For only the second time in franchise history, neatly book-ending a 50 year franchise existence, the Phoenix Suns have tallied 60+ losses in 82 games. This year they are 20-61 (with a game to go), while their inaugural expansion year was 16-66.
At least the Suns didn’t book-end their home games this year with 48-point losses, after starting their home schedule back in October with a 48-point loss to the Portland Trailblazers.
Four months (and three more 42+ point losses) later they had to end their home schedule against the Incredibles - a Warriors squad that, even without Stephen Curry, still have three All-Stars in their starting lineup in Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
Meanwhile, the Suns are missing Marquese Chriss, Devin Booker, Tyson Chandler and T.J. Warren from their starting lineup choices, and Josh Jackson, Alan Williams and Elfrid Payton are out as well. That’s like a whole rotation.
But the Suns made it a game.
As late as 8 minutes left in the 4th quarter, the Suns were down only 93-83 and had a chance to get the deficit to single digits.
But then the Warriors’ All-Stars (especially Klay Thompson) cleaned up the floor and it was quickly a 22-point lead - the largest of the second half.
Good on the Suns for keeping this game respectable, and making the Warriors play their All-Stars in the 4th.
Suns lose home closer, 117-100.
- Danuel House, Jr. got his career high with 22 points, plus grabbed 8 rebounds and dished 3 assists.
- Dragan Bender had 14 points and 13 rebounds, plus two assists.
- Tyler Ulis had 15 points and 10 assists.
- Alex Len, in likely his final home game as a Sun, got 16 points, 10 rebounds
And Klay Thompson starts the game making 9 of 11 shots for 22 points in the first quarter alone.
While the Suns are starting a lineup that would ideally open next season either in different cities or at the end of the bench.
Surprisingly, the Suns played well in the opening quarter, down only 33-29 after one quarter. They made only 35% of their shots, but grabbed offensive rebounds and drew fouls and forced turnovers to keep it close.
But then, as we should have expected, the Warriors backups > Suns backups. I mean, they still had Draymond out there with the second unit, while the Suns were banking on the likes of Alec Peters, Davon Reed and Shaquille Harrison.
The Warriors opened the second quarter on a 14-5 run.
Still, the Suns kept it respectable through the second quarter, down “only” 9 when Durant and Klay returned from their rest.
Of course, the good times can’t last. This is the Warriors with Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. All All-Stars.
The Warriors lead was 64-50 at the half after Tyler Ulis answered a KD three with a three of his own.
Suns first half leaders:
- Tyler Ulis: 11 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds
- Alex Len: 8 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist
- Danuel House: 9 points, 5 rebounds
Suns shot only 35% in that first half versus the Warriors 55%. The only thing keeping the game respectable is the Suns being able to take 6 more shots thanks to some offensive rebounding.
For the Warriors, Klay has 24 points on 14 shots while Durant has 11 points on just 6 shots.
The Suns started the second half strong, with a 5-0 run to cut the Warriors lead to just 9.
You could tell the Warriors had not expected to have to play again in the second half. Thompson and Durant didn’t seem to want to take any shots. In fact, when Thompson did, they were way off. He was simply not ready for the half to start? Shrug.
The Suns kept the Warriors lead to just 9-12 points for the first half of the quarter. Tyler Ulis and Alex Len were working hard, scoring 10 of the Suns first 13 points.
Then the Warriors woke up a bit. Started moving quickly, and using their length to disrupt the much smaller Suns.
At one point, Kevin Durant and Javale McGee were pick-and-rolling over top of the defense of the Suns a few possessions in a row. Two of the longest armed players in the whole league right there.
Not fair when your Warriors lineup includes Javale, KD, Kevon Looney and Shawn Livingston - all several inches longer than their Suns counterpart. Ugh.
And suddenly the Warriors lead was 21 before settling on 19 at the end of the quarter.
At this point, the Warriors haven’t played any minutes without at least one of KD, Draymond or Klay out there. Meanwhile, the Suns don’t have any of those.
However, Alex Len is having a nice night with 16 and 10 by the end of three. And both Tyler Ulis and Danuel House have 15 and 7 (different 7s though).
Warriors up 91-72 after three.
The Suns wouldn’t go away though, cutting the Warriors lead to just 10 with 8 minutes left.
But then Klay Thompson happened again. He made a couple of highly contested corner shots on the fastest catch-and-shoot release I’ve seen. Wow.
And it was a 15-point lead again. Just like that.
And then it was 22. Just like that.
Hey I guess it’s a minor miracle the Suns forced the Warriors to keep playing their All-Stars well into the fourth quarter in a meaningless game for both teams. The Warriors are locked into the #2 spot, so this game doesn’t matter at all.