The Phoenix Suns’ playoff hopes took a significant hit Sunday night as they fell to the Dallas Mavericks 91-83 at US Airways Center.
Entering Sunday’s action, Phoenix’s hopes of a postseason birth were alive, barely, as the Suns trailed the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies by three games. However, with a Memphis win (111-104, over visiting San Antonio) and the Phoenix loss, the Suns currently sit four games out of the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot with 10 games remaining.
The game saw Phoenix’s 16th different starting lineup of the season as Jared Dudley and Marcin Gortat were named starters in lieu of the struggling Vince Carter and the hobbling Robin Lopez.
Dudley and Gortat looked like keepers, combining for 40 points on 15-of-29 (.517) shooting, 20 rebounds and six assists.
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Unfortunately for the Suns, few others followed suit as the remaining starters tallied just 14 points.
“To win a game like that, we’re going to need the whole team to bring energy and bring toughness, and a lot of guys today didn’t have really good nights,” said Gortat.
The Suns looked good early, jumping out to a 26-17 first quarter lead and taking a five-point advantage into halftime. However, the Suns would score just 34 points the rest of the way.
Defense was not the issue for Phoenix in this one as the Suns held the Mavericks to 91 points and under 40 percent shooting, something Phoenix has done just five times this season. Rather, the offense, Phoenix’s strength in recent years, was no where to be found.
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“The effort was there, we just can’t quite offensively generate offense down the stretch. For us, that’s really where the game is lost,” head coach Alvin Gentry said.
The Suns came into the game red-hot from three-point land having made 10 or more three-pointers in a season-high four-straight games. That streak would end there as the Mavericks defended the line well and limited Phoenix to just 1-of-16 (.063) shooting from beyond the arc.
“In order to beat that team, you have to play at a really high level – we were one for 16 from three; that’s not who we are,” admitted Gentry.
For the Suns, who take on the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night, it was a disappointing end to the game but a devastating impact on Phoenix’s hopes for a return to the NBA playoffs.
“After this game, I don’t think we’re going to be talking about the playoffs this year anymore” a dejected Gortat told the media.