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Suns' playoff hopes come to embarrassing end

The Sports Xchange
Notes, Quotes · Roster Report · Suns' playoff hopes come to embarrassing end

It was, in some sense, the best place for this season to come to an official end. In San Antonio, where the Suns swept the Spurs last season in their run to the Western Conference finals -- supposedly exorcizing the silver-and-black demons that had haunted them for so long.

But Sunday, it was as if last year was nothing more than an escape from reality. There were the Spurs, back on top of the Western Conference, officially sending the Suns home for the summer with a resounding rout.

No Steve Nash. No energy beyond a brief push at the end of the game. No reason for a national television audience to stick around past the middle of the second quarter. The Spurs led by as many as 31 before settling for a 114-97 win that not only snapped a six-game losing streak, it broke Phoenix's back.

"No energy, no toughness, no focus, no intensity at all," said center Marcin Gortat, who had repeated than mantra several times in the last month and is getting increasingly upset with the effort of his teammates. "Missing shots is one thing but not playing hard is thoroughly different story. We just didn't look today like a basketball team."

The only good news for the Suns is they will hang on to the lottery pick they truly earned this season. If Phoenix had made the playoffs, their draft pick would have gone to Houston as a result of the Aaron Brooks-Goran Dragic trade that didn't give Phoenix the stretch-run boost they were hoping for. Instead, the Rockets will get Orlando's No. 1 pick from the December trade that brought Marcin Gortat to the Suns in a six-player deal.

After playing the best team in the West Sunday, the Suns head to Chicago and face the best team in the East on Tuesday. Steve Nash will be back for the game, but the Suns need more than that right now to keep up with the league's best -- a group that they were a part of just a year ago.

SPURS 114, SUNS 97: George Hill had 24 of his 29 points in the first half and the Spurs snapped their longest losing streak in a decade in grand fashion with a blowout that assured the Suns lottery status.

Aaron Brooks and Channing Frye lead the Suns with 14 points as Phoenix lost for the 22nd time in the 32 games Steve Nash (flu) has missed over the last seven years.

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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