This isn’t the end of the world, but if you stand on a chair you can probably see it from here.
The Suns continue to shoot the lights out, but unfortunately they are having all kinds of problems passing, dribbling, and defending in the dark. And while it’s far too early for weeping and gnashing of teeth (although a sob or two would not be out of order) there is a decidedly disturbing pattern of bad omens, both tactical-wise and chemistry-wise emerging – one which could lead glass-half empty parties to fear that what we’re seeing here is the early stages of the unraveling of a season.
Mind you, I still think the glass is half-full, meaning that the talent level remains high enough to crank out 50 wins regardless of the clunky going of late, especially at home, and that time will get at least some of the loudest knocks out of what used to be the smoothest running engine in the NBA.
But, in the interest of full disclosure, more about those knocks.
The Suns went into the game leading the league in field goal accuracy by a wide margin, and shot 55 percent on Sunday, including a scorching 11 of 21 from three-point range. But they also lead the planet in indigestible turnovers and points yielded off the same.
Sunday’s spread was a whopping minus 16, the Suns yielding 22 points off 33 turnovers, while the Nets gave up only 17 points off 12. Three of the Phoenix turnovers occurred in a two minute span late in the fourth period and turned a one-point lead into a five-point deficit. That also helped New Jersey end a 14-game losing streak in Phoenix over a span of 14-plus years.
This is pretty much the same team the Suns thrashed by 28 last month back in New Jersey, but it most certainly was not the same Devin Harris. Back in November he went 2 for 11 and scored 12 points. On Sunday, he went 14 for 25 and scored 45 points, including 21 in the fourth period. This just a few nights after Dwayne Wade of the Heat scored 43 here. One of the problems was the Suns couldn’t keep either off the line. Wade was 11 for 12, and Harris went 17 for 17.
It didn’t certainly didn’t help that Amare Stoudemire was ejected with a second technical with 3:24 to play and the Suns clinging to a one-point lead. But the fact is the collapse was already in full swing before he departed, taking 25 points and 12 rebounds with him.
The bottom line: At this point it’s almost like somebody has dabbed some glue on the Suns’ sneakers and butter on their fingers, and is playing mind games with them. Well scratch that last one. The Suns are playing mind games with themselves. And obviously these are the kind of problems that have to get fixed a lot sooner than later, because unchecked the snowball effect will indeed bury them.