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.
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