Although the Phoenix Suns had split their first 10 games of the season, they had viable chance to come away with the win in each of their losses.
Until Wednesday night.
The Suns went into the fourth quarter down 12 against the Sacramento Kings at US Airways Center. Although Phoenix scored a whopping 44 points in the fourth period, the team still dropped the game 113-106 to Sacramento.
Phoenix didn't get blown out, but it was on the wrong end of the scoreboard the entire second half. It was the Suns' second straight loss in as many days to the Sacramento Kings, who were just 2-7 before meeting the Suns Tuesday.
"Candidly, I think our spirit was a little bit broken last night," Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby told Arizona Sports 620's Bickley with Marotta Thursday. "And that's part of a young team learning to deal with that. And I thought of the 11 games we've played, last night was the first time we didn't put out the effort level that we need to succeed. And that's part of the learning process."
Wednesday's loss was Phoenix's fourth in a row, and the team fell under .500 for the first time all season. The Suns were without scoring leader Eric Bledsoe during both games against Sacramento, and forward Markieff Morris -- who was named the Western Conference Player of the Week on Nov. 11 -- has had a disappointing run during the losing streak, failing to reach double-digits in scoring during the four games.
Babby assessed Morris's disappointing follow-up to his recent award.
"You know, he's been physically sick. He had a cold, and I think that drained him a little bit," Babby said. "And it affected him probably a little bit and got him out of his rhythm. But, he'd be the first to acknowledge...he doesn't have to play as the best player in the Western Conference every night -- it'd be nice if he could -- but he's got to be more consistent, and he would be the first to admit that, I think.
"He is a very, very important piece. And we can't succeed without production from that 4-spot, and we didn't get it last night, and Markieff hasn't done it the last couple of nights. But in fairness to him, he hasn't been feeling well."
The Suns have also had minimal contribution from backup center Alex Len, the team's top draft pick over the summer, who has missed seven games with ankle soreness and has played sparingly when he's been able to suit up. At the end of the fourth quarter Wednesday night, Len scored his first "real" basket in the NBA; his other two buckets this season both came on goaltending calls.
Babby said the team isn't trying to rush Len back to the court after his summer ankle surgeries, and that's he's not worried about the Maryland product's future impact with the club.
"We would hope he would feel better than he does, but at the end of the day, I have complete and total faith and confidence in our medical staff and our training staff," Babby said. "And they tell me not to worry, and that this is all normal for someone who spent quite a bit of time in a boot maybe a little longer than he should have before he got here.
"We want to get him pain-free and sore-free and out playing, because he's obviously an important part of our future."