The Phoenix Suns overall weren't displeased with their performance in the 111-107 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. They credit the play of the young and talented Thunder team but also feel they played hard and were the recipients of some questionable calls late in the game.
"I was happy with the effort we played with. I thought we did a good job. We've got to do a better job defensively in the fourth quarter but we also missed a bunch of shots that could have given us a little separation or could have kept us right there in the game," Alvin Gentry said.
It was a game of runs that started with the Suns building an 11-point lead in the opening five minutes of the game but then the home team gave up a 21-15 run to the Thunder. It was a pattern that would repeat itself several times right up through the fourth quarter where the Suns were able to build a six-point lead with 7:27 to go. Then the Thunder came right back and tied the game at 103 with 1:41 to go.
The ability to win these close game, especially at home this season, has been a constant sore spot and unlike in years past this time it's the offense that's not been there.
Vince Carter on three straight possessions missed long field goal attempts (two three-point shots and a long two) while on the other end the Thunder were able to scratch out four points off a Serge Ibaka tip-in off a missed shot and a Russell Westbrook 11-foot shot in the lane.
"I was wide open. Wide open. Maybe they should have guarded me, I might have made them. That's all I got for you," Carter said about his late-game opportunities.
That sequence put the Thunder ahead 107-103 with 40 seconds left in the game. The Suns forced a back court violation on the in-bound pass and then cut the lead to 107-105 off a Nash layup. On the next Thunder in-bound the ball went to Kevin Durant who appeared to travel but the foul was called on Nash which effectively ended the game.
"I felt like there was minimal contact. He jumped in the air 40 feet from the basket. There was minimal contact. That's the kind of call I don't see going our way when we're on the road," Nash said about the play.
It wasn't the only controversial call that had the Suns miffed.
With about 4:14 to go, Kevin Durant attempted a baseline jump shot. The official called a foul on Grant Hill on the shot and then called technical fouls on both Hill and Nash for arguing the call. That gave Durant four free throw attempts. He missed two but the two he made tied the game at 97.
"It's hard enough guarding (Durant) one-on-one. He's a great player and I think the world of him as a player and as a person and I enjoy competing against him. It's certainly a challenge. He's a great scorer," Hill said.
"He's an honest guy. He said on that play I didn't foul him."
Vince Carter definitely wins the award for the best and most frustrating player of the game. He was aggressive in the first half and scored 19 points on 6-8 shooting and even better, got the free throw line for seven attempts and even drew a charge. In the second half, Carter lost his aggressiveness and didn't get to the line once and went 5-13 from the field, including those three crucial misses.
The Suns fall to 23-25 on the season and once again fail to reach .500 when given the chance.
- "I was happy, I thought we competed and played hard and had some open looks that we just couldn't get in."
- "I thought we did a good job on (Durant). 24 points for him is like 12 for somebody else."
- "We had a stretch there in the second quarter where we had done a really good job defensively, and then about a five minute -- I think it was five minutes and 14 seconds -- they scored 24 points."
- "I liked the shots that we got. We got good shots. Vince three wide open looks that we liked. We just didn't get them in. I thought our execution was pretty good at the end of the game. We just didn't make the shots. For us, we just have to jump up and make the shots."
- "They play with Jeff Green at the four. He's a hybrid four. He's more like a three and a half. It's a tough match up when you got bigger guys on him and when you play a smaller guy on him he does a good job posting up."
- On the questionable calls, Gentry said, "I didn't see anything. I didn't see a thing."
- "(Ibaka) probably made the biggest shot of the game, that jump shot there at the foul line."
- "I'm happy to see the frustration in there. That means guys care. We want to win and we believe that we're a better team than our record shows."
- Gortat said he didn't play well in the first half and tried to push himself and go through guys. He wasn't happy with the decisions he made early on.
- The pick and roll was better in the second half.
- "It's not easy to be aggressive and try to fight and play hard with fouls."
- "Vince got great shots. He's going to make those shots eight out of ten times."
- "It sucks to lose but for us I felt like we competed and everybody left everything on the floor and just some things didn't go our way."
- "In the third quarter we did really well and the fourth quarter -- they're a good team and they've been to the playoffs - so they made some adjustments and if something was working for them they went to it and their guys made some shots."
- "I think we've grown, we're a lot more mature. We have a lot more trust in each other. I think you can see that out there. Guys are taking charges. Guys are out there being emotional about every play. I think that's what we needed."
- "It's getting back to really being fun to play out there. It's exhausting but it's been a lot of fun and it's going to continue to be that way as long as we continue to grow and work hard."
- Frye said he didn't work on posting up all summer.
- "I practiced that on the low-low and I never ever used it," Frye said about his running hook shot in the lane after curling off a screen. "I think I've done it maybe once in practice."
- "I'm never going to complain about playing too much. I love it."
- On the double technicals, Grant said Nash didn't say anything and then they T'd him for saying that Nash didn't say anything.
- "I'll try and say this artfully. Mike Callahan I have a lot of respect for. He was his usually steady, consistent self tonight. I'll just leave it at that."
- Asked about the foul call on the late play where Durant jumped and probably traveled but Nash got called for the foul, Hill said, "It was consistent with what we were seeing out there tonight."
- "We can't use that as an excuse. I think that did turn the momentum but we still had chances. I thought they got some timely offensive rebounds, tip-ins. They hit two big shots. The Ibaka one that shot clock was going down."
- They are good team. A young team. They probably wanted to avenge the loss from when we beat them in December.
- "We just didn't make quite enough plays tonight."
- "Four free throws on that one play. I thought Grant played great D. They put Durant on the line. They T'd me up, I didn't say anything. They T'd Grant up for saying I didn't say anything. Four free throws at that point in the game for what could have been a good defensive stop and a fast break was tough for us to overcome."
- "Maybe we didn't make some shots at the end of the game we had a chance to knock in and we also didn't get some breaks there. We didn't get any calls. Maybe gave up a couple of offensive rebounds here or there but we just got to move on."
- "I thought the guys that made it, deserved it. I know people looked at my numbers and that I could easily be an All-Star this year but other guys deserve it as well. They've had great years and I'm happy for them."
- The rest will be a nice opportunity to get away for a few days but if they call because somebody gets hurt, "I guess you take the honor and go and enjoy it."
- "I don't know if we're as talented as we've been in the past and we've got to find a way to scrap."
Goran Dragic was wearing shoes on both feet for the first time this week. He said they are leaving the stitches in his toe a little longer to be safe and that it would be about five days before he can play after the stitches come out.