Without an inside presence, the Phoenix Suns needed to outplay the Orlando Magic in the backcourt to get the win. That did not happen.
The Phoenix Suns ran into a buzz saw Wednesday night against the Orlando Magic, losing their 11th game of the season by the tune of 128-114.
In reality, it wasn’t that close.
It was well-known the Suns would be out-manned down low in this contest with Aron Baynes sitting out his second straight game with a calf strain and Deandre Ayton still 6 games away from making what fans hope to be an Ali-like return to the ring.
That part played out as predicted, with the Suns getting out rebounded by 16, and having guys get continually bullied on the defensive end around the rim.
Moreover, the Magic racked up seven blocks to the Suns’ zero.
If that were the Suns’ only weak area, they may have survived to at last make a game of it, but unfortunately, that was not the case because the Magic shot like it was a game of NBA2K with the sliders adjusted all the way down.
Former University of Arizona star, Aaron Gordon led their on-fire shooting.
The man with tree trunks for biceps and trampolines in the soles of his feet was 13 of 15 overall and an even more impressive 5 for 5 from deep. For comparison sake, he was shooting 28.4% from behind the arc going into the game.
You could say the Suns should have done a better job of closing out on him, but at some point, you have to just pat them on the rear end (which if probably made of some other inanimate object) and say, “Good game.”
The rest of his teammates were not far behind their leading scorer, as the team finished 56% from 3-point land.
When the Magic weren’t making 3s, the Suns were fouling them while they shot them. The Suns inexcusably fouled them four times on a 3-point attempt, which is simply demoralizing.
Otherwise, the Suns did not play horribly. The shot 48.9% from the field including 45.5% from deep, but it wasn’t good enough to make up for their lack of physical presence. They also kept up their superb assist numbers, racking up 36 dimes on the evening.
To his credit, Cheick Diallo did his best Aron Baynes impersonation, putting up a season-high 16 points, including a 3-pointer on an out-of-bounds play that looked like it was designed for him to take that shot.
Frank Kaminsky looked much more confident in his shot, and put up a season-high 21 points in the first half alone and finished with 23. However, he only had five rebounds, proving once again that all too often he is only a 7-footer on paper.
You might even say he is like the Tesla Cybertruck: he looks like a tank, but his windows shatter when you throw a ball at him.
Frank the Tank did lead the team in scoring, though, so there is no call for making poor analogies about his lack of a physical presence. He has been put in a tough position with Baynes out and was never meant to have to be the team’s inside enforcer.
That is why it is imperative the Suns get Baynes back as soon as possible. And then Ayton back. And then probably trade for another big man who is a scoring threat in the paint.
Until one more of these things happen, the Suns will have hope teams don’t shoot like the Magic did Wednesday night.