Not Meek, Greek Freak Beats Young Suns

Feb 26, 2017; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Referee Tre Maddox separates Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) and Phoenix Suns forward Marquese Chriss (0) in the third quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 26, 2017; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Referee Tre Maddox separates Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) and Phoenix Suns forward Marquese Chriss (0) in the third quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

For the second consecutive game the Phoenix Suns had an opportunity to take the lead late by way of free throws – and could not convert.


With 30.0 seconds remaining in the fourth and down one, Marquese Chriss was fouled by Tony Snell sending him to the line with a chance to take the lead.

Unfortunately he missed both chances.

Following a timeout, Snell redeemed himself nailing a three-pointer from the corner pocket following a series of around-the-horn passes leading to the wide-open shot. With the Bucks now up four, Phoenix was unable to to convert on their final opportunity as Devin Booker missed a highly contested three with about two seconds left.

And yet on some level this game – and it’s ending – was somewhat satisfying.

Tankers understand that the more the Suns lose the better shot they have at landing a top-3 draft pick and a potential superstar. Furthermore, by playing the young Suns in these situations (tight games decided on late possessions) they are gaining valuable experience in how to perform down the stretch which will very soon lead to wins in these situations – although hopefully not until next season.

In the first quarter, and for the second straight game, Marquese Chriss found himself in a scuffle under the basketball when Giannis Antetokounmps took issue with Chriss on defense. In neither situation was Chriss at fault, something that was fortunately recognized by the officials today as he was not tabbed with a technical foul, only Antetokounmpo.

For a refresher on what happened between Marquese Chriss and Bobby Portis in Chicago on Friday night:

What is most impressive about the Young Suns is that with this newfound additional playing time they are not shying away from the opportunity and responsibility.

Alan Williams has shown his impressive energy and ability to always be around the basket with the ball, and for the second straight game set a career-high in scoring, today with 17 points on 7-13 shooting. He also grabbed 15 rebounds, tying his career-high set against Indiana back on November 18. But what is most impressive is that his stats do not just end with points and rebounds as today he also recorded 3 assists and 3 steals as well.

More from Valley of the Suns

Much has been talked recently about Williams’ ability to average a double-double when playing at least 17 minutes. But when he plays 20-29 minutes (he breached the 30 minute mark today for the first time in his career) he averages 13.7p, 12.3r, 3.0b, and 1.3s. If this continues throughout the rest of the season, will he play himself into the starting lineup beginning next?

More on Alan Williams tomorrow. Be sure to check back!

While it could hardly be said that T.J. Warren had to look over his should waiting for P.J. Tucker to re-emerge as the team’s regular starting mall forward, it does appear that Warren is feeling a lot more unfettered now that the position is his to hold onto for the entire 48 minutes.

Against Milwaukee he played a game-high 39:21 and responded well leading the Suns in scoring with 23 points. Over the first two games without Tucker, Warren has shot a super hot 19-28 from the field and has scored 40 points with 13 rebounds. These are statistics that he was able to produce with regularity early in the season prior to is mysterious head injury.

It is possible that following his return, on some level he always felt that he could eventually be benched again in favor of Tucker and never really felt confident. Now that he does not have that veteran behind him, he can feel free on the court to be himself again, hopefully leading to a fantastic final 24 games – a stretch that may be far more consistent than the prior 30.

Eric Bledsoe only scored 11 points today, although he fell one assist shy of his third straight game with 10 or more assists. He and backcourt running mate Devin Booker combined today for 26 points, 12 assists and 8 rebounds, although it wasn’t enough to hold of the playoff-hungry Bucks.

Phoenix already shoots the 6th least three-pointers per game, but this afternoon they only attempted 14 from beyond the arc, their lowest output on the season and well below their season average, besting their prior low set against the Clippers – twice.

Giannis Antetokounmpo led all scorers with 28 points on an incredible 11-13 from the floor, with 7-8 from the free throw stripe. 15 of his points came in the third quarter where the Bucks turned a five-point deficient at half into a six-point lead heading into the fourth. Antetokounmpo’s 8 rebounds tied for the team lead with Greg Monroe, and his 6 assists fell one shy of the team lead held by Malcolm Brogdon.

Former Sun Michael Beasley scored 17 points off the bench on 8-10 shooting, although aside from his 4 turnovers, added nothing else of consequence to his stat line.