Ever since the Phoenix Suns drafted Devin Booker, they are 0-9 in games without him. That’s over now because the Suns pulled off a come from behind victory late in Minnesota for the 108-106 victory.
Piggybacking off of Brendon’s new quick recap concept, instead of moment-by-moment commentary I will look at the good and bad from the Suns’ young roster on Saturday night.
Good - Second Unit: Throughout the second half, the bench mob led by newly minted second unit commander Isaiah Canaan, Troy Daniels, Danuel House Jr., Dragan Bender, and Alex Len brought the most energy while doing great defensively. They combined for 69 points and they were down by as many as 15 before this group led them back to a lead in the fourth quarter.
The Blender duo of Bender and Len, which I will speak on later, continues to be a great pairing. Tonight, Bender had a career-high in points while Len was active all over the stat sheet.
Daniels continued his hot shooting ways finishing 4/6 from deep coming off a career-high 32 Wednesday against the Toronto Raptors. Safe to say Daniels is a sharpshooting specialist in this league.
We can’t forget about Isaiah Canaan either. Canaan led the Suns’ second unit to a tune of 15 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds. Compared to Mike James, he was definitely spreading the wealth around a lot more.
Could this be a change moving forward? We’ll see, but I was definitely in favor of what I saw Canaan produce in his minutes on Saturday.
Without this group, Phoenix would’ve gotten blown right out of the Target Center. Credit to them for making it competitive all game.
Bad - Marquese Chriss: With Bender having a career game against Minnesota, it really started off due to Chriss getting into foul trouble like usual. Chriss didn’t see the floor again after notching his fourth foul in 16 minutes.
Another thing I continue to notice with Chriss is he settles for jumpers far too often. I wish he would drive it toward the rim more often with his athleticism compared to other big men.
It will be interesting to see how interim head coach Jay Triano handles Chriss moving forward, but this could have been the game where Bender finally found his confidence doing this all without their primary scorer in Booker.
Good - Josh Jackson: Compared to his last few games, especially the previous four without Booker, Jackson had his best game of the stretch by far. He was still a little overaggressive at times, but he buoyed the Suns’ offense at points in the first half to avoid getting Minnesota’s lead out of reach. His plus-minus won’t display this, but this was a positive step forward for Jackson indeed.
One thing you love to see is Jackson limiting the fouls and turnovers. He only had one in both categories. 13 points and 8 rebounds in 22 minutes, while also getting to the line four times is what you want to see.
Bad - Turnovers: Early in this game, Phoenix was plagued by their usual nemesis in turnovers. In the first 18 minutes, the Suns had 17 turnovers. Yikes.
They finished with 22 turnovers compared to 6 for Minnesota.
This continues to be a major issue for the Suns throughout the first half of this season, too.
Good - The Blender (Dragan Bender + Alex Len): What a night from these two, right? Triano let these two close it out due to their impacts on both ends of the floor on Saturday. Bender finished with his career-high aforementioned 17 points while also collecting a steal and block. He also led the team in overall plus-minus with +22.
Speaking of Len, this continues to be a career year for him. In 27 minutes, Len had 12 points, 19 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals. The best night for him ever in a Suns uniform? Absolutely.
These two should definitely get more run together moving forward because the Blender is making some on-court magic on Saturday in terms of recent play.