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New Suns failing to close
By Mike Tulumello, Tribune
November 12, 2005


The heady talk of 50 wins — so commonplace two weeks ago — has faded.
The Suns (2-3) are winless at home and are having trouble finishing games.

The reason?

"We don’t know each other," said Shawn Marion, who failed to take a shot in the final quarter of Thursday’s come-from-ahead loss to Detroit.

Steve Nash agreed, saying, "We’re a new team. We have very little experience together, very little continuity and familiarity from last year.

"It’s very frustrating, but inevitable, I suppose.

"But we have the personnel to make it work. That’s the positive."

So far, things seem to work well enough for them for the first three quarters, but not for 48 minutes.

Coach Mike D’Antoni acknowledged that sometimes the Suns seem to stand around at crunch time, waiting for Nash to make a play.

"That happens," he said. "We need to get into some sets and get the ball moving.

"We’re getting a little stagnant."

In addition, "The other teams are hitting big shots. We’re not.

"That’s a psychological thing. For whatever reason, we’re just not real sure of what we’re doing."

That seemed obvious Thursday, when Marion wasn’t part of the picture at crunch time, even though he’s the team’s second-leading scorer at 18.0 per game.

The Suns don’t run plays for Marion, feeling that’s not his strength, so he needs to be active on the boards and in attacking the hoop.

"I have to get myself going," he said. That said, "Our offense is a motion offense. If there’s no motion, you’re not going to get the ball."

Against the Pistons, "I was on the perimeter. I was in the corner, waiting. I didn’t get the ball.

"We were a little stagnant."

In the longer term, Nash said, "With the group we have, with what we’ve shown so far, if we work every day and come together, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be above .500."

The goal, however, "is to be more than .500," Nash said. "The goal is to be a better and better team every day."

Beyond the end-of-game problems, there are other troubling signs.

The Suns, who ranked No. 14 in field-goal percentage defense last season, hoped to move up to the top 10 this season.

So far, they’re No. 20 at .457 (the league average is .444).

They’re also dead last in overall rebounding percentage at .439.

Perhaps these numbers reflect the quality of competition that includes two teams that were among the best last year (Dallas and Detroit).

But first things first. The Suns need to finish off a win at home before they start thinking of larger goals and obstacles.

BONUS SHOTS: D’Antoni indicated he might start Leandro Barbosa at the off-guard spot. Barbosa sparkled in the loss Thursday vs. Detroit, but sat out the final minutes because he was banged up and limping. . . . The new name for America West Arena will be announced Monday. The name change is due to the merger between America West Airlines and U.S. Airways.
Why does D'Antoni want to mess with the starting lineup again? The starting lineup is working fine. Mike, it's your ending lineups you need to experiment with. I didn't know Barbosa was banged up, I suppose that explains why he didn't play in the end against Detroit.
 

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Yea I agree starters how they are at first, or in last game, its fine. He said it himself, we play good for 45 minutes, bad for 3, or somethin like that. Those last 3 being the bad ones...I sure hope Diaw and Barbs arent both in the starting lineup, that would be really retarded as thats like every bit of energy off the bench we had.
 

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The lineup is fine. Just give it a little more time. Also some more effort. But yeah, we are going to struggle until Amare comes back. No way around it.
 
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