9-22 teams, going from 20 down at the end of that first period to 15 up early in the fourth period and coming up with big defensive plays to seal the deal after the Sonics had crept back within 4 and had the ball with 1:25 to play.

Amare Stoudemire, plagued by foul problems early, scored 14 of his 34 points in the final 12 minutes, and Leandro Barbosa scored 8 of his 16, but the defense gets this department’s CVG (Coveted Game Ball) and Shawn Marion gets to accept it.

“I don’t know whether it was the orange head bands, or the black and white TV, or too much New Year’s Eve, or what,” sighed Coach Mike in trying to pinpoint the cause of what started as malfunction and fell off to total non function.

I opt for “or what”, with the further note that the Suns seldom look their best, or even their pretty good against bad teams until they absolutely have to. And frankly, not always even then.

Although squeezing past the Sonics at home is hardly calculated to send shivers down the spines of folks in the NBA’s version of the Bermuda Triangle (i.e., Texas), Coach Mike saw some positive things out there – most notably the energy and defense after the team emerged from its retro funk.

And while this and a dime will get you two nickels, come May and June the victory was the fourth straight for the Suns and moved them past the Spurs atop the Western Conference.

The bottom line: Let’s start the New Year off with another rousing chorus of “A Win Is A Win Is A Win.”