Lazy First Quarter and Bad Defense Dooms Phoenix Suns in 95-93 'Thriller' Against Houston Rockets

The Phoenix Suns' game last night was a thriller -- for the last few minutes or so, anyway. The rest of the 95-93 loss to the Houston Rockets was another listless effort from a bad team that looks less like a contender with each passing game.

Planet Orange started slow, getting beat 27-16 in the first quarter before ratcheting up the offense in the second. Unfortunately, they continued to play bad defense, allowing the Rockets to keep their lead going into the half.

Offense was no easier for the Suns to generate at the start of the third quarter, but the team finally pulled through, scoring points and chipping away at the Rockets' lead with opportunistic defense -- and bad shooting on Houston's part.

Things got interesting in the fourth, as the Suns went on a massive run and tied the game with two minutes to go. But they couldn't close the deal against the lowly Houston Rockets. Even worse news: the Utah Jazz won its game yesterday, which puts one more team in front of the Suns for the, um, prestigious eighth playoff spot.

After the Suns tied the game with two minutes to go, Houston took a two point lead. Josh Childress got the ball and dunked it with NBA Jam-style emphasis at 1:20 to tie it up again.

The Rockets retook the lead again, however, and held onto it. With 13 seconds left, the Suns devised a brilliant play to tie up Rockets guard Kevin Martin and force a jumpball, giving the Suns their best chance to steal the win. They lost the tip to Chase Budinger, who was fouled on the play and shot two free throws, missing one. That gave the Suns one final shot -- a missed three-pointer from Jared Dudley at the buzzer.

Josh Childress and Vince Carter carried the team in this game, scoring 21 and 15 points, respectively, and Marcin Gortat played strong, as usual. But it's time to call the team's inability to play a complete game -- with or without Nash -- what it is: pathetic. The Suns seem to lose focus at times. They have moments where they're brilliant but those are outweighed by the times they're undisciplined and lazy on the court.

The Suns' next game is against the New Orleans Hornets, a strong team the Suns did well against earlier this season. But that was with Steve Nash, and that was, to some extent, luck. Planet Orange will have problems avoiding a whomping in Louisiana on Wednesday night, which would be their fourth in a row. Tune into My45 at 5 to see what happens.