For much of the first half, the Suns reminded me of some of my friends on a Friday night; capable of getting to the hole, but unable to close. It wasn’t difficult for Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, and Devin Booker to slither their way into the lane, but the ball resisted going through the hoop. When the smoke cleared, the Suns were shooting a ghastly 30 percent at the half.
Things evened out in the second half, with Phoenix implementing a different sense of urgency from the get-go. Coach Watson toggled the lineup on a whim (as he is prone to do), digging deep into his bag of tricks and pulling out Tyler Ulis to ignite a spark. After some initial returns, the spark faded, and Brooklyn was able to break away late.
Brooklyn, for all of their personnel constraints, have the outline of a team that simply knows what they are doing. Every offensive possession either revolves around a Brook Lopez post-up, or showcases some sort of symmetrical motion that tends to result in a quality look. I am interested to see how this system continues to evolve as Brooklyn begins their voyage back to relevance.
Some assorted thoughts:
- Alex Len continued to show the same glimpses of promise that we are accustomed to — bulldozing his way through Lopez a few times, and parlaying nifty footwork into good looks that fail to result into much of anything. On the other end, Len was not as heady with his off-ball rotations as he was against Detroit, and the Suns were killed inside as a result. Not all of this is on Len — the guards need to do a much better job of impeding penetration at the top of the defense. Len is making strides, now we just have to hope for a bit more consistency.
- Jared “The Dad” Dudley was the glue that kept the Suns together, with each rainmaking three acting as glimmer of hope within a game full of deficiencies. Dudley has found his stride as a main cog on the bench mob, and there are few things better than seeing how juiced the crowd gets every time he makes a three.
- Marquese Chriss shined in limited action, pouring in 16 points. It was obvious that the Nets’ game plan was to give Chriss all the room he wanted to operate, but he proved up to the challenge by being assertive with every opportunity he got. And that has to be the best thing about the Chriss experience so far; he’s young and all of the place sometimes, but everything he does is without hesitation whether it is for the best or worst.
- Bledsoe once again was quiet with his shot attempts, going out of his way to facilitate looks to Booker and T.J. Warren. I wonder if his deference is by design or merely just how the game is flowing. Either way, I think he needs to be more selfish with his shot.
- Brandon Knight played a meager of 22 minutes, initially finding space as both a scorer and playmaker before eventually falling off. You have to figure that he is not ecstatic with how the minutes are being dispersed, and one has to wonder when Watson will elect to always have two of Bledsoe, Knight and Booker on the court. Feels like each of those three should be pushing 30 minutes per game.
Here is a box score for those looking for it!