Phoenix Suns defensive stopper turns offensive star in win over Clippers

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Copyright 2022 NBAE.
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Copyright 2022 NBAE. /

Amid a five-game losing streak, it was not the Phoenix Suns’ returning superstar who carried the load in a win; it was the defensive stopper rediscovering his shooting touch.

The Phoenix Suns have gone through their worst stretch of basketball since before the Covid lockdown. Having lost five straight games and mostly being blown out, ready or not, Devin Booker was back from a bum hamstring. However, on a night when neither Booker nor Chris Paul had their shooting touch, defensive standout Mikal Bridges rediscovered his shooting form and led the team to victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.

There have been two significant issues for the Suns over this five-game malaise. First, the team’s defense has been atrocious, with the team giving up 124.6 points per game in the losses. Second, the team has struggled to get enough scoring – especially with Booker out – to overcome the poor defense.

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The defense was better against the Clippers, holding LA to 95 points on less than 38% shooting. Los Angeles also helped out the Suns’ defense with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George unavailable for the game. As for the scoring, while Booker was back, a secondary scorer stepped up big in Bridges.

Mikal Bridges’ bounceback performance leads the Suns’ scoring

Bridges had his worst game of the season in Phoenix’s loss to Houston, as Mikal could not find his touch going 4-24. Two nights later, that willingness to keep shooting paid off and helped the Suns to victory. Bridges’ 27 points – on 11-18 shooting (61%) – was significant on a night when Booker and Paul combined to go 12-35 (34%) and score 29 points.

The best part for Phoenix is that the increased scoring had no negative impact on any other aspect of Bridges’ game. Mikal still did his part defensively, blocking two shots, with a steal and six rebounds, all with only one turnover in 39 minutes. It was a night when the Suns needed a big game from one of their stars, and Bridges stepped up, and the losing streak ended. Of course, CP3’s 13 assists helped too.

With New Orleans coming to town, Phoenix will need more stars to step up. But that is for this weekend; for now, Bridges is back, and so are the Suns.

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