Phoenix Suns: Smacked, celebrated among NBA power rankings

Phoenix Suns, Monty Williams (Photo by Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports)
Phoenix Suns, Monty Williams (Photo by Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Phoenix Suns had one of those nights to close the week, and it cost them.

This week’s NBA power rankings didn’t love the Phoenix Suns as much as they had in weeks past.

Devin Booker and Chris Paul couldn’t shoot; they were late on the rotations and gave up too many open looks from 3-point range; they were too soft inside at times and they just didn’t look like the 25-11 team that arrived at the arena.

Phoenix began the week in make-up mode, trouncing the Memphis Grizzlies at home, with back-to-back home games against Minnesota, plus one against the Lakers on deck.

ESPN power rankings: Phoenix Suns are #3

The Suns climbed from No. 5 to No. 3 on the strength of another big win over Portland — on the road — and the relative struggles of the teams around them.

The Lakers and Clippers slipped, allowing the Suns to reach the No. 3 spot.

"One of the keys that has helped vault Phoenix to the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference standings has been the Suns’ ability to win away from home. As of Sunday night, the Suns are tied with the Lakers with a league-best .722 winning percentage in road games. In their first game back after the All-Star break, the Suns carried those winning ways into Portland, as Devin Booker dropped 35 in his return from a knee injury that kept him out of the All-Star Game." power rankings: Phoenix Suns are #3

The Suns’ updated rankings (shown in parentheses) in key categories entering the start of the week: Pace: 98.1 (26), OffRtg: 114.8 (8), DefRtg: 108.8 (6), NetRtg: +6.0 (3).

"The Suns aren’t used to playing from far behind. But they faced double-digit deficits in each of their first two games out of the break. Their bench did its thing (winning its minutes) in Portland on Thursday, sparking a 35-14 stretch that turned an 11-point deficit (late in the third quarter) into a 10-point lead and a six-point win. The Suns had buried themselves in too big of a hole (20 points) against the Pacers. Their 111 points on 105 possessions was their worst offensive performance since late January."

Here’s a cool stat from The Suns have the best point differential (+2.2 points per game) in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter..

NBC Sports power rankings: Phoenix Suns are #5

This week’s home games against the Timberwolves and Lakers could go a long way toward underscoring the Suns’ level of competitiveness where the Pacific Division title is concerned.

NBC couldn’t help but take a small shot at GM James Jones — and perhaps Jalen Smith.

"Chris Paul is one of the great leaders in NBA history. He’s taken a young team and made every single player better. If only this team would have drafted Tyrese Haliburton at No. 10 to work with the sure-fire Hall of Famer…"

CBS Sports power rankings: Phoenix Suns are #5

After a lofty No. 3 ranking last week, the good folks at CBS dropped the Suns two notches. Fine. No worries. Nothing is handed to this team. Ask Devin Booker.

At least Dario Saric continues to be the team’s not-so-secret-anymore weapon.

"The Suns beat the Blazers in their first game after the break, then saw their five-game winning streak get snapped in a home loss to the Pacers. Devin Booker scored 35 points and dished out eight assists in the win over Portland, while Dario Saric continued his impressive play off the bench, averaging 14 points and five rebounds on 61 percent shooting in 25 minutes per game."

Following a great start to the week with the blowout win over Memphis, the Suns could run the table on the rest of this homestand to finish up 29-12. That’s a good look.

Next. Phoenix Suns: 3 good, 3 bad ideas. dark