In honor of the Phoenix Suns laying the wood to the Los Angeles Lakers last night, this #TBT we’re looking back at the biggest waxings in Suns’ franchise history. In their long and storied history, Phoenix has put some serious hurt on other teams. That 37-point whooping last night? It doesn’t even crack the top 25.
#5 - No Amar’e? No problem. SSOL squad leaves Blazers SOL.
In the wake of Amare Stoudemire’s offseason microfracture knee surgery, there had been questions about how the Phoenix Suns would fare. By the time, they squared off with the Portland Trailblazers on December 6, the answer was becoming clear: things were going to be just fine. The Suns came into the game on a six-game winning streak and continued that momentum by handing the Blazers a 130-85 loss.
The Suns were lead in scoring by unusual suspects James Jones (22 points) and Raja Bell (21 points). Boris Diaw nearly logged a triple double (8 points, 8 rebounds, 13 assists). And in one of the best garbage time feats in Suns’ history, human victory cigar Pat Burke scored 12 points in 24 minutes (surprisingly, neither was a career high) and one-season wonder Dijon Thompson scored a career high 10 points.
#4 - Backcourt 2000 barely breaks a sweat vs. anonymous Clippers.
Before Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, the Los Angeles Clippers were a very very very bad team. Witness their starting line-up on February 2, 2000: Tyrone Nesby, Derek Anderson, Michael Olowokandi, Maurice Taylor, & Eric Murdock. Armed with that information, it’s a lot less surprising that they only mustered 68 points against a playoff-bound Suns team. The Clipper team entered the game with a record of 11-34 and would only win 4 of their remaining 37 games.
For the Suns that night, no one worked too hard with only Luc Longley playing over 30 minutes. Jason Kidd and Penny Hardaway let All-Star snubbee Cliff Robinson do the heavy lifting as he lead all scorers with 21 points. Your garbage time performance of the night belonged to Toby Bailey who nearly notched career highs in points (8) and minutes (10).
#3 - The Cotton Express lands the first of back-to-back beatdowns.
The Phoenix Suns were back in a big way in 1989. It was the first year of the Kevin Johnson-Tom Chambers-Dan Majerle era and the Suns were laying waste to opponents. While the Suns were noted for their fast pace (3rd in the NBA) and high-octane offense (2nd in the NBA), they were also a top 5 defensive team. So hanging 137 on the San Antonio Spurs while holding them to just 91 points was very much on-brand for the 1988-89 Phoenix Suns.
Kevin Johnson inexplicably played 38 minutes in this game, but maybe it was worth it to garner a 20-20 stat line (21 points , 20 assists). Meanwhile, Tom Chambers poured in 38 points on 20 shots in just 28 minutes. The garbage time All-Star for Phoenix was Ed Nealy, who logged an improbable 5 trillion in the box score. This 46 point destruction of the Spurs was just a warm-up for the Suns though. Two nights later, they’d work their masterpiece of demoralization.
#2 - Terry Porter has one good game as the Suns’ head coach.
If you’re looking for the start of the most recent decline of the Phoenix Suns, then the 2008-2009 season is the headwaters from which the Suns’ recent river of woes flows. After replacing Shawn Marion with Shaquille O’Neal the previous season, Phoenix replaced departed head coach Mike D’Antoni with the allegedly more defensive-minded Terry Porter. Porter was a disaster as head coach. Players hated him. Fans hated him. And despite having a roster loaded with offensive weapons, the Suns had struggled to a 25-20 start to the season. Fortunately, for Coach Porter, the league-worst Sacramento Kings came to town and a 129-81 piledriving ensued.
The starters did what they were supposed to with Amare Stoudemire and Jason Richardson leading Phoenix with 25 and 24 points respectively, but the fun stuff was on the bench where sentient brass knuckle Matt Barnes had a very Barnesian 8 points and 6 rebounds on 3 of 9 shooting in 26 minutes. Rookie Goran Dragic (who was perpetually in Porter’s doghouse) got a mere 12 minutes in the blowout along with fellow new kid in town, Jared Dudley.
The 48 point victory wasn’t enough to save the Terry Porter’s job or the Suns’ season. Porter would be fired 5 games later, and an eye injury to Amare Stoudemire would derail the Suns’ hopes for a deep playoff run under new head coach Alvin Gentry.
#1 - Suns deliver King-size thrashing to Sacramento.
I stole that headline from the Arizona Republic game coverage. What else can you say about a 140-85 victory? Keep in mind this game came 2 days after the Suns had beaten the Spurs by 46 points. The Phoenix Suns were sending a message to the rest of the league: the playoffs are coming and we will score on you. Good luck scoring on us. Now.... they also happened to send that message against two of the worst teams in the league that season, but a message is a message, right?
In case you’re wondering what goes into a victory of this margin, scoring lots of points really quickly helps. In this case, after Phoenix had spotted Sacramento a 6-4 lead, the Suns went on to outscore the Kings 50-18 in the next 14 minutes. Phoenix lead by as many as 60 points (on a T.R. Dunn jumper, no less) before taking their foot off the gas in the late 3rd quarter. Kings’s guard (and future Suns head coach) Danny Ainge called it the worst loss of his career.
Amazingly, two Phoenix starters, Ty Corbin and Mark West, didn’t even score in double figures. No Sun scored more than Eddie Johnson’s 24 points, but KJ had had plenty of fun dishing to the entire team on his way to 17 points and 15 assists. Also amazing: for the second consecutive game, Ed Nealy contributed nothing positive in 5 minutes of play, missing his only field goal attempt while also committing 2 personal fouls and 1 turnover.
The Suns’ two-way dominance served them well until they hit the Western Conference Finals. They stormed through the first two rounds of the playoffs, losing only once in 8 games. However, the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers ended the Suns’ Cinderella season with a 4 game sweep.