Coming off three straight losses and still without Kevin Durant, the Phoenix Suns needed somebody to step up, and while several did, one player stands out in the win over Orlando.
Josh Okogie did not have his best game as a Suns player on Thursday in the win over the Orlando Magic. It was one of Okogie’s poorer shooting performances, shooting just under 29% on four of 14 shooting. However, if you were to focus only on Okogie’s two-for-ten performance from three-point range, you would be missing out on the bigger picture, which reflects a bigger contribution than just scoring.
Okogie making the basketball plays to help the Suns win
JO did not shoot well against Orlando. However, the young man did everything else for the team. Okogie had four assists and a huge offensive rebound when the game was tied at 101. Add in the fact that Okogie managed to get to the line five times, more than any other Suns player, and hit all five free throws on his way to 15 points.
All five attempts came in the second quarter and were important. The first two came after Phoenix had just taken the lead and struggled to find a shot. Okogie attacked the rim and got an easy two points. Then at the end of the half, Josh picked up a silly foul on Fultz that gave him three free throws after attempting a buzzer-beater from beyond half-court. Considering the Suns won by three, those free throws at the end of the half made the difference.
The other thing that made the difference was Okogie’s defense. Okogie had three steals and three blocks. This included a steal and a block in the final minute, with the block coming in the last play of the game against Paolo Banchero, who was attempting a three to tie the game.
Seemingly taking on the role formerly held by Mikal Bridges of doing whatever is needed to win, Okogie is cementing his place in the Phoenix Suns starting lineup and is a major factor in wins like the one on Thursday over Orlando.