The Phoenix Suns’ 114-97 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday afternoon officially eliminated them from playoff contention. At 37-39, Phoenix cannot record one of the top eight records in the West, so it is headed to the draft lottery for the second time in three years.
Coach Alvin Gentry comments on Phoenix missing the playoffs:
“I’m a realist. Even if we would’ve won every single game we played, that wouldn’t have guaranteed us getting in the playoffs. The chances of that were not good. It is what it is, but that doesn’t mean we can’t compete and play hard and finish on a real positive note. I think that is the thing we have to look at.”
This Suns team bears little resemblance to the one that pushed the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers to six games in last season’s Western Conference Finals. Steve Nash, Jared Dudley, Robin Lopez, Grant Hill, and Channing Frye stuck around, sure, but Amar’e Stoudemire and Jason Richardson have departed.
Effectively replacing Stoudemire with Hakim Warrick and Richardson with Vince Carter proved disastrous, but clearly there’s hope for the future. Carter (shooting 42.4 percent as a Sun, and since yanked from the starting lineup) can be bought out for $4 million this summer, while midseason acquisition Marcin Gortat has shown promise during his Phoenix tenure. Plus, Nash, whose 11.4 assists average leads the league, hasn’t lost his brilliance.
But that’s for next season. The Suns still have six games left, and Gentry’s right for wanting his club to “finish on a real positive note.” Developing good habits now, even with nothing but pride at stake, can only help the team later on.
The Suns season features four more road games on this trip before returning home for dates against the Minnesota Timberwolves and Spurs.
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