What is more disappointing? How the Phoenix Suns loss to the Houston Rockets Tuesday night, or the fact that they should have beat the playoff team? Regardless of the answer, there is no question the defeat is just another black mark on a very forgettable season for the Suns.
Phoenix should have won the game, but an ill-advised move by center Jermaine O’Neal never allowed them that opportunity in overtime.
With the game tied 98-98, Houston’s James Harden tossed up a 3-point prayer that bounced off the rim not once, but twice. While the basketball was in the process of bouncing off the rim a second time, O’Neal illegally grabbed it, which resulted in a correct goaltending call. The Rockets went on to win the game 101-98, while the Suns were left with another difficult loss to swallow.
Phoenix has lost 10 consecutive games, and 14 of their last 15. Their only win since March 11 occurred against the Los Angeles Lakers on March 18. The 10-game losing streak is the fourth longest in franchise history, while the Suns are now guaranteed the worst record in the 44-year history of the organization.
The good news is that Phoenix showed plenty of promise for the first time in weeks. The Suns actually looked like an NBA team that knew what they were doing. They moved the ball well (24 assists), they recorded plenty of turnovers (nine steals, five blocks) and they shot well from 3-point range (58.3 percent). The only thing they did not do is finish the game as well as they played it.
“Our guys fought their hearts out,” interim head coach Lindsey Hunter told azcentral.com. “We did an excellent, excellent job in just about every aspect of the game.
“Sometimes, you have to keep fighting your way until you figure it out. I think tonight was a great start for us, competitive-wise. We did everything in our power to come out with a win.”
Either the Suns can build off of Tuesday’s performance or they can allow the season to end on a 14-game losing streak. It does not take a genius to figure out that carrying momentum into the offseason is something that will benefit the team in the fall.