The Phoenix Suns tweak starters, still get blown out by Lakers

Phoenix Suns (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

The Phoenix Suns mixed up their starting lineup and played small-ball against the Los Angeles Lakers Monday night. It did not work out well.

Monty Williams was up to his old tricks Monday night when he tweaked the Phoenix Suns lineup in what ended up being a 125-100 blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kelly Oubre, whose play has lived up to the Tsunami Papi moniker lately with four straight games of at least 20 points, came off the bench for the first time all season. His usurper? The lanky sharpshooting rookie, Cameron Johnson.

Or at least, so we thought sharpshooting was pretty much all he did. But just a few minutes into the first NBA start of his career, Cam Johnson did this:

As if JaVale McGee hasn’t been dunked on by enough people in his career, add Cam Johnson to the list from the who-knew-he-was-capable-of-that category.

Monty Williams appeared to have visited an L.A. fortune-teller before the game who foretold of a great poster on the horizon from the rookie, but only if he were to start. That is really the only logical explanation to swap out he and Oubre from the starting lineup.

I don’t want to take anything away from the greatest highlight in this young player’s career. I hope he gets a .gif of that tattooed on his body in the future when that’s possible.

However, it is easy for a play like that to excuse Monty Williams from mixing up the starting lineup with little-to-no explanation given as to why outside of calling it an “internal issue.”

Come on.

That leaves it up to the wondering minds of fans who are undoubtedly going to venture into extreme disciplinary speculation, or worse, assume Kelly is more perturbed by the move than he likely is.

Luckily, Tsunami Papi was more open about it and admitted he missed the team bus. It is a minor sin at most, and Kelly stated he respects Monty’s decision to enact the discipline he did.

Cam Johnson wasn’t the only Phoenix Suns player to get his first start of the year. Cheick Diallo got the starting nod due to his distinct credentials of being the only healthy frontcourt player on the roster.

That is because shortly before the game, reports surfaced that Deandre Ayton would be sitting out due to ankle soreness.

Ankle soreness. Two days after he dominated the stat sheet with 28 points and 19 rebounds he suffers from ankle soreness.

I’ve frustratingly asked, “What’s up with all these injuries?” for a few weeks now, but seriously, what in the world is up with all these injuries? At least we got a replay of Ayton twisting his ankle in the Denver Nuggets game because others have been somewhat mysterious.

Diallo had a very Diallo game in his place. He looked good at times but occasionally acted like he forgot he was actively playing in the game, or at least was surprised his teammates would pass him the ball as would-be assists caromed off his hands out of bounds on more than one occasion.

More from Valley of the Suns

The Lakers are way bigger than the Suns even when they have their full complement of players, so with only one true frontcourt player, it is no surprise the Los Angeles out-rebounded Phoenix. But -30?!

That makes the game near impossible to win and requires a near-perfect shooting night in order to give yourself a chance.

A perfect shooting night is precisely the opposite of what Devin Booker had. Book was just 2-11 from the field and looked off all night.

It was a frustrating night to watch the Suns play short-handed and without their stars performing at their typically high level because the Lakers were not exactly on top of their game either. LeBron James and Anthony Davis got theirs, but if it weren’t for Rajon Rondo, then this game might have been close.

Yeah, that Rondo.

The 14-year veteran scored a season-high 23 points including a very un-Rondo-like 4-5 from behind the arc.

He wasn’t the only backup guard to shoot the ball well. The Phoenix Suns had one of their own as Jevon Carter continued his stellar shooting, putting up 13 points, including some impressive no-hesitation 3s. Just when you think the Bulldog has been resigned to the bench, he gets in the game and proves he belongs on the court.

Next. The Phoenix Suns should pick up Dion Waiters. dark

The Suns play just one more game before a much-needed All-Star break. Hopefully, that week-plus off will give them time to heal up, refocus, and come out ready to finish the season strong (even if they don’t know what the starting lineup will be on a given night).