The effort was there. The intensity was there. Heck, the talent was even there.
But for the second time on their three-game road trip, the Phoenix Suns were lacking one vital ingredient with a victory against an elite Western Conference opponent staring them square in the face.
The ability to close.
Markieff Morris had his most impressive night (23 points and 12 rebounds) of the young season. Miles Plumlee held his own (15 points, six rebounds and two blocks) with future Hall-of-Famer Tim Duncan in the paint. Gerald Green looked mighty comfortable (15 points on 3-of-8 shooting from three-point range) starting again at the shooting guard position. And Eric Bledsoe (14 points and five assists) didn’t shy away from his head-to-head matchup with five-time All-Star Tony Parker.
Yet over the final minute of play, none of that seemed to matter much.
After Plumlee put Phoenix ahead by one with 1:02 to play, Green got whistled for a charge on a drive to the basket, Parker hit a pull-up jump shot, Bledsoe slipped on a 12-foot attempt, Parker converted on an uncontested layup, Bledsoe missed a game-tying three-point attempt, as did Green from 29 feet away as time expired.
As was the case in Sunday night’s heartbreaking 103-96 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Suns were simply a play short here and a play short there, as they fell
99-96 to the Spurs.
When Lance Blanks acquired Marcus Morris in a trade with the Houston Rockets last February, he envisioned a formidable front court tandem made up of the former No. 14 overall pick and his twin Markieff.
Unfortunately, the former Suns GM is no longer around to reap the benefits from that transaction.
And at least the last two nights, Phoenix has certainly benefited from having the Morris twins on the court.
Following their 33-point, 14-rebound performance in Tuesday’s six-point victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, Marcus and Markieff put on an even better show, combining for 34 points and 18 rebounds off the bench.
While the Morris twins have impressed in back-to-back games, veteran Channing Frye has not. For the second consecutive night, the seven-year veteran was largely an afterthought at the offensive. In 20 minutes, he scored a season-low three points — which came in the opening minute of the contest.
P.J. Tucker was also of little use offensively, hitting just one of his seven shot attempts.
Stat of the Game
Even in defeat, Phoenix allowed under 100 points for the fourth time in five games. The Suns didn’t hold four opponents under 100 until their 11th game in 2012-13.
Bledsoe came into Wednesday night averaging a team-high 2.3 steals per game, however he failed to record even one in the three-point loss.
Green has scored in double figures in three straight contests — a feat he didn’t achieve even once as a member of the Indiana Pacers in 2012-13.
The Suns (3-2) return from their three-game road trip to take on first-year head coach Brian Shaw and the winless Denver Nuggets at U.S. Airways Arena. The Western Conference showdown gets underway at 7:00 p.m on Arizona Sports 620.