The Phoenix Suns reached a new low last night in a year filled with nothing but heartbreak. They lost to the Sacramento Kings, one of the worst teams in the Pacific Division (if not the entire NBA), for the third time this season.
The 116-113 road loss is also their third-straight defeat, which drops the team to below .500, moves them to the tenth spot in the Western Conference, and dims Planet Orange's already unlikely hopes at making the postseason.
And just how futile is the situation? Let's put it this way: Even if the Houston Rockets (the team currently occupying the ninth spot in the west) suddenly blinked outta existence, Phoenix would still have to win all of their remaining games by utilizing effective defense and avoiding late-game shooting shortcomings.
Oddly enough, those were the two things that killed it for the Suns on Tuesday night during what's probably their final road game in Sacramento.
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Despite pimp scoring efforts by Channing Frye and Jared Dudley (each landed 21 points) and a double-digit advantage, Phoenix only eeked out small leads through the first three periods. Both the Suns and Kings were shooting above 50 percent and drew just about even on free throws. When it came to rebounds, however, Sacramento was killing Planet Orange to the tune of 50-39.
Then there were Phoenix's buckets during the fourth quarter. Or, more specifically, their absolute dearth of 'em. The Suns led by 10 points just after the start of the stanza, only to go 7 for 21 in the paint for the remainder of the game while the Kings went on a 12-4 scoring run to tie things up.
Although the game stayed close in a see-saw battle, Steve Nash, Dudley, and Frye couldn't make a basket to save their lives near the end. Meanwhile, Sac-Town's Marcus Thornton unleashed a monster three-pointer with less than a minute on the clock to give the soon-to-be Anaheim Royals a decisive 112-110 lead. They never looked back.
Phoenix (36-37) heads back home to US Airways Center for tonight's game against the outstanding Oklahoma City Thunder (49-24), who are currently on a four-game win streak and are expected to kick the crap outta the Suns all evening. Tip-off is 7 p.m. TV: Fox Sports Arizona. Radio: KTAR 620-AM. For more information, visit www.suns.com.