The Phoenix Suns did not finish their three-game road trip the way they wanted.
Winners of the first two in Boston and Toronto, the team stumbled Monday in Brooklyn.
“When you look back at it, to get two of those three is pretty good,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Tuesday. “Brooklyn is obviously rolling now. They’ve got their guys.”
Hornacek conceded that while the Nets have had their struggles this season, when they’re healthy and rested they boast a lineup that is tough to deal with. But one thing he was not ready to accept was one of the reasons why his team lost. Because while winning two of three is nice, winning three of three would have been better.
“I think the way we lost the game, too, I didn’t think the effort was quite there like it was the other games.”
Hornacek added that the team is not talented enough to win on that alone, meaning the players need to bring great energy and effort night in and night out. However, there may be a somewhat limited supply, as the coach said it’s possible his players were emotionally drained by the time they got to Brooklyn.
“It’s hard to go through that level of intensity every single night,” he said.
Now 38-29 on the season, the Suns are 1.5 games back of eighth-seed Memphis and 2.5 back of No. 7 Dallas in the Western Conference playoff picture.
Once seemingly destined for a surprise postseason run, the team’s grasp on its first playoff spot since 2010 is tenuous at best.
It’s all about how the team will respond.
“You’ve got to play like your backs are up against a wall because right now they are,” Hornacek said. “We’re a couple games back and again, as coaches probably the frustrating part is to know that that’s the situation we’re in.
“But it’s hard to blame these guys; these guys have done much better than anticipated. So as a player, you understand what they’re going through, but as a coach you want it every night. But you understand that sometimes doesn’t happen.”