(Kent Smith/NBAE/Getty Images)

(Kent Smith/NBAE/Getty Images)

Right now, the Suns are about to find out if they are the team they truly believe they are.

That’s just the way it works when you’ve lost four in a row — as the Suns have now done following a 125-118 setback to Memphis on Martin Luther King Day. All four losses have come on the road, and three of them (Indiana, Atlanta, Memphis) were relatively close.

The biggest problem lately has been defense, and that comes straight from Coach Alvin Gentry. Also, in the loss to Memphis, the Suns committed 16 turnovers that resulted in 23 points. Struggling to take care of the ball and failing to make key defensive stands are sure-fire recipes for defeat, especially when you seem to have spent more time on the road than Disney On Ice.

“You can’t give up 23 points (off) turnovers,” Gentry said following the Memphis loss. “You can’t defend the turnover. That got us in trouble again, and then we have to be able to come up with stops.”

Steve Nash sounded just as perplexed.

“I’ve never been on a bad road team before, so it‘s strange for me,” he said. “I don’t know what it is.”

Now, the Suns aren’t necessarily a “bad” road team. They’ve just lost some games on the road that we figured they would win. One was in Indiana, where the Suns blew a big lead against a poor opponent. They also got blown out in New York on the first day of December.

Other than that, the majority of their road losses could be classified as not-so-terrible.

But this is what you get when you have the type of Suns team that was put together during the offseason — when GM Steve Kerr shook things up by handing Shaquille O’Neal over to Cleveland. He wanted the team to get younger, understanding that it might take a few hits before the All-Star break. He understood that this team would likely be even better in the season’s second half.

Today, the hits have just kept on coming, as the Suns have now lost 11 of 12. It should also be noted they haven’t beaten a team with a winning record since Jan. 6 vs. Houston.

But again, none of that is a reason for panic. Certainly not at this juncture.

The good news is, they now have three games at home, and all three are against teams with losing records (New Jersey, Chicago and Golden State). These are the types of games a team that is still finding its way — and a team that is still trying to mesh the younger players with veterans like Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire — needs to regroup.

This week is a chance for the Suns to take care of business, gain some much-needed confidence, and pick themselves back up. Thankfully, they are still in the thick of the playoff race, and despite the struggles the Suns remain just 3 ½ games behind Dallas for the second seed in the Western Conference.

In other words, there is still time to get back on course, and plenty of reasons to believe the Suns can do just that. After all, you know men like Nash, Stoudemire and Grant Hill believe it. They have all been in these situations before. They understand the concept of pulling together, fixing the issues that have recently plagued them, and trusting in the system.

They still believe in their coach, in each other, in the fact they can win the types of games they have been losing lately. It just takes a little adjusting, a little continued maturing from some of the young guys who are getting their first real playing time this season.

Right now, the Suns are about to find out if they are right. And this, folks, is what being a pro is all about.

Fortunately for fans everywhere, these Suns have never had a problem understanding that truth.

Sam Amico is reporter for NBA.com and a frequent contributor to Suns.com. He can be reached at amico@probasketballnews.com.

  • JOHN SERPE

    Sam, I’m a huge Suns fan, but come on, if we don’t know that were not “right” by now it’s sad. The up coming schedule might look to our advantage but have we not gone down this road before? To me being a pro in this day and age should be the ability to look past the fact that your making obscene amounts of money win or lose. It should be the ability to give 100% every game, not just when the mood strikes. Truth, it’s the fact that our Suns won’t expend the energy required to play defense, that we have players who refuse to conform to that system of play. Panic, oh we fans are past that stage, apathy would be a better term. Still in the thick of the playoff race, sorry, not by a long shot. It’s time to say goodbye to Amare, Barbossa and Hill. Put Nash on the come off the bench list and move toward revamping this franchise. To do otherwise will just prolong what is going to be a dark couple of years in Suns land.

  • Bob Cruz

    The team just need to relax a bit. It’s still halfway through the season. I still believe our team will be back in full throttle after pacing themselves up for the real battle ahead. Let’s Go SUNS!

  • Mikko Sebastian

    Ahm, I just wondering why the Phoenix Suns are not too competitive unlike on the first week of Janaury. They making their opponent trailed as many as 10 points and after a few minutes the score is tied and sometimes they are lose.
    I hoping that on their next game with Nets, their field goal percentage is higher than the usual and their defense must be improved.
    Thank you

  • flyeaglefly

    I’M With John Serpe,Its time to get rid of Amare,Barbosa and Hill while there is still value.Lets get Boozer and a couple other Kicka– types. Nash doesnt play with focus anymore ,makes too many turnovers.Were in Meltdown and need a house cleaning.If the players dont play defense,Set them on the bench.Maybe it will embarass them . Lets go COACH,Take some action.

  • Cannon

    Love the suns!! Not a very good team. Wish it were different. They play poor defense…..always. This means when the shots stop falling (and they never fall all the time) they give up BIG points. (like 37 in a quarter). Defense wins games. The suns are the NBA version of the globetrotters. Fun to watch when they get it going, but unlike the globetrotter opponents, in the NBA there are teams that play defense and those teams will always beat Phoenix in a series. Always

  • JOHN SERPE

    Ok, Suns beat up on the Nets. What did it show us? We can beat the worst team in pro ball after they give us early fits and then basically fold their camp. Suns have talent, we just don’t have the right mixture of players for a defensive system, yet. I have an opinion, might be way off, but I don’t think we make the playoffs and Amare and Barbossa go by way of trade. Opinion, maybe not, more a wish.

  • carm599

    Love the Suns too, but I couldn’t disagree more with the comments from Cannon and Serpe – there’s no panic OR apathy here. A’mare is a serious big league franchise player and the Suns have rightly built their team around him (as well and Nash). Our team is exciting and the younger players have great potential. Check the stats – we’ve held many teams in the low 40′s shooting, that’s good D – now we need to protect the ball better. Step up the defensive intensity one or two clicks and the ship will right itself. Definitely no reason to panic

  • http://yahoo.com terry

    AT THE FIRST OF THE YEAR THE SUNS WHERE GREAT ON THE ROAD. IF SOME WAY THEY CAN AT LEAST GO 500 ON THE ROAD THEN INPROVE ON THAT THEY WILL BE OK. THEY JUST NEED TO BEAT THE TEAMS THEY SHOUD,TAKE CARE OF THE BALL AND PLAY THE D THAT THEY CAN.I KNOW IT DOES SOUND EASY BUT THIS IS THE NBA AND NO TEAMS ARE GOING TO TAKE A NIGHT OFF AGAINST THE SUNS OR ANY OTHER TEAM. THE SUNS ARE BETTER THAN WHAT THEY HAVE PLAYED THE LAST WEEK OR SO. I THINK THEY WILL GO 4-6 OR EVEN 5-6 THEIR NEXT 6 GAMES.IF THEY CAN DO THIS IT COULD BE A GREAT START TO THE REST OF THE YEAR. PLAY D SUNS AND EVERY THING WILL FALL INTO PLACE. THEY CAN BEAT ANY TEAM IN THE NBA TIME TO SHOW IT. GO SUNS!!!!

  • SumBuDDy

    I say yes… to revamping the franchise but… we NEED to keep LB! Hes too good N just needs a starting role to learn and get used to. Sadly i say… Nash can leave or stay… but will be a better asset off the bench to regulate the game. STAT… he can leave or stay too… but needs to beast more!

  • David

    You know what? I think LB get himself injured too much.