Friday night in Seattle, the Suns offered a glimpse of what they can be even without Amaré Stoudemire, putting up 114 points and rallying to beat the Sonics.
But 24 hours later, back at home and with Steve Nash back in the lineup, there was also a taste of what else the Suns could be this season in a ragged, tired-looking 90-87 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Phoenix has more experience this season, but they also have older players who will struggle playing breakneck basketball on back-toback nights.
James Jones, who led the Suns with 19 points, is Phoenix’s youngest starter at 25 and the only one who played in the fourth quarter as the home team tried to rally before a sparse crowd at America West Arena.
"It’s different when you are flying down the court as fast as we are,’’ said guard Raja Bell, who managed 10 points in 26 minutes after scoring what would have been a career-high 28 in Seattle. "It’s good to get a back-to-back (games) in the preseason, and understand what it takes to recuperate playing this style. You have to treat your body at little different — I know I will — to run at that pace on back-to-back nights.’’
Whatever it takes, the Suns didn’t have it Saturday. The 19 turnovers and three quarters where they scored 21 points or less overshadowed some good defense in spots and a nice 11-1 run late in the fourth quarter that pulled Phoenix to within one with 2:18 left.
Then came two turnovers, two air-ball, 3-point attempts and one preseason loss.
Nash had 14 points and nine rebounds in just 26 minutes.
Corey Maggette had 21 points to lead the Clippers, who shot 28 free throws (making 18) while the Suns shot only nine. Los Angeles played without Elton Brand (thigh), Sam Cassell and Shaun Livingston (back), while Leandro Barbosa (groin) sat out for the Suns.
"Getting Steve back in there helps, but we were a step slow. We just didn’t play well, we didn’t have that pop,’’ Phoenix coach Mike D’Antoni said. "We aren’t going to play some of our guys long minutes with a back-to-back. Some of the older guys were hurting a little bit, Jimmy Jackson (0 points in 21 minutes) didn’t have any legs out there.
"We did want to win, but in the end we still have to play some guys and try weird combinations . . . just to justify me getting paid."
BONUS SHOTS: Barbosa, who was hit in the groin during practice Thursday but played through the pain because of Nash’s absence Friday, was given the night off. . .
The Suns were 9-for-21 from 3-point range Saturday and are 22 of 52 (.423) in the first two games. . .
Like the rest of the NBA, Suns forward Boris Diaw was shocked to hear of the sudden passing of Atlanta Hawks center Jason Collier, who died early Friday morning at his home at the age of 28.
"I heard in on TV when I first woke up and then some people from Atlanta called me,’’ said Diaw, Collier’s teammate for two years before being traded to the Suns in the Joe Johnson deal this summer. "Jason was a really nice guy. When I was a rookie, having trouble adapting to a new place, he was someone who really tried to help me out and make me feel comfortable. He was really cool. To think that he is gone, it’s really shocking."