Phoenix Suns may be younger, but they’re not any more likable

Mar 2, 2015, 4:15 PM | Updated: 4:37 pm
Follow @Vincemarotta...

What happened Saturday night at US Airways Center will go down as one of the uglier nights in Phoenix Suns’ history.

It was just “one of those games.”

The Suns, still very much in contention for one of the Western Conference’s eight playoff spots, stunk up the joint, losing 101-74 to the defending World Champion San Antonio Spurs in front of a sellout crowd of 18,055.

Phoenix set a franchise record for lowest-scoring first half, posting 24 points in the game’s first 24 minutes. They shot 18.6 percent from the floor and had as many turnovers (eight) as they did baskets.

Things weren’t much better in the third quarter. The Suns scored just 17 points, hitting 5-of-21 field goal attempts. After 36 minutes, they trailed 75-41.

Like I said, it was ugly. But over the course of an 82-game schedule, all teams have games that they’d like to forget. The Golden State Warriors, who have won over 80 percent of their games this season, lost to the lowly Los Angeles Lakers. The Eastern Conference’s top team, the Atlanta Hawks, got blown out by a mediocre Milwaukee team by 30 points the day after Christmas.

Even the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, a team that posted an NBA all-time best mark of 72-10, suffered a 32-point blowout at the hands of the New York Knicks.

It happens.

What matters is how you respond. That Chicago team responded by reeling off 18 wins in their next 21 regular-season games and running roughshod over the opposition in winning their fourth NBA title.

The Suns responded by ripping the fans.

“I don’t think we have a home court advantage,” forward Markieff Morris said. “It doesn’t feel like a home court advantage at all. Some games are going to be bad. You can’t win every game, you know, that comes along with sports.

“Nobody wins every game but we need the support to know we need as a team to know our fans are going to be behind us and I don’t feel like, this year, that they’re behind us.”

Calling out the fans for their lack of support in a game when the entire team basically put forth a 36-minute-long full-body dry heave is one of the silliest things I’ve ever heard.

And if it seems like the fans aren’t behind you this year, Markieff, there’s a reason for that. They’re not.

Suns fans gravitate toward superstars, overachievers, hustlers, goofballs and winners. That’s been the case for 47 years. This year’s roster, especially after the exit of forward Channing Frye via free agency and Goran Dragic by trade, is mostly void of any player who falls into even one of those categories.

That’s not to say there aren’t good players on this team. There are. Eric Bledsoe is developing into a very good point guard, but he’s not a superstar. Morris, himself, has shown great improvement over his four years in the league. But he’s also a guy who refused to talk to the media following the best game of his career — one where he outplayed LeBron James in a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in January. He apologized for it a day later at the request of team officials.

That’s the Suns’ issue right now. It’s not a likable team. They’re young, yes. They’ve stockpiled draft picks and assets in hopes of building a championship-caliber team down the road. That’s all good.

In the present, however, fans want to support players they can connect with and relate to, and those guys just aren’t around right now.

A team leader would have been right to address the fans following Saturday night’s debacle. But instead of attacking them and projecting responsibility for a less-than-flat effort, maybe an apology would have been nice? Because while you were earning nearly $100,000 for that game, Markieff, those fans “who don’t have your back” actually paid to sit through it.

Penguin Air

Phoenix Suns

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks at the start of the the NBA basketball draft, Thursday, June 23...
Associated Press

2022-23 NBA schedule clears Election Day of games

The NBA's schedule for the coming season will have all 30 teams playing on Nov. 7, the night before the midterm elections.
15 hours ago
Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns and Dwight Powell #7 of the Dallas Mavericks jump for the ope...
Kellan Olson

Phoenix Suns get rematch vs. Mavericks on opening night, per report

The Phoenix Suns' regular season will begin at home against the Dallas Mavericks on Oct. 19, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania.
2 days ago
The Phoenix Suns mascot "The Gorilla" on the court before NBA game against the Golden State Warrior...
Arizona Sports

Report: Phoenix Suns to play Denver Nuggets on Christmas Day

The Phoenix Suns will head to Denver to face the Nuggets on Christmas Day this upcoming season, Mike Singer of the Denver Post reported. 
3 days ago
Bill Russell, left, star of the Boston Celtics is congratulated by coach Arnold "Red" Auerbach afte...
Kevin Zimmerman

NBA retires No. 6 jerseys, to add jersey patch honoring late Bill Russell

Bill Russell's No. 6 jersey is the first to be retired across the NBA. Players will wear the patch on the shoulders this year.
6 days ago
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns reacts during the first half of Game One of the Western Confere...
Kevin Zimmerman

ESPN’s NBA staff still mighty high on 2022-23 Phoenix Suns

If you were wondering why the Suns have attacked the offseason with tinkering, it might be time to remember the past two full seasons.
7 days ago
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) is tackled by Philadelphia Eagles safety Marc...
Arizona Sports

Larry Fitzgerald, Pedro Gomez in 2022 Arizona Sports Hall of Fame class

Arizona Cardinals legend Larry Fitzgerald and late journalist Pedro Gomez are among the 2022 class entering the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame.
7 days ago
Phoenix Suns may be younger, but they’re not any more likable