Four games in the books, four more losses as the Phoenix Suns are now in the midst of the longest losing streak since the Pre-Nash Era. Changing the line-up has been a Band-Aid, but not enough to cure the seemingly incurable issues within the team right now.
The team split there time at home and on the road this week after an exaggerated road trip that created the current losing streak the team finds themselves in. Right now they are sitting on six straight losses -- the most in over seven years -- as they are still struggling to find the identity of the team.
With the Suns hosting the Orlando Magic in an evening game this does not include the results of that game.
Head Coach Alvin Gentry showed some frustration this week when asked about the team finding an identity and chemistry by, before, or after the All-Star Break. "I am tired of that question you know. Teams hope to know who they are coming out of (training) camp, but some take longer."
The team has struggled to define who they are on offense with the lack of communication and isolation ball for a team that is "not an Iso team" as Gentry has said nearly every time a microphone has been in-front of him. When the team passes the ball around and develop their offense they have been a handful for any team, but when the ball goes up after one or two passes they are a below average team.
The Suns have committed 48 turnovers in the past three games, or in simpler terms an average of 16.0 per game highlighted by the 20 against the Clippers. Those turnovers were the death nail as teams scored 48 points on the fast-break -- again 16.0 per game. When you are struggling to score in general and stop teams in the half court protecting the ball becomes pivotal.
In Memphis the Suns took the best team in the NBA to the final bell and were awarded overtime to try and steal the win. They played better than the Grizzlies for basically nine tenths of the game, but could not hold them off in extra minutes.
On the flip side...
... that was a game the Suns inherently won, and then gave away. In this type of season when a team plays that poorly for three and a half quarters you have to put you foot on the throat and take the win. Instead they wilted under the pressure before submitting in overtime.
This team is clearly lacking leadership on the offensive end. The Grizzlies were a prime example, as were the Mavericks, and the Clippers. When those teams need a basket they give the ball to Zach Randolph, O.J. Mayo, or Chris Paul to get an important basket. For the Suns they have nobody to go to in that situation and when they have a hot hand they have trouble getting them the ball throughout the course of the game.
The Suns ran a light walk through practice to get ready for the Magic. They did not go all out that way P.J. Tucker and Jermaine O'Neal were able to get on the court with the team. Tucker is dealing with a knee (MCL) that will keep him out of the Magic game and O'Neal is still dealing with nagging injuries to his hamstring among other things.
There was another shift to the line-up as Beasley and Jared Dudley swapped spots in the rotation, but Gentry was coy about that until pre-game against the Clippers.
A look at three different players on the Suns for the week forming a good, bad, and a surprise either way each week.
- B+ for Markieff Morris - He has adjusted well to the starting line-up and is playing some of his best basketball this season including his first double-double of the season.
- Incomplete for Michael Beasley - One great half does not make up for the other 10 quarters where the player labeled as the "premiere" off-season acquisition. After he exploded for 18 points in the first half Beasley disappeared only making one field goal in the second half.
- D- for Marcin Gortat - In three games the Suns center totaled 20 points, 16 rebounds, and 4 blocks (on 6-15 shooting). In comparison, he has had three games this season where he scored 14+ points, grabbed 10+ rebounds, and blocked 3+ shots. Where are you Marcin?
Player of the Week:
Luis Scola - 15.66 PPG 9.0 RPG 2.0 APG 58.3 FG%
Nobody played with the heart and effort like Scola did, despite the three losses, he stepped up in a major way off of the bench. It has taken some time, but he is now comfortable with his role coming in with the reserves and playing off of the bench.
Scola came in and put the team on his back in Memphis before the Grizzlies took over in overtime.
By all accounts Scola was back to his normal form this week with nearly three double-doubles on the week. He shot a very high percentage getting more shots at the rim and using his jump shot to keep the defense off balance rather than using his jumper as the primary weapon. The Suns need this Scola every game to be able to compete, and even win, some games on the up-coming schedule.
Previewing the Week Ahead:
Wednesday, December 12th vs. Memphis Grizzlies (14-4)
Friday, December 14th vs. Utah Jazz (11-10)