It is not often that a team in the position of the Suns finds themselves with such a golden opportunity. Seemingly, on their way to holding off the star-studded Los Angeles Clippers and picking up a vital win in their hunt for the Playoffs, everything that could go wrong for the Suns did go wrong.
Leading by 13 heading into the fourth quarter, if you chose not to watch the exciting conclusion, you’d be shocked by the 112-108 final in favor of the Clippers. Call it the “star” factor, as the Clippers have both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, but for the majority of the game, the Suns were in control and outplaying one of the league’s most well balanced and diverse clubs.
With just 10 seconds remaining, the Suns only trailed by a basket and went to their go-to man, Eric Bledsoe. Not high on the list of candidates to get a critical blocked shot would be Darren Collison, but the stealthy defender out of UCLA did just that, all but securing the game for his Clippers.
Tying Blake Griffin for leading scorer of the game honors, it didn’t take much to see that Collison had an outstanding night. After watching such performances, it’s puzzling to ponder why they ever considered swapping him for the New York Knicks’ Iman Shumpert.
In some sweet form of poetic box score language, the eight Suns that actually saw playing time for more than just a few spare minutes, all finished in double figures of scoring. Ranging from Marcus Morris leading the way with 16, to P.J. Tucker rounding out the group with 10, it was certainly a balanced assault.
The two clubs finished virtually even in a ton of swing categories such as fast break points, turnovers and even free-throw percentage, but where the game can be pointed to as a win or a loss, was the three-point line. Even with former Suns sharpshooter Jared Dudley going over to the dark side, the Suns still have a more than formidable firing squad from long range. Unfortunately, for them, they only managed to go 8-for-28 on the night, a measly 28.6%. While Channing Frye knocked in four of his eight, P.J. Tucker went 1-for-5 and Goran Dragic put up a goose egg as he went 0-for-5.
Catching a bit of a break were the Suns this evening as Memphis also stumbled on the road in Minnesota. Even with that loss, it should not lessen the blow that the Suns feel after giving away a critical game, especially one they had in their grasps. The most maddening part of the entire scenario could be the fact that the Suns are just two games out of the six seed in the Western Conference—although, they have three teams to jump to get there.
As of the moment, all three teams (Dallas, Memphis and Phoenix) sit in a virtual deadlock at 44-31. The fact that if any of these three played in the Eastern Conference, they would be the league’s three seed has been stated on multiple occasions, but alas, that is not the scenario. Up to the second, the Suns are on the outside looking in.
Things do not get any easier as they head to Portland for a Friday night collision with Damian Lillard and a healthy LaMarcus Aldridge, which is going to be a matchup nightmare. The game tips off at 7 P.M. as the Suns face a potential playoff opponent in a critical early April contest.
Tags: Phoenix Suns