The Phoenix Suns lost their third game in a row yesterday to the Charlotte Bobcats, getting outscored 114-107 by a team that's lost 25 of 44 games this season.
Steve Nash played his heart out against the Bobcats, going 11-15 from the field with 27 points, 5 rebounds and 15 assists. Vince Carter added 22 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists. Grant Hill had a rough game, scoring 8 points on 3-11 shooting.
Marcin Gortat added 16 points coming off the bench in the first half, tying his career high, but did not score in the last two quarters.
Much of the postgame commentary has focused on comments made by Steve Nash and coach Alvin Gentry. Nash said that the team "sometimes" lacks the "concentration" to finish games and needs to find that determination. Gentry was more blunt.
"We have to do better at finishing games," Gentry told reporters after the game. "The bottom line is that there was 1:17 to go and we never got possession of the ball on three missed shots."
The Bobcats, by contrast, are on a two-game win streak, winning two in a row on the road for the first time this season. Interim Head Coach Paul Silas had nothing but praise for his players, saying his team's focus has been "phenomenal these last few games."
This recent stretch of mediocrity represents the central problem facing Suns management. It's obvious, as other writers have pointed out, that this year's team lacks chemistry. But it's also true that the team is talented, and Steve Nash remains one of the better players in the league.
It's a complicated situation many sports teams face. Should the Suns try and sneak into the playoffs this year and hope they get lucky, or should they try to trade Nash and others to begin building for the future?
One thing is certain: the Suns have to win home games against mediocre teams, no matter how loose that team is with their new head coach.
"Every game right now is crucial for us," said Carter, who passed Suns legend Tom Chambers on the all-time scoring list during the game. "We have let some games slide already, and we can't let any more go. These games hurt."