On the second night of a back-to-back, the Phoenix Suns looked like the team on tired legs while the Sacramento Kings were the aggressor leading 33-19 after one quarter. From the onset, Sacramento really took it to Phoenix before a second half comeback attempt was on the table still with less than 60 seconds remaining.
Without Aron Baynes and Ricky Rubio, who only played the first half due to lingering back spasms and didn’t look like himself at all, Phoenix once again looked lost at times offensively. Missing two of their biggest offseason additions, the Suns were far too shorthanded on a night where shots weren’t falling either.
Somehow, after trailing by as much as 26, Phoenix cut it to three points with 8 seconds remaining. This again should show you the fight of these Suns compared to years past.
As you all know by now, my recap formats consist of ‘Thumbs Up’ and ‘Thumbs Down’ for certain players or areas of the game. Now, let’s dive straight into this one.
Thumbs Up: Mikal Bridges
This was the exact type of game Bridges needed to regain his confidence on the offensive end. After struggling all season long with self creation, Bridges put it on full display during some possessions Tuesday evening.
The Suns’ No. 10 overall pick in the 2018 draft finished with 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals while shooting 6-of-9 overall. Bridges is such a smart player off the ball, who seems to already have mastered the art of cutting towards the rim.
We now will see how this outing benefits Bridges moving forward. Will this momentum carry for Bridges, or will his passiveness return? For the Suns to maintain their strong early start, the wing from Villanova needs to blossom soon.
Thumbs Down: Dario Saric
Back-to-back stinkers now from Saric, who is really showing why Philadelphia and Minnesota discarded him. There are painful stretches of inconsistency from Saric, which have continued in the Valley. Three strong performances are now followed up by this in succession.
When Saric isn’t hitting his perimeter shots, the negatives begin to stockpile quickly. Saric’s ball movement and defense weren’t up to par against Sacramento, so he only logged 21 minutes.
Another big stretch coming up for Saric, who is in a contract year. If these stretches of inconsistency continue, it won’t help his case to stay long-term with the Suns.
Thumbs Up: Cameron Johnson
I continue to very impressed with Johnson. Admittedly I wasn’t high on the pick when it happened, but Johnson’s instant impact shooting along with high IQ floor sense fit like a glove in Monty Williams’ system.
Johnson notched 18 points in 26 minutes, including 4-of-9 on three-pointers. The sharpshooting we saw all throughout Johnson’s college career has certainly translated.
Each passing game, Johnson continues to carve out a bigger role within the Suns’ rotation. When his shot is going, it’s almost impossible to take Johnson off the court.
Thumbs Up: Devin Booker
No surprise, the Suns’ $158 million man battled through a tough defensive matchup versus Cory Joseph to the tune of 30 points on 50 percent shooting. Booker’s scorching hot start to the 2019-20 campaign continues, and 50/40/90 is in play for the 23-year-old shooting guard.
Early on against Sacramento, Booker was being passive but then realized later on he needed another big scoring night to keep Phoenix close.
Also, it should be noted how impressive Booker’s effort was on both ends while being down by double-digits for most of this game. In year’s past, it waned but it hasn’t once under Williams’ tutelage. The continued pushback from Phoenix, which was led by Booker and others, helped keep them in this one late.
Thumbs Down: Tyler Johnson
As Kellan Olson noted on Locked On Suns Monday night at Talking Stick Resort Arena, it might be time to have a discussion soon about Johnson’s minutes.
Another disappointing outing from Johnson tonight, who needed to step up in Rubio’s absence. Two points on two shots in 18 minutes simply isn’t going to cut it.
With the struggles of Johnson and Jevon Carter, plus Rubio’s current injury situation, Ty Jerome’s continued absence due to a Grade II high ankle sprain continues to loom large.
Thumbs Up: Kelly Oubre Jr.
Oubre’s energy once more helped the Suns stay alive when they were almost completely knocked out. When Sacramento jumped on Phoenix early, the offense wasn't clicking at all. However, Oubre and his aggressive mindset were not deterred.
Outside of Oubre, nobody had anything going for a long stretch in the first half. Then, he helped put on the clamps in the second half with Bridges to propel a sudden comeback.
Except the lone clunker versus the Lakers, Oubre continues to prove his worth after signing his 2-year, $30 million extension in July.