What does this horrible loss mean for the Suns going forward?
Well, nothing and everything.
In the first sense, this close loss to a previously 2-15 team, which they had beaten a mere 24 hours before has to mean absolutely nothing. Especially for some of the younger guys, you have to shake off the loss and use it to motivate you. Confidence in your shot, your playmaking ability, the ability to make clutch free throws, the ability to do anything is wrapped up in your ability to “forget” a loss like this. Confidence is everything in basketball.
That is all in the back of your mind, however. “Forgetting” the loss is a backdrop or a mindset, but in the front of your mind is the phrase, “how do I get better, so this doesn’t ever happen again?” it almost certainly will happen again since bad losses are bound to routinely happen in the course of an 82-game schedule. You just know that next time it isn’t going to be your fault.
Almost all NBA players have had this mindset since high school. It’s just kinda in their DNA. Athletes are able to compartmentalize these games emotionally, and yet glean all the information they need to continue forward. It’s another special thing about athletes that differentiates them from the rest of us.
So what should the Suns learn from their embarrassing loss to the league’s worst team?
- Keep your foot on the gas: always keep fighting, whether for the lead or to increase it. Against a young team it is important, because they don’t generally have the mental toughness to dig themselves out of a huge deficit and you could find their breaking point, making the game that much easier to win. Against veteran squads, it is equally important to keep being aggressive, trying to earn a huge lead, because you’re going to need it.
- Defense wins championships: the Suns gave up more than 50 percent field goal percentage for the FIRST time this season. What’s worse, it wasn’t to the two-time defending champion Miami Heat or Western Conference juggernauts San Antonio or Oklahoma City. Instead it was to the now 3-15 Utah Jazz. Phoenix gave up too many second chance points and too many open looks from deep… and it cost them. As a team, you have to clamp down harder on defense if you expect to go anywhere in the NBA.
- You can’t settle: bad shots. I haven’t seen too many (certainly a lot less than last season) but Saturday the lazy shots came at the wrong time. This Suns squad got used to being able to go on runs with their offense, using that to get them back in games, and so they started gunning from deep and “looking for contact” near the rim when they should just try to make the hoop. I have noticed the Morris twins, especially Markieff has been noticeable better in shot selection so far this year.
Saturday was just a bad night for the hometown team. They’ll get over it (probably already have), learn from their mistakes and by ready to take on the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday.