At least the Phoenix Suns were straightforward with their fans on Sunday evening: there would be no fight or competition whatsoever in this loss. The team fell behind the Dallas Mavericks by as 21 points in the first quarter and never made a game of it, eventually losing by 25.
Suns coach Alvin Gentry sensed this would be a night of futility and limited his starters' minutes accordingly so the team could get another extended look at Aaron Brooks and Josh Childress, both of who were pretty disappointing in nearly 30 minutes of playing time apiece. Brooks finished with nine points and only four assists, to three turnovers. Childress had eight points and one rebound.
About the only positive to be found was the continued strong play of Marcin Gortat, who seems bound to entirely replace the struggling Robin Lopez next season. Lopez had nothing but a personal foul in five minutes, while Gortat led the team in scoring with 15 and grabbed nine rebounds.
Phoenix seemed to have no interest in playing defense, and the Mavs took full advantage, with five scorers in double figures, including Peja Stojakovic, Jason Terry, and Jose Juan Barea, who all came off the bench to notch 17, 17, and 15 points, respectively.
Dallas' win keeps them in the race for the second seed in the Western Conference playoffs, while Phoenix's loss guarantees they will finish below .500 for the first time since 2003-04, before Steve Nash arrived to change NBA basketball in the desert.
The Phoenix Suns are 38-41, and will need to win all three games left in the season to avoid finishing below .500 for the first time since 2003-04. They will face the Dallas Mavericks (54-25) on Sunday in their last road game of the season.
The Mavericks, meanwhile, will be be fighting to improve their playoff positioning. The Mavs are currently one game behind the L.A. Lakers for the number two seed in the West and one game ahead of the fourth-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder.
Steve Nash missed Friday's game against the New Orleans Hornets with a strained right hamstring, and his status for today's game remains uncertain. The Mavericks have won all three meetings against the Suns so far this season.
The game tips at 4:30 p.m. local time on My45 and will be broadcast on Sports 620 radio. Fans can follow along during the game with other Suns fans at the live game thread at Bright Side of the Sun.
Bright Side has the full seeding breakdown for both the playoff-bound Mavs and the lottery-bound Suns: