Who's to Blame this Time? Phoenix Suns Get Beat at the Buzzer for Second Time in Two Weeks

Ths Suns lost 113-110 at the buzzer to the Indiana Pacers, the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference. But who's fault was it?

When Phoenix lost by a point on Christmas Day to the hated San Antonio Spurs, one of the best teams in the Western Conference, it was newly acquired guard Jason Richardson's. Still dazed and confused on his new team, he'd dumbly left his man to help under the goal, and the wide-open guy nailed a three-pointer from the corner. Heartbreak.

Heartbreak again Wednesday night when the Pacers' Danny Granger got wide open with less than a second to go and hit a three.

At his press conference after the game, Suns Coach Terry Porter (pictured) wasn't naming names. He said he had decided to "switch things around," and there was a miscommunication.

Guess so!

Amar'e Stoudemire, Richardson, Leandro Barbosa, and Grant Hill were standing around under the goal (dum, de, dum), waiting for who knows what (the rebound, maybe, a drive to the basket)? Only Granger had been nailing three-pointers all night (he'd hit four already), and it didn't take a genius to realize that Indiana wanted the ball in his hot hands.

The conglomeration of Suns under the basket left poor, surprised Steve Nash, at 6-3, trying to get hand in the 6-8 Granger's face. Swish. You could hear the air letting out of US Airways Center all the way to Apache Junction.

Everybody at Porter's post-game confab wanted to know what the hell had happened?! Hill had been guarding Granger; did he miss his assignment?

Well, he certainly looked chagrined at the end of the game. But that was probably because one of the other doofuses was supposed to "switch" with him.

Whatever? The Suns should've never been in a tight game with a bad ( though up-and-coming) young team.

Shaquille O'Neal didn't play because of back spasms, and Nash had a touch of he flu, but the Suns are professionals who should be able to overcome minor adversity at home against a team with a now-13-22 record.

They played terrible defense in the first quarter and let the Pacers mount a seven-point lead. That lead swelled off-and-on to double-digits later. The Suns just couldn't seem to get their heart and soul into the game.

Until the fourth quarter, when they took a 2-point lead with less than a minute to go, only to see Indiana tie the game seconds later. Richardson had a chance give the Suns the win, but he missed a five-foot jumper, and Indiana called a timeout with 0.9 left on the clock.

Granger was phenominal all night. He wound up with 37 points, hitting 5 of 11 threes. He also grabbed five rebounds and had six assists. The game of a budding superstar.

The Suns' Lou Amundson, on the floor 25 minutes with Shaq in the locker room, played the game of his career in this gut-wrenching loss. The reserve forward had 14 rebounds, nine of them offensive, to go along with 9 points. If only the guy could hit a free throw! Actually he did hit 1 -- out of 7. (Sheesh, even Shaq's better from the stripe.)

Amundson helped the Suns win the rebound battle 50-40, but what killed them -- again -- was turnovers. They had 19 that resulted in 25 points. Stoudemire led the way with 5, and Nash had 4. No wonder they couldn't beat a bad team.

Since Porter won't assign blame for who fucked up at the end of the game, we can only conclude that the Suns' sorry showing -- after 32 games -- was his fault. He let his team slack. Coach, breathe some fire into these guys before it's too late. 

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Rick Barrs
Contact: Rick Barrs