Despite still experimenting with the rotation, the Phoenix Suns beat the New York Knicks on Friday and have officially gained some much-needed momentum.
The Phoenix Suns are a better basketball team than the New York Knickerbockers. They just are. That’s why it was so frustrating to see the Suns down 10 at halftime. This game had all the makings of yet another disappointing loss early on, however, eventually the cream rose to the top and the Suns beat the Knicks 120-112.
For those who are counting, that makes three out of four wins for the Phoenix Suns and puts them on the right track to start that winning streak I talked about.
The momentum has most certainly shifted for this team.
This is all with the somewhat understandable, yet equally bizarre truism that Monty Williams has yet to find the best way to play these guys. Some might rightfully say he is still experimenting.
This experimental notion was further on display when Dario Saric saw his playing time diminished down to just four minutes (in which he posted a +/- of -9). Saric, who has been an unquestioned starter the entire season, has seen the bench more than the court lately, all part of Monty trying to find the right combination of guys to maximize output.
The backup point guard spot is no different in the Monty Williams player laboratory, where he has mixed many different vials with varying and unfortunately, often disappointing results. The Knicks game featured Elie Okobo as the backup to the tune of two points and three assists.
If it were only possible for this imaginary players lab could mix up a potion that keeps Ricky Rubio on the court for 48 minutes every game.
Speaking of magic tonic, pour me a glass of whatever Kelly Oubre Jr. is drinking. Tsunami Papi is turning into a superstar in front of our eyes. Not a playing-above-his-head-for-a-while kind of star, a la the Linsanity run, but a legit, sustainable star.
Oubre has notched four games in a row of scoring at least 20 points after putting up 29 against the Knicks Friday night. During that stretch, he is shooting an uncanny 65% from behind the arc (17 of 26). Okay, so maybe that’s not sustainable, but his tenacity and aggressiveness is.
According to one official during the Knicks game, that tenacity with a capital “T.”
After throwing down a monstrous dunk in the second quarter on a fast break, Kelly flexed and gave his patented exuberant head nod, and the official, who evidently sleeps every night under a wet blanket, game him a technical foul.
My guess (and hope) is this tech won’t prevent him from doing it in the future, and by future, I mean every game from here on out.
Come on, ref. Let Papi be Papi.
And let the Suns be the Suns. This team is building the momentum to make a run throughout the month of January, and they can keep it rolling when they play host to the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday.