For one half of basketball, the two teams looked like they belonged on the same court.
The Phoenix Suns started off the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers with sharp passing and active defense, leading for most of the way before giving up a late run to enter halftime with a 50-55 deficit.
The offense, with Archie Goodwin as the de facto point guard, ran a number of successful sets by featuring some crisp passing from Tyson Chandler and Alex Len out of the high post -- a clever gimmick that disguised the absence of a true facilitator for a little while.
The Cavaliers didn't look terrible, considering that they were more or less treating the matchup as a night off, but when they accepted that they would have to exert a little effort to ovoid an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the basement-dwelling Suns, the quality of play between the two teams was chasmic.
The Suns opened the second half with 4 turnovers on their first 5 five possessions, and the Cavs quickly turned this one into a blowout on the heels of an unsightly barrage of fast breaks and wide-open triples off of busted defensive rotations.
There were too many breakdowns to count, but my personal favorite was T.J. Warren dashing away from Iman Shumpert in the corner like he just heard the lunchtime whistle.
Not ideal defense from Warren here. (He made it) #SunsAtCavs https://t.co/mRU7gg34Kq— Rollin Mason (@StrummerVillage) January 28, 2016
The Suns turned the ball over 22 times (5 for Goodwin) and gave up 55% shooting on the night to Cleveland.
It was a back-to-back for the Suns against the runaway favorite of the Eastern Conference. They had LeBron James, we had P.J. Tucker. This was exactly what everyone should have expected.
Booker and Goodwin
Did you skip the game and are now coming here for an update on the youngsters? It's okay, I do it too sometimes.
While neither player added another highlight video to the collection, Goodwin fought through a 3-10 shooting night to still put up 12 points through his knack of drawing contact inside (5-6 FT's), while Booker put up a ho-hum 16 points (7-8 FT's) to lead the team in scoring on his usual mix of filthy jumpers and off-ball cuts.
Perhaps I'm just being an irrational Devin Booker fanboy, but I would love to see what the kid can do with 25 shot attempts. The most he has attempted this season was 19 against Atlanta, and he's only shooting 12.4 times per 36 minutes.
On the other hand, he wasn't supposed to get much more than garbage minutes all season, so it is important to be cognizant that the rookie's learning curve should still be managed with care.
Goodwin didn't continue his streak of 20-point games, but has looked like a different Archie than we have ever seen during the last week, as far as his comfort level with the ball in his hands and his confidence with the jumpshot. Maybe this will finally be the summer that the Suns don't sign anyone to infringe on his rotation minutes.
For the first time, it appears that he has truly earned it.