Once the Phoenix Suns led 11-0 in the first 90 seconds of this game, everyone expected them to run away with this game and make a much-needed statement. However, a 27-8 close to the first quarter from Memphis led to this one being another tightly contested matchup between these two squads once more.
In typical Suns fashion, they made it interesting and almost took the lead late. It was too little, too late though as Memphis won 115-108.
Below, we’re going to dive into the biggest positives and negatives from this one. And as you all should know by now, they are labeled as my ‘Thumbs Up’ and ‘Thumbs Down’. So, let’s go ahead and get into it.
Thumbs Up: Frank Kaminsky
If there was one player who desperately needed a good game, it was Kaminsky. Without Kaminsky’s hot start, there’s no way the Suns are able to climb back. At one point, Kaminsky had 13 of the Suns’ first 26 points.
Per usual, Kaminsky cooled off a little bit in the second half finishing with 24 points, but the Suns don’t win this one without his strong start.
After struggling for weeks with his consistency, this was a much-needed outburst from Kaminsky. Will this be the game where he finally snaps into it and keeps his spot in the rotation once Ayton returns next week? It’s going to be one of the more interesting topics to follow along with for sure.
Thumbs Down: Shooting / Inexcusable Start
There’s no reason why the Grizzlies should’ve been in this game throughout after a quick double-digit lead in the first two minutes. However, consistently leaving open shooters and simply lazy effort on both ends saw head coach Monty Williams bring plenty of his bench mob in early.
At halftime, Phoenix was shooting 20 percent on threes and 36 percent overall. You’re not going to win many games doing that. Phoenix finished sub-40 percent from the field and sub-30 percent from deep. Yikes.
Right now, as we’ve seen on multiple occasions so far this season, the Suns live and die with their shooting. Another crystal clear example occurred tonight.
Thumbs Up: Ricky Rubio
The Point God Wizard, as Kelly Oubre Jr. coined him, didn’t have a gaudy night in the assist column but he made up for it beating his matchups on the offensive end notching 22 points on 7-of-14 field goal attempts.
As I mentioned this morning in the preview, Rubio has been a pure delight to watch compared to year’s past for Phoenix at the point guard position.
Thumbs Down: Ty Jerome
Ever since Jerome’s strong debut in Charlotte, he looks so hesitant to do much of anything. On one possession, Jerome passed open a wide-open three and instead decided to attempt a long two-pointer he bricked.
Jerome doesn’t look ready at the moment for consistent minutes. The real peculiar question revolves around Tyler Johnson and why he’s now a DNP-CD every game. On nights where Jerome struggles, Johnson should be available as a stabilizing presence.
The continued development of Jerome will be something to monitor over the next few weeks and months.
Thumbs Down: Mikal Bridges
After a super promising week, Bridges slumped back down to Earth. In his 21 minutes, Bridges was ghost-like attempting two total shots and not making much of an impact defensively.
In a game where Booker also struggled, and Oubre faded in the second half, Phoenix needed Bridges in a big way. Bridges saw zero minutes when the Suns tried to claw their way back, instead pivoting to Cam Johnson due to his floor spacing capabilities.
Consistency is the biggest thing for Bridges right now, especially in the aggressiveness category. When will that arrive for the 2018 No. 10 overall pick?