The Phoenix Suns are one of the league’s top fastbreak teams, and the Milwaukee Bucks played right into their hands Saturday night.
Milwaukee turned the ball over a season-high 26 times, often feeding the ball right to Phoenix for easy points the other way, in a 116-100 loss at US Airways Center.
"It was the turnovers that really put us behind the eight ball," Bucks coach Larry Drew said. "I mean, turnovers that you can’t even recover from. That’s the disheartening part about a game like this. We had opportunity to put some things together, but you can’t do it when you turn the basketball over the way we did. It led to a lot of easy fast breaks.
"That’s not going to get it done. I don’t care if you play at home, on the road or if you play in the ‘Y’ league."
The Suns converted the 26 turnovers into 38 points, as Gerald Green and former Bucks guard Ish Smith were among those turning Milwaukee miscues into highlight-reel dunks.
Phoenix is a top-five steals team in the league, and Drew warned his team of how the Suns like to gamble and jump passing lanes. It seemed as if his message fell upon deaf ears once the game started.
"Just a lot of unforced errors," Drew said. "Us trying to do things that are totally out of character for us. When you are on the road, you have to handle the basketball and get good shots every time. You can’t just come down and throw errant passes all over the place.
"We just came down and laid flat passes out there. They just shot the gap and went down the other way dunking it."
Green, who started for the injured Eric Bledsoe, scored 24 points to go along with his game-high five steals. One of the best dunkers in the league, Green was able to show off a bit thanks to Milwaukee’s inability to take care of the ball.
"It’s everybody drawing together, everybody on the same page," Green said of Phoenix’s ability to force turnovers. "When one guy goes to help baseline, the other guy is on drift. It’s about everybody being on the same page and having that team chemistry on defense."
The giveaways masked over some positives for the Bucks, as they fought back into the game on multiple occasions and trailed by just seven points with 8:40 to play. But Green hit a 3-pointer and Markieff Morris hit three shots in a row to seal the win for the Suns.
"We did some good things, but we have to develop a road mentality," Drew said. "A road mentality is we can’t turn the basketball over and limit the turnovers, you have to rebound the basketball and you have to be able to execute. We didn’t do any of the three."
Bucks have dustup: Tempers flared in the Bucks locker room following the loss, as Gary Neal and Larry Sanders reportedly got in a verbal confrontation.
According to multiple reports, Neal and Sanders got into a face-to-face argument as O.J. Mayo worked to move reporters out to the hallway. After the locker room reopened, Neal left screaming obscenities at Sanders.
"I earn my money, you should try it some time," Neal yelled to Sanders, according to the Associated Press.
A couple of Bucks addressed the situation to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel afterwards but blew off the incident as nothing major.
"Team bonding, man," Mayo said. "A little kumbaya, man. It’s all good.
"People handle it different ways. We’re searching to see what do we need to do to get it going."
"What happened in here was nothing," Brandon Knight added. "It may involve calling a teammate out. And that’s holding each other accountable. That’s what all good teams have to do."