The Suns, after gaining the lead in the fourth quarter last night, eventually fell to the Grizzlies, 97-91, for the fourth time this season, eliminating them from playoff contention and bringing to a close one of the more remarkable runs in NBA history. Before the season, everyone (and we do mean everyone) thought Phoenix was headed for one of the worst records in the league as they competed for the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes. Instead, they’re everybody’s favorite League Pass team, and who should have made the playoffs in a more perfect world.
For the Suns, every starter but PJ Tucker hit double-figures Monday night, and Markieff Morris somehow made pull-up 20-footers look like a smart decision on his way to scoring a team-high 21 points off the bench. The balanced fast-break style of a more athletic version of SSOL, reveals how great first year head coach Jeff Hornacek understood what could work with this personnel.
"Those are the type of players you love to coach and have out there." – Hornacek on Dragic playing injured #SunsVsGrizzlies
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) April 15, 2014
But Mike Miller and his shorn locks, came in and scored 21 of his own points off the bench for the Grizzlies, providing the outside shooting they so desperately needed when they signed him this offseason. Aside from Miller, Zach Randolph scored a season-high 32 points, including the world’s slowest fast break following a costly Goran Dragic turnover in the final minute.
But Memphis wasn’t supposed to be here, either. They were 10-15 on December 18 this year, following the loss of Marc Gasol on November 22. They battled back under another first-year coach, Dave Joerger. When Gasol returned on Jan. 14, they won nine of their next 10 and now they’ll be playing the Mavericks for the 7-seed Wednesday night.
VP of Basketball Operations for the Grizz, John Hollinger, sums up Memphis’ turnaround as only the Godfather of PER can:
Somebody at ESPN made a formula that gave us a 0.2% chance of making playoffs in mid-December. Would hate to be that guy.
— John Hollinger (@johnhollinger) April 15, 2014
But NBA Twitter, that hyper-vigilant, amorphous mob with an ever-widening power to persuade opinions on the social networking site, mourned the Suns loss; they had become everybody’s favorite story this season.
Bethlehem Shoals of Free Darko fame, summed up the Suns nicely in his piece about them for Gentleman’s Quarterly:
“[The Suns] were a reminder that basketball isn’t an attempt to pin down absolute truth, but to watch a game—or a season—play out in all its half-chaotic grandeur.”
So with that, here is how just a few mourned and gave thanks for what the Suns did this season. Nobody can perfectly predict the NBA, and nobody saw this coming, which is why they’ve become the darlings of NBA this season.
Gerald Green reacts to the end of the Suns game vs. the Grizzlies pic.twitter.com/b27H8UFvIF
— SB Nation NBA (@SBNationNBA) April 15, 2014
— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) April 15, 2014
Phoenix has the non-Pop COY, 11,000 draft picks, two stud guards and a world of talent. Future is solar. Outstanding season, Phoenix.
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) April 15, 2014
Heck of a season, Phoenix.
— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) April 15, 2014
The Suns accomplished many great things this season. Among them, somehow making sleeved jerseys (their black ones) look good.
— Eddy Rivera (@erivera7) April 15, 2014
Do the ridiculously entertaining Desert Cinderellas really deserve three straight agonizing losses to end their playoff dreams? #notnice
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) April 15, 2014
Thanks for entertaining us this season, Phoenix.
— Paul Flannery (@Pflanns) April 15, 2014
Hornacek said he told the team he was proud to coach them because they listened & tried hard and have laid a good foundation. #SunsVsGrizz
— Paul Coro (@paulcoro) April 15, 2014
So long sweet Suns, may you continue to burn ever brighter with all that cap space, the draft picks, a strong starting nucleus and a coach that knows what he’s doing.
How will the Suns do next season?
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