The Phoenix Suns beat the Oklahoma City Thunder despite getting surprising news Deandre Ayton missed his COVID-19 test and wouldn’t start the game.
In the first quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Phoenix Suns played like one of their best players had just let them down. That is because that is exactly what happened.
Just before the game, we learned Deandre Ayton missed his daily COVID-19 testing window yesterday and thus had to get tested Monday morning before the game. Per league rules, he had to receive a negative test result before being allowed to join the team at the arena.
It resulted in a confusing, frustrating mess to start the game. The Suns were forced to begin without their big man, inserting Dario Saric into the lineup in his place. Ayton received his negative test result in the first quarter and spent most of that time on the stationary bike trying to warm up.
The Phoenix Suns overcame an Ayton blunder to beat the Thunder.
Meanwhile, on the court, the Phoenix Suns looked out of sorts, out of rhythm, and out of character, and it led to an early 15-point deficit.
Deandre Ayton missing his daily test is simply inexcusable. So much for him having a big game, as predicted earlier. I was way off.
To add further insult, he missed his test on the very same day he was a guest on the Woj pod and talked about how much he as matured.
You can’t make this stuff up.
When he entered the game, he didn’t exactly make up for lost time. Instead, he played like he didn’t want to make another mistake and compound the problem. It led to a meager 10 points and six rebounds in 17 minutes.
But let’s not drone on too long on the negative here; let’s focus on the superb way the Suns handled it after being rattled initially.
Down big after one quarter, it was on the Suns, who have faced more than their fair share of adversity this season, to find their way out of a huge problem, this one self-induced.
More from Valley of the Suns
- Phoenix Suns’ Cameron Payne fires up playoff hopes
- Phoenix Suns update: Suns-Atlanta Hawks game postponed; Devin Booker riding the learning curve
- Surprise! Three Phoenix Suns find interesting spots on NBA advanced metrics list
- Phoenix Suns postseason run: 5 most impactful players
- Three areas of improvement for the Phoenix Suns in 2020-21
Practice makes perfect, I guess, because overcome adversity they did. The Suns outscored the Thunder in the second quarter 42-27 in the second quarter to take the lead going into the half and never looked back.
Led by Devin Booker‘s 35 points and Jevon Carter‘s defense (three steals, two blocks, and one irritated Chris Paul), the Suns gained a big enough lead to where Monty Williams felt comfortable resting most of his starters in the fourth quarter. That is huge because they will be that much fresher when they take the court against in 24 hours against the Philadelphia 76ers as they go after seven in a row.
Tuesday will also be a big day of scoreboard watching as the Suns need the Grizzlies and Trail Blazers to lose, and as playoff teams continue to rest more and more of their best players, the Suns are running out of opportunities for these teams to face losable games.
All the Suns can do is keep winning, which is exactly what they’ve been doing. This is fun.