In a game a young team should have come out and tried to win, neither the young players on the Phoenix Suns nor the Atlanta Hawks seemed prepared to deliver that effort.
Until the final minute that is. Thankyouverymuch Marquese Chriss and Devin Booker.
Chriss made a three and game saving block, while Booker scored 8 straight points to close the scoring for the Suns.
The Hawks relied on big games came from Marco Belinelli, Ersan Ilyasova and Kent Bazemore.
For the Suns, Troy Daniels, Isaiah Canaan and Dragan Bender missed 11 of their first 12 shots.
At least T.J. Warren had a beautiful offensive game, with 31 points.
And Marquese Chriss had yet another good one, with a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds - including 3 threes, plus 3 assists and TWO HUGE BLOCKS.
Devin Booker finished with 34 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds (but had 7 turnovers and hardly scored after early in the second quarter).
The Suns got down by 14 in the first half, and 12 in the second half. In between, they nabbed a halftime lead and even kept it within one with under a minute left in the third, but they just could not sustain the effort.
The Suns surrendered about a gajillion offensive rebounds (actually 17) and committed 22 turnovers. And got something like 0 50/50 balls.
Not a good look, Bob.
But then the Hawks almost folded, while Chriss and Booker hit a pair of threes to pull the Suns within two points with 37 seconds left, at 101-99.
So maybe the Suns pull this one out anyway?
Then there was an offensive foul on Schroder and the Suns got the ball, down two, with 21.6 seconds left.
Then Booker drew the foul on a three. And made all three.
Suns lead 102-101 with 12.3 seconds left.
The Suns started slowly. Slow rotations on defense. Weak efforts fighting around screens. Luckily the Hawks settled for too many threes and made it easy for the Suns to keep it respectable.
But clearly the effort and execution was lacking. Which should have not been a problem given their early deficit against the Sixers on Sunday and the impending schedule loss in Denver tomorrow night. But it is what it is.
By late in the first quarter, though, the Suns had fought their way to a 10-point deficit (25-15) by going through a terrible shooting spell.
Even Miles Plumlee, who now plays for the Hawks apparently, had a good moment or two for the Hawks. He had a two-point, two-rebound first quarter.
The first quarter with the Suns down 27-19 and most on media row wondering whether either team was going to put up a real fight. Felt like a summer league exhibition game.
The deficit quietly grew to 14 as Marco Belinelli decided it was time for an old timer to show these young whippersnappers how to shoot a basketball, starting 5-6 for 12 points.
Devin Booker’s shooting response - scoring 15 points on 6-9 shots - only brought the Suns back into a 9-point deficit (37-28) with 8:28 left in the second quarter. Could be one of those 40-point scoring / 20-point loss games that NBA twitter thinks is so common with Book.
The Suns are gonna need to find a spark at some point or this game is just going to be a sleep-walk to the finish.
And they did. Or maybe it was just the Hawks sinking lower than the Suns level of play?
Finally, some Suns other than Booker began to score, going on a 17-0 non-Booker scoring binge to help cut the game deficit to only one point. Warren and Chriss each scored three times during the run.
The Suns took their first lead with just under a minute left in the half, and ended the half with a slim 49-48 lead.
Booker finished the half with 18 points, while T.J. Warren had 14 and Marquese Chriss had 8 and 5. That was a nice increase in focus and energy by Chriss in that second quarter.
The Suns started a bit in the second half as well, but not as bad as the first. Again, this could be as much the fault of the Hawks as the Suns.
One emblematic possession was when the Suns could not finish a highlight dunk on one end, then gave up two offensive rebounds that led to a three-pointer to give the Hawks a 64-60 lead with 7:09 left in the third.
At one moment the Suns pulled within one (75-74) but Irsan Ilyasova hit back to back threes to extend the lead to seven before anyone could blink an eye.
Unfortunately for the Suns, this was one of those games Troy Daniels’ shot was off — he only made one of his first five shots.
Back comes Devin Booker.
Unfortunately, Booker couldn’t really help the Suns either. They just didn’t have the necessary energy to win the game, and really there doesn’t seem to be a real good excuse except “they’re young”.
Check the recap above...