They're not statistically out of it, but the Phoenix Suns have hoisted the white flag.
The good news is that that they destroyed the Sacramento Kings Friday night at US Airways Center, 139-111.
But the disturbingly bad news is that they got their asses handed to them by the Mavericks Sunday afternoon in Dallas, thus blowing a chance to come within 2 games of the Mavs for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. With the loss, interim coach Alvin Gentry's version of the Suns are 4 games out of the post-season picture.
Dallas' 140-116 decimation of Planet Orange was horrible to watch. It was back and forth until midway through the second period. With four minutes left in the first half, the Mavericks shot up to a 15-point lead and never looked back. In the second half, the Suns were never closer than 19 points.
The game was billed as the Suns' most important of the season, but once Dallas took a double-digit lead, the Suns played with their tails between their legs. Despite Gentry's pep talks during timeouts -- in one clipboard moment, he told his team not to try closing the gap too fast, but to chip away at it -- the Suns just gave up.
Near the bottom of the NBA in three-point accuracy, Dallas hit 15 of 25 from outside. That's an incredible 60 percent. The Suns only shot 47 percent from the field overall.
Phoenix had Shaquille O'Neal, still one of the most dominant big men in the game, in the middle, but Dallas, normally a poor rebounding team, had 2 more boards.
Needless to say based on the score, the Suns played next to no defense all game long.
As for the battle between old pals Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash (once Mavs teammates), the big German had 28 points and 4 assists and the little Canadian had 12 points and 8 assists.
We won't bore you with a breakdown of the Suns' lopsided victory over the worst team in basketball, the Kings, except to say that Leandro Barbosa was back in action from his knee injury (he was the one bright spot for the Suns Sunday, scoring a team-high 24 points against Dallas). It was a game they should've walked away with, although the Kings managed to beat Phoenix in Sacramento five days before (it was another time when the Suns just laid down).
We'll leave you with this:
There are 5 games left in the season for both Phoenix (42-35) and Dallas (46-31). The Suns must win all 5, and the Mavs must lose all 5 for the Suns to beat them out of that cellar spot in the playoffs. Three of those 5 games are on the road (next stop: New Orleans Wednesday night), and the Suns have lost 9 of their last 10 road games.
Stick a fork in 'em.