First up, major props to you readers. Bright Side Night 2020 was a major success thanks to you. Over 4,000 kids were able to witness their first NBA game thanks to Bright Side Of The Sun loyal readers. In our fifth year doing this, it’s incredible to say over 4k kids can attend a game thanks to this blog. Incredible.
Outside of that, the Suns sure provided those in attendance a treat, especially in the second half. Phoenix put the pedal to the metal at the start of the third quarter building out a lead up to 21 points.
However, not so fast my friends. Even though the lead got to that amount, Sacramento clawed their way back into this one in the fourth quarter trailing 89-85 with 9 minutes left.
Sacramento ended up taking the lead and never let it go, so, somehow, the Suns just lost this game.
This is definitely up there for worst losses of the season for the Phoenix Suns, especially choking away a 21-point lead with around 17 minutes of regulation left.
You know the drill by now, Bright Siders. I will provide my biggest takeaways from a positive (thumbs up) and negative (thumbs down) standpoint. So, without further ado, let’s dive into all of it below.
Thumbs Up: Deandre Ayton
Feed the big fella and good things will happen. We saw that fact on display early and often for the Suns against Sacramento where Ayton had 10 points. However, for some reason, Phoenix went away from Ayton for a bit. Many possessions saw little action involving Ayton, which frustrated for the former No. 1 overall pick at one point kicking a chair on the bench during a timeout.
It was an obvious emphasis from Williams and Co. to establish Ayton early in the second half. That went well for Phoenix, as it was apparent no Kings big could match Ayton in one-on-one situations. Once the big fella settled in, Phoenix knew they had a real 1B to Booker’s 1A on this night.
Ayton had his strongest game yet since his return from a 25-game suspension with 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 assists on 10-of-14 shooting. A very efficient night, and one the Suns could build off moving forward with Ayton.
Thumbs Down: Aron Baynes
It’s obvious at this point that the Baynes/Ayton combo doesn’t work unless it’s a truly specific matchup they want to attack. And when Baynes isn’t hitting threes, his fit alongside Ayton isn’t the best when going against small-ball opponents. However, at least right now, head coach Monty Williams seems adamant on sticking with this.
Baynes was 1-of-4 in the first half and really looked out of rhythm from the get-go. Maybe that’s why Williams opted to go to Dario Saric earlier off the bench, as the Croatian saw more minutes than Baynes in the first 24 minutes of regulation.
This was a case where the eye test didn’t match the box score, because Baynes had a positive plus-minus but his impact wasn’t really felt much with 5 points in 23 total minutes. Obviously, this big man lineup is a work in progress moving forward.
Thumbs Up: Devin Booker
Booker is really finding his groove within the Suns’ offensive system right now, which took longer than expected, but it’s a great sign it’s finally occurring. Through the first third of the regular season, Booker was having a hard time figuring out where to pick his spots, how aggressive he should be in this certain moment.
Nowadays, that is long gone as Booker is operating at full confidence right now. The Suns’ $158 million man looked in full control against Sacramento netting his seventh straight (!!) game scoring 30 or more points.
Whether it was feeding Ayton and Oubre, or taking over himself on certain possessions, Booker is playing at an All-Star level right now. It would be a true crime if Phoenix’s star is skipped over in a year where he’s proving his style of play can win games with competent teammates surrounding him.
No big deal, Booker finished with 34 points and 7 assists. His fingerprints were certainly all over this one.
Thumbs Down: Ricky Rubio
Most Suns games, you will feel the presence of Ricky Rubio right away. On Tuesday night, though, that wasn’t the case. Rubio struggled to create much separation against De’Aaron Fox or Cory Joseph, and he had his rough moments on the Kings’ super fast primary ball handler.
Rubio had 8 points and 9 assists, but his offense was nonexistent. Luckily for Phoenix, Ayton and others helped pick up the slack when it was needed.
Many shouldn’t expect Rubio to be a real scoring option on most nights, but it was surprising to see his defense slip up at a few points. That’s why he lands in tonight’s negatives.
Mikal Bridges also quickly deserves a mention in the Thumbs Down tonight, but foul trouble really plagued him from the jump. Five fouls in 11 minutes is a rough outing for Bridges, especially riding all of his positive momentum lately.
Thumbs Up: Kelly Oubre Jr.
Oubre is blossoming right now into one of the more underrated, effective two-way wings in the Association. No, I truly believe that with his sudden scoring surge from all three levels, plus his chart-topping athleticism as a switchable tool on defense.
The Suns’ starting small forward showed those traits off consistently, which have become underrated aspects to their team success this season. Oubre finished with 17 points while always applying that much-needed energy on both ends of the floor.