A few weeks ago Phoenix Suns' Head Coach Alvin Gentry said the goal for his team was to be at .500 going into the All-Star break. With a 27-27 record, that's right where the Suns find themselves after losing tonight to the Dallas Mavericks. It wasn't a game that the Suns can have too many regrets about. They played well on both ends of the floor despite a few missed opportunities.
At this point, with this roster, against a 40-win team like the Mavericks, it's going to take a near perfect game to win. Steve Nash agreed, "We didn't play terribly but we got to play sharper to beat a team like that," Nash (15 points and 14 assists) said.
Offensively, the Suns shot 50.6 percent from the field against a Dallas team that's ranked 12th in the league in defensive efficiency. What hurt was the poor shooting from three (5-19) and the inability to generate offense when Nash was off the floor or late in the game when the defense changed their approach.
There were six Suns players in double figures and another (Gortat) who had nine points. That balance is typically a recipe for success but an off night for Grant Hill (4-14) hurt as did only two points for Jared Dudley.
On the other end of the floor, it was all about Dirk Nowitzki. The Suns guarded him most of the night with Channing Frye who, according to his coach, did a good job despite the 35 points and 13-18 shooting allowed.
"I thought Channing did a good job. Channing's been a pretty good defender for us. Could Grant have guarded him any better than Channing did? I don't know about that," Gentry said.
"The bottom line is we did what we wanted to do, we wanted to make him shoot jump shots and we wanted them to be challenged jump shots and at the end of the day he's only making half of them but tonight he made 13 out of 18"
For his part, Frye took the blame for "letting" Dirk get off to a hot start. It's the first time he's guarded the seven-foot German sniper. "Coach gave me confidence...You just have to make it tough on him and hey, he's making tough shots, give credit to him," Frye said.
The Suns reaching .500 is bitter-sweet goal according to Frye, "It's like we have the minimum amount of flare for all the Office Space fans."