The Suns aren't going to the playoffs, and the chance at a winning season went by the boards Friday night -- lost in a hail of Willie Green jumpers and another missed opportunity in the fourth quarter.
Even without Steve Nash and trudging along on the fourth stop of what seems like a never-ending and needless road trip, the Suns had their chances against the playoff-bound Hornets. They were still down by just six points after three quarters but never got any closer as Green kept building toward a career-high 31 points -- just the latest in a litany of non-descript NBA players to rewrite their personal record books at the expense of Phoenix.
Nash has been in and out of the lineup for the last month with a variety of ailments. Friday's was a hamstring that tightened up after Wednesday's win in Minnesota. He might have played if there was something huge on the line against the Hornets -- who are now 5-2 since David West went down with a torn ACL, including a pair of wins over the Suns.
The Hornets use defense and teamwork to get over the top. The Suns could take a lot of notes.
"In order to be good, you've got to be like these guys," Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said. "They have a concept, and they do it every time. Your teammates have to know they can count on you, and these guys are good at that from a team standpoint."
Now 1-3 on the trip, the Suns end their five-game jaunt in Dallas on Sunday -- another team tuning up for the playoffs and unlikely to show mercy on Phoenix. The season ends with another meeting with Minnesota (hey, some good news) before Wednesday's season finale against the Spurs.
HORNETS 109, SUNS 97: Willie Green had the night of his life, hitting his first 12 shots and finishing with 31 points as the Hornets won for the third time in four meetings against Phoenix and tied Portland for sixth place in the Western Conference.
Jared Dudley had 18 points to lead Phoenix, who is now 1-6 without Steve Nash this season and failed to crack 100 points in five of those defeats.
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