When Devin Booker’s clutch 3-pointer found its target, stopping the clock with 1.5 seconds remaining, Phoenix Suns fans immediately celebrated — and then lamented the time remaining.
Understandable, given Luka Doncic’s propensity for late-game heroics.
The Suns survived, though, as Doncic’s 33-footer went 33 1/2 feet, bounding off the back rim to secure Phoenix’s 11th victory in 19 games.
There were some obvious keys in the Phoenix Suns’ 109-108 victory over the Dallas Mavericks, but some under-the-radar events are worth discussion, too.
These subjects played vital roles, even when juxtaposed with Chris Paul’s huge game and the game winner from Booker (who looked like an All-Star, right?).
Hidden takeaway No. 1: Langston Galloway, the beautiful shooter.
The Phoenix Suns should secure Langston Galloway’s role and count on it every night. Shooting talent, with consistent playing time and the occasional designed play, doesn’t sleep.
Galloway was 2-2 from long range on Monday night, bringing his 2020-21 road shooting on 3s to 12 for 22. That’s nice.
And he hit a third triple that was disallowed because of an offensive foul on Frank Kaminsky. Thanks, Frank.
To be clear, Galloway is strictly a deep rotation player whose role calls for capable defense and no conscience when he’s open from deep.
His 2-2 night brought him to almost 50 percent from 3-point range this season (18 for 37). The only thing missing is that secure spot in the rotation as the instant-offense guy. Every night.
More shots, more success. We’ll allow a little more time for him to figure out the defensive fundamentals.
Hidden takeaway No. 2: Can Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker get some freakin’ calls?
Suns fans have had the conversation: Is Devin Booker not enough of an NBA veteran to receive the benefit of the doubt? Some Suns fans have begun having that conversation with themselves. And arguing about it.
The truth is that 15-year-old Luka Doncic (what? he’s 21? OK, whatever) is — without any real scientific backing, mind you — getting more than his fair share of questionable calls already. Why doesn’t Booker get those calls?
One issue is the Magic Johnson effect. Before Earvin “Magic” Johnson became the recipient of almost all questionable calls, he had to come to grips with the fact that his constant bitching about calls — real and imagined — was having a negative effect on officials.
Booker may be swimming in those same waters.
It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: Booker perhaps complains so much that the officials become predisposed to swallow their whistles when the Suns have the ball, and blow a little quicker when Booker is playing defense.
Just a thought.
Hidden takeaway No. 3: The Phoenix Suns played awful in many ways and still found a way to win.
A few Phoenix Suns objectives for their rematch in Dallas with the Mavericks were not exactly met.
Finding a way to get to the free-throw line more frequently? Well, that was an epic failure. The Suns attempted only 12 free throws, making 10.
That’s no way to “take the game to the opponent.” Instead, it was a fairly inept attack on Monday night during a game in which the opponent hit 24 of its 25 attempts. Not exactly checking that box. (But the Suns won the game!)
Following a sweet-shooting effort in the first of those two losses in back-to-back games to the Denver Nuggets, Mikal Bridges is slowly building a wonderful brick house.
His 0-4 night from 3-point range brought his numbers over the past four games to 4 for 21.
Bridges is certainly bringing the effort in all aspects of his improving game, but the revamped, improved shooting stroke simply has to be found if the Suns are going to become real contenders.
And Phoenix pulled down only three more rebounds (45-42) than the notoriously poor-at-rebounding Mavericks, who ranked 27th in the NBA entering Monday.
Sounds strange, but it was Deandre Ayton’s motor — yep, we said it — that saved the day on the glass. He finished with 17 big boards to complement his 10 points in 33 minutes.
A true team win, especially when you include the under-the-radar contributions.