Suns Defense More than Pitiful for One Night

Feb 4, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker (17) reacts against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Bucks won 137-112. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 4, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker (17) reacts against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Bucks won 137-112. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

The Suns didn’t play very effective defense last night, a trend that prevents even a high-scoring Suns team form winning games that offensively on paper they should have won.

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On paper you would not suspect that the Milwaukee Bucks could score 137 points in a game. Sure, the Bucks have two of the best up-and coming scorers in the league in Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, but aside from them, the only other player that averages double-digit scoring is Greg Monroe off the bench. Milwaukee averages barely 105 points per game. They had only scored more than 100 points in 4 of their last 11 games. They had scored 120+ four times this season, but twice were in shootouts against Golden State and Houston, so it’s not like they spike their scoring very often. The Bucks are also a team who managed 1 point in ovretime against the Dallas Mavericks on November 6.

In fact the last time the franchise scored 130+ was against Philadelphia on February 24, 2014, nearly three years ago.

Yet, last night against the Suns, in Phoenix, not only did Milwaukee score 137 points; not only did they score 45 points in the first quarter alone (the most allowed by the Suns in any quarter and the most Milwaukee had scored in a single quarter this season); not only did they have six players in double-digit scoring; not only did they shoot 63.4% from the field which was the highest field goal percentage for any team, in any game, in the NBA this year; Not only did they shoot 41.2% from long-range; but Devin Booker even scored 27 points in the second quarter by himself, and the Suns still found themselves down eight points at half.

This season, there has been 31 games where a team has scored at least 130 points. The Phoenix Suns have allowed four of them, tied for the most in the league with Portland and the Clippers.

You know what is even crazier? As mentioned above, the Suns are a good scoring team. They average 106.6 points which is 11th in the league. Yet, their opponents average 112.6 per game, 29th worst. And in games that the Suns have scored at least 112 (which they reached last night) Phoenix is 7-10.

The Suns are one of only two teams in the league with a losing record in games when they have scored at least 112 points. The Brooklyn Nets being the other, who are 6-7.

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Last night Devin Booker led the Suns in scoring, but did so in a very strange way. As mentioned, he scored 27 points in the 2nd quarter, the second most points in a single quarter in franchise history behind the 28 he scored against Dallas in Mexico City. Most impressively he did so in only 7:14 after he checked in following his traditional rotational break at the end of the first quarter. However, he scored only 4 points in the 3rd quarter, and bookended the game with zeros, finishing with a game-high 31 points, though he left fans wanting much, much more. His five three-pointers all came in the second quarter as well.

Booker’s 20+ points however set himself in rare air – more rare than he is already enjoying. He has now scored 20+ in 16 straight games, a streak that has been well documented. But at reaching 16 games, he is the youngest player in league history to record such a scoring streak. The previous youngest: LeBron James

If it weren’t for Booker’s 2nd quarter, Marquese Chriss would have been mentioned first as he scored a career-high 27 points including 3 three-pointers. He also recorded 6 rebounds and 2 blocks, only the fifth time in is career he has had at least two blocks. His career-high is 3 which he has accomplished twice.

Like Devin Booker, Eric Bledsoe struggled to find a scoring consistency and finished with 13 points on 3-11 shooting, although he made all six free throws he attempted. Booker and Bledsoe turned the ball over with regularity as well, losing a combined 11. Bledsoe also only recorded 6 assists and 4 rebounds.

For Milwaukee, Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 30 points on 60% shooting from the floor and added 12 rebounds and 6 assists to his statline. Former Sun Mirza Teletovic scored 19 points and drained all five of his free throws. Jabari Parker scored 18 on 70% shooting and grabbed 9 boards, while John Henson dropped 15 on 75% shooting and recorded 7 rebounds himself.