Suns Fall Flat, Lose To 76ers 103-83

The Phoenix Suns haven't solved their offensive woes as they score just 83 points against the Philadelphia 76ers.

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Steve Nash Struggles To Find His Shot, Suns Struggle To Score

The Philadelphia Sixers defensive game play against the Phoenix Suns pick and roll was simple -- make Nash prove he can score. It was a game plan employed frequently by the Dallas Mavericks back in the days when the Suns were the best offensive team in the league and they felt having Nash score 40 was better than him getting his teammates involved.

Nash is no longer capable of scoring 40 points except perhaps on a rare occasion (his season high last year was 28). So, instead of letting him pick apart the traps to create open opportunities for Marcin Gortat rolling to the rim or to find open shooters at the three-point line, the Sixers went under the screen and stayed home with the roll man and gave Nash the space to shoot.

The plan worked, as Nash went 2-7 in the first quarter and with that the entire Suns offense ground to a halt.

"I think the way they were playing the pick and roll tonight it was important for me to make them pay a little bit. There was some space in the paint and I was getting in the lane (but) I wasn't able to get it done tonight. I think that put a lot of pressure on the offense. We couldn't loosen them up or break them down and create easy opportunities," Nash said.

Steve put the blame on the slow offensive start on any number of things including the shortened training camp and lack of familiarity with new teammates, but the end result is not being in rhythm.

"That was about as bad a game as I've had personally and team-wise, obviously as well. We've shown over the two games that we're struggling to find a connectivity and rhythm together. All you can do is continue to work hard and find a way to be optimistic and positive and hopefully the break through will come soon," he said.

Nash scored less than five points in three games last season. The Suns lost all three. The year before on a team with Amare Stoudemire and Jason Richardson, the Suns won three games with Nash scoring five or fewer points.

It's both unusual and highly troubling to see Nash struggle with his shot this much, this early in the season. Perhaps he's still working himself into game rhythm with the lockout aborting his normal preseason routine.

The alternative is that a 37-year-old Nash has finally lost what made him special. Let's hope that's not the case because this team does not have enough talent to win very many games if Steve Nash isn't getting it done.

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Phoenix Suns Steamrolled By Philadelphia 76ers, 103-83

The Phoenix Suns didn't take long into their 2011-12 season to roll off a horrible game. Maybe it's rust from the lockout or maybe this team is truly awful. Whatever it was on Wednesday night in Phoenix was barely worth watching as the Suns fell to 0-2 with the blowout loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Suns started flat offensively but hung with the young and talented Philadelphia 76ers thanks to a solid defensive effort. Eventually, however, that failed too and the Suns found themselves down 48-34 at the half.

Then things went bad.

The Sixers started the third quarter with a 19-0 run and held the Suns scoreless for nearly six full minutes. By the time a contested Shannon Brown pull-up jumper broke the drought, Phoenix was down 69-36.

Philadelphia, coached by Doug Collins who Alvin Gentry called one of his closest friends, let off the gas a bit and Phoenix managed to score 20 in the quarter but they also gave up 32.

The fourth quarter went about as expected with one team leading the other by 26 points. The 76ers cruised home to the victory.

Steve Nash had a horrible game, finishing with four points, four fouls, one assist, and six turnovers in 17 minutes. Hakim Warrick, who didn't play in the first game of the season, finished with 14 points but as is usually the case was a liability on the glass. Ronnie Price played well off the bench behind Nash, he had a team-high 16 points along with four assists and a steal.

The 76ers got balanced scoring with six players in double figures. Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala, and Thaddeus Young all had 15 points.

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Phoenix Suns Vs. Philadelphia 76ers: Schedule, Lineups, And TV Info

The Phoenix Suns and Philadelphia 76ers both started their 2011-12 NBA seasons with a loss. One team, at least, will be .500 on the season after they meet Wednesday night at the U.S. Airways Center. Tip off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Arizona time with Fox Sports Arizona providing the local TV broadcast.

Recent games:

The Suns lost their last game to the New Orleans Hornets 85-84 after failing to find enough offense and getting beat in the final minutes of play due to missed shots and poor execution out of a time out. Phoenix had a strong performance from Robin Lopez (21 points, 7 rebounds) and rookie Markieff Morris (7 points, 9 rebounds) but only got 24 total points from their four wing players.

The 76ers are coming off a 107-103 loss at the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday. The defensive-minded Sixers held Portland to just 41 percent shooting, but the Blazers capitalized on 20 turnovers from Philly which led to 28 points. Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams combined for 7-of-13 from three-point land. The Sixers played eight guys in Portland with seven of them scoring in double figures.

Projected starting lineups:

Game preview:

The 76ers swept the Suns last season in two games, including an embarrassing 123-110 home loss on December 29, 2010 that prompted Marcin Gortat to rip into his new team and led to Alvin Gentry simplifying the defensive schemes. In other words, it was a fairly significant game for the Suns season.

Philadelphia is a tough team with size up front, dangerous wing players and the dynamic Thaddeus Young and Lou Williams off the bench. Markieff Morris will likely get the Thad Young assignment which should be fun to watch while the Suns can try and counter Lou Williams with the defensive abilities of Ronnie Price.

As is often the case, Steve Nash will have his hands full with a speedy young point guard (Jrue Holliday) and the wings will be tested trying to stay in front of Evan Turner and Andre Iguodala. The 76ers are young, athletic, long and have their entire team from last season in tact. The Suns will need to get good shooting from Frye and Dudley and some kind of scoring punch off the bench to win this game.

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Phoenix Suns Offense Lags Behind Defense, More Wing Scoring Needed

This is not your run-and-gun Phoenix Suns of yesteryear. When you combine a shortened offseason and an emphasis on defense then it shouldn't come as a surprise when a team lacking in All-Star caliber players would struggle to score the ball in their first game. The Suns finished their season opener against the New Orleans Hornets with just 84 points on 39 percent shooting.

In 574 regular season games in the modern Steve Nash era (since 2004), the Suns have scored less than 85 points just 16 times.

"We have worked more on the defense and our offense has maybe suffered a bit because of it," Steve Nash said after the game.

"But I don't know how we could have done it differently. There's only so much time in a day and we need a lot of work defensively, so I don't think we would have done it any differently. Here we are finding ourselves struggling a little bit offensively but we just got to stay positive and optimistic that it will come."

The problems on offense ran the gamut from old issues like finding points with Nash on the bench to uncharacteristically poor shooting from behind the three-point line (5-25). Some of that, like Channing Frye's 1-6 night, should come around with time. But as coach Alvin Gentry pointed out, the Suns need more scoring from the wings.

Coach Gentry called out Grant Hill, Josh Childress, Jared Dudley and Shannon Brown by name as guys that will need to find a way to contribute points. Those four players combined for just 24 points in the opener.

The final sequence with the game on the line also highlighted one of the Suns deficiencies that will be harder to sort out with more practice time. The Hornets had a definite "go-to" scorer, Eric Gordon, who was able to isolate and create and hit a shot late in the game. The Suns have to rely on offensive execution and Steve Nash creating an opportunity for a teammate which can be more difficult in late-game situations with limited time on the clock.

It's very early in the season and a lot of teams are still struggling to find their way, but the Suns understand that they can't afford to lose games like this at home and still hope to make the playoffs.

For all the latest AZ sports news, follow us on Twitter @SBNArizona and "Like" us on Facebook.

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