The Phoenix Suns are desperate for a win after dropping their last two home games and three in a row, making the Orlando Magic a must-win situation.
It seemed like losing streaks were a thing of the past, with the Phoenix Suns last losing three straight back in January before the All-Star break. However, with Kevin Durant injured and no Mikal Bridges to pick up the slack, the Suns are hobbled but hopeful. Three straight losses see Phoenix with a tenuous hold on fourth place in the Western Conference, with the suddenly streaking LA Clippers – winners of four straight – just half game back of the Suns, with one more loss.
The Clippers are off until Saturday, so Phoenix will either be a full game ahead of LA or tied with the Clippers going into their final road trip of the season. The Suns play the Thunder, Lakers, and Kings Sunday through Friday on the road. With Durant out all those games and no more home games until Philadelphia comes in nine days, the Suns need to beat the Magic.
Things did not go so well for the Suns in Orlando
While the Suns (37-32) have a better record than the Magic (28-41), one of those 28 wins for Orlando came when the two teams met in November. Orlando won that game 114-97, without likely Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero playing. Wendell Carter Jr. led the way for Orlando with 20, while Terrence Ross chipped in 14.
That earlier loss was also one of the worst shooting nights of the season for Devin Booker, who shot just 31.6% on 6 of 19 from the field. The Suns were without Chris Paul, but that seems to mean less and less as the season progresses. Cameron Payne led Phoenix in scoring that night with 22 points, but all five starters – Payne included – had a negative plus/minus.
Phoenix needs to not worry about what is not there and focus on what they have
Feeling sorry for themselves and worrying about how KD’s absence hurts the offense will not get things done for Phoenix. Frankly, the offense is not the problem. The Suns have averaged 112 points per game during the three-game losing streak, just one point under their 113-per-game season average. However, defensively, the Suns have been giving up 122.3 points per game over the last three, which is 11 more than they have on the season.
Durant is known for many things, but being a defensive stopper is not one of them. The rest of the Phoenix’s players must find that in themselves to win without KD, and that needs to start with a bit of payback on the Magic tonight.