Skip to content

Suns trying to come to grips with recent offensive struggles

Jan 7, 2013, 1:43 PM EDT

Marcin Gortat, Derrick Favors, Paul Millsap

PHOENIX — The Suns dropped their second straight home game on Sunday, falling to a Memphis Grizzlies team it had matched up well against in two earlier meetings this season.

The loss itself, the team’s eighth in its last nine games, is the least of the problems in Phoenix.

Offensively, the Suns have regressed completely over the past two games, to the point where the results have been disastrous. After scoring just 80 points against Utah on Friday, they managed only 81 against Memphis, and the problems, while evident, have begun to demoralize and frustrate the team’s core players.

Jared Dudley, one of the co-captains, broke down what some of the issues have been, and said specifically that the cold shooting has been a result of Phoenix abandoning the offensive strategy in favor of isolations and questionable shots.

“I attribute it to a lot of isolations, bad shot selection, [being] careless with the ball, and bad turnovers,” he said. “You’ve got to move the ball. We’re not a team that can just hold the ball, stick, stick, and then give it to Kobe or LeBron to save the day. Until we figure it out though, we’re going to keep doing these interviews and keep losing.

“It’s not that hard,” he continued. “If you don’t have a good shot, swing the ball, set good screens, roll … we have to play with all five together to have a shot.”

The one-on-one play has been most troublesome, especially on a team that really doesn’t have any players capable of creating good looks for themselves in an isolation set. Suns head coach Alvin Gentry said as much on Sunday.

“We don’t have one on one players, period. It’s detrimental to our team [when that happens],” he said. “Very much so. We’re a much better basketball team when we have three or more passes. We shoot the ball better; the field goal percentage, there’s almost a 22 percent difference.”

What makes the offensive struggles most maddening, besides the breakdown in executing team concepts, is that this is a relatively recent phenomenon. Phoenix averaged over 97 points per game in its previous five before this two-game slide, but over it last seven quarters, has managed to score just 18.6 points per period.

Equally frustrating is the fact that the players seem to know exactly what the problems are, yet have been unable to fix them. Dudley tried to make this point as clearly as possible.

“Everyone’s got to look themselves in the mirror,” he said. “No one’s here babysitting — you know if you’re going 100 percent, you know if you’re shooting bad shots. We can definitely police you, we can definitely say something, which I have. We can argue about it, but at the end of the day we’re all losing together.”

Marcin Gortat, the more-than-occasional beneficiary of easy looks at the rim when the offense is clicking, would like to see more execution out of the team’s pick and roll sets.

“We’ve got to work on our pick and roll offense, I think that’s the main thing,” he said. “That’s the main problem. If we can develop our pick and roll offense, everything’s going to open up for the other guys.

“Last year, we were really successful on the pick and roll. We’d start the game where I’d receive a few easy buckets on the roll, and then the whole team had to clog the paint, and everybody else on our team at the three-point line was open. It has to start somewhere.”

Gortat made it clear that he wasn’t lobbying for additional touches, and said it’s simply the execution on the plays that are being run that needs to improve. But he was on the same page with Dudley that the shot selection is a problem.

“There’s just too many wild shots from the outside; shots that we don’t need,” he said. “And we’ve got to change that. We’ve got to shoot the shots that we can make.”

The frustration is palpable when speaking to these guys; they have the talent to compete on most nights, but not enough to stray from the game plan for extended stretches. Gentry recognizes that this is a critical time for his team, and tried to convey to them that they’ll need to stick together in order to turn things around.

“The message I said to the guys is that we, number one, have got to stay together,” he said. “You can’t fragment right now; that’s the easiest thing to do is to point fingers and go your separate ways. We’re not going to do that.

“We’re in a bad situation,” he continued. “We’re in a bad spot right now. The thing about this league is, the only ones who can dig us out is ourselves.”

Latest Posts
  1. Five Things We Learned in NBA Tuesday: Golden State exposed Clippers’ defense

    Apr 1, 2015, 1:34 AM EDT

    Matt Barnes, Stephen Curry AP

    We may have to watch the Nets in the playoffs. Lord help us all.

  2. Stephen Curry drops Chris Paul with behind-the-back move (VIDEO)

    Apr 1, 2015, 12:50 AM EDT

    Stephen Curry, Chris Paul Stephen Curry, Chris Paul

    Curry just dropped the best defensive point guard in the NBA.

  3. Anthony Davis says James Harden should be MVP

    Mar 31, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    New Orleans Pelicans v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    Curry and Harden seem to be the frontrunners.

  4. Kevin Durant posts picture from hospital bed, thanks fans, “NBA brothers”

    Mar 31, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT

    2015 NBA All-Star Game Getty Images

    “Not what I envisioned coming into this season. But I’m here and ready to conquer this journey.” —Kevin Durant

  5. Shaq takes shots at Lakers, Clippers during Justin Bieber roast

    Mar 31, 2015, 7:59 PM EDT

    Shaquille O'Neal AP

    Which is easier to insult, the Lakers or Justin Bieber?

  6. Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell, Terry Rozier declare for NBA draft

    Mar 31, 2015, 7:20 PM EDT

    Northern Iowa v Louisville AP

    Harrell a potential lottery pick, Rozier a potential first rounder

  7. Celebrating the bond between Spurs, San Antonio

    Mar 31, 2015, 6:29 PM EDT

    Lupe Lemos Lupe Lemos

    It’s impossible to ever really define and entire large city in one bit of writing. But this story comes as close to defining the intricate relationship of San Antonio with the Spurs as you are going to see.

  8. Stop judging J.J. Redick by his Duke days if you haven’t already

    Mar 31, 2015, 5:38 PM EDT

    J.J. Redick, Avery Bradley AP

    Redick, who once looked like a bust given oversized expectations, playing big role for surging Clippers

  9. Phil Jackson asks Knicks fans to “remain optimistic”

    Mar 31, 2015, 3:44 PM EDT

    New York Knicks v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Knicks fans should be patient with this season. Optimistic… that’s a tough sell.

  10. LeBron says he’s ‘got three very good friends in this league,’ none play for the Cavaliers

    Mar 31, 2015, 2:59 PM EDT

    Lebrion James, Dwyane Wade AP

    LeBron names his three, and says after that he has ‘a bunch of teammates.’

  11. Report: Rockets’ Patrick Beverley to need four months of recovery following season-ending surgery

    Mar 31, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Patrick Beverley AP

    It had been hoped that Beverley might be available to return later in the postseason.

  12. Thunder say Kevin Durant underwent successful bone graft surgery, will return in 4-6 months

    Mar 31, 2015, 12:40 PM EDT

    Kevin Durant AP

    We already knew Durant was done for the season, but the Thunder have updated his status.

  13. Draymond Green no longer selling ‘Cool story, Glenn’ shirts, may miss next game vs. Clippers

    Mar 31, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    Draymond Green AP

    Green is trying to downplay rivalry with Clippers coach, and is dealing with inflammation in his shins.

  14. Kyrie Irving on his relationship with LeBron James: ‘I don’t want to say it’s not been rocky at all’

    Mar 31, 2015, 11:20 AM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    Things are clicking now in Cleveland, but it wasn’t that way at the beginning of the season.

  15. Flip Saunders (sort of) makes up with Jazz broadcaster after ripping him for saying Timberwolves were tanking

    Mar 31, 2015, 10:40 AM EDT

    Flip Saunders AP

    Interaction ended with a handshake, but it seemed evident Saunders remained displeased.

  16. Lance Stephenson receives DNP-CD in Hornets’ loss to Celtics

    Mar 31, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    Charlotte Hornets v Sacramento Kings Charlotte Hornets v Sacramento Kings

    Hornets were fighting for a playoff spot, but their big free agent acquisition sat on the bench.

  17. Kings considering shutting down DeMarcus Cousins for remainder of season

    Mar 31, 2015, 9:20 AM EDT

    DeMarcus Cousins AP

    Team has nothing left to play for, and Cousins has some nagging injuries.

Featured video

Clippers playoffs? MCW shooting? Your twitter questions answered.
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. H. Whiteside (6147)
  2. K. Durant (5437)
  3. D. Wade (5308)
  4. K. Martin (5200)
  5. K. Lowry (5113)
  1. G. Monroe (5099)
  2. D. Rose (4947)
  3. P. George (4785)
  4. B. Knight (4736)
  5. R. Rubio (4689)