How disappointing! Not to make something out large out of something that is small, but this kind of game, like the one the Suns lost tonight to the Spurs, is the exact kind of saddening loss that chokes young teams lacking cohesion.
Almost none of the right things happened; Devin Booker looked as bad as he has all season, and tonight there weren’t even veteran players waiting in the wings to hijack the game. The brightest spot of the night probably goes to T.J. Warren, who looked like his old self on the way to 23 efficient points.
The darkest spot of the night, then, was the starting lineup: only 40 points, 16 rebounds, and 9 assists on 16-39 shooting. That’s a good night for Russell Westbrook!
Somehow, the Suns kept this one close. The best approximation of how this game went in the first two quarters is actually the San Antonio-Phoenix meeting in the preseason: Free-flowing in a bad way, searching for a veteran star to ascribe meaning to 48 minutes of basketball. With no Kawhi Leonard, the game struggled to land on its leader.
Tony Parker looked like his old self at times, but it was LaMarcus Aldridge who started to show up. He was a steadying hand, scoring 17 points in the first half, and generally making Marquese Chriss look like a fool. In many ways, the Aldridge-Pau Gasol front line was the worst matchup for the Suns. Tyson Chandler doesn’t really fit anywhere in there at his age, and Chriss is too young to make an impact.
For the Suns, Brandon Knight showed out in the chaos of a 16-turnover half, as he often does. He scored 10 points on seven shots and dished three assists, and his offensive impact was enough to notch him a plus-eleven in the half; Knight always seems to do best in the team’s worst moments. However, Phoenix outscored San Antonio by nine in the first half.
The roller coaster cart zoomed upward, tick-tick-ticking as the suspense bubbled up in the bellies of Suns fans. Then, it caromed toward the ground below. The Suns were outscored by 27 (!) in the third and fourth quarters.
Aldridge and Manu Ginobili combined for 22 points, but it was really the unrelenting force of the Spurs’ technical greatness that boxed the Suns out of a win. Chriss continued to look like, well, a rookie across from Aldridge. He got his lunch money stolen on a post move toward the baseline, and LMA hovered around the rim for whatever he wanted.
San Antonio shot 55% overall in the second half, and forced 12 Suns turnovers. That was about all it took.
However, Warren explode, looking nice in the halfcourt and in transition. He got to the line three times and made all six of those shots, which boosted him toward 11 points. Unfortunately, he turned the ball over twice, compared to zero assists.
Things are really not looking good for the Phoenix Suns right now.