In their first test of not having Devin Booker at their disposal for the next two-to-three weeks, the Suns kept it close early but the floodgates opened late against Washington.
Bradley Beal kept his hot streak going after dropping 51 against Portland earlier in the week, finishing with 34 points.
For these young Suns without Booker, someone needed to step up. It looked like early it was going to be Josh Jackson, who amassed 6 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists in his first seven minutes but he got into foul trouble, which is still a concern with him right now.
T.J. Warren, who is stepping up as the No. 1 option for the first time in his four-year career was still doing Tony Buckets-like things, but with the lack of scoring surrounding him, it wasn’t enough. Warren cooled off in the third quarter, only tallying four of his 23 points there.
The Wizards were without John Wall, too, as he nurses some knee soreness but Beal himself has started to thrive as their main man over the past week.
Wizards starters: Tim Frazier, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris, Marcin Gortat
Suns starters: Tyler Ulis, Josh Jackson, T.J. Warren, Marquese Chriss, Greg Monroe
Right away, Phoenix opened up hot with a quick 14-6 run in the first 3 or so minutes. Josh Jackson looks super engaged on both ends, and Jay Triano is actually using him early and often as a playmaker which is a welcome sign.
The first two baskets by Phoenix were off of two Jackson dishes. Then, a few possessions later, Jackson had a thunderous putback slam off a Warren transition layup.
Jackson seems to be relishing the extra usage in Booker’s absence because we’re starting to see some playmaking glimpses I fell for when he was at Kansas.
In his first 7 minutes, Jackson tallied up a 6-2-3 line.
Alongside Jackson, Greg Monroe has looked good, too. This early on, Monroe has 4-4-2, continuing to be a fulcrum point for Phoenix’s offensive balance in terms of finding the right man.
Don’t look now, but Phoenix is up 24-12 with 4 minutes left in the first. Let's see how long this holds.
Wizards immediately go on a 10-0 run, so that didn’t last long at all.
Washington finished the first quarter on a 14-4 run to cut the Suns’ lead to 28-26. Bradley Beal, who scored 51 Tuesday against Portland, has 11 early.
The first portion of the second quarter has reverted back to ugly basketball. Lots of turnovers, missed shots, standing around.
With the bench unit, Phoenix struggled mightily. Dragan Bender was a team-worst -18 plus a line of 0-0-1-1 (block + assist) during his initial stretch.
Phoenix’s lack of scoring punch without Booker is starting to take shape because the spacing is so poor. Without a shooter alongside Jackson or Warren, it’s hard to spread the floor outside of drives to the rim continuously.
Warren has quietly, even though he’s their top scoring option now, put up 11 points on 4-9 shooting in the 17 minutes logged thus far. Sure looks like he’s on the way to another T.J-type performance that we have seen lately.
Troy Daniels has been a scoring punch in this quarter. Adding 7 points chucking away from beyond the arc. Daniels, without Booker, really is Phoenix’s only plus outside shooter, at least consistency.
Chriss had a productive half compared to his counterpart in Bender. The former Washington Huskie is now starting to get used like he was last season, and actually getting fed the ball when he’s asking for it.
If it wasn’t for foul trouble plaguing Jackson early in the second quarter, he was well on his way to a strong half. Jackson needs to stop mean-mugging referees after getting calls, though. They’re not going to change the call just because you give them a death stare.
Another problem with Jackson is his shooting at the moment. He’s having a really hard time putting the ball in the hoop after a strong start in their first 10 games.
Halftime: Wizards lead 57-52
Through the first half of the third for Phoenix, Markieff Morris started to take over. Ten points in the first 4.5 minutes for Morris, while the rest of the Wizards have 2 total.
Chriss disagreed with a call and started jawing back with the ref, which put Morris at the line for technical free throws.
Monroe had a nice post move on Gortat, who he has been getting the best of tonight. In his 20 minutes so far, Monroe has posted 10-6-5 already. Without Monroe’s acquisition, it’s fair to ask where their current situation would be for bigs.
Ulis and Monroe are starting to develop a nice pick-and-roll chemistry, which I foreshadowed when the deal was made. According to Synergy, Monroe is one of the better roll men in PnR, and it’s definitely showing itself in the Valley, too.
Monroe triple-double watch? No, seriously, he’s up to 14-7-5.
An interesting stat I dug up on Warren was when he hits the 25-point threshold, Phoenix is 6-0 thus far. Right now, Warren has 17 so it’s something to monitor as the Suns trail by only 4 with four minutes left in the quarter.
After having a nice sequence against Beal, a blow-by that led to free throws, Jackson picked up two quick fouls on the other side of the floor.
Led by Jared Dudley, the Suns actually brought this game to a point, 83-82, which included great team defense on multiple possessions in a row alongside Daniels splashing home a trey.
Then, next possession before the quarter ends, Mike James draws a foul as they regain the lead but Beal hits a floater at the buzzer.
The last Wizard to score 40-plus in back-to-back games was Gilbert Arenas all the way back in 2006. Right now, Beal has 30 tonight in 30 minutes.
End of the 3rd: Wizards lead 85-84
To start the fourth, Triano continued to ride the hot hands with a bench unit surrounding Warren. Adding Dudley and Daniels out there together actually opens up a ton of space for a scorer like Warren to operate from 18 feet and in.
Just realized that Bender hasn’t played a single minute since his awful start. He was usurped by Dudley, who’s on-court smarts have kept Phoenix in it this half.
Bender has had his share of defensive flashes so far this season, but, sometimes, he’s nearly unplayable on some nights. Case in point tonight.
Triano subs back in Jackson and Chriss to pair alongside Warren for this final 5-minute push down 98-96.
Two minutes later, Jackson racks up two more fouls and is disqualified. Beal definitely got the best of Phoenix’s rookie tonight.
Ian Mahinmi gets a putback and-one to put this game above double-digits with just over two minutes left.
Washington will escape with a win to improve to 14-11 while Phoenix falls to 9-18.