Phoenix Suns: Power rankings react to Hawks, Lakers losses

Lakers Anthony Davis, Phoenix Suns, Mikal Bridges (Photo by Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)
Lakers Anthony Davis, Phoenix Suns, Mikal Bridges (Photo by Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports) /

Nothing went right on Sunday night for the Phoenix Suns.

The Lakers hit more than their usual share of long-range shots; the Suns were off.

Oh, and the Atlanta Hawks blew out the Suns, too, last week.

The NBA power rankings weren’t forgiving, either, but the amazing regular season is about to morph into a very intriguing postseason.

The Phoenix Suns stayed among the elite in the NBA power rankings but there are ominous signs as the Suns prepare for their first playoff appearance in 11 years.

How many times will Devin Booker beat his defender off the dribble, rise into the air and find he has nowhere to pass? His diminishing number of detractors point to his reluctance to try to finish at the rim; his supporters say he’ll never get the foul calls given to other players of his skill level.

He’ll have to figure things out in short order.

To the rankings, where the Suns sat No. 1 in all four of these sets last week.

ESPN’s NBA power rankings: Phoenix Suns are No. 3.

The loss to L.A. — out there for all to see on national TV, no less — showed a few weak spots.

"As Phoenix maintains its push for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, Chris Paul continues to do Point God-like things. Twice in the past week, Paul had games with at least 10 assists and zero turnovers: On Tuesday, he had 16 assists and zero turnovers against Cleveland; and he registered 11 assists and no turnovers against the Knicks three days later. It was the 44th and 45th time in Paul’s career he has had a game with 10-plus assists and zero turnovers. That’s the second-most such games since 1977-78, when turnovers became an official stat, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. The only player with more such games in that stretch? Muggsy Bogues with 46."

The Warriors are waiting in San Francisco on Tuesday night, then a home game against the Blazers before a pair with the Spurs.

Potential NBA Coach of the Year award winner Monty Williams has his work cut out for him. NBA power rankings: Phoenix Suns are No. 2.

If the chalkiest outcome happens, the Suns will finish as the West’s second seed and will meet the Lakers, who will beat the Warriors in the 7-8 play-in game. It would be best if the Suns could finish No. 1 in the West.

Chris Paul is no stranger to late-season and playoff pressure.

"In Cleveland on Tuesday, Mikal Bridges had, perhaps, the most dominating two minutes of individual defense from anybody this season, altering three shots and intercepting an inbounds pass to spark a 15-0 Suns run to start overtime. But, despite scoring just four points on nine overtime possessions, the Cavs had one of their most efficient games of the last month. The following night in Atlanta, the Hawks had their most efficient game of the season against the same Phoenix defense, scoring 60 points (on 71% shooting) in the paint. And in the the Lakers’ wire-to-wire win over the Suns on Sunday, Anthony Davis scored 33 of his 42 points in the paint or at the free throw line."

The Suns are still one of the three teams — the Jazz and Bucks are the others — that rank in the top seven on both ends of the floor.

Bleacher Report’s NBA power rankings: Phoenix Suns are No. 4.

Yeah, that loss in Atlanta was pretty ugly. But this season has been beautiful, and there’s a ton of credit to go around.

"After taking the top seed last week, the Suns took their foot off the gas pedal. They dropped two games and it was the defense that let them down. The Suns gave up 135 points to the Hawks and 123 to the Lakers in their two losses of the week.The loss to the Lakers should show some concern as Anthony Davis dominated the Suns frontcourt. He finished with 42 points while Phoenix’s entire frontcourt combined for 49 points. This does not bode well for Phoenix’s title hopes considering there is a good chance L.A. could be their first-round opponent in the playoffs.The two losses have put Phoenix two games behind Utah with four games left to go. The only chance they have at getting the No. 1 seed has dropped considerably."

So you’re saying there’s a chance? With Utah’s loss to Golden State on Monday, though, we’re saying there’s a chance.

CBS Sports NBA power rankings: Phoenix Suns are No. 4.

Is it better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all?

Is is better to have been the power rankings’ star, reaching No. 1 and then falling, than to never have been No. 1? Go ahead and discuss.

"Well, it was a short-lived run at the top for the Suns, who lost to the Hawks and Lakers this week with wins over the Cavs and Knicks. Phoenix gave up a whopping 121.2 points per 100 possessions this week, obviously something that will need to tighten up by playoff time."

The playoff seeding will be important in the hopes of Suns fans. No one really cares to say it, but this team deserves better than to have to play LeBron and A.D. in the first round.

Next. The Jae Crowder-Knicks thing. dark