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”.