(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.

The Blazers hit their first six shots, and really didn’t start doing any significant missing until it was too late to save the Suns. Don’t be fooled. This game wasn’t nearly as close as the final score might suggest. The Suns never led, and the only tie they managed was 0-0. And as an obviously disappointed Coach Alvin somewhat indelicately but accurately put it, “We got our [bleeps] kicked in every phase of the game”.

By the time the Suns got their offense out of moth balls, where they had apparently stored it during their four-day layoff, and their defense out of the coma it had lapsed back into after showing signs of life on the recent road sweep they were down 22 in the third period. And the crowd was just as rusty as the team. Its only audible reaction until very late was gasp after gasp as shot after Blazer shot went in.

Mind you, this is the same Portland team, which is missing leading scorer Brandon Roy and three other key players, which managed only 77 points in an embarrassing loss to Oklahoma City at home its last time out. To give you just one stat illustrating how different things were Wednesday, they hit as many threes in nine tries against the Suns as they did in 20 against the Thunder.

But it’s also the same spunky, hustling Portland team that has managed to keep its head above water despite all the injuries, and a lot of that grit was very much in evidenced last night.

In case you’re not catching my drift, if there was anything encouraging for the Suns I didn’t see it. (Of course, what with the Blazers shooting the lights out it was hard to see anything).

However, bad as it was, this was just ONE game. And a check of their rollercoaster 14-3, 12-16, 5-0 spells demonstrate, it’s wise not to get too far up on the good nights or too far down on the bad ones with this bunch.

And when you balance the plusses against the minuses and bring the Big Picture back into focus, this team is going into the break nine games over .500 and in the thick of the wild scramble for playoff spots three through eight in the West. Of course, this last is a bit of a bad news/good news circumstance, the good being the Suns are only four losses out the two seed, the bad that they are only three out of the lottery.

Still, as their record suggests, they have more good nights than bad ones, and on their good ones they have enough weapons to not only make the playoffs but have a decent shot against anybody but the Lakers. That’s how balanced and just plain wacky the West is this year.

And therefore, it would be a mistake to break up this team in midstream. Given the labor problems looming large on the horizon, the Suns would be better advised to stay the course and see just how far this bunch can go.

And along those lines, Amare Stoudemire is NOT to blame for everything that sends this team into periodic funks, but he has quite a bit to do with bringing them out of them.
As far as I’m concerned HIS plusses far outweigh his minuses. And by the way, those minuses, including a history of health problems, make it extremely unlikely the Suns would get anything in a trade that would constitute an upgrade this year.

But perhaps the BEST reason for keeping him is that Steve Nash is on record as saying he doesn’t want to break this team up.

The bottom line: Wednesday night was a total loss, but the season is far from it.

  • http://SUNS.COM paul wilson

    tRADE BARBOSA FOR TRACY MCCRADY

  • http://absolute-webhosting.com Doug

    Joe I could not agree more, well said. I think that the Suns team is in the middle of whatever you want to call this media frenzy of trade speculation, and it has got to take its toll on everyone at some point. Just the fact that they did so well on the road, well away from this crap goes along way toward proving that. I can’t wait for the trade deadline to come and go. I don’t think they will be able to trade Amare, and that he will opt in for next year, as it would be foolish on his part to do anything else. Then they can get back to playing basketball and keeping minds on the game rather than all the speculation.

  • JOHN SERPE

    You have a very good argument for keeping Amare Joe. Your right on about getting below his talent in a trade, that would solve nothing except making any chance of the playoffs this year gone for sure. Staying the course will come with a “BIG” price down the line, but it’s tough to break up a team that can play, on occassion a game(s) that border great. Suns could get real hot and make the playoffs, go on a streak, surprise some teams, make a run at it. Or maybe not!!!

  • http://Sun's.Com Maxine Kuyekndall

    Kerr and Carver must have large shoulders.They have to find the Sun’s an outstanding big man that can control the paint. No more 3 pointers, that play defense and rebound off and on. Amare and Frye are just plain lazy. You cannot depend on either one of them. Amare, just refuses to grow up. If he leave Phoenix, he will be looking at a much less role. His NBA status is because of Nash, who hand feeds the balls to Amare. Rememer Marion? Who is he now? Nash is our team, period.Please trade Amare and Frye for a outstanding big center. Net’s Lopez? Memphis’s Mar Gasol? Love?
    Look at Tim Duncan? Byum? How many years before the Suns learn, cannot build a wining team on 3 point shooters. The Bench rebounds much better than the starts, what a shame. Freye and Amare sometimes just stands under the goal, and make not attempt to rebound, blow big leads. Jared, Lou, Goran and Lopez play defense and go for all rebounds. Who is making the big bucks? I am so tired of seeing Amare need special attention. He pouts, if the media does not notice him, he never gives credit to his team mates. Look last night in Dallas, who had to standout with the big scarf? Our two year old, high salary Forward????? Pouts, Never offers to give Nash a plug, when with out Nash Hand feeding him the ball, Amare would not even make the main team at other places. Sure he can dunk, show off, but cannot be a team player. Sad, but true, he will never excel, we need to unload him (if we can), before another year of losing. Frye will not attept to go for rebounds. Just called him a “prety boy”. Without out Bench, with Nash and Hill the Suns would be in the cellar wit the Nets. Next year is probably the last chance to build a championship team. Nash, Hill, will be leave and who is out there? Barkley was the last for the Suns. Think Jerry West would make a deal? 2 for 1? Let us have Gasol, or could we get Love? Those two will be great centers. Sad we do not have rebounders, yet they make big bucks, something is wrong with this pictures.Few days left to trade Amare, he will walk away next year, he is not a team player, just a big baby that requires lot of personal media attention. Other team have started noticing this about Amare. Who would want him? Could end up being an Ogden?? Could O’Kur play center? He has the big body. Not Carlos, he is too injured pron. Could we got Bosh?
    Jerry West helped to Lakers “buy” Pau Gasol, Fisher was allowed to move for family reason. If that had been reversed Lax would not have let him go to Utah. Even though he is not a center. Nash could get us Dirk, who also wants read bad to win a championship. Money does not make that difference to Nash or Dirk (best of friends)I bet Dirk would leave his big contract to help get to an NBA Championship. Won’t happen in Dallas, even with the trades.
    The Thunder and Memphis will each be big contenders next year and Maybe the Blazers. Where will the Sun’s be? Shooting 3-points?? Spurs are also shopping for younger players. Brook Lopez just might get out of his contract for less to play for the Suns????? Dewight Howard, can be stopped so easy, see how Old Shaq put him out of commission. Howard is shy to go up for hits. Camby? Please no more trades for 3 point shooters. Live by the 3 and you will die by the 3. How many years has the Suns seen that come true. We should really push Nash to work on Dirk before the 18th. Dallas would not want Amare/Frye. Business is Business, and I have written before, Jerry West’s religion is “Church of Christ”, their religion comes first and he will stick with others of his faith. Maybe we could get Marc Gasol? I really believe we could get Love, Lopez and maybe Bosh. Go to work, we are depending on the two of you, to find us a GOOD big man.Before the 18th. Amare will not commit for anything that does not benefit ONLY him. Not a team player. Next year he will go out on the Market, because he really feels he is a “stud”, only with Nash Hand Feeding him the balls. He will really disappoint, who ever takes him. Our gain their loss. I like him, but he would not be a Star with out Nash. Ask Marion about his decision???Ask Cuban about letting go of Nash? Too old, then what a laugh, he goes out and gets Kidd, who is older than Nash. Nash walks off for the next two years as the MVP and really deserved it over Dirk. Deserves it this year, look at the numbers. But LeBryon (who cannot make free throws) will walk away with it, then they will try to give it to Howard the next year. What a joke, would you want the ball in either LeBryon or Howard’s hand with a game tied and free throws to win? We have the top 94% free throw shooter, about the only one that can go to the line an shoot a free throw for a Tech. and not miss it. Check your records. Nash is gold, just wish he was 26 and not 36.