(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.

That this is a team that has lost its way was driven home in painful fashion when the Charlotte Bobcats completely shut down what used to be the NBA’s most fluid offense over the final 17 minutes of play… leaving the Suns to scrape and scrap even for the meager 15 points they managed in the fourth period, and looking like a team just HOPING to score in overtime.

That’s the most painful part of this painful loss.

We’ve learned to forgive the Suns their defensive and rebounding trespasses, but were confident you could always count on them for entertaining and explosive offense to ease much of the grief they cause.

True, the Bobcats, who had never won a game in Phoenix and have already clinched this year’s Jekyll and Hyde trophy (18-5 home, 3-17 road), needed a three-pointer from Stephen Jackson just to get into overtime, but even had he missed and the Suns escaped with a “W’ it would have glossed over the fact they are perilously close to free fall.

If one were looking for some crutches to lean one could note the Suns were without Grant Hill, and have been without the best of Leandro Barbosa for more than a year, and wonder out loud if there isn’t something physically wrong with Amare Stoudemire or if he is just distracted by trade rumors that surface every year about All-Star time.

Coach Alvin, for his part, had no probably pointing the finger at who to blame for this latest loss.

“Everybody,” he said. “It’s everybody’s fault. We’re just not executing.”

At this point I’m not sure which is harder to explain—the 14-3 start or the 12-18 skid that followed. I certainly didn’t see either one coming. Even with my rose colored glasses I realized they had too many deficiencies to really be a 14-3 type team over the long haul. But on the other hand, I was confident they had enough offense to keep them from ever being a 12-28 either.

So sue me for double jeopardy, or treble damages or something.

The real question, of course, is can they turn this thing back around? Or even how hard they should try? There is even grumbling they should forget about salvaging this season and concentrate entirely on the future.

Alas, at this point I don’t have an answer I’m comfortable with for either question.

Frankly I don’t see anything right now to suggest the new ceiling for this team is the seventh or eighth seed, and even those lowly rungs on the playoff ladder are slippery. And that’s certainly nothing to cling to if there are viable rebuilding blocks to be had out there.

On the other hand, writing off a season would send a damaging message to an already dwindling fan base, and as long as Steve Nash doesn’t run 45 over night there’s always the possibility one or two wins could get the team back on a faster track.

Somehow beating Dallas Thursday would be a good place to start— the operative word there, of course, being “somehow”.

  • Bruno Van-Deste

    For more thatn five years I’ve been watching the SUNS changing coach after coach, player after player, most of the times being the best offense in the league. Why do SUNS management still trying to avoid the really question? DEFFENSE. You can’t always have high offense games every night so sometimes you’ll need your deffense to step up. That never happened in Phoenix for a long time and 5 years and 3 coaches later here we are again struggling. I think that’s just bad management. And remember “offense win games, deffense win championships”.

  • http://yahoo.com kristel

    nice blog. :]
    honestly i’m sad on what’s happening on this team.
    BUT.. I believe this is not suns would end up.
    hold on to our God, believe that u can win with Him. :)
    go suns! don’t limit God’s goodness! trust Him that he will bless you. go suns!

  • Charlie

    Due man the Suns only problem is Richardson, I haven’t someone who plays so bad and still gets 14m a year for a long time.

    He can’t shoot 3′s, can’t defend, can’t even scoreanymore.

    Bottomline is, are the Suns gonna trade J-RICH or miss the playoffs?

  • Rah J

    Thats the thing about some players in the suns…all this “give them credit about how they won and how they performed better.” Why can’t they have the mentality to say “this wont happen next game” or how about “it’s my fault. I’ll take the blame.” Thats what being a leader of a team is about.

  • http://yahoo.com Elliot

    were on a losing streak and it needs to stop

  • JOHN SERPE

    Joe, salvage the season, not probable or in my opinion possible. How many times or seasons are Suns management going to tell us we still have a chance with this system and these players? It’s over, we had a couple of “chance years” but something always got in the way, call it freaky, bad luck, conspiracy, whatever, it’s over. Suns are not immune to the rebuilding process. All organizations go through it, most just don’t try and squeeze every last drop of fan support before facing reality. If management really wants the fan base back then show us they care even a little bit. Stop taking us fans for granted, and make the moves required to get back into contention. Throwing a foul prone, no defense power forward who is not a team player along with a point guard who cannot play the minutes required and has zero defensive skills on the floor every night and hope something changes is not going to bring a title here, EVER!!!

  • catman

    I agree with most of this blog. It was an ugly gmae from the officials, to the players, to the coaching decisions in the last few minutes. However, the Suns skid can be traced to a few key players – mostly JR. Brought in as a scorer last year, he started the season strong. But look at his stats over the lst 15 games – YIkes!!! HE is shooting 3s like he’s SHAQ. I would start Clark, yes Clark in front of JR. Right now the Suns are not a good team.
    Hey but compared to the tragic events in Haiti, it is still only a game.

  • Scott P

    Amare needs to get his game going or just go! I think he’s way over-rated.

    gentry needs to make better decisions during the game.

    I miss Mike D’antoni and watching the suns in the playoffs

  • http://blogs.suns.com/2010/01/4180/ SteveNashty

    I have been a fan since KJ and Tom Chambers days. You cant throw in the towel with Nash playing his heart out. That would crush the vets. like him and Hill. We owe it to everyone to keep going forward and maybe making a smart trade or free agency. Saver. Stop being cheap and get a free agent!

    Why didn’t we get Stackhouse! He would have been great on our team. And go after the implosion of the wizards! Please!

    or try Dragic at the starting 2. and Give Fry his spot back! Thats how we were winning. Dont go away from it because the defenses have adjusted to it. JUST PERFECT IT!

    Nashtyville signing off.

  • http://nba Nash

    IT REALLY IRRATATES ME WHEN I HEAR THAT STUDAMIRE SHOULD BE TRADED. WHAT KIND OF IDIOTS ARE THE FRONT OFFICE NASH AND STOUDIMIRE ARE THE ONLY REAL ASSET.THE OTHERS ARE ALL LIABILITES. YOU DO NOT BUILD AROUND LIABILITES. STEVE KERR SERIOUSLY, WERE FAILING BECAUSE OF BAD MANAGAEMENT

  • JOHN SERPE

    Please, stop blaming Richardson, I’M BEGGING YOU!!! He came here, adapted to a system he must have recognized early as no defense and lots of scoring, with most of it going Amare’s way. JRich has played hard, at least he attempts some defense and he has to guard every other teams “big”. Remember Marion? To me he and JRich play alot alike, with Marion being more of a jumper/rebounder. It’s the defense, starting with Amare and ending with Nash. Come on, it’s no coincedence that whatever player Nash guards scores his career high, even players who NEVER score are way above their average. Amare, if he’s not committing some ridiculous fouls while NEVER defending it’s bad game pouting time because they don’t go to him enough, after all he’s STAT and it’s all about scoring. How does Barbosa fit in if the Suns ever start to play a notch slower with alot more defense? JRich, not me, it’s alot more serious than that.

  • Gerd Zimmerman

    hallo from switzerland, a long year fan of the suns, where my daughter in law is from.
    First: it’s not by accident, that Dallas is winning so many games in last seconds:
    It’s team-fight till last minute, leaded by Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion (!). Why did they let him go??
    Second: It’s not accidental,that Suns are losing near win in so many last seconds.The elder (really great, but…) players have not enough energy for whole game and become unconcentrated (TO, stealed/lost balls), and now everybody knows, they can 25 behind halftime, they will still win. I’m so sorry for that and for that team, but the SUNS need more younger and hungry players to build up a new team. Taking Shaq o’ Neal was a terrible mistake.
    Fans will wait and support, if they see, anew hungry young team is builded.
    hoping for better days and appreciating nevertheless Suns games this season, but being so diappointed: HOW could they lose all these games leading so man points …?