The Suns sit at 4-5 on the season as they get ready to face the Lakers on Friday night. They've shown flashes of progress and talent with a relatively new cast of players, but the problem is those moments have typically come when they are facing a double-digit deficit.
Head coach Alvin Gentry isn't sure what the answer is to avoid the slow starts, but he knows something has to change.
"I don't really know, I think what we're going to have to do is fake the score on the scoreboard and put us down 15 right at the start and then see if that will work," Gentry said Thursday. "I don't have an answer. I really don't. It's a mystery to me."
In their most recent loss to the Chicago Bulls, the Suns trailed by 14 points heading into the fourth quarter but then outscored Chicago 31-17 in the final period.
"It just seems like it clicks in once we get down 15 points or so, then we just start playing and playing like we would like to be playing at the start of the game," said Gentry. "We just have to keep trying to figure out how we can avoid those double-digit deficits early in the game."
The Suns have now trailed by double digits in eight of nine games this season, including all five games at home. The starting lineup has remained the same with Goran Dragic, Marcin Gortat, Michael Beasley, Jared Dudley and Luis Scola, but according to Gentry that's something that could change in the near future.
"I think we have to look at that," said Gentry. "I mean obviously if this is something that's going to be a constant than we want to eliminate fighting double-digit leads. I just didn't want to make rash judgments nine games or eight games into the season."
Gentry also emphasized that finding the right chemistry and the right rotation will take some time with nine of the 14 guys on the roster new this season.
"I think we still have to try to develop some consistency, and I don't think jerking guys in-and-out of the lineup is the way to do it," said Gentry. "So, we just have to take a good hard look, but if it's something that continues than obviously we'll maybe have to consider making some changes in the lineup."
What those changes might be no one knows for sure, and Gentry isn't willing to show his hand, either. He did say that he likes the second unit with Shannon Brown, Sebastian Telfair and P.J. Tucker and the energy they bring.
It will be a delicate balance that gets tested over the weekend when the Suns are forced to play two of the best teams in the league -- the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat -- on back-to-back nights Friday and Saturday.