The Phoenix Suns (16-7) lost in front of the West’s worst team, the Houston Rockets (6-17), on Friday night, so you had to wonder if they would try to make up for it on the road against the West’s second-worst team, the San Antonio Spurs (6-18) on Sunday afternoon.
After a tight first quarter that ended with a narrow 5-point lead, the Suns went on a 58-19 run over the next 17 minutes to open the game and turn the rest into a battle for the Suns’ bench.
Deandre Ayton led the Suns with 25 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists. Devin Booker and Mikal Bridges each had 20.
Other highlights: Dario Šarić had 17 points (4 three-pointers!), 3 rebounds and 2 assists in his best game of the season. Jock Landale had 12 off the bench in a primary reserve role – five. Josh Okogie grabbed a significant 11 rebounds, and also had 5 assists and 2 steals.
Suns win by 38 pointswith a final result of 133-95 (view, other).. It’s their biggest win of the season, surpassing the 29-point win over the Warriors a few weeks ago. As a team, they made 19 of 37 three-pointers (second only to the 21 three-pointers they made against the Warriors).
The Suns are now 16-7 on the season and will face the Mavericks in Dallas tomorrow night.
Notes of the first half
The Spurs could be on a 10-game losing streak, lose several starters and maintain the league’s 29th ranked offense. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good start. In the first quarter, they shot 65% from the field, and after one quarter they lost only 35-30.
The Suns have won 6 of 7 and have the 2nd ranked offense in the league, but they are also missing two starters, this one on the road. So you can understand the slow start, and that’s what it felt like. Yes, the Suns led 35-30 after one, but you could tell they weren’t playing their best basketball.
Dario Šarić started on the wing again and once again the attack looked cloudy. He played 6.5 minutes, and after exiting the game, the score was tied at 15-15. They scored 25 in the final 5.5 minutes of the quarter. In the second quarter, Josh Okogie stayed in the game as a ‘power wing’ although he has little to no offensive game, but he plays good defense and can make things happen in the paint on both ends.
Suns lead 35-30 after one. Devin Booker led the Suns with 11 points on 3-6 shooting and 5-5 free throws. Deandre Ayton had 6 points and 2 rebounds.
The second quarter went a little more as expected. The Suns took a 41-30 lead on a 6-0 run that — ahhh, we get it now — shows where the Spurs really lack talent these days. Bench. They are missing a few people due to injuries and have not started as a strong squad at all. As I mentioned in the game preview, they seem to be pushing hard for that No. 1 pick next summer, so they’re not too upset about the 10-game losing streak.
Jock Landale, who for the 2021-22 season spent with the Spurs, got backup center minutes today, coming on late in the first quarter when Ayton was relieved. He was the Landale you immediately loved. Jock had 9 points and 2 rebounds in 7 minutes.
Ayton had a very good second stint in the last 7 minutes of the quarter and went into halftime with 17 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists. Okogie remained among the starters for the rest of the half (2 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists), and the Suns completely blew the doors off, outscoring the Spurs 36-11 in the second quarter and went into halftime with a 30-point lead.
Sun rises 71-41 at half.
Your Suns kept their energy in the third quarter and started to make three-pointers – and within three and a half minutes the lead grew to over 40 on a three-pointer by Dario Šarić, his second in the third quarter.
Šarić looks much better when he takes and drains 3-pointers because that’s where the power wing fits into this attack. It also helps on the boards. And against Spurs, his defensive limitations in space are less pronounced.
Ayton had his eighth double-double performance in his last nine games, 11th overall of the season, halfway through his third.
The Suns’ lead grew to 45 points — 93-49 — on Ayton’s dunk, and now the only question is how long the starters will last, with a doubleheader tomorrow night in Dallas.
Dario Šarić left at 5:40 (9p/3sk/1a). Ayton left at 3:59 (25p/10sk/3a). Cam Payne started in 3:40 (5p/6a/2r). Mikal Bridges started in 3:06 (20p/4r/3a). Devin Booker left at 2:13 (20p/8a).
When Booker left, the Suns’ lead was down to 34. None of the rookies played more than Booker’s 28 minutes.
Let’s see if the bench guys can hold a big enough lead to not bring back any starters at all.
It should be noted that this is the fourth game in a row where they have reduced Duane Washington’s minutes in order to see Landry Shamet as the primary ball carrier more often. In today’s game, just like Friday night, Shamet took those starting minutes as the point guard without Payne. Shamet doesn’t have assists (just 2 in 4 games before today), but he got 3 in this one before the wipeout time as the game ended.