As a young pro in Spain, Luis Scola felt the sting of losing in the league’s championship round.

In 2002, his Argentine national team lost a gold medal after blowing an eight-point lead in two minutes of an overtime loss to Serbia.

Those moments caused him fleeting basketball pain, like a toothache. The pain of enduring this Suns season for a veteran accustomed to winning has been like getting one tooth plucked for each of the 52 losses.

Scola did not choose to be in Phoenix, but he was certain it would work. Scola enjoyed great success as a pro in Spain, with his celebrated national team and with playoff teams in his first two years in Houston. The Rockets narrowly missed the postseason the past three years despite winning records, and Scola hoped to lead them back before retiring with the Rockets.

The Rockets used an amnesty waiver on Scola, who still receives his contract’s $21 million over three seasons, but it does not count on Houston’s books. That allowed the Rockets to set up their makeover with Omer Asik, Jeremy Lin and James Harden.

At 32, Scola wound up in Phoenix, by auction, with the Suns craftily knowing their three-year, $13.6 million offer would be best based on other teams’ payrolls.

This season’s disappointment is hard for Scola to hide behind his supreme work ethic. He battles physically, runs like a cartoon character and talks with rare maturity in the locker room.

“It’s hard,” Scola said. “It’s not what I thought it was going to be. But I can’t say it’s somebody else’s fault. I know I have to be part of the blame. We have to work hard and finish the season strong.

“I feel like I’m a big part of the team, and when a team goes this wrong, you can’t say it’s everybody else. If it went well, I’m sure people would talk about how much of an influence I had. So it’s only fair to take that kind of blame when things go wrong. It’s hard. I never thought it was going to be like this, but it’s only a good challenge to change things around and do things the right way.”