Looking at the score alone -- 117-77 -- you get the picture. The Phoenix Suns were awful. What makes it even worse was the fact that they were playing the lowly Detroit Pistons. It was the first time this season that they simply didn't try.
Phoenix was blown out in the second half of a game earlier in the season against the Orlando Magic and then followed it up with a blowout loss to the world champion Miami Heat. But the Miami loss on the road is understandable. They are world champs and overmatch the Suns in talent.
The loss to the Piston is inexcusable. A look at the stats showed that the Pistons shot 75 percent from three-point range. The Suns hot only 34 percent from the floor. They made only 28 baskets and only 11 of them were assisted. Detroit? They had 40 baskets and assists on 28 of them. Goran Dragic only had one assist.
What can we see? There simply was no energy. They weren't moving the ball. They weren't making the effort to run the shooters off the three-point line.
Coach Alvin Gentry did not mince words after the game. "I wish it was an easier way to say this but we sucked in every part of the game," he told reporters. "There was nothing that we did that you could say was even NCAA quality. This is the first game I can say that I did not think we competed hard and did not try to match their energy level."
The shame of it is that when the season started, Gentry communicated what he hoped the identity of the team would be -- a group of players that never give up and fight and compete the entire game. We now see why they have to play like that. If they don't put forth a max effort every game, this is what happens -- a blowout loss on the road to a bad team.
"We have to find a way to gain consistency in what we are doing," said Gentry. "We cannot play one night where we play well and then come back the next night and not compete."
Phoenix has been awful in the back end of back-to-back games. But there is no excuse for it. They have a younger, more athletic team than before, and they play 10 players. Fatigue should not be a huge factor.
In a word, the game was embarrassing. It was embarrassing to watch, it had to be embarrassing to participate in and it is far from the exciting team fans were expecting.
Of course, it is just one game out of 82, But when the team is put together with role players, players with great potential with little to show and some pretty decent veterans, you can't take nights off. You have to play to the final buzzer every single night without fail, If not, games like the one in Detroit happen.