Move onto the next one.
“The most important game of your life is the next one,” Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov said. “So we just have to leave it behind. It’s human nature, the ability to adjust to the next one.”
Of course, it was a game worth celebrating after Devin Booker hit clutch basket after clutch basket including the game winner with 1.7 seconds left to snap a seven-game losing streak.
“That usually lasts a couple of hours and then we move on,” Kokoskov said when asked about the excitement of winning a game.
Booker didn’t show much excitement during the game either. He played in foul trouble for the majority of the second half but stayed composed, as he always does, through the ups and downs of the game.
“If that was a ‘keep an undefeated season going’ then maybe I’d be a lot more excited,” Booker said. “But we still have a lot of work to do.”
Momentum. That’s been another big topic this past week. All it takes is one game to get back on track and keep the winning energy alive.
“Hopefully this is a momentum change for us,” Booker said. We spoke on that before the game and after the game and sometimes a momentum swing like that, being down 2 in the fourth quarter and coming back and getting a victory can change a whole demeanor of a team.”
Booker finished the game with 25 points on 7-17 shooting from the floor and added 7 assists in 35 minutes of play.
Rookie Mikal Bridges played a crucial role off the bench on both ends of the floor. He played for 26 minutes going 5-6 from the field and 4-5 from downtown finishing the night with 14 points. Along with Booker, Bridges was key down the stretch in the closing minutes.
“He just has it,” Booker said. “All the characteristics of being a winner. It showed in college. He just does all the little things out there. To be a rookie in that position and come in and perform in a game like that, a crunch time game it says a lot about his will to win.”
Bridges comes from Villanova, a team that knows all about winning. He won two national titles while he was there. Most players haven’t even one won. He credits his work ethic and maturity from his time playing there under head coach Jay Wright who gave him some of the best advice.
“He told me to dominate the day,” Bridges said. “So come in and get serious if it’s practice, if it’s maybe a stretch practice where we aren’t even doing any contact, still bring it everyday. Dominate as much as you can.”
Bridges is all about his business and it shows in the way he carries himself in practice, shoot arounds and games.
“Very solid player and very mature for his age,” Kokoskov said. “A professional. He comes everyday to work. There’s no bad days for him because he controls his situation or his energy. His preparation has always been top level.”
At first Kokoskov wanted to ease Bridges into more playing time because he didn’t want to put too much pressure on him. Now, I think it’s obvious that Bridges can handle the big stage.
“I’ve never seen him not be confident,” Booker said. “I think he just needs a little bit more experience and he’s got that. I know his time is coming and he’s been performing everyday in practice.”
I don’t want to overreact to “his time is coming” or make any assumptions, however I do think one of these days in the near future Bridges will find his way into the starting lineup where he deserves.
For now, the Phoenix Suns are focused on bringing the fight tonight against the Brooklyn Nets where they face former Sun Jared Dudley, who has been starting for the Nets this season.
Booker took some time to reflect on his time being teammates with the veteran.
“He took the game very serious this summer, “Booker said. “We talked a lot. I know he dropped a lot of weight and changed his whole diet. It’s grind time for him.”
Despite not getting much playing time in Phoenix, Booker gave credit to Dudley on a lot of his success both on and off the court and said he was one of the best teammates.