On the surface, you can look at Tuesday night’s 100-88
loss to the Utah Jazz as the game that killed the Phoenix
Suns’ 2011-12 playoff aspirations.
And, in a way, you’d be right. The Suns played without
Channing Frye, who was sidelined with a shoulder injury,
and got just three minutes of playing from Grant Hill, who
continues to recover from knee surgery.
The loss was officially the final nail in the coffin, but
if you look a little deeper, there were six games that
really damaged Phoenix’s playoff chances, and all were
seemingly inexplicable losses on their home floor at US
New Orleans 85….Suns 84 – 12/26/11
Hornets’ guard Eric Gordon hit a jumper with 4.2 seconds
left to sink the Suns on opening night. This win was a
rare one for New Orleans, as they’d limp out to a 4-23
Cleveland 101….Suns 90 – 1/12/12
Rookie point guard Kyrie Irving lit the Suns up for 26
New Jersey 110….Suns 103 – 1/13/12
Things wouldn’t get any better just one night later, as
the New Jersey Nets took advantage of a Suns team playing
without Steve Nash and Grant Hill. Deron Williams pumped
in 35 points and added 14 assists.
Toronto 99….Suns 96 – 1/24/12
The Raptors came to town dragging an 8-game losing streak
but left with a win after Andrea Bargnani scored 36
points, including 27 in the 2nd half.
The Suns had beaten the Raptors 14 straight times heading
into the contest.
Golden State 106….Suns 104 – 2/22/12
The Suns headed into the All-Star break on a sour note
when Monta Ellis hit a baseline jumper with one second
left in the Warriors’ win. Think head coach Alvin Gentry was
“I’m disgusted with the way we played, and I’m disgusted
with the fact that we got a chance to enter the break on
something upbeat and positive, and instead we just walk
through the first 10 minutes of the game,” he said.
Minnesota 127….Suns 124 – 3/12/12
The Suns defense allowed a season-high 127 points as
Minnesota blistered the nets at a 56% clip for the game.
Kevin Love went off for 30 while Nikola Pekovic added 24.
That’s six losses against six losing teams who are a
collective 119 games under .500 that the Suns failed to
take advantage of on their home floor.
Phoenix did do a much better job in the second half of the
season in defending their home turf, going 12-4 at “the
Purple Palace” after the All-Star festivities, but by
then, the damage had been done.
The Suns, whether they win or lose against San Antonio in
their season finale Wednesday night, will finish with
their worst home record since the 2003-04 season.
As a result, the Suns will miss the playoffs in back-to-
back seasons for the first time since a three-year
postseason absence from 1985 to 1988.
So instead of the postseason, it’s off to luxurious
Secaucus, New Jersey, site of
the NBA Draft Lottery on May 30. As of Wednesday,
the Suns will pick 14th and have a 0.6% chance of landing
the number one overall pick.
Arizona Sports’ Craig Grialou contributed to this