The sports headline in Wednesday's Oregonian following the Trail Blazers' 102-98 loss to the Suns Tuesday night was apparently enough to declare the team's season over.
"Time for season's obituary?"
The loss dropped Portland to 25-29 on the season. The team has lost six straight games and is currently 3.5 games out of the Western Conference's final playoff spot. Yet while the loss stings, the reaction to it says more about the perception of the team that beat them.
Apparently no one should be losing to the Phoenix Suns.
There was a stretch in the 2000s where it seemed like any team the Arizona Cardinals beat would go on to fire its coach. It was almost as if a loss to the team -- to that team -- was a sign things had completely fallen apart.
Looks like a new Valley team may have taken the baton.
At 18-36, the Suns have the worst record in the Western Conference and fifth-worst mark in the NBA. They've fired their coach, made numerous lineup changes and been involved in more than their fair share of trade rumors.
Most of which, by the way, have the Suns simply pawning off useful players in exchange for draft picks and expiring contracts. It's not about a bad team getting better; it's about a real bad team getting worse.
Congratulations, Suns, for you have become a national punch line.
You're also a polarizing issue for your fans.
On one hand, a win like the one Tuesday in Portland was excellent. Phoenix had not won there since 2008, and the performances received from players like Goran Dragic, Luis Scola and even Wesley Johnson were encouraging. But, on the other hand, the win negatively affects the Suns' draft position and helped the L.A. Lakers inch a little closer to a playoff spot.
And in case you forgot, a Lakers lottery pick would belong to the Suns, so yeah, if a win can ever actually be a loss, this one may have been it.
So where does that leave the Suns?
Well, you can't get mad at players and coaches for winning games. Players need to play hard and coaches need to coach to the best of their abilities. Their respective jobs are to win games, and it would be unfair to ask anything else of them.
But management, on the other hand, can make moves strictly with an eye towards the future. If that means keeping things as they are, that's fine. There is some young talent on the roster that could be a part of Phoenix's next playoff team. And if that means dumping veterans in exchange for picks or cap space, so be it. It's all about next year and beyond, not trying to salvage this season.
Because this season has been dead for a while, and no one likes a zombie.