We’re more than a third of the way through the season now, and so we know the general rhythm of a Suns game. They typically play hard, and their offense flows through the same couple of guys every night. Defense comes and goes.
Instead of doing the usual first, second, third and fourth quarter recaps it makes more sense at this point to just get straight to the point: what good or bad things can we take away from the game?
Player development is a long and winding road, as we’ve learned over the last several seasons. Instead of the minute-to-minute details of the Suns’ overall performance, we’ll try quick bites of good and bad for the players, as well as the team as a whole.
Bad: Josh Jackson committed two fouls in first five minutes of the game, and started 0-3 from field despite two attempts at the rim and an open pull-up 3. He wound up with zero made baskets in the game, on seven attempts. It was one of his worst performances this year.
Good: Alex Len continued to handle the bizarre big man rotation well, scoring 7 points to go with 4 rebounds (all offensive) and 3 blocks in the first half.
Bad: Troy Daniels was the only guy really capable of creating offense in the first half. Mike James and Greg Monroe struggled against Toronto’s physical defense, and T.J. Warren couldn’t find space on the inside like he usually does. Daniels scored 32 points in the first half on 11-16 shooting — but ideally he’s not your leading scorer.
Good: Suns fans got their first taste of Danuel House Jr. tonight, who is the team’s newest two-way player, replacing Mike James. His defense was surprisingly good, as he competed against C.J. Miles throughout the second quarter used his size to repeatedly contest shots in the paint.
Good: I guess Greg Monroe’s trade value is going up? The Suns were feeding the big man all night, and he kept them in it.
Bad: The Suns have no defensive stopper. When most teams face Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, they can juggle their best defender between the two depending on who is hotter and how the rest of the lineup breaks defensively. Yet late in the third quarter when both guys got going, the Suns had nobody to sic on either guy. It’s a problem, especially when you drafted Josh Jackson to sort of be that guy.
Bad: Playing the foul game. Look: sometimes you have no choice but to foul talented offensive players around the hoop. My problem isn’t even that the Suns fouled too much in tonight’s fourth quarter (they did), it’s the larger issue that arises when they get into free throw battles. Their best players simply aren’t good enough shooters to win at the line. Monroe and Chriss combined to shoot 3-6 from the line in the final three minutes of the game, whereas DeMar DeRozan knocked down two clutch free throws to seal the Raptors’ win.