In a game Thursday that the Suns led for 44 minutes and 33 seconds, the San Antonio Spurs outscored them by 10 in the 16 minutes that Suns guard Leandro Barbosa played.
It was just an example of two bigger problems - how the Suns reserves offered no scoring
punch (two points from four bench players) and how Barbosa struggles against the Spurs.
In Barbosa's past 18 regular-season and playoff games against the Spurs, he is shooting 34 percent from the field and 23 percent on 3-pointers. His only basket in five attempts Thursday was a layup.
Barbosa played in only the second and fourth quarters, sharing his court time with Matt Barnes, who shot 0 for 5. Barnes missed four 3-pointers, running his streak of 3-point misses to seven after he had improved his percentage to 44.4 percent with his first 3-pointer last Saturday.
Many Suns lamented the four off days before Thursday.
"That was tough," Barnes said of the break. "It was kind of a gift and a curse for everyone to gather their legs. At the same time, you get a little sluggish with that many days off. "
Barbosa and Barnes had their second-lowest shot totals of the season. Barbosa played 16 minutes, his fourth consecutive game with fewer than 20 because Jason Richardson's acquisition has left him to be primarily a backup point guard. He has shot 10 for 28 in those games.
Steve Nash, Amaré Stoudemire and Richardson play all of the first and third quarters in the new rotation. With Nash out to start the fourth quarter, the Suns scored once on a Stoudemire 3-point play as Barbosa missed three shots and Barnes turned it over twice. The Spurs tied the score with an 8-0 run before Nash scored on his first offensive play back.
"It is tough to recapture the rhythm, but we had our opportunities," said Nash, who had one of three turnovers in a 2:10 stretch. "I didn't have a lot of opportunities down the stretch. I don't think it made a big factor when I came in. When I came in down the stretch, we were going in on the post and doing some different things."
The Suns' 14-point fourth quarter was their worst offensively of the season, and it was the first quarter in which they failed to score 20 points since Dec. 3 at New Orleans, when Nash was out.
"We're getting better, but there's no more time and no more room for excuses," Stoudemire said. "We've got to stop saying, 'We're going to get better.' We've got to go ahead and do it and stop saying, 'We're going to do it.' We got to start speaking for the future rather than talking about the past and get these things done now."
The Suns held the Spurs to 39 first-half points and ended a 12-game streak of opponents' 100-plus scoring games, their longest such run since 1995.
Thursday's game marked the 10th time that the Suns had held an opponent below 45 percent shooting but the first such game they lost.
"I wouldn't say because we played decent defense that it's a revolution here," Nash said.
Now sure more than just Barbosa struggled off the bench but I still feel that it is time to end this relationship. Barbosa is a bag of ass, trade him.