You always hear how age and wisdom will outsmart youth and energy. Well, no one told the young Phoenix Suns that last night. Young teams that can run are always dangerous when they are at home, and last night the Suns made the Hornets look like the old dudes down at the YMCA. Before you start typing to tell me not to overreact, it’s to late. This game was the dagger in the Hornets season as far as a playoff run goes.
Let’s start with defense – the Hornets didn’t play any. Phoenix outscored Charlotte 60-36 in the paint – the Suns got the ball into the paint at will, demoralizing the Hornets defense consistently. MKG had some steals, so give him some credit, but that can also be attributed to the Suns loose style of offense. The Hornets gave up 94 points in the first three-quarters, and let Phoenix shoot 60% for the game. The Suns had six – yes six – different guys score 14 points or more, and had three guys with 7 plus assists. It was like watching a cat play with a mouse last night. The Suns would swing the ball and the Hornets rotations looked slower than an old record player at your grandma’s house.
Charlotte’s offense was once again paced by their All-star Kemba Walker, who had 26 points and 8 assists. The duo of Frank Kaminsky and Marvin Williams pitched in for a combined 36 points. The problem was guys like MKG and Nic Batum couldn’t knock down shots consistently, and the bench, oh, the bench – so bad. Brian Roberts could barely get the ball past half-court against Tyler Ulis. Here’s a question: why won’t Clifford play Briante Weber? Weber would give the second-unit a much better chance to churn out something that resembles efficiency. Clifford’s stubbornness with only giving veterans minutes is maddening.
None of this is why I say this game was the dagger to an ugly season. It was a three-point game going into the fourth-quarter, and the Hornets scored 12 points against the Suns backups during that time. Phoenix’ young studs, Devin Booker and T.J. Warren, never played in the final quarter. The Hornets got outplayed and out-hustled by journeymen and guys who started the year in the NBDL. Charlotte did not resemble a team fighting for a playoff spot last night, and I truly believe that ship has sailed. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Frank Kaminsky, who had been playing well this last month, left the game late in the second-half due to a left shoulder injury. It’s been that kind of year for this team, and it may be time to start focusing on the draft.