Allen Moll is an avid NBA and College Basketball fan who watches and studies games religiously and coaches youth basketball in his native Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. Allen is a regular columnist for thehoopdoctors.com, Bleacherreport.com, UpperDeckblog.com, and his own blog, Hoops Haven.
We all have heard of the Sports Illustrated cover Jinx and the EA Sports Madden Curse, but have you heard of the NBA on TNT Curse? Well whatever it may be, the Phoenix Suns surely have it, since they haven’t won a game on the network since the ’08 postseason series against the San Antonio Spurs. The streak now stands at 17 games since it was extended in the Suns loss to the Portland Trailblazers last Thursday night. The streak even includes the Suns 2 preseason games in Indian Wells, California’s outdoor arena.
Phoenix missed their chance at a win against Portland by allowing 35 fourth quarter points to the Blazers even though they got a stellar effort from MVP candidate Steve Nash who had 16 assists. Portland was the site of their last win on TNT, more than 2 seasons ago. During the losing streak, the Suns are an amazing 73-39 (.658 %) in all other games not on the network.
The Suns thought they had divine intervention when usual announcer Marv Albert was under the weather, as Suns Fox Sports play-by-play announcer Gary Bender took over calling the game with Reggie Miller. The Suns were 9-0 in all other games in which Bender has called.
Most of the games on TNT haven’t been close, with the Suns losing by an average of more than 11 points per game. They had two close calls during the streak including a game last January against the Nuggets where Grant Hill was tripped in the game’s final moments with no fouls called, and in one of the team’s preseason games where rookie Earl Clark missed a 3 point attempt at the buzzer. Most of the losses have been downright ugly with 3 of the losses coming at the hands of the Lakers(losses by 26, 19, and 13 points) and one game last season where they allowed Portland’s Brandon Roy to reach the century mark on scoring (52 points).
Only four Suns players have remained on the team since the streak began in ’08 including, Amare Stoudemire, Leandro Barbosa, Steve Nash, and Grant Hill. Barbosa has been personally hit the hardest by the now infamous stretch on TV by averaging a dreadful 8 ppg and shooting a dismal 32 % from the field. The fact that 12 of those 17 losses have come on the road may come in to play as well.
Although TNT games usually feature great match-ups of talented teams, the Suns have lost to some mediocre opponents during the streak, like the New Orleans Hornets and the lackluster Golden State Warriors, prompting everyone to predict that the horrible play on the network is all mental with the combination of some bad luck. Surely the streak will eventually come to an end since the Suns have won a number of games on NBA TV and ESPN during the early season and has been one of the surprise teams this season.
The Suns next chance at breaking the long losing streak will come on January 18th against the lowly Memphis Grizzlies. That may be their best shot at overcoming the NBA on TNT Curse since their preseason match-up with the Warriors. Not to worry Suns fans, if the streak reaches 18 games on January 18th, don’t change the channel, since you can always watch Kyra Sedgewick on the Closer.