The Phoenix Suns seemed to have had some good luck on their brutal road swing: neither the Chicago Bulls nor the Dallas Mavericks faced Planet Orange with their star players on the court. Unfortunately for Steve Nash and company, neither Derrick Rose nor Dirk Nowitzki was needed.
With Nowitzki sitting because of a sore knee, the Mavs downed Phoenix in a 93-87 game that was not as close as the final score might suggest. At one point, Dallas was up by 15 points, propelled by former Sun Shawn Marion's kick-back game wherein he led all scorers with 29 points, including hitting 4 of his 6 three-point attempts.
On the positive side, Phoenix had a 52-42 rebounding edge, bolstered by 17 rebounds (and 19 points) from Marcin Gortat as part of his eighth-straight double-double, but the team shot a season-low 37% from the field, including 30% from behind the arc -- poor accuracy from distance that's become typical for Phoenix this year.
Outside of Gortat's continued strong play, Grant Hill had a breakout performance with 19 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 steals, but he was also solely responsibly for 8 of Phoenix's 19 turnovers. Rookie Markieff Morris, in the starting lineup, tallied 7 points and 11 boards, Shannon Brown notched 14 points of his own off the pine, and Steve Nash had 12 assists in the losing effort.
Contributing to the loss were the usual suspects for the 2011-2012 Phoenix Suns: poor ball protection, poor shooting, and poor bench play. Coach Alvin Gentry has shuffled his starting lineup of late -- including inserting Morris and Ronnie Price into the starting five and moving Jared Dudley and Channing Frye to the bench -- but no combination seems to give the team the bench production that spoiled Gentry in the 2009-2010 season that saw them make the Western Conference Finals.
The loss in Dallas ends the team's road swing and they'll face the Toronto Raptors next, back home at US Airways Center, tomorrow night. For more Phoenix Suns coverage, head over to SB Nation's Bright Side of the Sun blog.