PHOENIX – Confidence can be a funny thing. In sports they say you have it when you’re doing well but not when you’re struggling.
The Phoenix Suns, losers of six of their last seven games, would appear to be a team lacking in that area.
A 99-95 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers Wednesday night left the Suns searching not only for wins but a belief in themselves as well.
“Anytime you lose as much as we have confidence can go down,” forward Jared Dudley said after the game. “You want to see more wins and that’s why I thought the Sacramento game was so devastating is because it’s a bad team and we should win that game. We played well and they came back.”
Dudley was referring to a 94-89 loss the Suns suffered Sunday in Sacramento, surrendering a 12 point fourth quarter lead by allowing the Kings to go on a 19-2 run to close the game out.
The game wiped away any momentum the Suns may have had after their 92-75 win over the Pistons just days before, and now they are just a team that needs a win — any win.
“For us it’s just a matter of one time, something going our way,” center Channing Frye said.
But to watch the Suns now you’d be hard pressed to believe something will happen, as the issues that haunted them earlier in the season are still showing up. For instance, the Lakers held a 46-31 edge on the boards Wednesday, collecting 14 on the offensive end.
“You can bring in Dwight Howard, I don’t care who you want to bring in, you can bring in Bill Russell,” center Marcin Gortat said, “if five guys aren’t going to box out and five guys aren’t going to put a body on the other player we’re always going to lose rebounding.”
The Suns, currently 14-19 and falling further back in the Western Conference playoff race, seemingly find themselves grasping for anything that can get them a win. It is not that they have played poorly in most of their losses, they just have not been able to close the deal.
Though struggling now, head coach Alvin Gentry said the team had similar issues last season. He’s not worried about the team’s psyche.
“The one thing I can say about all the guys in that locker room — even the new guys — that I know is that they’re a confident bunch and although we’re struggling and our record is not where we feel it should be, I think that we’ll continue to play, I think that we really feel like at some stage it will all come together for us.”
If the Suns are to make any noise in they will need it to come together sooner rather than later. Asking the fans to be patient, newcomer Vince Carter said the team is close to turning the corner.
“Put a win or two together and we’ll feel better about ourselves and our situation,” he said.
But therein lies the problem about that funny thing they call confidence. While having it will help a team win games, they may need to win games before they have it.
“We just gotta win one, a second game,” Gortat said. “If we’re going to start winning then we’re going to catch our confidence and we’re going to have a rhythm and we’re going to start winning and obviously everybody — I believe, at least at least, everybody else will start doing a better job defensively and offensively.”
Gentry said the team will continue to work hard and improve, and Carter said the team just needs to stay focused and keep working.
“The positive out of this is we’re fighting like hell and we’re really putting it together, starting to put it together,” he said.