Phoenix Suns update: Suns-Atlanta Hawks game postponed; Devin Booker riding the learning curve

Phoenix Suns game against the Atlanta Hawks has been postponed due to COVID-19 contact-tracing protocols

Because of contact tracing — the daily routine during the pandemic continues — the Phoenix Suns released a statement saying their home game Wednesday against Atlanta Hawks has been postponed “in accordance with the league’s Health and Safety Protocols.”

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the issues lie with the Suns, who played the COVID-riddled Washington Wizards on Monday night, and that the contact-tracing process has the Suns with fewer than the league-required eight available players.

The Suns-Hawks game is the seventh NBA game this season to suffer a coronavirus-caused postponement. The league now has had four consecutive days with at least one game scrapped (rescheduling to be announced).

There already had been two Wednesday games called off.

On Tuesday, the NBA had formally unveiled new protocols, with masks now mandatory for players on the bench. The players also now must stay at their homes or hotels when they’re not playing.

Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker is looking to learn from a rough night in Washington D.C. in his team’s return home for three games this week

As Phoenix Suns All-Star Devin Booker cruised up the NBA’s subjective “best player” lists last season, his fans eagerly watched his assists and rebounds increase.

The best NBA stars can fill up a stat sheet.

Booker put up career highs in points, rebounds and assists last season, which culminated with his full game on display during the Suns’ 8-0 bubble run. But a continued ascension has not materialized and Monday’s blowout loss at Washington was puzzling.

Loyal Booker backers, though, undoubtedly expect a get-right game the next time the Suns take the floor — largely because they know the Wizards debacle won’t sit well with the guy who wears No. 1.

At the half Monday night, Booker had accomplished the rare “zero, zero, single-double.” Yep, forget about triple-doubles, the 24-year-old standout had no assists, no rebounds and 16 points at the break.

The 68-42 deficit at the Capital One Center (What’s in your wallet? Not much if you played for the Suns) had to have raised eyebrows around the league.

It was the team’s third Eastern road game in four nights — and Davis Bertans’ 6-for-9 display from 3-point range didn’t help — so much can be forgiven.

Booker played only 32:46, scoring 33 points (he had more fouls, four, than his combination of rebounds, zero, and assists, three) while doing things the old way: trying to rally the Suns by outscoring the opponents.

Side note: It’s great for Booker’s fantasy managers.

For the team’s overall health, however, that generally doesn’t work out too well.

No stranger to accountability, Booker was critical — and frustrated — with the starters’ inability to find cohesiveness, adding the team as a whole needs to find its signature style instead of trying to adapt after taking a punch early in games.

“We didn’t play our basketball,” Booker said. “We played the brand of basketball they played and it didn’t work out well for us.”

A primary weapon in Booker’s bag is motivation. He saw fellow young star Bradley Beal hand out nine assists and collect eight rebounds — all while scoring 34 points and maintaining a wide margin at the top of the league’s scoring leaders (Beal was at 34.9; Portland’s C.J. McCollum was at 28.1 entering Wednesday’s games).

Booker is likely to use his elite basketball IQ to apply these sometimes-painful lessons, beginning whenever the Suns are able to play again — perhaps as early as Friday night against Golden State.