That went about as expected.
Last night’s 149-146 loss to the Washington Wizards was pretty gut-wrenching, but it was compounded by the knowledge that the Suns would be playing again in another city in about 19 hours.
I’m not going to say that the Suns lost the game due to those circumstances, but Phoenix certainly looked like a tired team.
After hanging with the Nets for the first half, Brooklyn eventually pulled away in the third quarter and was able to nurse a double digit lead through all but the final moments of the fourth quarter.
Brooklyn won the game, 111-103, and swept the season series from the Suns. The Nets defeated the Suns 104-82 in Phoenix back on Nov. 6.
DeAndre Ayton got off to a hot start with 10 points (5-6 shooting) and four rebounds in the first quarter, which likely kept the Suns from getting run off the court.
In the early going the Suns seemed to be conserving energy for the offensive end by not exerting any on defense. The Nets raced off to 38 first quarter points to lead by seven points after the first period. Both teams shot the ball well, with the Suns going 13-23 (.565) and the Nets at 13-24 (.542). The Nets game plan was probably to engage the Suns in a track meet, thinking they would burn out on the second night of a back-to-back.
The Nets pushed their lead to nine points on four occasions in the first half, but couldn’t pull away from the Suns.
Troy Daniels, recipient of several DNP-CD’s recently, saw time as coach Igor Kokoskov went with a ten man rotation the night after Phoenix’s triple overtime game. Unfortunately, the Suns bench couldn’t really provide a lift. Actually, nobody on the Suns besides Ayton and Devin Booker really had a remarkable game, although Mikal Bridges (5 steals) had a few moments. It was an opportunity for the reserves to provide a lift, but it just never materialized.
Booker played pretty well the night after logging 55 minutes, scoring 25 points to go with nine assists, but was just 1-4 from three point range. The Suns were 3-17 from long range as a team. It appeared that they intentionally went away from the deep ball, which was probably a good strategy.
T.J. Warren, the other Sun to play 50-plus minutes, struggled. He was 2-11 from the field and picked up four personal fouls and a technical. It was similar to other technicals he has received this season, justifiably arguing non-calls against him.
After the Suns closed the lead to two points early in the third period (66-64), the Nets outscored the Suns 25-10 to finish the quarter and took a commanding 91-74 lead.
Brooklyn led by as many as 20 points in the fourth quarter as the Suns were never able to mount a serious charge to make things interesting. To their credit, they didn’t give up, but the final margin of eight points was as close as they ever got.
Ayton had another monster game, following up a 26 point, 17 rebound performance with a 26 point, 18 rebound display. He even shot 13-16 from the field and added three blocks.
Ayton didn’t attempt a single free throw, though, as the Nets led the Suns in attempts 33-16. Some of that was due to the Suns appearing tired at times and grabbing as a result, and some of it was due to intentional fouls on notoriously poor free throw shooter Ed Davis.
Spencer Dinwiddie led a balanced attack for the Nets with 24 points and seven assists. Brooklyn ended up with six players scoring in double digits, while the Suns had just three.
Phoenix could have used someone like Rodions Kurucs to help them out. He finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds while fearlessly attacking the basket and generally being a pest. The Suns just didn’t have that type of effort tonight.
Phoenix has two nights off before finishing their five game road trip against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday.