NEW YORK -- What ails the Phoenix Suns? Plenty. They're a run-and-gun team saddled with a plodding, 325-pound (at least) Hall of Fame behemoth, being called upon to play defense -- never a priority during the Mike D'Antoni era.
Perhaps the worst indictment of all came from Amare Stoudemire Wednesday night after the Suns lost to D'Antoni's new team, the Knicks, 114-109.
"I'm not sure we have the confidence that we used to have, knowing that teams are afraid of us," Stoudemire said. "I don’t think that confidence is there anymore. It still can be, but it’s a matter of getting wins and setting a tone early, staying on top of folks, communicating effectively. I think all that comes into play."
Phoenix is percentage points ahead of Dallas for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West -- and fading. The Mavs got run out of the Bradley Center in a 133-99 loss to the Bucks Wednesday night, so they have their own problems. But the Suns (23-17) have lost four out of five for the second time this season and have put together back-to-back head-scratchers. The 104-87 loss in Boston Monday was somewhat understandable. But losing to the Knicks? With Jared Jeffries, David Lee, and Tim Thomas defending Shaq on the blocks? With Chris Duhon outplaying Steve Nash down the stretch?
"We’re supposed to beat a team like this," said Shaquille O'Neal, who had 21 points and 14 rebounds but missed eight of 13 free throws -- including three in the closing minutes. "... It’s just another game that we let slip away. Hopefully, later in the season games like this don’t cost us."
Coach Terry Porter admitted he's getting concerned. Nash said the Suns' defense was "nonexistent." Stoudemire called these "bad, hard times for us."
Perhaps Nash (3-for-9 from the field with nine points and 19 assists) summed it up best when he was asked how it felt to come to New York and play against his former coach's new team.
"Not very good," Nash said. "Not very good."
The Suns are staying in New York and watching film Thursday morning before heading to Charlotte for Game 4 of this six-game road trip. Might I suggest Titanic.