It’s hard to find a game in November that has a playoff vibe to it but the Phoenix Suns Wednesday home game against the San Antonio Spurs fit the bill. There is the very recent history of bad blood to take into account between these two teams. Mix in the Suns finally knocking the Spurs out of the playoffs last season and you know the Spurs would be playing with a little extra fire. The game definitely did not disappoint.
Both teams went at each other with great energy as evidenced by the 50-50 tie at halftime. The ties and lead changes continued as the Spurs won the third quarter by a basket. Phoenix native Richard Jefferson made his presence felt in the fourth quarter, highlighted by dropping three consecutive three-pointers to give the Spurs a 103-97 lead with six minutes left to play. After a 9-0 Suns run, a fourth Jefferson three-pointer with just over a minute remaining to put the Spurs ahead for good.
Jefferson and Tim Duncan were the MVP’s for the Spurs as Jefferson finished with 28 points and 4 rebounds while Duncan controlled the glass with 25 points and 17 rebounds. The Suns did a good job not allowing the Spurs to dominate the boards. The Spurs won the rebounding advantage 45-40 but the Suns had more offensive rebounds by a 16-11 margin.
Steve Nash had a woeful shooting night going 8-22 finishing with 19 points and 7 assists and 6 rebounds Jason Richardson led the Suns with 21 points while Hedo Turkoglu, the Suns biggest name offseason acquisition, is still missing in action as he only had six points and two rebounds in 17 minutes of action. Add to that equation the fact that the Suns shot 38% for the game and you see why the Suns lost as well as how they could have won the game. If Steve Nash has a normal shooting night, the Suns win. If the team shoots 40%, the Suns win.
The Suns are 1-3 heading into Friday night’s game against Memphis. Steve Nash stated after the Spurs game that the team is still trying to find its identity. With as many new pieces as the Suns have, it is understandable. Chemistry doesn’t happen overnight. While the Suns are costing themselves winnable games, it is not a stretch to say the Suns will be winning these same games against the same high caliber opposition. There are positives in these losses. The Suns are playing like contenders although the record does not reflect it. The Suns have started the season against four teams that all had over 50 wins last season and all made the playoffs. These early trials will make the Suns better and harder to beat as the season progresses.