Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic was not pleased with his team’s effort against the lowly Los Angeles Lakers on March 30, as a 115-99 road loss prompted him to question his teammates’ postseason aspirations.
“We didn’t know how to stop them. Our intensity was really bad,” Phoenix's leading scorer said, per AZ Central’s Paul Coro. “I don’t know why but it’s like nobody wants to play playoffs. It seems like that.”
As the season has gone along, Dragic has stepped up into a leadership role under head coach Jeff Hornacek. The 27-year-old somehow managed to lead Phoenix to a 17-15 record during Eric Bledsoe’s two-month absence due to knee surgery, but the Suns are still fighting for a playoff berth. A loss against the 25-48 Lakers didn’t help matters.
Dragic finished with 17 points (on 6-of-16 shooting), five rebounds, four assists and a steal. The other four members of the starting lineup—Bledsoe, P.J. Tucker, Channing Frye and Miles Plumlee—wound up with just 22 points combined.
Gerald Green and the Morris twins notched 53 points off the bench, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a woeful 38.5 percent shooting night overall.
“I don’t know if we had a single guy who came with the energy that they usually have,” Hornacek said after the game, per the Associated Press (via ESPN).
The first-year coach added that the road to a potential playoff berth won’t get easier:
Our schedule gets a lot harder after this. Play all the top teams now in the next six or seven games, so that’s why this game was so important. I mean, if this happens against Oklahoma City or the Clippers, then fine. But this team is not a playoff team, so that’s why it’s disappointing.
Six of the Suns’ remaining eight games will be played against Western Conference playoff contenders: Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies.
Phoenix will have to show far more fight than it did against L.A. to even have a shot at a postseason seed after Game 82. Perhaps Dragic's harsh words will inspire teammates to compete at the same level as they have throughout a miraculous 2013-14 campaign.