It goes without saying, but: you need shots to fall to beat a better team.
As much as we hyped up the absences of Nash, Barbosa and Barnes, we were arguably at the same disadvantage or worse missing our No. 1 player and our sixth man. And even though Amare Stoudemire didn't play well until the final 20 seconds of overtime, so much attention was focused on him while he was on the court that Grant Hill and Shaq ruled the game. Taking the Suns to overtime ... it's a strong performance even accounting for the suspensions.
Still, all that said: the Kings gave the game away. The offense was awful. The game ended up at 100 possessions apiece, and the Kings only put up 95 points. Phoenix has some good defensive players (Shaq makes you miss around the rim, Raja Bell and Hill are solid, Boris Diaw's really long), but there was no reason for Sacramento to be held to 42.5% shooting or to give up 19 turnovers. Many of the turnovers were absolutely atrocious, including half of Brad Miller's six and at least two of Bobby Brown's three. Miller has looked active and feisty this season ... but his ball-handling is just as bad as it was last year, when it was awful. I know those marvelous assists come with the burden of an occasional turnover, but too many of those were inexcusable.
I'm surprised neither of the critical plays (Quincy Douby's regulation-ending miss, Salmons' overtime-ending drive) looked for Spencer Hawes. He wasn't on fire by any means, but he's a crafty scorer, the Suns haven't seen much of him, and he'd shot as well this season and in this game as anyone. It almost worked out in overtime, with Amare blocking the snot out of Spencer's put-back attempt from five feet ... but I'd think Hawes would have had a better look at the basket than Salmons did coming down the baseline. (That said, Salmons had a really good look if he'd shot before crossing under the basket. A common Salmons move is to sort-of "box out" his way into the lane off the baseline, though Bell's tight defense might have prevented that from creating a clean look.)
I wondered where Jason Thompson for the entire fourth quarter and overtime. He had a rough rebounding and defensive night, but he has proved over the course of this month he can rebound well and he can defend power forwards proficiently. Hill was abusing him at the three, and Hawes/Miller were vital. But with the team's defensive rebounding problems and no two-guard but Salmons doing much, I think you could have left him out there. Too many stops were wasted by poor defensive rebounding by the forwards and center.
I also secretly wonder if Donté Greene might have deserved a look in overtime, once Douby was yanked. You needed someone to hit a shot, right? That's something Greene can do right now. I understand why you wouldn't put him in -- defense, turnovers, might not set a good screen or make the correct read off an inbounds play -- but I was really hoping he'd sneak in there for some crunch time work.
.500 still eludes us.