Don't be fooled by the final score: the game was not nearly as close as it may indicate. Fans got a glimpse of a future without Steve Nash and it was not encouraging. With Nash sitting out to rest his sore groin, the Phoenix Suns got off to an immediately rough start against the overwhelming Orlando Magic on Thursday evening. Led by backup point guard Goran Dragic, the Suns scored only 34 points in the first half on 39% shooting, accompanied by nine turnovers.
Dragic, overall, had a rough go of things in Nash's absence, finishing with 10 points (including three missed three-pointers), four assists, four rebounds, but six turnovers in 30 minutes. With the game mostly out of hand, Dragic's playing time was cut short, along with that of all the starters, and the second half saw a lot of Hill, Turkoglu, and even Jared Dudley handling the ball. It worked out about as well as one might imagine.
Again, the Suns weren't feeling it from behind the arc, this time shooting only 17% after coach Alvin Gentry joked that the team would have to hit another 22 three-pointers again to beat the Magic. Unfortunately, they fell 19 short of the mark. The Magic hit 40% from range.
Strangely enough, the rebounding battle was close, with the Suns getting edged slightly 38-34, including 13-9 on the offensive glass. Dwight Howard, though finishing the game with 20 points and 12 rebounds, didn't dominate as much as might have been anticipated given the Suns' clear lack of size. Orlando played a balanced game, however, with all five starters in double figures, scoring-wise.
The Suns, on the other hand, were lacking contributors. Grant Hill led the team with 21 points, but had no rebounds. After that were Earl Clark's 14 points and six rebounds, but most of his play was during garbage time. Hedo Turkoglu, after having a handful of good games, missed all eight of his shots this time around, including five threes.
It was clear to coach Gentry in the early going that the Suns would not be winning, as Grant Hill led all players in minutes played with only 31. Every active player on the roster saw at least 10+ minutes, though no one made much of an impact. The Suns came with little to no energy or interest in trying to pull the upset. Instead, they must have been facing forward to Saturday's game against the struggling Charlotte Bobcats, an excellent chance for Phoenix to right the ship.