A horrible, incorrigible 18: What to make of the Suns-TNT disfunctional relationship

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We had stopped keeping track of how many times the Phoenix Suns lost when they played games on the TNT cable network, until it came up again Monday night during the Lakers-Orlando telecast, and Marv Albert made note of it. The MLK Day tripleheader on TNT began with the Suns losing in Memphis, 125-118.

For the 18th time in a row on the net.

“Did you get any messages from your old (broadcast) partner Steve Kerr?” asked Albert’s current partner, Doug Collins. Kerr is the Suns’ GM.

“No, but I might be hearing from him soon,” said Albert.

What, asking for his job back?

The Suns haven’t won a game on TNT since March 13, 2008, which was a playoff contest against San Antonio. That stretch of 18 includes two playoff losses and two exhibition losses, both in outdoor games at the Indian Wells Tennis Center.

Monday’s loss shouldn’t be all that shocking. The Suns finished an 0-4 roadie and have lost 10 of their last 11 away from Phoenix. They’re 10-15 in their last 25.

So what does anyone make of this implausable run of bad luck between a team and a network?

Last December, when the streak hit 17 following a 105-102 loss in Portland, something called “Larry Brown Sports” wrote:

“To make the loss look even worse, the Suns were up by 11 entering the fourth quarter … How can this bizarre losing streak possibly be explained? Let’s ask Suns GM Steve Kerr:

‘It’s bizarre,’ Kerr said. ‘ …it’s not like we don’t beat good teams on ESPN. There’s no explanation. Let’s pin it on Charles. He brings that negative vibe all the time.’

“Part of the losing streak is attributed to playing weak competition; Phoenix wouldn’t be losing 17 in a row if they were playing the likes of Memphis and Oklahoma City on TNT.”

Except, they lost No. 18 against Memphis.

The players know all about it.

Before Monday’s game, Suns guard Jared Dudley posted on Twitter:

TNT game tonight.. Have to break the curse.. Were to good of a team to have any losing streak.. Have to get back on track tonight.. Let’s Go

Allen Moll on TheHoopDoctors.com (linked here) notes that during all games Phoenix plays on other networks during this streak, its record is above the .650 winning clip.

The Suns’ TNT losses have come by an average of 11.2 points. The only games they almost won were a Jan. 15, 2009 game at Denver, when Grant Hill was tripped on a potential game-winner with no call, and an Indian Wells exhibition when rookie Earl Clark missed a late 3-pointer to tie.

The Lakers have beaten the Suns by margins of 19, 26 and 13 along the way.

“One, it has to do with the competition. Two, after a while, it’s mental,” said Suns forward Jared Dudley. “People do think about it early on. It’s a different team than last year. I guarantee we’re going to win one game on TNT this year. I don’t know what game but we will win one.”

The Suns’ next TNT appearance: Thursday, Jan. 28 against Dallas. They could make it 20 in a row on Thursday, March 4 against Utah. After that, it may be wait’ll next year.

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