After an agonizing three-game stretch against the bottom-dwelling Detroit Pistons, Philadelphia 76ers and Charlotte Bobcats, the Phoenix Suns needed a big performance this weekend -- and they got it, in one game, anyway.
The Suns played their best defensive game of the season against the Boston Celtics on Friday, holding Boston to 71 points while scoring 88. They were less impressive against the New Orleans Hornets last night, eking out a 104-102 win that came down to the last play of the game.
Even though wins are wins, as the old saying goes, there is reason to be concerned by the team's performance.
Friday night's contest against the Celtics, which might be the best team in the league, was impressive, but the Celtics couldn't have played sloppier. Head coach, Doc Rivers, was ejected alongside Kevin Garnett -- Boston's star player -- while the rest of the team racked up 6 technicals.
Still, that game showed what the Suns are capable of if they focus on the game at hand and execute their gameplan. Boston came into the game the best-shooting team in the league but the Suns held them to 34.2 percent from the field.
If Friday's game was a best-case scenario of the Suns' potential, Sunday's was a reality check.
The Suns and the Hornets appeared evenly matched through the first two quarters of yesterday's game, entering the second half tied 53-53 before jumping ahead to decent lead in the 3rd. Phoenix led 88-80 at the start of a fourth quarter that saw the Hornets mount a major comeback.
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With two and a half minutes to go, the Suns led by 12. With about 30 seconds to go, that lead was down to two, and the Suns managed to turn the ball over, giving the Hornets one more shot to tie the game and force it into overtime.
Fortunately for the Suns, Grant Hill blocked a Marcus Thornton jumpshot and Chris Paul missed a three that would have won the game.
This Suns team can be a credible contender if it plays with more consistent focus. But at this point in the season, it might be time to accept that the Suns are what they are -- an inconsistent and aging team with its best years behind it.
The Suns host the Milwaukee Bucks this Wednesday at 7. For more information, go to the Suns' website.