Phoenix Suns Have Only a Slim Chance of Making the Playoffs, after Eating a Dirk Sandwich Against Dallas
Nowitzki and the Mavs aren't the best show in the NBA anymore, but he's still a Suns killer.
Shaquille O'Neal scored 21 points against the Dallas Mavericks to go ahead of Elvin Hayes for sixth on the NBA career scoring list (he needs 88 points to best the next guy on the list, Moses Malone).
Matt Barnes also had 21 points, and Steve Nash had 23 and 13 assists. All the Suns' starters and Leandro Barbosa, off the bench, were in double-figures.
Now you've gotten all the good news about Tuesday night's game at US Airways Center.
The bad news begins with the fact that the Suns fell 122-117 to the Mavs and are now 5 games behind Dallas for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Statistically, it's not over. They could still get in -- but after losing 6 games in a row and with Cleveland and LeBron James coming to town Thursday night -- only a fool would bet on it.
The Suns lost the lead with 8:18 left in the third quarter and never got it back.
The reason? They were forced to eat a Dirk sandwich.
Power forward Dirk Nowitzki made10 of 12 field goals in the second half and finished with 34 points for Dallas. Every impossible hand-in-his-face, fade-away jumper from just past the free-throw arc went in.
The German All-Star only had 7 rebounds, but a couple of them were Suns killers, because they gave Dallas second-chance points at crucial points in the game..
Then, there was sixth-man guard Jason Terry, the former Arizona Wildcat, who hit three three-pointers in the second half and went on to score 25 points for the game. Like Nowitzki, it wasn't how much he scored as much as it was when he scored.
Then, there were the 4 three-pointers by one-time Suns point guard Jason Kidd, two of them in the last minutes of the game. Kidd's second three put Dallas up 112-99 with under three minutes to play, and the Suns could never catch up.
We all complained about Amar'e Stoudemire not playing up to his potential, that he seldom played defense, but without him, the Suns just can't close out a game against a good team to save their lives.
Yeah, we know, they beat the league-leading Los Angeles Lakers just before they went on this losing streak, but that must have been a fluke.
In all of the six losses in a row, the Suns were still in the game in the fourth quarter. They cut Dallas' lead to 3 in the final period, and only lost by 5. Without Stoudemire, whatever his drawbacks, they just didn't have the horsepower to win in the final minutes.
It's not over for the Suns this year, but it may as well be. Even if they rallied and made it to the eighth playoff spot in the West (which's extremely unlikely), they'd face Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in a first-round best-of-seven series.
That wouldn't be pretty.