The Phoenix Suns absolutely can't afford to lose a home game to a 19-25 team who played in Sacramento the night before. They might not say it, but they certainly know how far they are out of contention and it shows up in the lack of extra effort and the inability to fight just a little bit harder than the other guy.
The Charlotte Bobcats won this game in the final few minutes and on the final few possessions and Alvin Gentry's frustration over that was evident in his postgame remarks.
"The bottom line is that there was 1:17 seconds to go and we never got possession of the ball on the three missed shots. We have to do a much better job finishing the game. We have to do a better job coming up with plays," the exasperated Suns' coach said.
The defense had shown some signs of improvement at times but as Jared Dudley pointed out, just because you are good defensively for one or two games doesn't mean you are a good defensive team. Lack of "mental toughness" was the term he used. Steve Nash was just as clear in placing the blame on the team's approach to the game.
"I just think it's concentration and discipline, I think we lack a little bit of that at times. We had a good stretch there and then we take a step back a little bit. We don't have the talent or efficiency to not win those battles, the 50-50 battles," Nash said.
"It's not really something you can practice. It's something you have to have the determination to go out there and finish plays. I think at times we lack that a little bit."
Nash finished the game with an impressive 27 points (11-15 shooting) and 15 assists and five rebounds. He did his part.
Grant Hill once again proved that how much this team relies on him which is a lot of pressure to put on his slender 38-year-old shoulders.
Hill had an off-shooting night (3-11) and wasn't able to help get stops late in the game either due to injury. In the third quarter, Hill said that Bobcats guard D.J. Augustine fell into his knee -- the same one injured in the Cleveland game on January 9 which caused him to miss three games. He tried to play through it but wasn't able to. After the game he said it was sore but he's hopeful he can play on Friday against the Celtics.
Vince Carter shot the ball well, 8-17 for 22 points, but once again wasn't able to attack and get to the free throw line for more than two attempts. He wasn't the only one. The Suns as a team only had 30 points in the paint and just 10 free throws for the game.
The lack of interior scoring options continues to plague the Suns and unfortunately, their best post players are Hill, Robin Lopez and Hakim Warrick. Marcin Gortat did what he could, scoring 16 points and grabbing seven boards but all of his offense has to be created for him.
The Bobcats shot 50.6 percent for the game and were led by Stephen Jackson's 23 points.
The Suns will practice tomorrow and then play Friday night at home against the Boston Celtics.