The Fatal Fourth Quarter

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One giant step forward for Utah, one small step back for Sunkind. Or, as Coach Alvin said, “It was more what they did than what we didn’t”

What “they” did was blow the Suns right out of their own building with a 41-point fourth-period blast that basically washed three periods of pretty decent play at both ends of the court right down the drain.

The Big 3-0

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You can’t say Robin Lopez hasn’t paid his dues!

Last year as a newcomer he was limited mostly to cameo appearances, and lucky to get those. And toward the end when he did get a few walk-ons you had to look really close to see even a potential second or third banana in the making. And even when he started getting somewhat bigger roles this year nobody exactly hung a star on his locker. About the nicest notices he got grudgingly conceded he “might” have a future as a defensive stopper.
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A Good Sign

Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty

The word for tonight was “good”. Coach Alvin used it five times in the first two minutes of his post game press conference.

It was, he said, a “good” start, a “good” win, a “good” effort overall, a “good” job defensively, and Amare had a really “good” game.

I couldn’t have put it any better myself. But while there was nothing remarkable about beating the talent-challenged Sixers, the surge that has carried the Suns to 10 victories in the last 12 games, lifted them 13 games over .500, and propelled them within striking distance of a two or three seed in the West is QUITE a story.

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Suns Defense Gives Up Loss to Blazers

(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)

(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)

This is not the way it was supposed to be. The way it was supposed to be is the Suns would handily dispose of the short-handed Trail Blazers and roll into the All-Star break 11 games over .500, riding the crest of a six-game winning streak, and feeling very good about themselves.

But the way it WAS is the short-handed, sharp-eyed Blazers shot the lights out and handily disposed of the Suns, thus sending them into the break on a discouraging stumble that reawakened all the doubts (both self and yours) that preceded their five-game winning streak. [Read more...]

Suns Get Monkey Off Their Back

(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)

(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)

Everything that’s been wrong with the Suns is right again! At least for now.

Execution, defense, rebounding, ball handling, and energy, all the minuses that have plagued the team during its’ six-week slide, were almost magically turned into the very plusses that enabled them to get one of the oddest monkeys in professional team sports (i.e., 18 straight losses on TNT) off their backs. [Read more...]

Suns Lose in Overtime to Bobcats

(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)

(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)

Some would say the Suns are in the midst of an identity crisis, but what I say to that is they should be so lucky.

A much more disturbing possibility is that they know exactly who they are.

And of course there can be no doubt about WHERE they are, namely with one foot on a slippery slope and the other on an oil slick. [Read more...]

Lack of Defense Leads to Suns Loss

(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)

(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)

One of the bromides baseball managers find most soothing after a loss is, “Some nights you’ve just got to tip your cap to the other guys.”

And although there are no caps in hoops, let us tip ours anyway to the Chicago Bulls for a brilliant effort at both ends of the court, and fire a 21-cap salute to Derrick Rose, who has been a thorn in Phoenix’s side ever since he came into the league.

Rose not only scored 32 points, but needed only 21 shots to do it, and many of those were highlight quality. And an especially deep doff of the cap to the Bulls for bottling up Steve Nash, which is the basketball equivalent of putting toothpaste in the tube. [Read more...]

A Sign of Relief

Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty

Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty

This was a Must game, although assuredly not the conventional sense. This was Must as in “must not come remotely close to losing”. And given the circumstances it is not surprising that Coach Alvin sounded almost as relieved as pleased.

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Great Expectations

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Is this fun, or what? The Suns’ habit of coming from way ahead to win at the buzzer, that is.

No, I’m serious!

I REALLY want to know if this is fun, or what?

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Turning It Over

Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty

Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty

The Suns were far too careless and way too honest, which in the end is why they couldn’t beat the Heat.

To translate those shortcomings into numbers, they had 17 turnovers leading to 23 points, and where out-stolen 10 to zero. They were especially sloppy in the second period when they turned it over 9 times in the process of seeing a 13-point lead into a 6-point halftime deficit.

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