When Eric Bledsoe is unavailable, there are two main areas that suffer; ball handling and defense. The Suns were certainly hurting in both areas tonight, ultimately falling to the Kings 142-119 in another blowout. Don't worry, the tank job is in full force.
This was a game of runs. The Kings looked strong from the opening tip, whereas the Suns didn't seem to show up until the second quarter. The score was already 31-18 Sacramento by the end of the first quarter, and there didn't appear to be much hope.
However, for a brief period I felt relief, believing that I wouldn't have to write a recap about another one-sided game. That was because the Suns did a fantastic job in the second quarter, outscoring Sacramento 35-to-28 and at one point even taking the lead.
But by the end of the third quarter things fell apart once more. The Suns allowed 44 points to the Kings in the third, not to mention another 39 in the fourth. What looked like a close game at halftime became a blowout by the 10-minute mark in the final quarter, forcing Hornacek's hand in giving playing time to the third string.
Offense was never an issue in this game, as Devin Booker and T.J. Warren continued to flourish. Booker and Warren combined for 40 points in this one, and Knight poured in 23 points of his own. The Suns collectively shot 52 percent from the field and 35 percent from deep.
But the defense was atrocious. DeMarcus Cousins continues to roast the Suns time after time, dropping 32 points in only 27 minutes in this game. He also wasn't the only one that caught fire against the light defense, as Collison and Belinelli combined for 40 points off the bench. Overall the Kings shot 61 percent from the field, which is absolutely unacceptable.
The other major issue was rebounding. The Kings outrebounded Phoenix by 21, as Alex Len and Tyson Chandler combined for just 18 minutes of playing time and two rebounds. Chandler was ejected in the third quarter for a tantrum he threw after a foul call.
There are some positives to take away from this game. T.J. Warren and Devin Booker continue to look like the future of the team's offense.
But who is the future of the team's defense? Certainly not Booker and Warren, and certainly not Brandon Knight. Alex Len still appears to be frustratingly inconsistent. Chandler's days of dominant defensive prowess are limited, if not already gone.
Coaching, too, can only be used as an excuse for so long. Mike Longabardi is out, so it is time for the Suns to do some searching for a good defensive coordinator. Obviously Chandler's veteran presence and communication is not enough.
But the other possibility is that the roster is still lacking is defensive talent. Ryan McDonough appears to have his work cut out for him as he searches for two-way players that can take the team back to the postseason.