Newsroom Notes: Suns Stumble in Third, Fall to Denver
Posted: April 21, 2012
With both the Suns and Nuggets vying for playoff berths, Saturday’s matinee between the two clubs promised to be an entertaining one. With two of the Top 10 offenses in the league and two of the Top 6 teams in the NBA in field goal percentage facing off, it had all the makings of a down-to-the-wire thriller.
Unfortunately, it was one of those movies where the villain won, with the Suns suffering a 118-107 defeat to the visiting Nuggets.
The Suns, who had won 12 of their last 13 home games against Denver, didn’t exactly succumb to the top-ranked offense in the league. The Suns fell victim to exactly what undid them the last time the two clubs met.
In that game on April 6, the Suns committed 16 turnovers, giving up 26 points off turnovers to a Nuggets team that was fifth in the league in forcing them. It was déjà vu all over again as the Suns surrendered 22 points off 17 turnovers Saturday.
"You turn the ball over against them and they are going to make you pay," Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. "Obviously 22 points is too many points off the turnovers and you look at fast break points and it’s 26 to 2. So it’s just not a good matchup for us at the end of the day.”
Although the Suns permitted the Nuggets to erupt for 60 points and shoot 60 percent from the floor in the first half, Phoenix found itself only trailing by two at the break. But in the third, the Nuggets uncorked a 23-6 run, capitalizing on eight points off of turnovers to head into the fourth ahead by 11.
Phoenix rallied in the fourth, but could only get as close as 10 in the fourth period as the Nuggets pounded the Suns inside, outscoring them by 24 in the paint and in fast break points.
"They’ve got size, they got strength, they got a lot of skill, they can shoot the ball, Nash said. "You know, they’ve got a really good team, a really deep team, so they’ve been causing a lot of problems for us and we haven’t been able to beat them."
For the Suns, shooting guard Shannon Brown poured in 28 points on 6-of-12 shooting from behind the arc, while Marcin Gortat contributed 18 points and 11 rebounds. Steve Nash added eight points, 13 assists and six rebounds, while Sebastian Telfair scored 15 on 6-of-7 shooting off the bench.
With the loss, the Suns fell to 14 games behind the top-seeded Spurs, with their next game coming against the Jazz on Tuesday. That game will ultimately decide whether the Jazz or the Suns will be playing in the postseason.
"It was disappointing today but we're still in a great position," Nash said. "We gave ourselves a chance to control our own destiny still. We have to regroup and have a great performance in Salt Lake."
Since the All-Star break, the Suns have managed the fourth-largest second-half scoring increase. Coming into Saturday, the Suns have averaged 102.3 points a game since the break.
Typically a Top 5-scoring team, the Suns have crept into the Top 10 in scoring in the league. Currently, the Suns are eighth in the NBA.
“I just think the players have settled into their roles and are more cohesive now,” Gentry said.
Phoenix is also shooting 47 percent from the floor since the break, which is the third-best in the league since that point in time. The Suns are also 18-6 when scoring more than 100 points.
In the past, the Suns traditionally were slow starters that performed poorly during the day. However, this season, the Suns were 2-0 coming into Saturday’s afternoon tip against the Nuggets.
Their prior two wins came on January 2, when the Suns topped Golden State at home and then defeated Cleveland on the road on March 25.
Unfortunately, that good fortune ran out on Saturday, as the Suns dropped their first day game of the season.
Top 5 All-Time in Assists
After recording his fourth assist in Saturday’s win over the Nuggets, Nash passed Oscar Robertson to move into fifth place on the NBA’s all-time assist list.
"It's an amazing situation," Nash said of passing the Big O. "I never thought that I'd be in this position, but it's hard to really put it in perspective, especially with a loss."
Channing Frye left the game with 4:16 left in the second quarter after injuring the shoulder that he dislocated last season. During a game against the Thunder on March 6, 2011, Frye suffered a dislocated shoulder, missing 12 days of action.
The injury today, however, was deemed a subluxed right shoulder. In layman’s terms, that’s when the shoulder pops out but promptly pops back in. He did not return tp action Saturday, but is hopeful to play Tuesday.
After the game, Frye tweeted this out to his followeres: "Thanks for the well-wishes everyone We have the best trainers in the league and i have full faith in our team we can still make the playoffs."
Suns small forward Grant Hill did not dress once again Saturday. Gentry said that Hill tested his right knee (still recovering from surgery on the meniscus in his right knee) before the game, but is still feeling discomfort on certain movements and cuts.
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