The Phoenix Suns lost yet another heart-breaker Monday night against the San Antonio Spurs. Just when you think this team is close, they can’t quite seem to get over the hump.
You know it is a tough night when you have to Google the two guys who lit up the Phoenix Suns. Derrick White and Bryn Forbes shot a combined 12 for 16 (75%) from behind the arc for the San Antonio Spurs. Although the Suns had a chance late to win it, Devin Booker‘s desperation 3 fell off the mark and the Suns racked up their 7th possession loss of the season.
If you’re counting, and unfortunately it is hard not to, this makes the second one-possession loss to the Spurs in as many games. And if you’re into math, that makes 28% of all their losses on the year being by 3 points or less.
The Suns almost did what so many teams have done to them: come back from a 20-point deficit and steal a win. Even after a Ricky Rubio missed free throw that would have tied it, the Suns had the ball with 5.6 seconds left, down two.
Everyone in the building knew who was going to take the final shot, and everyone was right.
Devin Booker caught the ball and with two guys swarming him, quickly rose up from 34 feet fading to his right with three seconds left on the clock.
It did not go in.
I can’t imagine that was the play Monty Williams drew up, and I’m sure Devin Booker would like to have it back to make a few dribbles toward the basket, but I like the aggressiveness.
Monty Williams said after the game that the plan was to go for 3 and the win because the guys were gassed (Booker played the entire second half) and with Kelly Oubre fouled out, he didn’t like their chances in overtime. I agree and like that mentality, but that last shot was not what the Phoenix Suns were looking for.
Booker said after the game he wanted to leave enough time for an offensive rebound put-back, which is smart and all, but that can’t come at the expense of a poor 3-pointer, which is exactly what happened.
It is hard be mad at Devin Booker, though. The (oh my God, please be an) All Star nearly single-handedly willed his team to a dramatic comeback in the second half, scoring 22 out of his 37 points in the third quarter alone.
At this point, Monty Williams had a choice sit him for the start of the fourth quarter, as is the customary rotation, or ride his hot hand. He chose the latter, partly at Booker’s behest. It proved to be the right more, unless you think tired legs played into that last shot.
Aside from the final shot, it was another 25-point, double-double (he had 12 rebounds) for Deandre Ayton. This is in spite of the fact he reverted to the DA of old in the first quarter, relying on fadeaway jumpers instead of attacking the paint.
I know it seems like Suns fans are hard on Ayton, but when he shows signs of being such a dominant force, it is hard not to expect him to be that dominance night in and night out.
The bench was serviceable in their limited minutes. Aron Baynes and Cameron Johnson were both out for the Phoenix Suns hip soreness and a quad contusion respectively. Baynes’ hip soreness might explain why he has struggled over the last few weeks, but I’m sure he wouldn’t use that as an excuse.
Diallo played decent in his place, albeit in just nine minutes. He had six points and four rebounds, and although he missed a few chances to be a little more aggressive going for lob passes, stepped in and did well for the Suns overall.
In reality, though, the short bench forced Monty Williams to basically play just six guys for the majority of the night. Fatigue may have factored into this one, but there is only so much you can do when guys who probably don’t even have a Wikipedia page are on fire.
This Phoenix Suns team is so close, and yet so far away. This loss drops them to 18-25 and puts them further down in the pack jostling for the 8th spot in the West. They’ll get their chance for revenge against the Spurs Friday before meeting the fighting TJ Warrens and his Indiana Pacers Wednesday.
get these wins.