Loss to Rockets the worst moment of an eventful season for the Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns suffered a tough loss to the Houston Rockets on Saturday night, in what was the worst moment of an eventful season.

Houston Rockets v Phoenix Suns
Houston Rockets v Phoenix Suns / Chris Coduto/GettyImages

The Phoenix Suns had come out of the post All-Star break sprint for the postseason in much the same way as they had performed prior to the break, with impressive displays being followed up by disappointing losses and performances.

That valley hit a new low on Saturday night as the team lost to the Houston Rockets, their second defeat to their less illustrious opponents having played them in three out of their last four contests. The loss itself wasn't the problem, but rather the way in which the game got away from them, and what it could mean for them down the road.

Bradley Beal was back from a hamstring tweak which looked like good news - until he played only 20 minutes as a result of an ejection.

That he was ejected at all is a problem for the Suns, because the whole debacle that led to him being forced to leave the court looked entirely avoidable. It is good to have fight when you're trying to win games, and ironically the ejection itself led to the Suns going on a 7-0 run and the crowd at Footprint Center getting fired up.

But the Suns are at their best when Beal is actually on the court, and there has been a real lack of that so far this season. As a result of injuries, this was only his 31st game played for the franchise since joining via trade last summer. With back, ankle, nose and now hamstring issues forcing him to miss time, the last thing the Suns needed was for Beal to be taken out because of his actions on the court.

If that wasn't bad enough, center Jusuf Nurkic also exited the game after only 17 minutes played with a neck issue. It is unclear at this stage how long - if at all - Nurkic will be sidelined for, but head coach Frank Vogel gave the below update to the assembled media after the game;

"Nurk's got a neck sprain and I know he did get evaluated for a concussion, but just a neck sprain."

Head coach Frank Vogel

Nurkic has been an unexpectedly steady presence for the organization all season long, remaining healthy and consistent in his performances. To lose him for any length of time would be a disaster - because although Kevin Durant can and will play the five more once the postseason starts - the depth beyond Nurkic and Durant is poor.

The night hit its worst point though, when Devin Booker and Royce O'Neale clipped one another, causing both to hurt their ankles. O'Neale was able to play on, and coach Vogel said after the game that he didn't need to get an x-ray on the injury either. The outcome was worse for Booker though - as although his x-ray came back negative - it has already caused him to miss their next game.

Losing him for any amount of time would be dreadful, and there is nobody who could come close to replicating what he does on the court for the Suns either. This is the peril of having your superstar scorer also become your point guard. Booker can and has handled the responsibility incredibly well - but if he's forced to miss time - the team suffers in more than one way.

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No player on this roster or potential buyout candidate is going to make up for Booker's absence, which is why this poor loss turned into an outright disaster. Beal isn't going to miss any more time because of the ejection he was given, but the team need cooler heads as the pressure cranks up with the regular season drawing to a close and teams jostling for position.

The injuries to Nurkic and especially Booker though, are what made this the worst game of the season for the organization. They've dropped down to sixth in the Western Conference and are 6-4 in their last 10 games. Not the kind of forward momentum they would have wanted coming down the final stretch of the regular season.