February 14, 2012 | 7:35am
The Phoenix Suns seemed in control of the Golden State Warriors for about the first 34 minutes of last night's game in San Francisco. The problem was, the pro game is 48 minutes long, and the Suns couldn't stop the Warriors for the duration, losing 102-96.
Marcin Gortat had another stellar performance for Phoenix, dropping 25 and 12 (points and rebounds), but David Lee, his counterpart on Golden State did even better with 28 points and 15 boards, including 15 points in the third quarter.
The 12-16 Suns totally lost their intensity in the fateful third quarter after taking a 12-point lead at one point, and the Warriors scored in all but two of 22 possessions.
That kind of defense, or lack thereof, is what causes basketball teams at all levels to lose games and -- for the Suns -- to lose any momentum gained in the last several games.
Steve Nash played pretty well, amassing 14 assists in 35 minutes of play. But he only managed six shot attempts (and missed all three of his treys). Phoenix converted only five of their 25 three-point attempts, with Channing Frye making just one of eight.
We liked the play of onetime Pac-10 (now Pac-12) standouts Nate Robinson and rookie Klay Thompson. Thompson looks as if he will blossom into a solid NBA player, and he can shoot lights-out, as we saw more than once at the Wells Fargo Arena when he torched ASU as a member of the Washington State Cougars.
Robinson is a little dynamo, who can be a game-changer on occasion.
The Suns won't have to dwell on this lousy loss for long. They play the Denver Nuggets on the road tonight in a game that will be difficult on all levels--back-to-back game, altitude issues in the Mile High City, and the simple fact that the Nuggets are better than the Warriors.
The game will be televised on Channel 34, and will also air on KTAR-AM 620.